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Only 30 Percent of Firefox Users Access Hardware Acceleration

By - Source: Tom's Hardware US | B 45 comments

How important is it for you to run applications that require hardware acceleration within your browser, or, at the very least, make browsing more enjoyable?

The Firefox crash report published by Mozilla suggests that most of us cannot access Firefox's hardware acceleration.

The reason for this circumstance is simply outdated hardware and outdated drivers. Just because Firefox supports hardware acceleration does not mean that everyone will get it. A prerequisite for this feature is a driver from Nvidia and AMD that is at least from June 2010 or newer (Intel is a bit more complicated, but described in Mozilla's driver blacklist).

The bottom line is that currently only 30 percent of Windows Firefox users can access hardware acceleration and 49 percent can access WebGL. Predictably, the more recent the OS release, the greater likelihood of GPU support. For example, 67 percent of Windows 8 users can use Firefox hardware acceleration, versus 47 percent of Windows 7 users, 17 percent of Windows Vista users, and 13 percent of Windows XP users.

It may be somewhat surprising that just about 100 percent of Mac OS X users are supported, but then we have to remember that this feature arrived only in a Firefox version for Mac OS X 10.6 and higher – and naturally most machines that shipped with that OS have sufficient hardware to run hardware acceleration.

It's hard to say if these numbers apply to other browsers as well. Microsoft's only browsers with hardware acceleration are IE9 and IE10, which are supported from Windows Vista SP2 (IE9) and up (IE10 requires Windows 8). Chrome added the feature in Chrome 7 (developer version) and it is still incomplete today. Google does not release any data on how many people actually use this feature and what requirements Google may have. However, Mozilla's data is based on 300,000 to 800,000 monitored crashes today, which is rather substantial. This would at least suggest that most computer users today to do not have the necessary equipment to run browser hardware acceleration by Mozilla's standards.

 

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  • 21 Hide
    esrever , September 7, 2012 3:26 AM
    Its just all the people living on old intel graphics dragging everyone else down.
  • 20 Hide
    math1337 , September 7, 2012 3:15 AM
    HW acceleration is great for really graphic intensive tasks like animations, but for most static or mostly static web pages has little benefit. As newer hardware rolls out, hardware acceleration will roll out naturally, and it never hurts to have it. I just hope that web designers don't start abusing awful animations.
Other Comments
  • 20 Hide
    math1337 , September 7, 2012 3:15 AM
    HW acceleration is great for really graphic intensive tasks like animations, but for most static or mostly static web pages has little benefit. As newer hardware rolls out, hardware acceleration will roll out naturally, and it never hurts to have it. I just hope that web designers don't start abusing awful animations.
  • 21 Hide
    esrever , September 7, 2012 3:26 AM
    Its just all the people living on old intel graphics dragging everyone else down.
  • 20 Hide
    bgrt , September 7, 2012 3:34 AM
    For the love of God everyone, if you're on Intel GMA or older video please go buy a $30 video card.
  • 18 Hide
    livebriand , September 7, 2012 3:42 AM
    bgrtFor the love of God everyone, if you're on Intel GMA or older video please go buy a $30 video card.

    For the average person who doesn't do anything graphically intensive, what's the gain?
  • 3 Hide
    ethaniel , September 7, 2012 3:47 AM
    You just can't ask for a hardware upgrade in a lot of cases. Imagine the volume of laptops and netbooks (even if those are extinct in the US already) still working today that use Firefox. And there's always the possibility of a new driver breaking everything. I have an old but compatible Radeon card, so I have hardware acceleration, but I know that I am the exception. This is no surprise.
  • -4 Hide
    bgrt , September 7, 2012 3:50 AM
    livebriandFor the average person who doesn't do anything graphically intensive, what's the gain?


    An average computer user will end up playing some 3D games at some point, or will attempt to at least, only to find out that they can't even launch the game if they're on Intel graphics.
  • 8 Hide
    dameon51 , September 7, 2012 4:37 AM
    math1337HW acceleration is great for really graphic intensive tasks like animations, but for most static or mostly static web pages has little benefit. As newer hardware rolls out, hardware acceleration will roll out naturally, and it never hurts to have it. I just hope that web designers don't start abusing awful animations.

    Not entirely true. DOM heavy sites benefit from HW acceleration too, and those are becoming a lot more common.
  • 10 Hide
    nacos , September 7, 2012 4:57 AM
    ^Hahahaha!
  • 5 Hide
    bustapr , September 7, 2012 4:57 AM
    i turned off hardware acceleration when flash videos started tearing and distorting on my page. turning it off fixed most of the issue.
  • 4 Hide
    runswindows95 , September 7, 2012 5:03 AM
    I run an Intel integrated card, and the most advanced game I have installed is Bejeweled 3. I don't have the time or desire to install any other game. All I do is Word and the internet. I can't tell the difference between this card and an older desktop running a 9500GT (the integrated card, and got a deal on it from a friend).
  • 0 Hide
    sixdegree , September 7, 2012 5:12 AM
    So, Firefox with HW Acceleration is the new Crysis?
    Can my system run Firefox?
  • 12 Hide
    DjEaZy , September 7, 2012 5:20 AM
    bgrtFor the love of God everyone, if you're on Intel GMA or older video please go buy a $30 video card.

    ... but, what you gonna do if this is a laptop?
  • -1 Hide
    tomfreak , September 7, 2012 5:48 AM
    atikkuri turned off browser hardware acc.. my cpu already too fast.
    quite true if u are using old system like Pentium M 1.7Ghz with Intel extreme graphics. = Geforce 2 MX speed.
  • -2 Hide
    ricardok , September 7, 2012 5:49 AM
    Quote:
    However, Mozilla's data is based on 300,000 to 800,000 monitored crashes today, which is rather substantial.
    That's a lot of 'crashes'.. Not fun.. I'll stick with chrome..
  • 7 Hide
    amigafan , September 7, 2012 6:45 AM
    I have disabled HW acceleration in Firefox because it causes my GPU clock to raise to 500 MHz (in idle it's 250 and can go to 880 in load), fans increase in rotation (causing noise) and my power draw increases slightly. Not worth it IMO.
  • 3 Hide
    ravewulf , September 7, 2012 6:49 AM
    I turned it off as it doesn't work over Live Mesh's remote desktop (it seems to only like programs that use GDI/GDI+ rendering). I don't usually come across websites that take advantage of it, so it doesn't matter a lot to me.
  • 0 Hide
    alyoshka , September 7, 2012 7:22 AM
    Well, all most everyone had it on by default. But because of bad programming most of us had to turn it off due to the number of time firefox crashed after enabling it on various websites.
  • 0 Hide
    Cryio , September 7, 2012 7:43 AM
    I personally don't like Firefox HWA method. It has the 3rd best acceleration in the markes, but even with that, when I enable HWA, even settings the GPU (GTX560 Ti) to run in P0, I feel the browser is running a bit slower than in software mode, on a Intel Quad core from 4 years ago.

    Opera 12.50 = the best acceleration, period. The freakin' whole thing is accelerated. (it's not final, though it's still the best)
    Internet Explorer 10 = HWA is Microsoft's leading feature since IE9. So yeah, it's pretty good.
    Firefox 10-15? = They kept adding more features to HWA, but they still have a long way to go.
    Chrome = It accelerates only a few things, some times. You may activate all HWA-related flags and the browser STILL doesn't accelerate everything.
  • 0 Hide
    mayankleoboy1 , September 7, 2012 9:05 AM
    To those who say they dont browse HWA enabled animation and content, remember that FF15 uses Direct2D, so text rendering is also HWA.
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