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Firefox 4 B4 Bringing Direct2D GPU Acceleration

By - Source: Tom's Hardware US | B 37 comments

Adventurous Firefox fans, there's a new beta coming on Monday that'll add a couple considerable features.

The fourth beta of Firefox 4 will be hitting on Monday, and notable will be the inclusion of hardware acceleration for Windows users that have the hardware and software to support Direct2D.

Firefox using your GPU to render won't be on by default – at least not yet. Mozilla's VP of engineering tweeted that Direct2D will be included in beta 4, but it isn't quite ready for everyone to be running it yet. Instead, the feature will be enabled through user intervention by modifying the config.

Mozilla details in its Wiki of how to turn it on and what to look out for:

D2D status:

  • Direct2D is not turned on by default for Firefox 4 beta 4. (We weren't confident enough to turn it on for all users.)
  • However, all the code in Firefox 4 beta 4, and it should work reasonably well for everyone.
  • We really need testers, both on the beta and on nightlies. (We plan to enable Direct2D in nightlies as soon as beta 4 is tagged and branched.)
  • To turn on Direct2D: Go in to about:config and set mozilla.widget.render-mode to 6, and gfx.font_rendering.directwrite.enabled to true.
  • To turn off Direct2D, once it is on by default, set mozilla.widget.render-mode to 0.
  • To check whether you are running with Direct2D, go to about:support and look at the bottom. (Once bug 586046 lands, there will be even more information about your graphics card in there.)
  • Please look out for memory usage, rendering speed, and any rendering problems you might see. Also focus on interactions with plugins like Flash.

Firefox beta 4 will also bring with it the first official implementation of Tab Candy, the super slick way of managing lots of tabs.

While we hate it when the weekend ends, we're excited to try the new Firefox beta 4 that'll work our GPUs.

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Top Comments
  • 13 Hide
    gmarsack , August 20, 2010 6:09 PM
    Neato. Interested in seeing some performance numbers. :) 
  • 12 Hide
    gsacks , August 20, 2010 6:50 PM
    Hey, where's the girl? I only clicked on the article to see the firefox girl pic ;) 
  • 12 Hide
    phatboe , August 20, 2010 6:12 PM
    The Mozilla developers need to stick to using open standards for hardware acceleration instead of using MS's proprietary Direct2D GPU acceleration.
Other Comments
    Display all 37 comments.
  • 12 Hide
    mianmian , August 20, 2010 6:07 PM
    Firefox4, do not fall behind IE9.
  • 13 Hide
    gmarsack , August 20, 2010 6:09 PM
    Neato. Interested in seeing some performance numbers. :) 
  • 2 Hide
    masterofm , August 20, 2010 6:09 PM
    Nice
  • 12 Hide
    phatboe , August 20, 2010 6:12 PM
    The Mozilla developers need to stick to using open standards for hardware acceleration instead of using MS's proprietary Direct2D GPU acceleration.
  • 1 Hide
    Travis Beane , August 20, 2010 6:25 PM
    FF4 B5 is out, and this was around in FF4 B1 I believe.
    It does cause some issues. Screen tearing does seem to occur a lot. Happens mostly when using the scroll wheel with flash. Getting better with each beta it seems however.

    Bit slow on the take here Toms?

    I leave fraps on generally, and it's kinda neat seeing a FPS counter in the top right corner.
  • 3 Hide
    JE_D , August 20, 2010 6:30 PM
    Travis BeaneFF4 B5 is out, and this was around in FF4 B1 I believe.It does cause some issues. Screen tearing does seem to occur a lot. Happens mostly when using the scroll wheel with flash. Getting better with each beta it seems however.Bit slow on the take here Toms?I leave fraps on generally, and it's kinda neat seeing a FPS counter in the top right corner.

    beta 4 and 5 are only available via FTP sever but not yet for general release so their timing is fine
  • -3 Hide
    Travis Beane , August 20, 2010 6:37 PM
    JE_Dbeta 4 and 5 are only available via FTP sever but not yet for general release so their timing is fine

    nightly.mozilla.org I think beta 4 has been around for 10 days now, maybe more. What's this general release thing you talk about?
    :) 
  • 4 Hide
    nevertell , August 20, 2010 6:42 PM
    How 'bout using openGL/openCL, so other OS's can use it ?
  • 12 Hide
    gsacks , August 20, 2010 6:50 PM
    Hey, where's the girl? I only clicked on the article to see the firefox girl pic ;) 
  • 2 Hide
    JE_D , August 20, 2010 6:56 PM
    nevertellHow 'bout using openGL/openCL, so other OS's can use it ?

    http://www.mozilla.com/en-US/firefox/all-beta.html
    you can only directly download firefox 4 beta 3
    http://ftp.mozilla.org/pub/mozilla.org/firefox/nightly/latest-trunk/
    there you can get firefox 4 beta 4 and beta 5
  • 2 Hide
    JE_D , August 20, 2010 7:05 PM
    nevertellHow 'bout using openGL/openCL, so other OS's can use it ?

    Sorry I accidentally quoted you I meant to quote Travis Beane
  • 0 Hide
    mikewong , August 20, 2010 7:51 PM
    Keep doing the good jog firefox developpers!
    I have used it for a few years now, don't want to change browser now!
  • 1 Hide
    Anonymous , August 20, 2010 7:52 PM
    I remember somewhere the FF team saying that the differences between using opengl and direct2d for this purpose was so large that they are going through the effort to implement direct2d on windows as well as opengl on other platforms (eventually).
  • 0 Hide
    Mr Pizza , August 20, 2010 8:01 PM
    must... beta..
  • -2 Hide
    leafblower29 , August 20, 2010 8:05 PM
    nevertellHow 'bout using openGL/openCL, so other OS's can use it ?


    It probably will be because Firefox is on Mac and Linux.
  • 4 Hide
    Anonymous , August 20, 2010 8:33 PM
    The Firefox devs are working on D2D for Win7/Vista, on D3D9 support for WinXP and OpenGL for Linux and OSX.

    For the time being D2D seems to have priority but you can bet that they'll be working hard on OpenGL because they need it for Firefox Mobile on smartphones.

    I guess that D2D will be ready by the time FF4 is released but I can't even guess if the same is true for OpenGL and D3D9. You might have to wait for the next version before that is available.

    Firefox 4 release schedule can be found here.

    https://wiki.mozilla.org/Firefox/4/Beta
  • -8 Hide
    thebigt42 , August 20, 2010 9:01 PM
    Am I stupid for asking WHY my browser needs to be GPU Accelerated?
  • 3 Hide
    buckinbottoms , August 20, 2010 9:09 PM
    thebigt42Am I stupid for asking WHY my browser needs to be GPU Accelerated?

    Little thing called multimedia. Its been around for a decade or three and is growing more demanding in web browsers.

    But thats just a little guess of mine.
  • -9 Hide
    thebigt42 , August 20, 2010 9:11 PM
    buckinbottomsLittle thing called multimedia. Its been around for a decade or three and is growing more demanding in web browsers.But thats just a little guess of mine.

    I guess Im too good a PC building for that to be a problem.
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , August 20, 2010 9:32 PM
    Will this improve my Minions gameplay?
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