Last week, when Microsoft gave its preview of Internet Explorer 9 at Professional Developers Conference, it showed the upcoming browser's GPU-accelerated rendering capabilities.
President of Microsoft's Windows and Windows Live division Steven Sinofsky showed that IE8 can render Bing maps at 14 frames per second. With hardware acceleration in IE9 turned on, he got 60 frames per second -- impressive, indeed.
Microsoft isn't the only one thinking of leveraging GPU involvement for browser performance boosts, however, as Mozilla has been cooking up something similar in its kitchen too.
On the day of Microsoft's IE9 demo, Mozilla evangelist Chris Blizzard tweeted, "Interesting that we're doing Direct2D support in Firefox as well - I'll bet we'll ship it first. :)"
While neither Microsoft nor Mozilla have committed to any ship date for its hardware-accelerated browsers, Firefox developer Bas Schouten wrote about his work on DirectWrite and Direct2D.
"A while ago I started my investigation into Direct2D usage in firefox (see bug 527707). Since then we've made significant progress and are now able to present a Firefox browser completely rendered using Direct2D, making intensive usage of the GPU (this includes the UI, menu bars, etc.)," he wrote. "I won't be showing any screenshots, since it is not supposed to look much different. But I will be sharing some technical details, first performance indications and a test build for those of you running Windows 7 or an updated version of Vista!"
His opinion on Windows 7 aside, Schouten presented benchmarks comparing Direct2D rendering compared to Windows' Graphics Device Interface (GDI) rendering as tested on an Intel Core i7 920 system with an ATI Radeon HD 4850 GPU.
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It's interesting to see that youtube didn't get a boost. Perhaps because it relies on connection speed more? It also depends on what you define as rendered; are the video loads counted toward that?
I thought the term Direct2D died out at the turn of the century? pretty sure you just have to use Direct3D in 2D.
GDI sucked on XP, when it was hardware accelerated, but it wasn't even hw accelerated in vista or win 7?
I'd dare say that just bypassing GDI and direct software rendering to the window buffer would be fast enough, especially on a 920. my Wolfenstein clone ran at 100s of frames a second using that method.
I mean, its good to see them using all the processing power, just as long as it can fall back to software methods. for instance, you could get problems like not being able to run direct X programs across remote desktop.