Skip to main content

Microsoft Boasts Better GPU Acceleration in IE9

Microsoft will be showing off the Internet Explorer 9 beta this week, and one of the big features touted is the hardware acceleration.

Ted Johnson, Program Manager Lead for Web Graphics of the Internet Explorer 9 team posted a blog last week explaining the architecture of the GPU acceleration for the upcoming browser.

IE9 can be completely hardware accelerated through the stages of Content Rendering, Page Composition and Desktop Composition.

Johnson boasts that IE9 has the advantage of being closely tied to Windows 7 and Vista, and in this case can be more hardware accelerated than other browsers. He wrote:

With IE9, developers have a fully-hardware accelerated display pipeline that runs from their markup to the screen. Based on their blog posts, the hardware-accelerated implementations of other browsers generally accelerate one phase or the other, but not yet both. Delivering full hardware acceleration, on by default, is an architectural undertaking. When there is a desire to run across multiple platforms, developers introduce abstraction layers and inevitably make tradeoffs which ultimately impact performance and reduce the ability of a browser to achieve ‘native’ performance. Getting the full value of the GPU is extremely challenging and writing to intermediate layers and libraries instead of an operating system’s native support makes it even harder. Windows’ DirectX long legacy of powering of the most intensive 3D games has made DirectX the highest performance GPU-based rendering system available.

Robert O'Callahan, a Mozilla hacker, blogged on Mozillazine that Firefox 4 also has the same three layers of hardware acceleration that Internet Explorer 9 does – and it also works on Windows XP!

O'Callahan also explains that full GPU acceleration isn't always the case:

BTW "full hardware acceleration" is a bogus phrase. All browser pick and choose how to use the GPU, and more use of the GPU isn't necessarily better. There are certainly things no browser is ever going to "hardware accelerate" ... e.g. CSS margin collapsing :-).

(via Cnet.)

Marcus Yam
Marcus Yam served as Tom's Hardware News Director during 2008-2014. He entered tech media in the late 90s and fondly remembers the days when an overclocked Celeron 300A and Voodoo2 SLI comprised a gaming rig with the ultimate street cred.
  • jaymz1977
    I haven't been a fan of IE for a couple of years now because of it's slowness. Any kind of acceleration would do I suppose to get it more competitive with the faster browsers. Can't wait to see the head to head tests you guys do.
    Reply
  • icepick314
    I'm so used to Firefox addon like Adblock Plus, Fastest Fox, VideoDownload Helper, and DownThemAll that I don't think I could go back to IE even if my life depended on it...
    Reply
  • Tamz_msc
    Looks interesting.
    Reply
  • BluntObjection
    icepick314I don't think I could go back to IE even if my life depended on it...
    Thats intense...
    Reply
  • leo2kp
    icepick314I'm so used to Firefox addon like Adblock Plus, Fastest Fox, VideoDownload Helper, and DownThemAll that I don't think I could go back to IE even if my life depended on it...
    So you'd rather die than use IE? lol.
    Reply
  • scook9
    I stopped using IE last year after using it my whole life because it was so horribly unstable. It would regularly crash on me when opened (I guess it cannot handle 5 home tabs?). It does open faster then firefox (at least did when I switched over) but with an SSD now they are the same (instant).

    Made the switch and nothing has ever made me want to look back really - very happy with firefox and love its flexibility with add-ons and such
    Reply
  • scook9
    Oh and IE also stopped remembering passwords for things like this site as well - even though it was set to remember them.

    That and the crashing were the main reason I jumped ship
    Reply
  • mjello
    Giving the browser access to directx functionality is the real bonus. Both for firefox and IE. Imagine what game developers can do with that kind o rendering power in a browser instead of using flash or java for internet games.
    Reply
  • tipoo
    Just don't use the ugly font of the FF beta with GPU acceleration. Ugh.
    Reply
  • fausto
    icepick314I'm so used to Firefox addon like Adblock Plus, Fastest Fox, VideoDownload Helper, and DownThemAll that I don't think I could go back to IE even if my life depended on it...

    i use IE only when a site requires me to.
    Reply