Friday, March 5th, 2010

Firefox gets hardware acceleration in early stage

Category: Browsers, Performance

Bass Schouten is a cool name, and the Mozillan has presented Direct2D hardware acceleration.

You have to grab Firefox nightly, do the about:config / gfx.font_rendering.directwrite.enabled game, but then you get to see it in action.

IE9 showed off how they will support hardware rendering, and I am sure we will see more at MIX, but it is very cool to see this across the board.

CSS Transforms/Transitions/Animations are going to feel like butter in 2010!

Posted by Dion Almaer at 6:25 am

4.4 rating from 28 votes


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i would have thought its the layout and text flow calculations that are the bottlenecks when rendering pages these days, rather then the actual pixel pushing. Or maybe they’re doing *that* on the GPU too?

Comment by CliveDangerous — March 5, 2010

Scaling and transparent blits are probably the most common cases that consume a huge amount of processing power in software while being almost free in hardware rendering. Color space conversion for video is also quite useful and transformations (while not overly common right now) could get a lot more common with tihs.

BTW, I think you’re missing the actual pref to turn on Direct2D : mozilla.widget.render-mode with value 6 . Also remember that this is still incompatibel with AdBlock and may need two restarts until it really is enabled.

I’ve done a little testcase over at to show off the tremendous performance improvement (see for a comparison showing the performance in Firefox, Opera, Safari)

Comment by hansschmucker — March 5, 2010

Yes, all images are about how font rendering will be faster and nicer, but what about transparencies, drop shadows, position fixed backgrounds (always nasty) and canvas?

Comment by rosamez — March 5, 2010

They all benefit, even SVG does (very nicely in fact) … but Canvas only to a very limited extent as all Canvas rendering is still done in software.

Comment by hansschmucker — March 5, 2010

The performance difference really does look amazing. Great work!

Comment by sos — March 5, 2010

Awesome! With the new UI, Tracemonkey improvements and now this, Firefox 4.0 is shaping up to be one hell of a release. Question is, who will be the first browser to get hardware acceleration into an official release? IE or Firefox? Does anybody know what Chrome is doing in this area?

Comment by Amtiskaw — March 6, 2010

Reminds me of ANOTHER platform that could use hardware acceleration. ;)

Comment by Baryn — March 14, 2010

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