Firefox 4.0 beta 4 brings Direct2D acceleration

A new beta release of Firefox 4.0 has hit the web, and this one is a biggie. Alongside browser sync and a cool new tab management feature, the new beta adds support for Direct2D hardware acceleration in Windows—just like in Microsoft’s Internet Explorer 9. Mozilla has left the acceleration disabled by default, but enabling it doesn’t take much effort.

All you need to do is download and install the new beta, back up your profile if you’re using a previous version of Firefox, and change two settings in the about:config page as directed here. Restart the browser, and you’re done. Web content should now be rendered in hardware, and font rendering will probably look slightly funky.

Hardware acceleration may make regular browsing a wee bit snappier, and it’s particularly noticeable in demos like Microsoft’s Canvas Zoom and Mozilla’s live photo resizer, which are silky smooth with acceleration enabled… and choppy without. Many other demos from the IE9 page work just fine in Firefox 4 beta 4, as well. (Thanks to TR reader SH SOTN for the tip.)

Comments closed
    • EsotericLord
    • 9 years ago

    Am I the only one that really doesnt care about the browser wars and is happy with IE8?

      • Drive
      • 9 years ago

      Doesn’t matter if *[

    • adisor19
    • 9 years ago

    Would be nice if Mozilla would implement CoreAnimation rendering in OS X as well, you know since they’re all about bringing the same experience to all the supported platforms and all..

    Adi

      • Meadows
      • 9 years ago

      You’re supposed to be using Safari anyway.

        • 5150
        • 9 years ago

        +1 – I LOL’d

    • Meadows
    • 9 years ago

    It _[

      • l33t-g4m3r
      • 9 years ago

      Opera is just about the fastest browser available, so it’s a compliment to them.
      It’s also the only browser that runs good on my P3-WinME retro gaming box.

    • Shining Arcanine
    • 9 years ago

    I use Gentoo Linux and I have Google Chromium 6.0.495.0 installed. I also have WINE 1.3.0 installed and Firefox 4.0 beta 4 for Windows installed in it.

    In the flying images demo with 36 images, I see 50 to 60 fps with Google Chromium while with Firefox, I am seeing less than 10 fps. With the fish tank demo, I am seeing I am seeing comparable performance between Firefox and Google Chromium.

    Are Windows users seeing bad performance too, or is this a WINE issue, because Google Chromium appears to not be hardware accelerated, yet it is outperforming Firefox which is hardware accelerated.

    Edit: I realized that I did not have Direct2D rendering enabled in Firefox. I enabled it and I am seeing a performance drop in comparison to how things were when it was off. Google Chromium and Firefox were both at around 12fps in the fish tank demo. With Direct2D rendering enabled, firefox dropped to 6fps. The flying images demo does not appear to have any significant change in performance. :/

      • mesyn191
      • 9 years ago

      Prolly a WINE bug, works fine in win7.

      • Goty
      • 9 years ago

      What’s your hardware? I’m seeing 60 FPS with 256 images with a 5870.

        • Shining Arcanine
        • 9 years ago

        I have a XFX GeForce GTS 250 with 1GB of on-board RAM. My CPU is a Core 2 Quad 9550 and I have 8GB of system RAM. I have an 80GB Intel X25-M G2 SSD.

          • Goty
          • 9 years ago

          Should be enough, then. Must definitely be a WINE bug, then.

    • Goty
    • 9 years ago

    Tried enabling Direct2D on my machine, but it was way too finicky, with the whole page sometimes rendering off-center or not at all. Guess I’ll be waiting for ANOTHER beta for that….

      • Goty
      • 9 years ago

      Well, it seems to work fine on the 9400M in my laptop and on the 4670 in my HTPC which both run Windows 7, so it must be down to Vista here.

    • sweatshopking
    • 9 years ago

    Come on opera!! get it!

    • Jioklo
    • 9 years ago

    I tried it but it makes fonts way too blurry so I quickly disabled it. A bunch of people on the mozillazine forums are saying the same thing. Hopefully it gets ironed out for 4.0 final.

      • indeego
      • 9 years ago

      Weird, didn’t notice a difference all day today. Using high dpig{

        • northreign
        • 9 years ago

        Yes, the text does look different. Wouldn’t use it to read a lot, but not too bad though. I’m changing it back too.

          • Barbas
          • 9 years ago

          It not much but it is noticable, I’m prolly going to change back, but I’m going to keep using it at least for today

            • indeego
            • 9 years ago

            I changed back just now. Two crashes using back button within an hourg{<.<}g

    • Firestarter
    • 9 years ago

    So, will HTML5 + hardware rendering finally replace resource hogging Flash animations? I mean, Flash wouldn’t be so horrible if it featured decent hardware acceleration for its animations. That Adobe focussed on accelerating HD video is understandable but completely unnecessary for anyone not on a netbook.

    • moog
    • 9 years ago

    Damn, Microsoft has really lost it. Maybe now that they love open source maybe they gave away their code to the open source fools. (Whatever happened to guarding your trade secrets and charging for your product/service? I think open source is a fast road to economic ruin.)

    §[<http://www.networkworld.com/news/2010/082310-microsoft-open-source.html?hpg1=bn<]§

      • Voldenuit
      • 9 years ago

      What’s the point of an API if no one else can use it? Kudos to Microsoft for making Direct2D.

        • Meadows
        • 9 years ago

        And countering CUDA with DirectCompute, too.

          • Voldenuit
          • 9 years ago

          Are there even any DirectCompute applications?

          I’ve been shooting HD video of late, and the CUDA acceleration in Adobe Premiere Pro is tempting enough for me to want to switch GPU teams for the next build.

          Ideally, I’d prefer a vendor-agnostic API like DirectCompute or OpenCL, of course.

    • Farting Bob
    • 9 years ago

    Nice. I can wait for the official release of 4.0 for it, but it looks promising for those with a slow CPU, especially laptops.
    Its funny how hardware acceleration is a pretty big step for browsers and it was IE, followed by FF that bring it first, while the latest fashionable browser (chrome) and Opera (“we invent everything and they copy us!”) dont have any examples of it yet.

      • HisDivineShadow
      • 9 years ago

      It is not a shocker to me that Microsoft would dedicate their resources toward making IE 9 use hardware acceleration since IE 9 only has to work on… Windows? And not even XP.

      Meanwhile, the other browsers have to make compatibility for all features across several OS’s and devices.

      Firefox throwing in hardware acceleration at rapid pace to try and regain relevance is also not shocking. This may be the only way they can bridge some of the performance gap they’ve been suffering from. Of course, putting a feature into a beta and seeing everyone comment how the feature is useless and they’re disabling it almost as soon as they enabled it, well I’d not brag about that feature just yet.

      Its the future, but other browsers have other priorities besides having the latest whizz-bang feature. The real problem is that Microsoft can announce any awesome feature they like for IE, but by the time their IE goes to final, every browser will already have matched said features and probably surpassed them. This is due to the speed of updates to IE vs how often Chrome, Firefox, and Opera are updated.

      In the end, IE’s only advantage is compatibility. This will not change until IE’s development matches its competition. And that will not happen as long as IE is not split into a corporate-friendly product and then a wholly separate consumer-friendly product.

      The irony is the precedent is already in place. Microsoft need only copy Google’s “channels” strategy. Have a Consumer channel that has constant, rapid updates, and really focus development on the browser. Add extensions, open up a store, build compatibility for the browser’s additions into Windows Phone, Xbox 360, etc.

      Then have a Corporate channel that is updated once every three months with security updates. Performance updates are submitted separately, requiring the administrator to manually apply them, and bundled into “service packs” for IE.

      Microsoft is too stupid to do this. They’d rather lazyman IE and rely on compatibility to convince people to stay on board. This’ll be enough for the casual, everydayman, but the power users will then continue to use IE as the compatibility backup.

      Eventually, Firefox, Chrome, and Opera will get compatibility close enough. They’re already pretty close.

      • esterhasz
      • 9 years ago

      mobile safari on the iphone has piped rendering through the GPU from the start, thus smooth zooming, etc.
      It’s actually kind of frightening how long certain things innovated in mobile take to get incorporated in the desktop. Shows what a fresh start can do…

    • 5150
    • 9 years ago

    Keep it coming Mozilla, please don’t make me switch. Chrome is sooooo tempting.

      • pedro
      • 9 years ago

      I recently made the switch back, Chrome –> FF. I’m loving what I’m seeing so far.

        • Corrado
        • 9 years ago

        Same here. Not liking the recent trends of Google as a company. Like Chrome, dislike Google.

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This