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Internet Explorer Graphics Microsoft Upgrades Technology

IE9 Flaunts Hardware-Accelerated Canvas 265

Posted by timothy
from the flaunting-not-flouting dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Over on the IE blog they have a rundown of IE9's hardware accelerated support for the canvas element. They write, 'With the recent release of the latest IE9 platform preview, we talked about how we're rebuilding the browser to use the power of your whole PC to browse the web, and to unlock a new class of HTML5 applications. One area that developers are especially excited about is the potential of HTML5 canvas. Like all of the graphics in IE9, canvas is hardware accelerated through Windows and the GPU. In this blog post we discuss some of the details behind canvas and the kinds of things developers can build.'"
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IE9 Flaunts Hardware-Accelerated Canvas

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  • will ie9 support that?

    • by VGPowerlord (621254) on Saturday July 03, 2010 @02:21AM (#32783658)

      Er... I'm pretty sure that MS said they would support the video tag back when IE9 was announced. A few months back, they said which format it would support (H.264), although just a week or two ago MS said they would also support WebM if the codec was installed.

      • The video tag will work basically like any MS video setup does: If Windows knows how to play something, meaning the DirectShow codec is installed, then it'll do so. If you have a format that it doesn't know how to play, the codec must be installed. Well, in Windows 7, H.264 is one of the included codecs, WebM is not (which isn't a surprise since it didn't exist when 7 was developed). As such you'd need to install WebM DirectShow codecs.

        Works the same for any program that uses DirectShow to play its media, l

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by matlhDam (149229)

          The video tag will work basically like any MS video setup does: If Windows knows how to play something, meaning the DirectShow codec is installed, then it'll do so.

          That's actually not the case in IE 9: for security reasons (well, OK, a bunch of reasons, but reading between the lines, security's the big one), arbitrary codecs aren't supported within the browser [msdn.com]. It'll ship only with H.264 support, and they've announced that WebM will be supported as an add-on [msdn.com], but that's it at the moment.

          I don't really blame

    • by cbhacking (979169)

      It already does... seriously, it's not like the platform preview is hard to find, or hasn't been discussed in the tech news world lately, or anything like that.

      Actually, since Video playback is hardware-accelerated (as with Canvas), it turns out that IE9 handles video streams better than the released browsers that implement it, such as Chrome.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by cjjjer (530715)
      Where have you been? The video tag debate is over seems flash won [internetnews.com].
  • by stavrica (701765) on Saturday July 03, 2010 @02:16AM (#32783638) Homepage Journal

    We developed a web based game BattleCell [battlecell.com] that uses Ajax/CSS instead of Flash for all the heavy lifting. We discover at least one new bug in the IE rendering engine every month. Our pile of IE bugs in the back room that we have to track every time we develop a new feature is testament to the dread with which we view this new hardware-based rendering engine. We know what we're doing.

    Just last week, we learned that once you have a stack of enough semi-transparent layers (combination of PNGs with alpha channels coupled with DIVs with various opacity CSS settings), IE fails to render the top-most layers. This doesn't happen after 20-30 layers. This happens after 5-7 layers. At first we thought our code was faulty, until we realized that scrolling down such a page with multiple layers will cause text that was previously "invisible" to suddenly be rendered in its specified color... as we kept scrolling, the text would then disappear again. You get the idea.

    Obviously, this all works flawlessly in Safari, Chrome, Opera. For IE, we get to re-architect all sorts of work-arounds --a house built on sand.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by MikeFM (12491)

      Just drop IE support. It's not worth the effort. At least I wouldn't bother with anything alter than the newest version. Unfortunately IE still makes up half the visitors to my none geek sites but non-IE8 has dropped down to under 10% and those users convert to less revenue than other users.. so I've gradually dropped support. Nothing new is being tested for old versions of IE. I'm seeing the dropoff from IE accelerating as a whole. Firefox is at about 25%, Chrome and Safari make up another 15%, and Opera a

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by naoursla (99850)

      Are you entering the bugs you find at connect.microsoft.com?

      • by Rogerborg (306625) on Saturday July 03, 2010 @04:50AM (#32784154) Homepage

        Are you entering the bugs you find at connect.microsoft.com?

        Last time I wanted to report a bug to Microsoft, they tried to bill me for "support". OK, it was 15 years ago, but I'm not much minded to go back and see if they've stopped beating their customers. It still hurts, man. It still hurts.

        • by bakuun (976228)
          Last time I reported a bug to Microsoft, they thanked me and let me know that they'd fix it for the next update. I checked it the next time it was updated, and the bug was fixed.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by tokul (682258)

      Obviously, this all works flawlessly in Safari, Chrome, Opera. For IE, we get to re-architect all sorts

      Welcome to web developer world. Standard complaint code usually works in most of browsers and IE is always an exception.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Your list of bugs would be extremely valuable to the IE team. I suggest sending it along, or at least seeing if they're addressed with the IE9 platform preview build.

    • by shaitand (626655)

      The game is a great idea. I suggested a similar game concept to someone on Evony maybe a year ago. Props on building it, I look forward to playing.

    • by am 2k (217885) on Saturday July 03, 2010 @04:41AM (#32784130) Homepage

      Just last week, we learned that once you have a stack of enough semi-transparent layers (combination of PNGs with alpha channels coupled with DIVs with various opacity CSS settings), IE fails to render the top-most layers. This doesn't happen after 20-30 layers. This happens after 5-7 layers.

      You're right that this is a bug. However, please also consider that your workaround has an additional bonus: Even when it works, drawing so many layers on top of each other ("overdraw" in computer graphics lingo) is a great performance strain. You might not notice it on your superfast gaming PC, but please also consider slower devices like netbooks, mobile phones and tablets. The iPad would probably render it correctly, but I guess at a single frame per second, maybe even less.

    • by Tei (520358)

      I share this type of experiences. IE is a bad program.

    • Yeah, because a bug in some obscure corner case means the whole product is shit right? There are buglists for all those products. People didn't used to write web pages like that, give em a break

      • by drinkypoo (153816)

        Yeah, because a bug in some obscure corner case

        Z-Index plus transparency is not a corner case. They're both major features of the specified feature set. If you can argue with a straight face that Z-Index (part of CSS) or transparency (part of various file formats) failing is a corner case, it proves only that you are some sort of advanced apologist and liar or completely ignorant. IE is the ONLY browser which doesn't make standards compliance a major selling point. What more do you need to know about Microsoft's 3E strategy?

        • Gp said he was stacking a large # of them, in a new way that no app ever did, that makes it a corner case

          • by drinkypoo (153816)

            Gp said he was stacking a large # of them, in a new way that no app ever did, that makes it a corner case

            No, he said he was stacking a moderate number of them when IE failed, while other browsers did not fail with a large number of them.

            It doesn't matter HOW many you add, if the spec permits you to add them, it should NEVER fail simply because you added one more, unless you've run out of all system memory. Failing when you have just a handful of these layers points to a truly sophomoric mistake.

  • Why not build the entire browser in OpenGL or DirectX for computers with a capable graphics card?
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by phizi0n (1237812)

      The whole browser is hardware accelerated by the new Direct2D and Directwrite API's. It's just that the biggest noticeable advantage is the speedup of the canvas element which is used to manipulate a lot of graphics. Firefox nightly alphas had it working before the first IE9 preview was released and it will be in FF 4.0. Firefox devs are also working on OpenGL acceleration for other platforms but that's much further away.

      • I was thinking more of a true 3D environment to take full advantage of the graphics card, like shaders. We don't need or want to read text on a cube, but 3D transitional effects would be nice. Also it might be easier to support WebGL. For firefox, an OpenGL browser would probably share more code across platforms.
    • by ashridah (72567)

      You do realize that that's what Direct2D and DirectWrite essentially are, right? Ways to render lines and fonts using the hardware instead of software rasterisers? There's no point in making the entire thing an opengl surface, however, when you can create APIs that give you finer-grained control over things than that.

      • by 0123456 (636235)

        You do realize that that's what Direct2D and DirectWrite essentially are, right? Ways to render lines and fonts using the hardware instead of software rasterisers?

        Wow! You mean like we were doing on Windows 3.0 in 1990?

        When the heck did Windows _stop_ being hardware accelerated?

        • by Rogerborg (306625)
          These children don't remember when Direct2D and DirectWrite were called DirectDraw, and accelerated 2D was all the hot shizzle the first time round. In another 20 years, this lot of noobs will laughing in turn at the new lot of noobs wetting their sweatpants over DirectFlatOGram, or whatever they're calling the accelerated 2D API by then.
        • by shaitand (626655)

          I think he meant gpu accelerated vs calculating all those lines and changes with the cpu and then sending the commands to draw them.

    • by naoursla (99850)

      All of the graphics in IE9 are build on top of Direct2D (including SVG). It is not just the canvas.

    • No its not just the canvas. Yet again the headline is misleading.

      From the article "Like all of the graphics in IE9, canvas is hardware accelerated through Windows and the GPU" [emphasis mine].

      Yes it would be ass-backwards to apply HW acceleration at the HTML component level rather than down in the graphics API (whether OpenGL, DirctX, Direct2D, or whatever).

  • The internet is being viewed on a lot of tablets, phones and netbooks that don't have the hardware support for this. It looks like their share is only going up. I'm sure some dev in a hurry is going to use this feature, but the moment they do they lock out all the new market.
    • by cbhacking (979169)

      Actually, most tablets, phones, and netbooks have enough GPU to do a decent job of accelerating IE9. I tried it on my tablet - ultra-low voltage core 2 duo at 1.2 GHz, with Intel Integrated 3100 crap for graphics... it wasn't as good of framerates as on my gaming box, but I could certainly get decent performance (30-60 FPS) on the canvas tests. Considering that other browsers currently get around 4-12 in most cases, even on my gaming box, I think that's an acceptable showing for the graphics of a tablet.

    • by darjen (879890)

      Mobile devices will also start moving towards hardware accelerated browsers. I'm hoping it's sooner rather than later, as it will spell death for their precious walled gardens.

  • by Rogerborg (306625) on Saturday July 03, 2010 @04:01AM (#32783998) Homepage
    Direct2D? DirectWrite? 15 years ago, we were calling that DirectDraw [wikipedia.org], and accelerated rasterisation was the hottest thing since sliced time. I guess what goes around comes around, and these kids today will be laughing at the new kids in another 15 years when they discover the wonders of DirectFlatOGram. Also, their Goddamn DirectNoise is too loud on my DirectLawn.
    • DirectDraw was just basic graphics acceleration. Mostly what DD offered was the ability to write things quickly to video memory, as one could do in DOS. It had support for blitting, calling page flips, and so on. More or less the kind of stuff you could do when you had low level access to everything in the system, but which you couldn't really do with a GUI in the way directly.

      This all got deprecated by default with the advances in Direct3D and so on. You could just use a texture quad to do all that to the

  • by BeforeCoffee (519489) on Saturday July 03, 2010 @04:37AM (#32784118)

    Microsoft finally caved and built the canvas tag! ActiveX: Bonk with radioactive danger signs. Silverlight: Bonk. SVG? Meh, retained mode scenes with tags all over again. Souped up VML. I'm going to give that a Bonk too (even though it was hardware accelerated).

    But canvas, now that's a pixel buffer: simple and beautiful! Now we are *talking*. DING DING DING!

    Microsoft's building in canvas is a huge concession that they are losing mindshare to HTML5. And what they're doing is half right by building theirs faster and all micro-optimized and kernel-hooked as they love to do.

    But this won't save them, they won't recapture the mojo. Well... that is, not until they backport these new HTML5 features to XP. Here's my take: adding features to an IE that is locked to Windows 7 does not make consumers want to buy Windows 7. Not when it is far simpler for the consumer to install a competing browser that runs on XP (and earlier.) I will go as far as to say that adding canvas to Windows 7's IE is really just advertising new features in the competition's browsers.

    I love this canvas tag move by Microsoft, and its far overdue! But they're not back in the game until they stop all this nonsense and backport IE9 to XP (and, heck, Win2K while you're at it!) If your retort is "oh it costs too much to support, oh the API's have changed, oh you should upgrade your 9 year old turd of an OS!". C'mon. Cost? API's? We're talking about moneybags Microsoft here! They can do whatever they want; I have no pity for them when or if they fail due to another botched marketing plan and neither should you. And I will not upgrade my XP/Server 2003 until the reboots get faster on Windows 7. It takes my friend 5 minutes on cherry hardware to get a usable desktop after reboot, and his harddrive is always doing something in the background when nothing is going on! On my XP, the harddrive is quiet unless I am doing something with it, the CPU is idle unless I do something.

    Upon further reflection over canvas ... Here's a thought Microsoft, maybe I can meet you half way. How's about backporting canvas to IE7/8 but with no hardware acceleration? This way you can sell the merits of a Windows 7+IE9 upgrade. See, I can be reasonable. :)

    • But canvas, now that's a pixel buffer: simple and beautiful! Now we are *talking*. DING DING DING!

      We'll get back to this discussion after you first run into an HTML5-enabled website that will use canvas for everything so as to not let you copy/paste or block ads...

      Seriously, it's a great thing when used right, but the possibilities of abuse are so huge that I'm scared of what's coming on that front.

      • HTML5 scares me, because I think it will lead to a farm more annoying web. For example I run Firefox because of Flashblock. I've not yet found anything like it in IE (the ones I have found work for crap). So why do I block Flash? Because I am an anti-flash zealot? No. Because it slows down browsing? No, my system is a heavy hitting quad core, it can spare lots of power for shiny effects. So why then?

        Because Flash is used for the power of annoying. All over the damn web Flash it used for ads in an extremely

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          Don't let your panic run away with you. Yes ... HTML5 will offer a lot crazy crap that doesn't rely on a plugin to make it work. That doesn't you won't be able to prevent such things from rendering and using your system resources. Just as people made a plugin to strip flash from the dom, people can easily make another plugin to strip the canvas tag from the dom.
    • by torgosan (141603) *
      Great posting but as an aside: if your buddy's box is taking THAT long to boot to a "usable" desktop ["usable" may have different meaning to each of us], there is something wrong with his box. Seriously.
  • The ammount of wrong on the IE team is amazing. I am looking at the test, and I want to murder these dudes.

    Canvas is not create to replace Flash, to create fullpages in canvas. This is a idiotic idea, and if some people run with it, we are trully fucked. Canvas is to enhance our hability to create webpages with things that nowdays are not possible. This is things like graphics of sales and useage dinamically written. Using canvas to create a page mutch like flash, adds nothing to the web, actually make it

    • by Yvan256 (722131)

      With or without those Microsoft demos, you know that lots of people will still go that route. You have the same choice as before with Flash-only so-called websites: try to navigate them to access the desired content or simply go elsewhere.

      At least with hardware-accelerated canvas, it's going to be much faster than Flash on non-Windows systems.

  • This means the first virus to infect a GPU is not that far away.

HEAD CRASH!! FILES LOST!! Details at 11.

Working...