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Windows 8 Graphics: Microsoft Has Hardware-Accelerated Everything 563

Posted by Soulskill
from the even-clippy dept.
MrSeb writes "Microsoft has detailed the extensive changes made to the Windows 8 graphics subsystem and DirectX 11.1. In short, everything in Windows 8 is hardware accelerated, and as a result its text, 2D, and 3D performance will blow Windows 7 away. DirectX 11.1 has also received a significant overhaul that should result in faster and more efficient games and applications. The bulk of the graphics changes in Windows 8 pertain to hardware acceleration for simple, typographically-rich Metro-style apps. In Windows 8, the rendering speed of text and simple shapes has been massively increased across the board: Title and heading text renders 336% faster than Windows 7; Lines render 184% faster; Rectangles render 438% faster; and so on. The rendering of JPEG, PNG, and GIF image files has also been improved in Windows 8, mostly by expanding SIMD usage. In one demo, Windows 8 decodes and renders 64 JPEGs in 4.38 seconds, while Windows 7 performs the same task in 7.28 seconds. Amongst a few changes to DirectX, the most significant feature in DX 11.1 is the new, simplified, unified Direct3D 11.1 API, which finally brings together the many API offshoots that MS has implemented in recent years."
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Windows 8 Graphics: Microsoft Has Hardware-Accelerated Everything

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  • Maybe it's just me (Score:5, Insightful)

    by thesk8ingtoad (445723) on Wednesday July 25, 2012 @02:27AM (#40761099) Homepage

    but I have a fairly modest PC and I couldn't tell you the last time I said "Man, I wish I could render these 64 JPEGs in 4 seconds instead of this lousy 7." As far as I'm concerned, text and image rendering hasn't noticeably changed in 10+ years. But, I suppose you have to have something to make up for alienating your userbase with an interface designed for a machine it's not running.

    • by phantomfive (622387) on Wednesday July 25, 2012 @02:32AM (#40761135) Journal
      I've thought that. A few months ago I spend a day or two trying to get GIFs to compress as quickly as possible, trying to get it in under 50milliseconds for a project I was working on. I didn't succeed, but any speedup is welcome to me.
    • by Jeremy Erwin (2054) on Wednesday July 25, 2012 @02:47AM (#40761245) Journal

      Suppose you've just downloaded a couple of hundred images from your camera-- Wouldn't it be nice if you could quickly scroll through the images and decide which ones are worth keeping, and which are not? Or perhaps you've photographed some library books, page by page, and it occurs to you that one particular article is more immediately useful, and you don't remember if that's IMG_209--IMG_215, or IMG312-IMG_334. If Windows renders the images quickly enough, it's very simple to flip through the images. If not, you'll be waiting for the images to load.

      Maybe it's a pdf from archive.org that needs thumbing through.

      • by Lord_Jeremy (1612839) on Wednesday July 25, 2012 @03:10AM (#40761361)
        I use a moderately powerful Mac and I cannot once think of a situation where when I downloaded my camera I had performance issues scrolling through photos in iPhoto. Hell when I use iMovie I can scroll through video with my mouse cursor while experiencing no lag or stutters. My Windows 7 dual-boot on the other hand sometimes inexplicably takes upwards of half a minute to actually display the contents of a directory after I try to open. This is the main reason I do most of my "life stuff" in Mac OS X.
      • by JasterBobaMereel (1102861) on Wednesday July 25, 2012 @03:59AM (#40761709)

        This has very little to do with displaying the image, it has a lot to do with reading the files, and unpacking them both of which hardware acceleration will not help with at all ...?

        Almost everything that needs hardware acceleration to be fast enough already has it, everything else it should be irrelevant, except MS is pushing whizzy graphics on Metro apps - you know those annoying animations that people have been complaining about for years .....

    • by mwvdlee (775178) on Wednesday July 25, 2012 @05:05AM (#40761975) Homepage

      I used to work with GDI/GDI+ a lot for rendering custom UI controls back in the WinXP days. When Vista was introduced, which lacked hardware-accellerated GDI/GDI+, performance dropped dramatically to the point of being unusable in some cases. Win7 fixed the situation, but it demonstrated the impact simple rendering speed can have.

      ~63ms per JPG versus ~110ms might make the difference between a smooth running UI and one that feels choppy and slugish.

    • by gbjbaanb (229885) on Wednesday July 25, 2012 @05:36AM (#40762097)

      Well, they have to persuade you to buy into Metro somehow, and how else but saying "man, that old crap we did, how crap! But we did it right this time, look how cool it all is".

      ArsTechnica did a much better piece [arstechnica.com] about how its not so much how much better Win8 is, but how much of that goodness is put into Metro apps rather than old desktop apps.

      As for WPF, its fine for LoB apps, but TBH those were perfectly catered for with winforms, and winforms were a bit easier to work with - no nasty interfaces, loads of property-laden objects, and really crufty binding expressions in the XAML, Winforms were so simple in comparison and did everything your LoB app wanted, but I guess MS couldn't have sold you the new VS and Blend to work with WPF without saying "man, that old crap we did, how crap! But we did it right this time, look how cool it all is".

    • by Kazymyr (190114)

      C'mon, text renders 184% faster, you can't ignore that. That's rendering a line of text in .027 milliseconds instead of 0.0496 milliseconds, definitely an improvement, and long overdue. Who cares that in order to do that you'll need to have 1400 graphic cores running at full speed, using about 0.8kW in the process.

  • by Robert Zenz (1680268) on Wednesday July 25, 2012 @02:29AM (#40761113) Homepage
    So, "typographically rich" is the new buzzword, yes?
    • by Shimbo (100005) on Wednesday July 25, 2012 @03:19AM (#40761423)

      So, "typographically rich" is the new buzzword, yes?

      Give us $1 million or WE WILL USE BLOCK CAPS EVERYWHERE.

    • by shutdown -p now (807394) on Wednesday July 25, 2012 @03:23AM (#40761447) Journal

      "Typographically rich" just means that the apps actually use the well-established typographic rules that are widely used in print media, and these days also on websites, for their UI. You know, things like the appropriate choice of fonts (serif vs sans serif etc), varying text sizes and styles to visually distinguish different pieces of data, general layout rules etc. As opposed to rendering everything in the same 8pt system font, and using chrome to highlight things.

      Here [microsoft.com] are the actual design guidelines that explain it all in more detail.

      • by devent (1627873)

        "Typographically rich" means for me to use what is available since 30 years or more: hyphenations for text, real small caps and ligatures. In the design guidelines is only some crappy font settings which I know and do not love from every Web page out there. So nothing new here at all.

        But what should I expect if you just take Html, JS and Css to design applications. If you not take the hint: it's the worst possible format for good designs. I mean, it took what, 10 years for CSS to finally get gradient suppor

      • by KiloByte (825081)

        well-established typographic rules

        Well, remind me then which company gave us Comic Sans.

  • It's ugly. I really want to like it, but metro's big colored blocks feel like a step back on a desktop. I have four screens, several feet away from me, I don't want to touch them. I suspect that once its released the first thing that will be done is the "back to the desktop and start menu" hack. And yes, I know this has been done, but still. Its ugly.
    • by phantomfive (622387) on Wednesday July 25, 2012 @02:35AM (#40761155) Journal
      If you've been watching Microsoft at all in the last 20 years, and expected anything but ugly, then you haven't been paying attention.

      A good part of the reason OSX is considered 'beautiful' is because people are comparing it to Windows. Yeah I just insulted Microsoft and Apple fanboys, but it's true.
    • Re:Yes but.. (Score:5, Informative)

      by Gaygirlie (1657131) <gaygirlie&hotmail,com> on Wednesday July 25, 2012 @02:39AM (#40761193) Homepage

      I suspect that once its released the first thing that will be done is the "back to the desktop and start menu" hack.

      Stardock's Start8 already allows you to boot straight to traditional desktop and recreates the Start-menu as seen on Windows 7. That will be one of the first applications I'll be installing, that's for sure.

      • Last time I've tried Start8, it didn't actually recreate the Win7 Start menu. Instead, it shows the Win8 new Metro home screen in a popup window in the same location where the Start menu would've been in Win7.

      • Re:Yes but.. (Score:4, Insightful)

        by FBeans (2201802) on Wednesday July 25, 2012 @04:50AM (#40761917)
        I don't understand. From what I can see the "selling point" of Windows 8 is metro, is touch screen, is the new UI. You, and many others, I'm sure, will be instantly disabling these features? Guess what, I don't blame your for this, I just wonder why you don't choose an operating system to fit your needs, whether it's sticking with Windows 7 or moving elsewhere. Is it a good idea to "upgrade" and then spend time and effort working around those upgrades to have what you had before?
        • Re:Yes but.. (Score:5, Interesting)

          by Gaygirlie (1657131) <gaygirlie&hotmail,com> on Wednesday July 25, 2012 @05:03AM (#40761969) Homepage

          I don't understand. From what I can see the "selling point" of Windows 8 is metro, is touch screen, is the new UI. You, and many others, I'm sure, will be instantly disabling these features?

          There isn't really much to disable, I'll just use the traditional desktop with one or another Start-menu replacement, that's all.

          Guess what, I don't blame your for this, I just wonder why you don't choose an operating system to fit your needs, whether it's sticking with Windows 7 or moving elsewhere. Is it a good idea to "upgrade" and then spend time and effort working around those upgrades to have what you had before?

          I want the performance-improvements and increased battery-life offered by Windows 8, that's more-or-less the whole reason for me to upgrade, though being able to better support family and friends with Windows 8 is a good side-effect. Since I bought a new laptop at the beginning of June I am eligible for the discounted price of Windows 8 Pro, I'll have already saved that money just by skipping one Subway-meal and as such the price is not really a deterrent. I will be sticking with Windows 7 on my desktop, though, as it is not eligible for this discount.

          As for "moving elsewhere": that is unfortunately not a suitable solution for my use-cases.

  • by PortHaven (242123) on Wednesday July 25, 2012 @02:29AM (#40761117) Homepage

    Over the years I've knocked Microsoft quite a bit. But I have to say that after 2 years of using Windows 7 I am still happily pleased. I've had one crash with blue screen of death. And very few problems outside of trying to run iTunes.

    So let's be a bit fair. Heck, Windows 7 crashed less than my OS X experience of the same amount of time. Not saying it's perfect. But on decent hardware with good drivers, it's pretty darn good. And a lot better than anything Microsoft did in the past.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by ThatsMyNick (2004126)

      Try Windows 8 and you would take back any credit you give them for Windows 7.

    • by FBeans (2201802)
      I love how low people's standards are. Microsoft have a very easy job to please lots of people. Make it crash less. From such an expensive, and costly (in terms of money, time and compromising of morals and ideals) *I* expect better. Microsoft are a large company with lots of money, lots of employees and lots of skill and experience. As a consumer one should ask for more, expect only the best, and when a comapny doesn't deliver, one should speak up, demand improvements or go else where. Stop setting the
  • by Sasayaki (1096761) on Wednesday July 25, 2012 @02:32AM (#40761141)

    Software has dramatically outpaced hardware over the last decade. The lowest end PCs available for purchase can easily run Windows 7, especially if given a few extra gigs of RAM (by far the cheapest component) or given an SSD (by far the slowest component).

    End users will never, ever notice this speed because I've never waited for Windows 7 to render text. Ever.

    By all means, software speedups are more than welcome and it's good that Microsoft have avoided the typical bloat that many have suspect Intel pushes, but the most important battlefields by far for Windows 8 acceptance will be stability, ease of use, compatibility with legacy applications and hardware support.

    Stability is in doubt if there's big changes, which there looks like there will be.

    Ease of use... Metro has been copping a lot of flak from the technical user camp, but we don't know what Joe User will think of it yet. In any event, it's a lot of retraining, which is not a good sign.

    Legacy application and hardware support will probably be equal to Windows 7, with a loss in application support and a gain in hardware support.

    TL;DR: Well done, but I hope this isn't *all* Microsoft have when it comes to Windows 8.

    • by Gaygirlie (1657131) <gaygirlie&hotmail,com> on Wednesday July 25, 2012 @02:43AM (#40761221) Homepage

      End users will never, ever notice this speed because I've never waited for Windows 7 to render text. Ever.

      You do realize that the less time the CPU or GPU has to spend doing something the more time it can spend idling, thereby consuming less power and producing less heat, so even if the end-result is not visible to the eye it is still a beneficial effect nevertheless. Especially on mobile devices any improvements to battery-life directly translate to end-user satisfaction and better useability.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by WaffleMonster (969671)

        You do realize that the less time the CPU or GPU has to spend doing something the more time it can spend idling, thereby consuming less power and producing less heat, so even if the end-result is not visible to the eye it is still a beneficial effect nevertheless. Especially on mobile devices any improvements to battery-life directly translate to end-user satisfaction and better useability.

        I'm not convinced. The Nvidia GPU in my computer is constantly consuming dozens of watts by itself while it sits idle doing nothing. The ATI GPU I had before that was actually worse.

        Mobile GPUs have much different characteristics yet still keeping more silicon than necessary lit even if reasonably gated does not seem to me to be worth reduced cost vs any insignificant additional CPU offload during the *small* amount of time actual work is being performed contrasted to cost of normal 2d acceleration with

    • by epyT-R (613989) on Wednesday July 25, 2012 @03:33AM (#40761521)

      you mean hardware has outpaced software, right? this is true, though instead of providing unique, useful and NEW functionality in a sane footprint, today's software is bloated up with a bunch of 'experience' aesthetics and rearrangements that, in many cases, hinder workflow for the sake of looks. proper software is functional first, intuitive next, and pretty last.

    • Software has dramatically outpaced hardware over the last decade.

      Yet, we're still waiting for the ultimate programming language for multicore systems.

    • by SpryGuy (206254) on Wednesday July 25, 2012 @09:35AM (#40763415)

      but I hope this isn't *all* Microsoft have when it comes to Windows 8.

      Of course not.

      Dramatically faster install, reinstall speeds along with new refresh/reset functions for fast snapshotting and reverting to snapshots.

      Dramatically faster boot/sleep/hybernate/resume/shutdown times.

      New "Storage Spaces", a dynamic pooled storage feature.

      Built in Hyper-V virtualization support.

      New syncing and roaming support (use same login on different machines, get the same settings, metro apps, and data).

      Integrated SkyDrive cloud storage support.

      Integrated USB3.0 support

      New faster/better networking support for mobile devices, including support for metered access and monitoring and smart network switching (won't download updates on metered connection, for example).

      Better memory use via resusing redundant memory, smaller working set, smaller set of active services running.

      Improved integrated security and malware protection, as well as more and better protections throughout the OS (better address randomization, etc).

      Improved multi-file-copy/move experience through the UI, including improved conflict resolution.

      Native support for creating/mounting .iso and .vhd files in Windows Explorer

      More and better language and keyboard support.

      Improved PowerShell scripting support.

      New "File History" feature (easier to use, more "Time Machine"-like file backups and restores)

      Improved Task Manager and resource monitoring in general.

  • As side benefit you computer double as heater as soon as it turned on.
  • by Gaygirlie (1657131) <gaygirlie&hotmail,com> on Wednesday July 25, 2012 @02:35AM (#40761163) Homepage

    There's plenty of sections like e.g. the one about memory utilization where the author tells about various situations the devs have been benchmarking and why, but then ends bluntly with "Measuring memory usage across many types of apps and these various scenarios has helped us further optimize DirectX and the display drivers." without actually describing how or what they did. There is similarly no mention whatsoever about the devs improving performance for GDI-based applications; all they talk about is DirectX and/or Metro. With regards to e.g. "Improving geometry rendering performance" we find this gem: "For Windows 8, our improvements in this area have primarily focused on delivering high-performance implementations of HTML5 Canvas and SVG technologies for use in Metro style apps, and webpages viewed with Internet Explorer 10." which to me seems like saying that non-Metro applications won't really see any benefit from this at all. I may be interpreting it wrong, I admit, but it's hard to say without any more details.

  • by Gadget_Guy (627405) * on Wednesday July 25, 2012 @02:37AM (#40761177)

    To be fair, a Commodore 64 could render the Metro interface at a reasonable speed. The advantage of changing to an interface that looks like it is from the 80s or 90s is that you don't have to push around a lot of pixels or do fancy 3D tricks to make it work.

    When they finally retire the old non-Metro UI and just have the full-screen interface, I wonder if they will rename the product from Microsoft Windows to Microsoft Window. The tagline: there can be only one (program onscreen).

  • Speed for all apps (Score:5, Insightful)

    by caywen (942955) on Wednesday July 25, 2012 @02:41AM (#40761211)

    Jesus, these initial comments bore the hell out of me.

    Here's the way I see it: Microsoft has finally gotten off their asses and recognized that efficiency really does matter when dealing with power efficient mobile GPU's. Given that Metro's ethos is stark simplicity, it'll be entertaining to watch how developers exploit the new capabilities. If the result is silky smooth navigation in nearly all apps, that'll be a big win. If the result is a rebirth of gradients, glows, glass, and other crap, I'll be pretty disappointed.

    Hats off to Microsoft for focusing not just on Metro speed, but speed for all apps.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by billcopc (196330)

      Dude, get out. This is 2012. All the intelligent commenters have fucked off already. If you ever find one, please be a sport and send up a flare so I can find them too.

      I bet most of the people still here weren't even born when MS-bashing was still cool.

    • by epyT-R (613989) on Wednesday July 25, 2012 @03:37AM (#40761547)

      fuck animations.. they're just a song and dance the user has to wait for EVERY time he clicks something. that metro menu is an abomination. all that work just to start an application?

    • by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Wednesday July 25, 2012 @04:03AM (#40761719)

      Because it is a good OS. This isn't the only place they've increased speed. Cakewalk tried out Sonar X1 (their top flight digital audio workstation product) on 8 and found an across the board speed improvement. Not a recompile or something that used new special 8 features, just the code they have out now running on 8.

      The technical types have done good work on it. It looks like they were just able to make it faster, more efficient and all that kind of jazz, and do so without increasing hardware requirements. Wonderful. What's more, they made it so it could run tablet and phone apps, which is cool if you find an app you like and want it on the desktop.

      Unfortunately marketing got involved and said "We have to use desktops to drive sales of the tablets nobody wants! Make it use a tablet interface even though that sucks for desktop use!"

      So we have a good OS, with a shitty UI. Oh well. Personally, it doesn't bother me much. I'll just replace the UI. I imagine Stardock will make a good set of tools to make it look good (they've already released a beta start menu tool) and Classic Shell already has Windows 8 support. So no problems for me.

      It more annoys me at work. What I can guarantee will happen is people will get it either because they want to try it or because they get a new computer, they'll hate the changes, demand 7 back (which we'll give them) and then never want to move from 7, ever, because they'll decide it is "The last good OS."

      I'm sure the MS programmers are pretty bitter at the marketing heads right now fucking up what really is quite a good set of technical improvements.

  • by Chemisor (97276) on Wednesday July 25, 2012 @10:25AM (#40763907)

    And in the mean time, Linux still offers no way to draw smooth animations by synchronizing them to vblank. Xsync was supposed to solve that problem 30 years ago, and yet, it still hasn't.

Almost anything derogatory you could say about today's software design would be accurate. -- K.E. Iverson

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