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IE9 Team Says "Our GPU Acceleration Is Better Than Yours" 360

An anonymous reader writes "Over on the IE blog Microsoft's Ted Johnson writes, '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.' Some Mozillians hit back in the comments to the IE Blog post and others have written blog posts of their own. PC Mag's Michael Muchmore seems to conclude that IE9 and Firefox 4 are more or less the same (despite the title of his article) while Chrome currently lags behind."
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IE9 Team Says "Our GPU Acceleration Is Better Than Yours"

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  • So? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by AnonGCB ( 1398517 )

    IE 9 still can't pass Acid3.

    • Re:So? (Score:5, Funny)

      by symbolset ( 646467 ) on Sunday September 12, 2010 @04:23PM (#33554996) Journal
      It can't run on XP either, nor phones, nor tablets. Fringe browser for the platform of yesteryear.
      • Fringe? It's still 60% of the browser usage: []

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward

          They still have 60% of the market share because web developers keep it alive, throwing away standards and making sure IE users can see the best out of their apps/websites.

          I never saw a website forcing the usage of Firefox/Chrome/Safari/Anything better than IE, but I can't count the number of time I had to fake the usage of IE to bypass a block from a website forcing IE for no apparent reason.

        • Re:So? (Score:5, Funny)

          by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 12, 2010 @05:39PM (#33555748)

          Wow! MS has really outdone themselves this time... IE9 doesn't go public beta until the 15th and they've already gotten 60% market share? I'm amazed...

        • Wrong chart (Score:3, Insightful)

          by symbolset ( 646467 )

          You're looking for This one []. W7 and Vista have together less than 30%, and that's the only operating systems IE9 will run on. So if they get 100% of those, which seems unlikely, their max upside today is 30% of the total browser market. Since as you note they only get 60% share even though Windows is over 90%, it's a 20% upside potential for IE9 today - probably less since early adopters are also the people most likely to choose a different browser. Fringe. Not enough to dominate the developers.

          XP has

        • Re:So? (Score:5, Informative)

          by RobertM1968 ( 951074 ) on Sunday September 12, 2010 @08:23PM (#33556980) Homepage Journal

          Fringe? It's still 60% of the browser usage:


          Re-read OP's post. They are discussing IE9, which does not run on those things (unlike various other versions of IE). So... the 60% marketshare stat you provide is irrelevant to their premise.

          In addition, read MSDN's post. It says...

          (translated)"HEY!!!! We're FINALLY first with SOMETHING!!!! Let's rub it in everyone else's faces!!!!!!! Maybe they wont notice the fact that once again we wont be compliant with web standards!!!"

          (in MS Marketing Speak) "We’re excited that other browsers have started to use hardware to accelerate graphics performance. With different implementations starting to become available, now’s a good time to blog about the difference between full and partial hardware acceleration."

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Millennium ( 2451 )

      Unfortunately, Firefox's stubborn refusal to pass Acid3 legitimizes IE9's stubborn refusal to do the same. The dev team needs to swallow its pride and implement the standards.

      • If IE8 is any indication, Firefox comes a damn sight closer to passing.

        Not perfectly in compliance, granted, but really rather close when compared to what it looked like in IE for me.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Firefox developers are never going to implement SVG fonts, because they think they are stupid (and they are right, in fact passing the Acid3 test is the only reason to implement SVG fonts these days). Implementing "HTML5" features is far more useful. But they welcome external contributions.

      • Re:So? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by arose ( 644256 ) on Sunday September 12, 2010 @05:27PM (#33555618)
        Ignorance at it's finest. Acid3 is not a standard, it doesn't measure standard compliance. Implementing just enough to pass Opera/Webkit style is absurd, go bark up their tree.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        SVG Fonts is an optional part of the SVG 2.0 spec, FWIW. Frankly, I wouldn't call the other browsers' half-baked, supported-enough-to-pass-the-test-but-not-much-more support to be that much better than not supporting it at all.
      • Re:So? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by FooBarWidget ( 556006 ) on Sunday September 12, 2010 @05:33PM (#33555702)

        What, 97% ACID3 compliance ain't good enough for you?

        100% ACID3 compliance doesn't mean it's fully standards compliant. Chrome is 100% compliant but one check at and you'll see that it doesn't support some CSS 3 features properly, like 'content', while Firefox supports those same features properly.

        Seeing that Chrome still doesn't support basic features like saving tab state after a restart - features that Firefox has had for a long time - I'd say the Firefox team is doing a hell good of a job. Your "needs to swallow its pride" statement is uncalled for.

        • Re:So? (Score:5, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 12, 2010 @05:58PM (#33555892)

          "Chrome still doesn't support basic features like saving tab state after a restart"

          Factually incorrect.

        • Re:So? (Score:5, Informative)

          by exomondo ( 1725132 ) on Monday September 13, 2010 @12:15AM (#33558164)

          Seeing that Chrome still doesn't support basic features like saving tab state after a restart

          How is that different from:

          Options->Basics->On Startup: Reopen the pages that were open last

          Or are you making these claims without having actually used Chrome?

    • Misleading. (Score:3, Informative)

      by Cyberax ( 705495 )

      That's misleading. IE9 gets something like 96/100 in the Acid3 test.

      That's absolutely OK for most practical purposes.

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by blai ( 1380673 )
        Until you're the dev who needs to develop for a client, and each browser has 4/100 chance of breaking some shit up, which adds up to, like, 12/100 probability that you'll need to patch it up with per-browser css.
        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by u17 ( 1730558 )
          Actually, it doesn't. What you want is the probability that (not (everything is OK in all three browsers)) = 1 - 0.96^3 = 0.115264.
          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by Anonymous Coward

            Which, incidentally, rounds to 12/100. ;P

        • Re:Misleading. (Score:4, Informative)

          by arose ( 644256 ) on Sunday September 12, 2010 @05:29PM (#33555644)
          Acid3 doesn't measure standard compliance. The only thing that you that has a 4/100 chance to break is if you are developing an Acid3 test.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by hedwards ( 940851 )
          Which would be valid if Acid3 didn't include a lot of things which are deliberately broken. Beyond that the test tests things which aren't particularly useful.

          It's also not a probability situation, if you're a competent dev, you know or can look up what is and is not supported across browsers and platforms. You're not supposed to routinely implement something only to have an oh shit that doesn't work with browser X moment.
    • by wampus ( 1932 )

      The reasons they gave for not passing those 5 tests seem pretty good to me. I don't honestly know how much use of SVG fonts there is in the real world, but given how many SVGs I run into on a regular basis, I'm going to guess "not much." Also, I seem to recall some discussion of the browsers that DO get 100 only implementing enough of several of the specs to pass acid3.

    • Re:So? (Score:5, Funny)

      by mwvdlee ( 775178 ) on Sunday September 12, 2010 @04:55PM (#33555276) Homepage

      But thanks to GPU accelleration, IE9 fails the Acid3 test much faster.

    • Re:So? (Score:4, Informative)

      by hedwards ( 940851 ) on Sunday September 12, 2010 @05:27PM (#33555616)
      Acid3 isn't a particularly useful test for real world performance and the folks doing the coding and development were right to push it down the list. It uses deliberately broken code to see how the browser handles it. Handling broken code is a bad idea, just make sure it fails without causing a vulnerability and let the web dev fix it. Most decent web devs would rather have a consistent properly functioning target than a browser that handles other browsers broken code.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by bunratty ( 545641 )
        Web standards say what the browser should do when it is handed broken code. If the browser does something other than what the standard says, the result can be a page that doesn't work correctly. You can say that it's up to the web developers to fix their broken code, but the web is full of "tag soup". Go to just about any web page and run it through the W3C validator to see what I mean.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by fluffy99 ( 870997 )

      IE 9 still can't pass Acid3.

      So what? According to [] IE9 gets a 95 and Firefox got 94. Besides the ACID test is about how well a browser handles the testing of esoteric, completely fucked up, marginally correct coding. It's also testing compliance for stuff that isn't rarely if ever used, and some stuff that's not even in the current standard (e.g. the CSS2 recommendations that were later removed in CSS2.1, reintroduced in the draft CSS3). It simply doesn't represent the real world.

      In particular, h

  • What good is... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Darkness404 ( 1287218 ) on Sunday September 12, 2010 @04:24PM (#33555008)
    What good is having GPU acceleration that only works on one platform? The -entire- point of the trend of doing things in-browser is to make cross-platform compatibility a reality. If I wanted a game to work just on Windows, why wouldn't I just make an application that did that?
    • Re:What good is... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by l0ungeb0y ( 442022 ) on Sunday September 12, 2010 @04:30PM (#33555060) Homepage Journal

      This is Microsoft we're talking about, they still believe they are the *only* platform.

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        This is Microsoft we're talking about, they still are the *only* platform of importance.

        Fixed that for you.

        PS.. please ignore the pile of money behind me.

    • Wouldn't it be better to just make the rendering code more efficient? My desktop shouldn't have to fire up a 180 watt graphics card just to render 480p video from Hulu.
      • It isn't either/or.

        If your 180 watt graphics card cannot function without drawing less power than that, you have bigger problems. It would, for example, be drawing 180 watts in any modern composited desktop (windows 7/compiz/kde 4/os x). Fortunately, graphics cards don't always run at 100%.

        Regardless, it's not either or - code can be made more efficient and be hardware accelerated. One of the real advantages of interpreted code is that we can make sensible and reusable decisions on how best to use hardwa

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        As it is unless you have a supported graphics card, Adobe Flash will scribble videos in the 2D frame buffer. Full screen video? It goes into overdrive and revs the CPU to scribble that video while the GPU is twiddling its thumbs. Take the same FLV file, play it through VLC (or whatever) and not even using hardware decoding (eg: not h.264), but just the directX video scaling and the CPU sips power.
    • by dnaumov ( 453672 ) on Sunday September 12, 2010 @04:34PM (#33555084)

      "Cross-platform" means its usable on both Windows 7 and Windows Vista.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        Same difference. Like Windows 2000 and XP. Or 3.0 and 3.1 ;-)

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by CarpetShark ( 865376 )

        "Cross-platform" means its usable on both Windows 7 and Windows Vista.

        "Cross-platform" means that Windows hates you, and doesn't want your damn chocolates. Or your fucking flowers. Bastard.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by arivanov ( 12034 )

      Playing devil's advocate here. Adobe Shockwave is pretty much Winhoze specific and games written in it are very much alive and kicking.

      In fact the only reason it is still alive as a runtime is because it is hardware accelerated. So there is a niche for that which means that there will be a niche for a Windoze only browser with hardware accel.

      • Re:What good is... (Score:5, Informative)

        by CarpetShark ( 865376 ) on Sunday September 12, 2010 @04:53PM (#33555242)

        Adobe Shockwave is pretty much Winhoze specific and games written in it are very much alive and kicking.

        That's fine, but realise that the web is about hypertext. Shockwave and flash are supposed to be on the web in the same way that movies and sounds are: as embedded elements of media. Building an entire site or app in shockwave or flash is NOT building for the web, it's only running a non-web app over http.

    • Browsers are just client software. It shouldn't matter what platform they run on as long as you can get SOME decent web client on all the platforms you use. Of course, that presumes IE9 actually follows standards... that might be the angle you want to attack here.
    • They'll be adding it to other platforms, they just finished the Windows one first. Unfortunately, as far as I can tell, there isn't ever going to be one for Win XP and I don't think OSX either. From what I gather, it isn't activated in Safari, so it's probably not going to be of much priority for Firefox either. Not sure why it wasn't activated in Safari though.
  • by Lost+Found ( 844289 ) on Sunday September 12, 2010 @04:28PM (#33555044) that thanks to the lack of an IOMMU on consumer x86 computers, JavaScript exploits in the browser can now give you access to all the computer's memory, and along with it, ring 0. I can't wait to see the first whitepaper on the subject :)

    • Is this the fabled Scotch mist? []

    • by butlerm ( 3112 ) that thanks to the lack of an IOMMU on consumer x86 computers, JavaScript exploits in the browser can now give you access to all the computer's memory, and along with it, ring 0.

      You are claiming that the graphics drivers / host kernel give user processes the ability to read any location in the computers physical memory? Or is a separate vulnerability in the graphics driver required?

      • by sitharus ( 451656 ) on Sunday September 12, 2010 @05:18PM (#33555516) Homepage

        The GPU, as it's normally on PCIe these days, has DMA capabilities. On most (all?) x86 systems DMA isn't restricted through an MMU, unlike CPU memory access. This means that by sending the correct commands to the GPU you can access any part of the system memory.

        If this is possible in reality I have no idea, but that's the concept.

        • by don.g ( 6394 ) <[zn.gro.sid] [ta] [nod]> on Sunday September 12, 2010 @05:28PM (#33555640) Homepage

          AMD x86_64 processors have an IOMMU. Intel's first x86_64 processors didn't but I don't know if this is still the case. IOMMUs are also important if you are running virtual machine software that allows some VMs access to physical hardware -- Xen lets you do this, for instance.

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by Mad Merlin ( 837387 )

            AMD x86_64 processors have an IOMMU. Intel's first x86_64 processors didn't but I don't know if this is still the case. IOMMUs are also important if you are running virtual machine software that allows some VMs access to physical hardware -- Xen lets you do this, for instance.

            ...and it might actually matter when you can actually find a motherboard with a chipset that also supports the IOMMU on the CPU. At the moment, that means an X58 chipset (socket 1366) for Intel, and for AMD, you're pretty much out of luck.

  • Great (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Dyinobal ( 1427207 )
    So now IE 9 can make my GPU drivers crash. Instead of simply locking up and making me kill the process.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by jabelli ( 1144769 )

      If any program makes your GPU drivers crash, then take it up with the GPU manufacturer. If the drivers are crashing, then they're defective.

      • We have hardware memory protection for a reason. There is no such thing as a flawless program, or a perfect programmer.
    • Only bad operating systems, bad driver programmers and alcohol can make your drivers crash.

  • by ciaran_o_riordan ( 662132 ) on Sunday September 12, 2010 @04:36PM (#33555094) Homepage

    Free software web browser projects should reply by saying that they have better privacy, give away less personal / identifying information, help users avoid being mislead into clicking on ads, etc. etc.

    I've never noticed whether my browser has fast, or slow, or any GPL acceleration.

    • by Superken7 ( 893292 ) on Sunday September 12, 2010 @04:42PM (#33555144) Journal

      wow, GPL acceleration!

      Of course! If its free software it must run faster! ;)
      How fast is Apache, then?

      (very funny typo ;)

      • by mwvdlee ( 775178 )

        To be fair, all those activation schemes, Digital Restriction Management algorithms and anti-copying rootkits take up a significant amount of CPU%. GPL code has none of those.

  • *cough* []
  • Pointless battles (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mariushm ( 1022195 ) on Sunday September 12, 2010 @04:48PM (#33555192)

    I find it ridiculous how browsers battle over something like this when they can't fix very old and stupid bugs, and fully support some older standards such as CSS 1 and CSS 2.

    For example, Firefox crashes when a user loads a 2-3 MB GIF file, because each frame is kept decoded in memory and the browser goes over the 2 GB memory barrier (for 32 bit applications). []
    Or, another example, the file input box ignores any css color rules simply because the html specs doesn't specify any rule so for several years nobody is able to decide something. It's actually since 2000 ffs: []
    Or, for several years now, when uploading a file using a form, the progress is stuck somewhere around 50% and it's discussed over and over but nobody can actually do even a temporary simple fix. Since 2004: []

    It's actually surprising they're able to code something as complex as gpu acceleration when they can't fix small bugs and at the same time it's unfortunate that basic things are forever and ever skipped in the hunt to get the latest "features" (sometimes just to check something on a feature list) instead of actually getting some things working properly.

    • by Xtravar ( 725372 )

      Bug fixes don't sell. As long as it works good enough for most people...

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by toxickitty ( 1758282 )

      Speaking of Firefox bugs that should've been fixed ages ago but never have. There's my all time favorite bug: Bug 105843 - Cache lost if Mozilla crashes ( []). This bug basically says it all it is 9 YEARS old. So for well probably since Firefox has been made it has never cached anything right. Never set that browser cache too high one crash and it's all gone. I can't even begin to imagine how much extra data Firefox needs to download over other browsers. It's

    • by RebelWebmaster ( 628941 ) on Sunday September 12, 2010 @05:40PM (#33555760)
      You're assuming that the developers who implemented the hardware acceleration support were doing so instead of fixing those bugs, which is a big and likely incorrect assumption. It's a tired straw man argument.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      I can't say any of those bugs have ever bothered me. The upload progress thing only slightly. If I can choose between a faster Firefox and proper upload progress I'd rather choose the former. Your definition of useless battles isn't the same as everyone's.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by mariushm ( 1022195 )

        Your "proper upload progress" would most likely involve Javascript or Flash, which not all people may have enabled or even installed on their computers.

        The file input field bug is again one of the main reasons why lots of websites resort to using Flash or complex Javascript libraries to simulate an input field, because it's the only way to be sure it looks the same in all browsers (Chrome is a real problem here as their file input field looks totally different than the rest)

        It's a pain in the ass to do work

    • For example, Firefox crashes when a user loads a 2-3 MB GIF file, because each frame is kept decoded in memory and the browser goes over the 2 GB memory barrier (for 32 bit applications). []

      80/20 rule!

      How many people try to load a 800x600 GIF with 8639 frames and thus benefit from a fix to that bug?
      Now, how many people watch Youtube videos and javascript animations/games, which will be much faster and use less power with GPU acceleration?

      • Re:Pointless battles (Score:5, Interesting)

        by mariushm ( 1022195 ) on Sunday September 12, 2010 @06:19PM (#33556074)

        A 728x90 GIF banner would use 250 KB per frame and at about 30-100 frames per banner, you're looking at 10-30 MB per banner. How many GIF's are in an average page? Lots. How many GIFs are in lots of tabs? Lots. How many bug reports and complaints are on the 'net about Firefox using a lot of memory? Lots.

        It *is* a bug that affects very few people *critically* (crashes) but it is one that makes the browser generally look bad in reviews and other tests, due to the memory usage.

        The problem that's brought up every time is that it's impossible to know how big a GIF file is until it's fully downloaded, so they say they have to decode each frame and keep it cached in memory. However, a simple solution would be to keep both the compressed and uncompressed frames in memory and when a memory threshold is reached, dump the uncompressed frames and switch to real time decoding.
        This way, for example, with a 32 MB threshold, small GIFs like banners would be fully decoded and kept in memory but with larger gifs, once the 32 MB limit is reached, the decompressed frames are dropped and only the compressed frames would be kept in memory, so Firefox would not crash.

        Would have done it myself but I'm not good at the language used by Firefox developers.

    • Re:Pointless battles (Score:5, Informative)

      by bertok ( 226922 ) on Sunday September 12, 2010 @09:17PM (#33557310)

      You think that's bad? There was a critical bug in there for years that would completely overwrite your profile with a blank one, including your history, and bookmarks. Back when email was still integrated into the Mozilla browsers, your emails would get wiped too! The bug was caused by writing out the configuration files one line at a time, so that if the browser crashed during a configuration update, you'd be left with a partial configuration file. On the next startup, the browser would detect the error, and cheerfully overwrite your entire profile with the default profile to 'fix' it. The file contents were overwritten in-place, making disaster recovery practically impossible for most users. I won't even mention the performance hit of writing a 100KB file with 10,000 individual IO operations every time Firefox is closed, because compared to the data loss that's insignificant.

      The Bugzilla forum had about 4 dupes of the bug, each with over a thousand panicked posts by users. Some of the reports when back years.

      When it happened to me, it took me about an hour with Sysinternal's Filemon tools to figure out what was going on. The fix is trivial: simply write the new config file out-of-place, and then replace the original with it once it has been fully written. This is programming 101, standard practice for most Linux/Unix apps. Even Microsoft Office apps do this!

      The bug went unfixed for at least 3 years after I first noticed it, despite at least a dozen posts by professional programmers who had even highlighted the source files and line numbers where the change needs to be made.

      Bugzilla seems to be totally ignored by the Firefox programmers. I suspect that just like many open source programmers, they only care about the "shiny new stuff". Mundane work like fixing bugs is boring, so nobody does it unless forced to.

  • Will they license/open this technology? Will they have to charge?
    They better warm it up, we all are waiting.

    • > Will they license/open this technology?

      Which technology? Their methods of ignoring established design principles in favor of quick & dirty programming? Patented.

    • There wouldn't be much to license; they'll simply be pushing high-level graphics calls down the API/driver stack to the graphics layer. The open equivalent would be for firefox/webkit to have high-level graphics API calls added to the X rendering libraries (cairo or whatever) and call those directly when running on systems that have the necessary libraries. The X-window graphics stack would then do its part, by providing high-level graphics primitives and high-level API functions implemented with fast, lo

  • I don't care if Albert Einstein rises from the dead and announces on Colbert that he has proven that Internet Explorer's display technology is fastest that the laws of physics allow.

    I still will not use any browser controlled by Microsoft.

  • OK, so the display portion that takes milliseconds at most now takes 4-5 milliseconds less time. Meanwhile the browser's taking 10-30 seconds choking on bloated Flash, over-large images and hundreds of K of insanely-convoluted nested Javascript files. Somehow I don't think graphics acceleration will help speed up Web sites significantly.

    It's kind of like cars: sure the McLaren F1 may be faster than my Ford Focus, but it's not the car that's setting the 75mph speed limit.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by CarpetShark ( 865376 )

      It's kind of like cars: sure the McLaren F1 may be faster than my Ford Focus, but it's not the car that's setting the 75mph speed limit.

      Actually, it's because there's a "speed limit" that the extra performance matters most.

      Graphics acceleration for animation etc. is all about getting stuff rendered within the time a frame takes to complete. If you miss that time, graphics stutter, tear, or just plain look boring.

      Now remember that acceleration of a line or a video means you have more time to do other things

  • I don't care (Score:3, Insightful)

    by gilesjuk ( 604902 ) <> on Sunday September 12, 2010 @05:37PM (#33555728)

    I've never gone to a website and cared about how fast it rendered. What I do care about is how secure I am and if the browser is able to deal all the pop ups, pop unders and other junk.

    The IE dev team are just lacking any other decent USP to sell the merits of IE over other browsers. Firefox hasn't really made all that many big improvements for some time. So there's not much for IE to copy.

  • In other news... (Score:5, Informative)

    by Ant P. ( 974313 ) on Sunday September 12, 2010 @07:03PM (#33556388) Homepage

    IE9 cheats on popular benchmarks [] (scroll to the bottom). And they still come second-to-last.

  • Not surprising. (Score:3, Informative)

    by Beelzebud ( 1361137 ) on Sunday September 12, 2010 @07:32PM (#33556608)
    Flame away, but one area where MS is currently destroying the competition is on GPU acceleration. Mac is playing catch up, and unfortunately Linux is still a mess. There is a reason game companies still get away with releasing for Windows and ignoring Mac and Linux.

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