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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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  • Re:Great (Score:3, Informative)

    by jabelli ( 1144769 ) on Sunday September 12, 2010 @04:37PM (#33555104)

    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.

  • Re:So? (Score:3, Informative)

    by Millennium ( 2451 ) on Sunday September 12, 2010 @04:41PM (#33555134)

    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.

  • Misleading. (Score:3, Informative)

    by Cyberax ( 705495 ) on Sunday September 12, 2010 @04:50PM (#33555218)

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

    That's absolutely OK for most practical purposes.

  • 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.

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

    by dracvl ( 541254 ) on Sunday September 12, 2010 @04:56PM (#33555284) Homepage

    I tried to submit something through the feedback thing, but as far as I can tell, things written there go nowhere, so who knows.

    No, we read pretty much all the feedback (through filtered and clustered searches) -- the volume is very high, and so we can't respond to individual comments, though.

    We are aware of the issue with hardware acceleration on certain setups. Try updating your graphics card drivers and try again?

    -- Alexander Limi, Firefox User Experience Team

  • Re:Misleading. (Score:2, Informative)

    by blai ( 1380673 ) on Sunday September 12, 2010 @04:57PM (#33555292)
    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:So? (Score:5, Informative)

    by dotwhynot ( 938895 ) on Sunday September 12, 2010 @05:08PM (#33555394)

    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.

    Firefox does 97, IE9 does 95 on Acid3.

  • Re:Misleading. (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 12, 2010 @05:13PM (#33555468)

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

  • 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.

  • 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.
  • by don.g ( 6394 ) <> 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: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:Misleading. (Score:3, Informative)

    by hedwards ( 940851 ) on Sunday September 12, 2010 @05:29PM (#33555652)
    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.
  • Which websites? (Score:3, Informative)

    by judeancodersfront ( 1760122 ) on Sunday September 12, 2010 @05:32PM (#33555690)
    I haven't seen a website require IE in years.
  • Re:So? (Score:3, Informative)

    by RebelWebmaster ( 628941 ) on Sunday September 12, 2010 @05:33PM (#33555700)
    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:3, Informative)

    by fluffy99 ( 870997 ) on Sunday September 12, 2010 @05:43PM (#33555782)

    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, have a look at [] which summarizes the farce that is the Acid3 test.

  • Re:Pointless battles (Score:3, Informative)

    by mariushm ( 1022195 ) on Sunday September 12, 2010 @05:46PM (#33555802)

    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 workarounds and the ones hurt are the actual developers - one of the big reasons Firefox was started in the first place.

  • 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:What good is... (Score:3, Informative)

    by CarpetShark ( 865376 ) on Sunday September 12, 2010 @06:36PM (#33556174)

    "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:Which websites? (Score:3, Informative)

    by Dekker3D ( 989692 ) on Sunday September 12, 2010 @06:41PM (#33556210)
    That site wrecks any semblance of respect I had for Christians, but it renders fine on Firefox 3.6.9, on Windows XP.
  • 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.
  • 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:So? (Score:2, Informative)

    by bd_ ( 35871 ) on Sunday September 12, 2010 @08:40PM (#33557106)

    Go to "Options."

  • by KonoWatakushi ( 910213 ) on Sunday September 12, 2010 @09:11PM (#33557278)

    See here [] for a handful of AMD boards which do support the IOMMU present in the 890FX chipset. In addition, the ASUS M4A89TD Pro/USB3 supports ECC as well, which is nice. Sadly, outside of the server chipsets, the others in the 800 series do not support the IOMMU.

  • 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.

  • Re:Which websites? (Score:2, Informative)

    by judeancodersfront ( 1760122 ) on Sunday September 12, 2010 @11:44PM (#33558008)
    Oh come on that is a fringe site by someone with questionable mental stability. And all the links can be navigated with Chrome.

    I'd like to see a business or government site in the US or Europe that requires IE. Maybe they exist but I haven't seen one in years.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 12, 2010 @11:52PM (#33558040)

    IOMMU is in the chipset and not in the CPU and it's been in chipsets since the very first AGP motherboards appeared on both AMD and Intel. However you don't even need IOMMU because DMA can only read/write into specifically mapped memory areas anyways, all you need to protect the OS from overwriting from a GPU or any other device for that matter is: don't map it into DMA I/O space ffs.

  • by BZ ( 40346 ) on Sunday September 12, 2010 @11:56PM (#33558060)

    > I don't see Flash going anywhere for at least a decade

    No one cares that Flash exists. What's important is that it be possible to develop tomorrow's web sites without having to use Flash, and that it be possible to browse the web at least somewhat reasonably without having Flash (e.g. not all sites need to work, but there should be sites in a given category that work without Flash). That's a somewhat realistic goal right now; for example very few banks require Flash (though some do).

    > Silverlight won't have the install base of HTML5

    The goal is to keep it that way, yes.

    > Apple doesn't have enough influence to change the direction of the web.

    You apparently haven't had to deal with the "if it's on a cell phone it must be Webkit" mindset of developers of "mobile" sites. See the part dealing with -webkit-text-size-adjust at [] which Microsoft was forced to take out later. Note that there have been calls for Gecko to similarly add support on mobile for some of the -webkit-* stuff Apple has been pushing people to use. Those calls have been resisted so far, but as for the future.... who knows.

  • 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?

  • Re:Misleading. (Score:2, Informative)

    by lamapper ( 1343009 ) on Monday September 13, 2010 @12:43AM (#33558266) Homepage Journal

    Redmond is targeting real-world applications based on real-world data.

    ~ from the link in your post....

    I almost could not stop that is what they were doing in Redmond when they ignored previous Web browser standards, instead implementing proprietary features that only worked in IE and not in other browser, especially not in Firefox. What hogwash.

    Or perhaps that is what they were targeting when the refused to implement either H.264 or X.264 into Silverlight in order to push their own proprietary standard? And it is not forgivable that they implemented H.264 compliance into Silverlight over two years later when the market refused to go down yet another proprietary format blind alley that only supports and promotes Microsoft products over any and every one else...often breaking those other company products in the process.

    That explains Embrace, Extend and Extinguish, silly me for not realizing.

    Irony is when their own proprietary format does not work with the next version of their application that only supports yet another proprietary format...

    And they wonder why their stock price is not growing...duh moment here. In reality, given their massive loss in market share, that is expected to continue into the future, they are doing GREAT, at holding their own stock price. Just goes to show you that the people making money on wall street, that do not produce anything, are not very bright either.

    Microsoft cast stones way before almost anyone else in the proprietary format and browser wars...they really do live in a glass house and not acknowledging their deceptions does not revise history enough for the average person to understand how they have abused their monopoly position.

    Thankfully they are becoming less and less a force for many reasons, browsers being mitigated to only a small one...finally.

  • Re:So? (Score:5, Informative)

    by gaspyy ( 514539 ) on Monday September 13, 2010 @01:27AM (#33558402)

    People should get over Acid3.
    Some of the features Acid3 tests for are already obsolete (SVG fonts superseded by WOFF) while other crucial features are still buggy.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 13, 2010 @01:30AM (#33558410)

    Actually it's much easier to find which AMD boards support it, as it's currently standard on all Opterons after a certain (relatively recent) generation, and supported by all chipsets which support them (at least AMD made ones, 3rd party may be different.) I believe it's not possible to disable, but it starts in all-accessable (ala no protection) for compatibility reasons.

    Intel, has theoretically been out longer, but you have to hunt and hope the CPU supports it. Then you have to find a chipset which supports it. Then you have to hope that it's not disabled in the BIOS by the board maker. Note that it may be disabled later in the BIOS, as I believe one revision of an ASUS' board's firmware did. (Insofar as I know, that board wasn't advertised with the capability, it just had it early on, and a lot of people interested in it, jumped on board.) Also note that for Intel it's not limited to only Xeons, but it's risky if you don't know exactly what you want.

Heuristics are bug ridden by definition. If they didn't have bugs, then they'd be algorithms.