Firefox gets GPU D2D Acceleration

It had been long predicted, that this day would come when Browsers will learn to leverage GPU for rendering webpages. After Microsoft’s announcement of GPU acceleration in it’s upcoming browser IE9, Firefox also started to get into it seriously.  Microsoft had published new API with Windows 7 called Direct2D. Direct2D is designed to be  replacement for GDI and takes the task of vector graphics rendering engine, using GPU acceleration to give large performance boosts to the webpage rendering.

Update: Chrome gets Hardware GPU Acceleration, Chrome 7 to get Hardware Acceleration, 60x Faster

Firefox gets GPU Hardware Acceleration, JagerMonkey Boost

Firefox gets GPU accelerated OpenGL Push with WebGL [3D Graphics]

The support for D2D is being seen on Firefox’s Latest alpha release Minefield 3.7 a1(nightly)
Direct2D has been implemented in Firefox as a Cairo backend. Firefox uses Direct3D textures as backing store for all surfaces. This allows Firefox to implement operations not supported by Direct2D using Direct3D

Since we are offloading the CPU task to GPU, there is a delay in between the data transfers from GPU to CPU  before the CPU can read it. Readbacks have significant performance penalties because of GPU-CPU synchronization being required.

However, on Direct3D10+ hardware  (Windows Vista, Windows 7) this should not negatively impact performance, it does mean it is harder to implement effective D2D software fallback.

Benchmarks
Bas managed to get a Benchmark of the browsers on a  ATI Radeon HD4850 GPU:

If we alook at the pattern from the graph, complexly structured websites the performance advantages are significantly less, and the error margin in the measurements can be seen to be larger (i.e. different rendering runs of the same site deviated more strongly).

We can see that D2D provides a much better experience on our daily browsing. All the Graphic intensive work like Google Maps, Scrolling through webpages,  Image rendering, animation with javascript will have much smoother framerate on Direct2D.

Download MineField 3.7a1

These test were done on a Direct X 10 card, but older PCs with pre-D3D10 graphics cards and WDDM 1.0 drivers will not show significant improvements, moreover, It may or may not work on D3D9 graphic cards, depending on exact graphics card specifications.

Let’s hope the support goes better for Direct X 9 cards as well, may be Google has a better solution on this, we will have to wait and see.

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