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Firefox 3.7 Alpha Launches With Direct2D GPU Rendering

Gordon Kelly by

Firefox 3.7 Alpha Launches With Direct2D GPU Rendering

Proving that Microsoft really was born to suffer in the browser world, Firefox has beaten Internet Explorer 9 to its one interesting feature...

While Firefox 3.6 continues to beaver away in beta developer Mozilla has already launched Firefox 3.7 alpha on its FTP and with it full Direct2D rendering. This is promised for IE9 and means for the first time a web browser can render a website using the power of a PC's GPU rather than its CPU - a move which can dramatically speed up loading times.

Windows Vista or Windows 7 plus a DirextX 10 compatible graphics card with WDDM 1.0 driver are needed to be compatible, but early tests are extremely promising. Mozilla programmer Bas Schouten used a PC with a Core i7 920 processor and relatively midrange Radeon HD4850 and claims Direct2D rendering times more than halved on many sites (results pictured). This potentially skyrockets Firefox performance into and beyond Google Chrome territory and while how much will depend largely on what GPU you have even the GeForce 8400GS in my laptop shows definite improvement.

Currently dubbed 'Minefield', for obviously stability related issues, the build isn't intended for mainstream consumers but the Windows-only build does indicate a brave new world of browsing could be just around the corner. Of course with the likes of Adobe's Flash Player 10.1 beta also offloading video onto the GPU we may soon need to redesign software to give the increasingly idle CPU something to do!

In related news Mozilla has also pushed out the fourth beta of Firefox 3.6. Small performance tweaks are present, though it is mostly bugfixes and suggests a Release Candidate will be next on the horizon. And to think, those of you running Firefox 3.5 thought you were up to date...

Links:

Bas Schouten Blog Post

Firefox 3.6 Beta 4

Go to comments

Gavin Hamer

November 30, 2009, 7:49 am

Wow! I'm going to have to start planning what I'm going to do with all those saved milliseconds! Doh! I've used them all up for my entire life while typing this.





GPU acceleration has got to be a good thing, but seriously, if that graph is the best it has to offer....





GPU Flash acceleration sounds much more worthwhile, if that ever turns up. Maybe our CPUs won't be tied up playing all those adverts.

Gordon394

November 30, 2009, 7:54 am

@Gavin Hamer - think you're missing the point. It's not about what it adds up to. If I told you that you could have an extra 5 minutes in your entire day that wouldn't sound a lot, but if it came from saving you an extra 20 seconds every time you opened a programme on your PC all day it'd be very welcome.





Same goes for this rendering. With pages being almost instant and - just as vitally - losing the judder as you scroll around them that'd make a big difference to most of us...

Pbryanw

November 30, 2009, 12:25 pm

One thing I don't understand (looking at the graph) is how Google's rendering time can be cut in half? It's not exactly a very graphic intensive page, so how come it's speeded up so much?





Anyway, looking forward to 3.7 now - is this the Firefox build that's also getting the Chrome-like makeover?

Andy0d2

November 30, 2009, 1:14 pm

This is off-topic.





First and foremost why when I log in do I have return to a useless login page rather than to the comments section of the article I am actually trying to login on - not even sure the page required reloading for a login anyway, as many other sites do not.





Second - These ads are ridiculous, you are actually starting to seriously annoy me. I and many others have ranted about this in the past, however it is getting beyond a joke now since you have not removed the ad in question (the one above the 'latest news' column, otherwise know as gaping white abyss to us adblock plus users) but you have added another one further down the page! I like many others do not enjoy scrolling. I hope you remove these ads. I understand this site is partially, if not entirely, funded through these ads but that is no excuse to essentially ruin the format of your site.





End Rant !

Ed

November 30, 2009, 1:52 pm

@Andrew Violet: The login problem is a known bug. I thought it was on the list of things to sort but evidently hasn't been yet. I'll talk to our developer and see what's happening.





With regards ads. Once again I have to say I have no sympathy whatsoever. As soon as you admit to using an adblocker then your credibility goes out the window. We are solely funded by advertising so essentially admitting to us that you're getting our content for nothing then complaining about the fact is not something we appreciate. That said, the new ad placement is not something the editorial team asked for. Unfortunately we don't have final say in such matters.

Steve

November 30, 2009, 2:23 pm

All well & good. But when is UK broadband going to catch up with the rest of the world? It's nice having state of the art software but if we can't use it to it's full potential then what's the point of us getting excited?





I had problems with Virgin Media all weekend whereby web pages either refused to load or they would take an age. I don't have the willpower to call their "Customer Service" wombles up anymore so I just waited for the issue to resolve itself as my neighbours were having trouble too so it was one of their famous area faults.





Bet they don't have these problems in places like South Korea! In fact, I bet they don't have these issues in North Korea!!!!!

Andy0d2

November 30, 2009, 2:34 pm

I wouldn't have to use an adblocker if sites like these didn't keep putting them in stupid places (in middle of page). I have no problem with ads, but I do have a problem when there are far better places for them, than being placed in the centre of the page. I very rarely click on them if they are there, so there is surely no difference between me and someone else who sees them and doesn't click on them, whilst having to focus on the content rather than ads. I will also have you know I do actually use your price comparison tool frequently (its one of the many excellent things about this site with the reviews and news being written in a unique informative style) so I guess I am certainly not "getting {your} content for nothing then complaining". I am glad to here that it is not your fault about the new ad placement and I would like to make clear that this is not a rant at the editors in any way, since you do such an outstanding job with content of this site and I know you do listen to your readers since you introduced the great video reviews section.

Geoff Richards

November 30, 2009, 2:54 pm

@Andrew - thanks for your feedback. Glad to hear you like our price comparison tool.





Regarding the "new" ad placement, you are mistaken. Since you are adblocking (and remembering our previous discussions) you are assuming that every gap in the site is there because there is supposed to be an ad there. In this instance, the gap below the third news story on the homepage is a simple glitch which we are working to fix.





Ad Ed rightly points out, the only way we are able to publish all the great content we do completely free of charge to the end user is by selling advertising against our content. Nothing new there - commercial TV stations do it; Metro and other "free" newspapers do it.





We work hard to deliver relevant ads for our readers, whether it's highlighting the latest models or cashback offers from guys like Canon.





I'm not going to debate the morals of adblocking; we'd simply prefer our readers didn't do it (or whitelisted TrustedReviews) so we can continue the necessary evils of business, like paying our staff.

Keithe6e

November 30, 2009, 3:34 pm

@the great content we do completely free of charge to the end user is by selling advertising against our content. Nothing new there.





One thing I really like about this website, is how comments are moderated. Not like the BBC's "have your say", that should be renamed to "Have your say if we agree" website :)





Anyway, I know these comments about adverts are going OT. But it does look like it's something your readership do feel strongly about. So one question I do have, I believe Google also made it big from advertising, but they managed to do it without pushing them in your face. So could it be something the PR department seriously think about? btw. Today I had an advert that scrolled in from the left into the centre of the screen, so the adverts are starting to really interfere with the content.

Simon

November 30, 2009, 3:46 pm

I'd just like to have my 2 bit on the AdBlock debate, my preferred method is to have it on by default and then turn it off for the sites i like and use regularly so their ads can be served and i can help pay for the content i am getting (for free).

rav

November 30, 2009, 3:48 pm

As Chrome has no extensions adblock plus is but a dream to me.





I have to say though that TR's ads are particularly annoying. The new ones seem to expand downwards and numeroud times when clicking on the top news item I've inadvertantly clicked on the ad instead as it has entered down. Very sneaky!





Another thumbs up for your price comparison site though. Used it for many TR induced purchases.

lifethroughalens

November 30, 2009, 5:25 pm

I have to admit that it was this site alone than drove me to install 'Flash Block' for the first time ever, a few weeks back. I have always run AdBlock on all sites and white-listed sites that I like...but I will not be turning off the flashblocker for this site until the advertising becomes far less intrusive and distracting.





It never used to be this bad, yet the articles produced were just as good. Getting carried away with the Ad-rev? I know the new site design won't pay for it's self, but please no more pop out, move across and roll over boxes!





I do always use the manufacturer's links at the end of the articles if i'm interested in the product but have to admit that the last time I clicked on an advert of any description on any web site, was years ago - instead I prefer to Google the product directly and take my choice.





Firefox 3.7 GPU rendering, brilliant! About time we got to use all that redundant power for something :)

Helmore

November 30, 2009, 5:54 pm

Those guys at Mozilla can be pretty fast, or they have been working on it for longer than it seems. Still shows that Microsoft made a pretty amazing API though.


As for the speed benefit, I don't care for the time it actually saves me. It mainly makes the experience of using the browser much much more enjoyable. A bit like going from a Windows Mobile phone to an iPhone (not as extreme) from a responsiveness standpoint (not really in usability).





As for the ads, I'm on Chrome and thus no add-block for me. But to be honest, I don't mind advertisements if they are done properly. On some sites I actually think the advertisements add to the page, but in most cases they just can't seem to do it right. The advertisements should be subtle, usefull additions to the site, that are completely unintrusive but it should still be clear that they are ads and not really part of the actual site. On this site the ads have started to get a bit over the top. I'd say the ads would be much more valuable if they were properly done, that way you could even ask more for a single ad, but put fewer ads on the site and thus still get the same end result on 'your' bank account. Just my opinion though, but as some companies prove, it pays to listen to your customers.





From my own experience, I'm more likely to click on an ad if the ad is so unintrusive that I will actually care to take a proper look at the ad. If the ad is too up from I basically ignore it.

Peter 20

November 30, 2009, 6:58 pm

Being loyal and devoted fan of TrustedReviews I make sure to not only read but also click on every ad on the page. This is my way of giving back to the boys and girls at TR for writing these grate reviews. :)





Okay, enough brown-nosing I must agree with Gavin and say that all those speed battles between browsers are getting out of control. Although I always like to see a new technology coming up I would really prefer folks at Mozilla focused more on getting Firefox more compatible with "IE Only" sites and tools. Like making FireFox play nice with CITRIX client and such.

Cub

November 30, 2009, 8:51 pm

I'll start with the story relevant(ish) comment:


@Peter - Noooooooo...! The issue is *not* with getting Mozilla to get their browser working with "IE only sites", it's getting the lazy fools at Citrix to develop a site that is built around the wonderful set of tools and languages that are set in stone that all web browsers should (and do, if you ignore the elephant in the room) adhere to. To reiterate - Citrix'/Microsoft's fault, not Mozilla's.





Now to join in with the discussion, I understand fully the need for adverts on a quality site like this, and have never, like most people, had a problem with them. The only silly decision was to plonk one in at the top of the news column. Ignoring the fact that it's taking up content space, aesthetically, it makes the front page ugly - as did that bizarre background that appeared and disappeared last week...

xbrumster

November 30, 2009, 9:02 pm

Firefox? Thank God they have themes addon, or voted ugliest but works best browser on the market... (I see bricks thrown at me)

Martin Daler

November 30, 2009, 9:25 pm

this whole ad debate - I guess if TR did charge a subscription to the site, they they would have a view as to how high a price they could charge before the loss in subscribers was greater than the increase in the charge per subscriber - price elasticity of demand etc. Its no different with the ads - the heavier they become the less some people will want to view the site, or, in the case of AdBlock, the less they will be inclined to want to see the ads themselves. There must come a point where more/annoying ads equals less revenue.


I understand the need for ads, and I would like to see them - after all, I'm interested in the product, and decent ads add eye-candy. But I can't be doing with things jigging about, flying into view or auto-scrolling. I'm sorry, but I just won't.

jingyeow

November 30, 2009, 10:22 pm

@Ed, If it helps I didn't get the login page bug until I changed my email address. However now whenever I sign in, I have to go back two pages to enter my comment.

Ed

November 30, 2009, 10:38 pm

@Andrew Violet: With regards the comments login, I've spoken to our developer and apparently some new code is being rolled out tonight which incorporates this fix. So touch wood it should be working tomorrow.

Andy0d2

December 1, 2009, 2:33 am

@ Ed I am very pleased to hear that and it backs up my belief that the editors of this site do what they can to please the readers.





I hope that whoever is in charge of ad placement reads these comments since they provide constructive criticism. If the ads were less intrusive I would actually remove my ad-blocker since this is the only site I feel compelled to use it on.





On the actual topic FF > IE (and the rest including you Cr (chromium on period table meaning chrome - for all you non-chemically minded people out there!)

Tony Walker

December 1, 2009, 1:18 pm

Didn't give a stuff about using adblock untill recently.





Was quite happy having static adverts as I appreciated they paid the bills and allowed the site to continue.





As soon as the ads started flashing and expanding and getting "in my face" then I took the option I would have in real life and punched their ruddy lights out with adblock.





If you want your revenue then moderate your adverts

xbrumster

December 1, 2009, 6:09 pm

Im intrigued to know how much Teufel is paying for the ads today? ;)

lifethroughalens

December 1, 2009, 6:53 pm

Goodness me - and the adverts continue, even worse than before!





Can you get any more distracting than the whole front page background?! Unbelievable!

Ed

December 1, 2009, 7:21 pm

And there was me thinking the Tuefel takeover wasn't too bad. Hey ho.

xbrumster

December 1, 2009, 7:37 pm

it is nicely implemented at least, give credit to whoever did it..





how much...............? 0.0~

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