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IE9 preview brings GPGPU acceleration

IE9 preview brings GPGPU acceleration

The new JavaScript engine - along with GPGPU acceleration - helps IE9 trounce IE8 in benchmark tests.

The next edition of Internet Explorer has been confirmed as having a neat trick up its sleeve to help in the speed stakes: GPU acceleration.

As reported over on ExtremeTech, Internet Explorer 9 - which is currently not much more than a tweaked rendering engine on top of Internet Explorer 8 - looks to bring IE out of the doldrums in benchmarks and put it back at the top of the tree once more, thanks to the wonders of general purpose GPU computing.

The GPGPU engine allows those with compatible graphics cards - anything recent from Nvidia or ATI should suffice - to offload graphics rendering operations on to the graphics card, freeing up the CPU to deal with back-end stuff such as JavaScript - an area in which Internet Explorer has always been laggardly.

Speaking of which, the Internet Explorer team is busily working on JavaScript performance, too: by taking advantage of dual- and quad-core processors by compiling the code on one core and running it on another, IE9 promises a significant performance boost. Demonstrating the difference the two technologies can make once combined, principle program manager Jason Weber demonstrated a JavaScript 3D engine that caused IE8 to cry after just a dozen instances - but IE9 carried on at full speed with 256 separate icons.

If the idea of offloading some tasks to the GPU sounds familiar, then you're probably thinking about work carried out to introduce the same technology into the popular Firefox browser by the Mozilla Foundation. While Microsoft was the first to announce GPGPU acceleration in its browser back in November, Firefox beat IE to the punch in having the first available test version: now it just remains to see which of the companies can get a fully supported version out of the door first.

Sadly for those plugging away on Windows XP, Microsoft has confirmed that Internet Explorer 9 - with all its multi-core and GPGPU goodness - will be limited to Vista, Windows 7, and the company's server products.

If you're curious to give it a go - and you're running Windows Vista with Service Pack 2 or newer - then you can download the platform preview directly from the Test Drive website.

Do you believe that making everyday programs like the web browser take advantage of the ultra-powerful graphics cards and multi-core processors most of us have sat in our machines is the way forward, or is there more Microsoft could be doing in code efficiency before worrying about taking over more hardware? Share your thoughts over in the forums.

30 Comments

Discuss in the forums Reply
proxess 17th March 2010, 10:52 Quote
Well done M$.
wgy 17th March 2010, 11:05 Quote
i have a suggestion, please can you allow a "click big" option for your new article images?

whats the point in having an image if you cant read it?
surely im not the only one who struggles to read the text in it?

thankyou!
theskirrid 17th March 2010, 11:06 Quote
I expect we'll see nvidia vs ati benchmarks for Crysis, Heaven, AVP and IE9 now :D
BentAnat 17th March 2010, 11:07 Quote
Opera 10.50 scores 100/100 in the ACID3 test... first browser I've seen that hits that.
zabe 17th March 2010, 11:28 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by BentAnat
Opera 10.50 scores 100/100 in the ACID3 test... first browser I've seen that hits that.

actually... not to ditch opera, but Chrome has been getting a 100/100 score in Acid3 for a looooooooooooooooooooooong time now...
in any case, i just compared the performance of ie9/chrome/ie8/firefox and ie9 renders at incredible speeds where the rest of the browsers are stuck at 2-3 fps... ie9 meanwhile rendering at 64 fps. i'm impressed!!
perplekks45 17th March 2010, 11:29 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by wgy
i have a suggestion, please can you allow a "click big" option for your new article images?

whats the point in having an image if you cant read it?
surely im not the only one who struggles to read the text in it?

thankyou!
+1

Other than that: Thanks, I'll stay with FF. But it's good to see MS learn and improve.
javaman 17th March 2010, 11:38 Quote
come on chrome lol. Might be enough to switch back to firefox or IE. Depends on security first and foremost tho then speed.
leveller 17th March 2010, 11:45 Quote
I might have to ditch Safari ...
mclean007 17th March 2010, 12:03 Quote
GPU rendering is a big win, but it is disappointing that, while IE9 annihilates IE8 on JS performance, it is still waaaaaaaaaay behind Safari, Chrome and Opera's latest efforts, all of which lay the smack down pretty hard on IE9.

Boasting that "IE9 is quicker than IE8" is much like bragging that your 1.2l 1982 Lada Riva would thrash round the Nürburgring quicker than an 80 year old man, in a zimmer frame, recovering from a triple heart bypass and a particularly nasty bout of pneumonia. Doubtless true, but not much of a selling point.
lacuna 17th March 2010, 12:04 Quote
until IE supports mouse gestures I am not interested
bb_vb 17th March 2010, 12:17 Quote
Not to nit-pick, but this doesn't appear to have anything to do with *GP*GPU; they're using GPUs for what they've always been for: graphics rendering. If they were doing real-time encryption, or video decoding, or physics simulation on the hardware then that would be GPGPU.

It's still cool though, and I imagine it will really spur the development of graphics-intensive online games etc.
Almightyrastus 17th March 2010, 12:53 Quote
Now we just need 64bit flash for windows and we are all set..................

/*not holding breath*/
hexx 17th March 2010, 13:54 Quote
hmm is it possible that those results are achieved not by browser but with the fact that IE is using Direct X? if yes then we're locked to win platform, would make sense to use Open GL/CL - implement support in all browsers and run the test again :)
mclean007 17th March 2010, 14:07 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by lacuna
until IE supports mouse gestures I am not interested
I'm with you there. I'm a mouse gesture addict. FF 3.6 broke All-In-One Gestures and I am not happy!
wuyanxu 17th March 2010, 14:08 Quote
imagine: Firefox + OpenGL/CL + multi-core support + all its plug-ins still work.......

well done MS, setting a very good example of how browsers should move towards, hardware-utilisation-wise.
BentAnat 17th March 2010, 14:22 Quote
So what if IE uses DX... it's not like IE has a massive market outside of the WIN world.
I, for one, am happy that they're pushing hard. IE6 < IE7 < IE8, and hopefully, < IE9

Javascript rendering is really not everything. Bigger than that is HTML5/CSS3 capabilities.
Lots of Javascript becomes obsolete with HTML5/CSS3. I'm no expert on the subject (i just toyed with basic CSS3), but there's a lot to be said about native HTML/CSS animations. Complete menus without touching Javascript, complex animation, 3D transformation.
IMHO, all the guys going on about sheer Javascript power are wang-waving.

Safari is CSS3 king ATM. If IE9 can compete with that, or even offer up to FF levels of support, the web should become a better place quickly.
Less Flash, Less Javascript.... that's just what the internet needs. And MS seems to be moving in that direction as well...
proxess 17th March 2010, 14:38 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by mclean007
I'm with you there. I'm a mouse gesture addict. FF 3.6 broke All-In-One Gestures and I am not happy!

All-in-One gestures is heavy on CPU/MEM usage, use Firegestures.
Dark Matter 17th March 2010, 14:42 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Almightyrastus
Now we just need 64bit flash for windows and we are all set..................

/*not holding breath*/


I agree

;)
hexx 17th March 2010, 17:13 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by BentAnat
So what if IE uses DX... it's not like IE has a massive market outside of the WIN world.
I, for one, am happy that they're pushing hard. IE6 < IE7 < IE8, and hopefully, < IE9

Javascript rendering is really not everything. Bigger than that is HTML5/CSS3 capabilities.
Lots of Javascript becomes obsolete with HTML5/CSS3. I'm no expert on the subject (i just toyed with basic CSS3), but there's a lot to be said about native HTML/CSS animations. Complete menus without touching Javascript, complex animation, 3D transformation.
IMHO, all the guys going on about sheer Javascript power are wang-waving.

Safari is CSS3 king ATM. If IE9 can compete with that, or even offer up to FF levels of support, the web should become a better place quickly.
Less Flash, Less Javascript.... that's just what the internet needs. And MS seems to be moving in that direction as well...

The day when we can all use css3 and html5 is far away and it won't replace javascript. I'd rather would like to see M*soft to fully support standards at first then they can improve performance. it's real pain in the a*** to work as a web developer, to tweak code just for IE, but since most of the users are using IE there's no other option. I'd be happy if MS simply brings IE to the same level of standards support as other browsers
thehippoz 17th March 2010, 20:20 Quote
well what I've noticed when writing pages a while back.. if you can get it working in a gecko browser, it usually displays correctly (well most of the time) in IE.. it can't be said the other way around- write for IE and your almost guaranteed it won't look right in others
Zurechial 17th March 2010, 20:27 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by hexx
I'd be happy if MS simply brings IE to the same level of standards support as other browsers

This a thousand times over.

I find myself responding with apathy to every item of news relating to browser performance until they start tightening up how browsers render pages, particularly IE.
Blackie Chan 17th March 2010, 20:44 Quote
I might have to ditch OB1
Landy_Ed 17th March 2010, 20:51 Quote
Just what the Atom / ION platform needs.....
karx11erx 18th March 2010, 00:44 Quote
Get your facts right: The purpose of GPGPU is not (primarily) to allow the program to offload graphics rendering operations to the graphics hardware. That's the task of a hardware 2D/3D API (e.g. DirectX or OpenGL). The purpose of GPGPU is to offload tasks to graphics cards that are not graphics rendering related, but benefit from massive parallelization.

I recommed taking a look into Wikipedia first before writing your next news flash.
BentAnat 18th March 2010, 05:36 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by hexx
The day when we can all use css3 and html5 is far away and it won't replace javascript. I'd rather would like to see M*soft to fully support standards at first then they can improve performance. it's real pain in the a*** to work as a web developer, to tweak code just for IE, but since most of the users are using IE there's no other option. I'd be happy if MS simply brings IE to the same level of standards support as other browsers

I agree with you on the compatibility level of IE. It's pretty bad.
I have, however, always figured out quick and easy alternatives to do things and make them look right in all browsers, and have not needed to use a browser hack in > 2 years.

As for CSS3 (more that than HTML5).
Some key features are already being used on surprisingly big sites.
Twitter uses the rounded corners, for example.

I think CSS3 is well usable currently. Not for mission-critical things, but for decorative things.
Rounded Corners, Box Shadows, Text Shadows, RGBA colours, Multiple Backgrounds... those are big things.
The moment the mass of browsers supports them, I'll use them.
Firefox supports most of those.
Safari supports most of those, if not all
IE - well, with 9 it looks to support most of those
Opera supports most of those (10.50)
Chrome supports most of those.

I Really don't see why I shouldn't use it, one IE9 ships. IE8 acceptance rate has gone up, thanks to MS's Windows Vista/7 method of rolling out updates (little alert, and all). I expect IE9 to ship standard with Win 7 SP1, and to be rolled out normally.
In Europe there's the whole Browser choice screen, which will always lead to the user downloading the latest versions.
Firefox updates itself pretty much, and Opera also alerts.
Not sure about chrome, but I'd be surprised if it didn't...
all this shows a bright new day ahead, and a world where we can start using CSS3 for aesthetics, and gracefully degrade for the rest of the planet.

It may still be a good bit of time till we can use 3D transformation and those things in mainstream web dev, but until then, we can start using basics.
And basics are already a long way into replacing the has-been.

Rounded corners replace image-links to an extent
RGBA colours make simple colour schemes super easy
Box shadows replace Gradient images, if used correctly.
CSS3 tranformation WILL have a large impact on the use of Javascript on the web. And if it doesn't then half the world's web developers should possibly reconsider their careers.
Javerh 18th March 2010, 06:02 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by wgy
i have a suggestion, please can you allow a "click big" option for your new article images?

whats the point in having an image if you cant read it?
surely im not the only one who struggles to read the text in it?

thankyou!
http://ie.microsoft.com/testdrive/benchmarks/SunSpider/Default.html
BLC 18th March 2010, 06:55 Quote
Umm... Am I the only one that doesn't care about rendering or JavaScript speed? Honestly, Chrome is more fast enough for me and has a (comparatively) low footprint, as well as a minimal toolbar. The lack of plugins is a bit of a PITA (especially with no ad-blocker), but I can live with that.
BentAnat 18th March 2010, 07:04 Quote
My guess (as good as any) is that IE9 will have some form of extension support.
Think Widgets/Gadgets.
IE8 had something approaching that with their "web slices" thing. Which I don't think anyone ever used.
hexx 18th March 2010, 11:22 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by BentAnat

I Really don't see why I shouldn't use it, one IE9 ships. IE8 acceptance rate has gone up, thanks to MS's Windows Vista/7 method of rolling out updates (little alert, and all). I expect IE9 to ship standard with Win 7 SP1, and to be rolled out normally.
In Europe there's the whole Browser choice screen, which will always lead to the user downloading the latest versions.
Firefox updates itself pretty much, and Opera also alerts.
Not sure about chrome, but I'd be surprised if it didn't...
all this shows a bright new day ahead, and a world where we can start using CSS3 for aesthetics, and gracefully degrade for the rest of the planet.

Yes we use some of css3 features but not on the main areas of the page, more on promotions and micro sites as we need to keep key/user areas consistent across all browsers because still 20+% of page hits are done using bloody IE6 and in whole it's 70+% IE users so only less than 30% of users actually can enjoy layouts and designs how they meant to be. and i'm talking about huge nr of page hits not few thousands or hundreds of thousands, talking about millions of page hits.

So yeah i'd like to use all the glory (me personally i'm on mac and using both safari and chrome) of new features but since my work is web development and we develop for our customers we need to develop mostly for f***g IE. :)
Hamish 18th March 2010, 12:18 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by BentAnat

Box shadows replace Gradient images, if used correctly.
firefox and i think webkit supports gradient backgrounds anyway, i think thats part of CSS3 isnt it?
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