IE9 Will Have Hardware Acceleration on the GPU, Will Support html5 canvas, video

UPDATE: Due to retractions it cannot be entirely confirmed that IE9 will support <canvas> of html5 spec.  They are the last browser and they must support it for it to be a real, valid solution for 2d animation.  GPU supported <canvas> would be a huge innovation but would also most likely kill Silverlight for animation, unless they integrate <canvas>.  Standards are such a tough bet, ask Adobe with the ES4 bet.  Since standards are so tough to get through and are design by committee many times, plugins still have a huge advantage of changing easily. We’ll keep an eye on IE9 to see if the <canvas> revolution will happen soon or if it will be years off.  It will most likely be years off for mainstream at any rate.

Could it be that Microsoft is innovating again?  IE9 will supposedly be largely hardware accelerated for all graphical elements and possibly <canvas> and <video> html5 tags? IE9 test drive preview available here.

It appears Microsoft has been enjoying the Apple, Adobe, Google smackdowns on each other, got lost in the dust kicked up and just done what many developers want: hardware acceleration. Firefox 3.7 also has hardware acceleration coming down the pike.

Specifically, IE9 will take advantage of the underlying hardware in different ways, both from a visual perspective as well as code execution perspective:

  • The MSHTML rendering layer has been enhanced to use Direct2D and DirectWrite instead of GDI.  Direct2D enables GPU accelerated 2D graphics and text, and allows sub-pixel positioning.  In addition, the GPU is used for scaling (bitmaps are mapped to textures), which is ideal for zooming and moving images around the screen.  This GPU support translates directly into improved readability of pages, more precise placement of text and images, and smooth scrolling and zooming.
  • JavaScript performance is greatly improved from older versions of Internet Explorer, and should be competitive if not better than competing browsers.  In the past, JavaScript in IE was interpreted and not compiled into native processor instructions.  The JavaScript engine now includes a JIT compiler which emits x86 instructions and compiles the code before it runs, resulting in a dramatic performance uplift.  Instruction generation can also be tailored to the underlying processor to take full advantage of the underlying platform.
  • IE9 is more standards compliant than previous versions, with new support for HTML5 elements such as <video>, CSS3 support, and SVG support.  All graphic elements will be accelerated on the GPU and will enable hardware accelerated rendering contexts for application development, improving visual display, reducing CPU usage, and improving power usage.

There is no excuse in this age where most people have at least a 32MB cards even on the lowly intel OEM cards to not take some advantage of hardware rendering/acceleration for aspects of web content including video, 2d, games and even 3d.

There are lots of other areas of browsers and tech that is hardware accelerated such as plugins like Unity (and Director waaay before that), video, and new tools like WebGL/O3D. Firefox 3.7 is also aiming for hardware acceleration.  This idea of browser graphical elements not just in a plugin or video player being hardware accelerated is something that might spark some very interesting and innovative experiences.

I applaud this effort and hope there is truth in it beyond just a preview that has features cut.  I also hope more browsers and plugins start doing the same besides just IE9 and Firefox. This entire blog has pretty much had an underlying hardware rendering/acceleration slant.  I have been pushing this for sometime and I believe the time is coming soon that web developers will be equipped with the power that native and game developers have for graphics soon, mainly for applications, games and experiences.

The best news is that IE9 will support html5 and <canvas>, <video> tags and ensures the new functionality that web developers will be able to use.  We’ll all have to wait for 2-3 years probably before it is something that is 90% saturated and usable in the mainstream market but it is good to know great times lie ahead.

I can’t believe I just wrote about IE possibly innovating ahead of others.

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  • matthewfabb

    Note that while the IE9 preview supports SVG and the new HTML5 video tag, it currently has NO canvas tag support. Install IE9 and then run any of the canvas capability tests and it all comes out negative. Meanwhile, when asked a MIX10, Microsoft seem to dodge questions about whether or not they will support the canvas tag in the final version of IE9.
    “Asked if Microsoft would support HTML5 Canvas tags in IE9, Hachamovitch said graphics supported in IE9 are GPU-powered and it remains to be seen what else might be supported in that vein.”

  • matthewfabb

    Note that Microsoft link you provided has been updated and corrected that canvas support has not been announced yet and it seems like a big question mark whether or not they will support it in the IE9 timeframe.

    • drawcode

      Yeh that is pretty sneaky. I was hoping AMD knew something that Microsoft wasn't publicly announcing but was in there. It is possible they won't support <canvas> or are keeping it under wraps to keep people guessing. If IE9 does not support <canvas> then it will halt html5 progress and will keep alive solely Flash and Silverlight. We shall see what will happen. Progress in html5 depends on all browsers so IE9 could kill at least the <canvas> portion very easily. I jumped the gun on this one is seems with the retractions at AMD and now no mention on their own preview site:

  • x^n

    LOL. IE will never ever in a million years support <CANVAS> Get over it now!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Canvas is technically owned by Apple, do you think a company like Microsoft is going to build Bing Maps on a technology owned by Apple? If you do, please, wake the FRAK up…

    Sheesh. MS owns DirectX/3D, Silverlight, IE, Windows, Media Center, Bing, Bing Maps, Windows Mobile 7, you name it, they have a product out there.

    This whole conversation is an INVENTION, designed to push the concept of HTML5 in people's minds, thus hopefully twisting MS's arm into being “standards compliant”. But it's not going to happen, its a thin veil of lies this time around.

  • Online Shopping Mall

    He was only canvasing opinion! Ha ha