Posts Tagged ‘RENDERING’

Saturday, January 15th, 2011

Firefox 4 with WebGLFirefox 4 in beta to be released soon, also joins the WebGL ranks with Chrome 9.  Safari has it in nightlies and IE hasn’t even mentioned it.

There really is too much to list as this release is feature packed! Of course the most exciting being WebGL and hardware acceleration from our perspective.

Firefox 4 now has WebGL enabled by default. Based on the original 3-D Canvas work by Vladimir Vukićević, this is being

widely implemented in browsers. The WebGL spec is on the short path to a 1.0 release and we’re very excited to see this be used in the wild.

Hardware acceleration has finally arrived even though it should have been in nearly all platforms for web last decade, but we’ll take it.

Firefox 4 supports full hardware acceleration on Windows 7 and Windows Vista via a combination of D2D, DX9 and DX10. This allows us to accelerate everything from Canvas drawing to video rendering. Windows XP users will also enjoy hardware acceleration for many operations because we’re using our new Layers infrastructure along with DX9. And, of course, OSX users have excellent OpenGL support, so we’ve got that covered as well.

The javascript engine JaegerMonkey is comparably fast to SunSpider and V-8 javascript benchmarks and has support for EC5 javascript.

And you might have noticed that it’s really fast. This is the world’s first third-generation JavaScript engine, using Baseline JIT technology similar to engines found in other browsers and kicked up a level with the Tracing engine found in Firefox 3.6. As such, we’re competitive on benchmarks such as Sunspider and V8, but we’re also fast at a whole mess of things that we expect to see in the set of next-generation web applications, hence Kraken.

WebConsole looks like they are joining Chrome and Safari with built in inspection tools similar to Firebug, however Firebug still available.

Firefox 4 will include the Web Console. This is a new tool that will let you inspect a web page as it’s running, see network activity, see messages logged with console.log, see warnings for a page’s CSS, and a number of other things.

Note this that is something that we’ll be including with Firefox 4 directly. It’s not an add-on.

(Also Firebug will be ready for the final Firefox 4 release.)

Firefox 4 has other improvements like layering (in-memory retained layers), caching/scheduling improvements and lots of other performance enhancements.

2011 is looking like the year all this is coming together, at least for Chrome, Firefox, possibly Safari (need WebGL in main release) and IE is still the biggest problem to getting WebGL. At this point WebGL looks like it is still over a year out as it may not come to IE until IE10 or possibly never, the WebGL 1.0 spec is on the fast track though (don’t we all love Khronos? They have been amazing with OpenGL since they took over).  html5 is looking like it will be close to mainstream by the end of this year depending on the install rate of IE9 when released.

The world is waiting to see if Microsoft implements WebGL or tries the old DirectX/D2D only ways.  Nevertheless, getting a push for hardware acceleration and fast renders in 2d/3d is a very sweet direction.

Friday, March 19th, 2010

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.

Saturday, August 8th, 2009

So many cool and useful technologies are unveiled at SIGGRAPH every year, this year at SIGGRAPH 2009 was no different.  Khronos Group, behind the new guidance of OpenGL, OpenGL ES, OpenCL, OpenVG, COLLADA etc, came another big announcement about hardware rendering within the browser.  WebGL is now an official standard being developed at Khronos Group to bring javascript control of OpenGL to browsers… Wow!

Ok so this was officially announced at the GDC in March but limited information, but now it has been slated for an official public standard in early 2010. Shortly after the announcement at the GDC we saw Google o3D appear doing exactly that, controlling OpenGL through Javascript in the browser but it was still largely software/harward hybrid rendered. Google, Mozilla, Opera are part of the companies supporting WebGL which is great for browser support, also NVIDIA, AMD and Ericsson are in on it.

Khronos Details WebGL Initiative to Bring Hardware-Accelerated 3D Graphics to the Internet

JavaScript Binding to OpenGL ES 2.0 for Rich 3D Web Graphics without Browser Plugins;
Wide industry Support from Major Browser Vendors including Google, Mozilla and Opera; Specification will be Available Royalty-free to all Developers

4th August, 2009 – New Orleans, SIGGRAPH 2009 – The Khronos™ Group, today announced more details on its new WebGL™ working group for enabling hardware-accelerated 3D graphics in Web pages without the need for browser plug-ins.  First announced at the Game Developers Conference in March of 2009, the WebGL working group includes many industry leaders such as AMD, Ericsson, Google, Mozilla, NVIDIA and Opera.  The WebGL working group is defining a JavaScript binding to OpenGL® ES 2.0 to enable rich 3D graphics within a browser on any platform supporting the OpenGL or OpenGL ES graphics standards.  The working group is developing the specification to provide content portability across diverse browsers and platforms, including the capability of portable, secure shader programs.  WebGL will be a royalty-free standard developed under the proven Khronos development process, with the target of a first public release in first half of 2010. Khronos warmly welcomes any interested company to become a member and participate in the development of the WebGL specification.

Google released O3D this year and there are great strides in 3d within the browser from game engine wrapper technologies such as instant action technology, gaim theory engine (now owned by id Software and runs Quake  Live, hardware rendered Unity 3D (and Torque 3D coming soon), and Flash software rendered  3d engines Papervision 3D, Away 3D, Sandy (Sandy also released a haXe version that exports a javascript version) and others.  But it looks like the movement is to bring OpenGL to the web as a standard under the name WebGL, this would be great!  There would still be lots of times where plugins are better now and in the near future but the path is a good one. Having a software/hardware rendering hybrid like Google O3D for broad video card support (some of the painful older intel cards), or using a plugin like Unity3D, Torque 3D or wrapper technology for bigger engines is a good idea for the time being. But the future is grand in this area.

I think that Google O3D and OpenGL ES success on iPhone games probably combined to get this in motion.  OpenGL and very basic video cards are now standard in most machines out there.  Unity3D actually published hardware statistics on casual gamers (web-based games) ever so kindly and shows that even though there are some older Intel cards out there, for the most part machines nowadays have a video card capable of supporting at least low-poly 3d and hardware supported 2d rendering in real-time for games, user interfaces and more.

This is exciting news, it appears the movement of the web gaming market is getting much more capable and is accelerating the innovation of hardware accelerating the web.

Tuesday, April 21st, 2009

Google has a few things going for 3d in the browser, not just 3d but hardware rendering in the browser.  They previously had native client which allows you to run code via a plugin proxy with a sample running Quake.  They also had Lively which was a virtual world plugin that was shut down a few month after it started.

Now they are also making and releasing an O3D plugin that looks to be another way to do web 3d scenes and games although it is a very early stage. They appear to want to have an open discussion about how best to add hardware rendering to the web.  Their approach uses a javascript api to control the browser plugin and the O3D control is essentially just a renderer.

This won’t change anything now as Unity3D, Flash 3D pseudo engines, even Director 3D still are the top choices for games, apps, and interactives that need effects and possibly hardware rendering. But it is interesting that Google is essentially re-entering this debate after ditching on Lively and they must see some benefit to having a discussion about 3d on the web and 3d standards in general.  I know they have lots of models and tools with SketchUp and Google 3D warehouse so who knows maybe they will take it over by being standards, open and information based.

What is O3D?

O3D is an open-source web API for creating rich, interactive 3D applications in the browser. This API is shared at an early stage as part of a conversation with the broader developer community about establishing an open web standard for 3D graphics.

Get involved

One thing is for sure, 3d development is still old school proprietary lock in in most cases.  Working with 3d and tools like Maya, 3dsmax and others they have always been very non standard.  From file formats to interfaces to even basic movements, all different.  The general maths of 3d are the same and so should 3d pipelines.  Formats like COLLADA are nice because they are starting to open up 3d pipelines and content creation but COLLADA still has many porting issues.  FBX file format is another that is really useful and common making pipelines in Unity 3D, for instance, very nice. But it is owned and run by Autodesk who owns all the 3d apps (Maya, 3dsmax, SGI) and I am a bit leary of that method.  But in the end 3d pipelines and rendering will be somewhat standardized and maybe the web will be hardware rendered one day.  In most cases it is not needed, but for gaming, immersion, demos and other entertainment it could benefit heavily from a more standardized 3d pipeline and methods.