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GPU accelerated rendering lands in Firefox nightly build

Yesterday you read about Mozilla's effort to boost Firefox's Javascript processing speed with the new JägerMonkey engine. Now Asa Dotzler has blogged about another feature -- freshly landed in the Firefox nightly builds -- which should speed up the 'fox even more.

The gfx.font value above is a new about:config value which toggles GPU accelerated rendering via DirectX 11's DirectWrite and Direct2D. Like many newly-added features, it's disabled by default -- here's how to flip the switch:
  • head to about:config and search for gfx.font
  • double click gfx.font_rendering.directwrite.enabled to enable it
  • right-click and create a new integer called mozilla.widget.render-mode
  • enter 6 for the value
  • restart Firefox
Dotzler notes that certain extensions like Stylish and AdBlock+ can interfere, so you may need to launch Firefox in safe mode to make sure it works. You won't notice much of a change on the average web page since they either already load in a blink or get bogged down with content Firefox can't accelerate this way (like Flash or Javascript). I did, however, notice improvements on sites like Compfight and Google's image search.

Microsoft had announced back in November that Internet Explorer 9 will leverage the technologies, but Mozilla has beaten them to the punch -- at least publicly. No telling when the general public will get an IE9 preview.

If you're up for it, put your GPU to good use -- download and install the latest Minefield build, enable DirectWrite, and share your experience in the comments!

Tags: 3.7, accelerated, directdraw, firefox, gpu, nightly, performance, rendering, speed, video