Bas
2011-08-16

Releasing Azure

We've been working hard over the last few months to get Azure(canvas use only at this time) ready for shipping. As Firefox 7 has been in the aurora stage for a while now, it's safe now to say that there's a very good chance that Azure will be shipping with Firefox 7! I'd like to use this opportunity to say a little bit more about how Azure will be present in Firefox 7 and the road ahead.

Awesome! So what does it mean?

Well, for those of you reading my blog you probably have read my earlier post about Azure and the performance improvements it brings to several canvas demos. Those performance improvements are still valid! It should be noted though that not a lot of optimization work has gone into Azure for firefox 7 though. This means is that there is still some cases where traditional canvas performed a little bit better than Azure (particular with relation to shadows, this can be seen on some parts of the 'asteroids' benchmark, see bug 667317). However because of those caveats we don't want to delay bringing the improved performance on the majority of real world use-cases to our users! In addition because of the architectural step forward Azure is for us, it's great to start getting feedback from a larger user-base so we can move ahead from here with more bugs fixed and more confidence in the architecture.

Why would it not be in Firefox 7?

As part of our rapid release cycle (as many of you will probably know), we want to guarantee releases at regular intervals. This means that if in the beta stage a serious issue is found in Azure, we will disable Azure for Firefox 7. This is a good thing! It means that although Azure will have to wait a couple of weeks for Firefox 8, all the other improvements included in 7 will get to you in time.

So what's the way forward for Azure?

The Azure plan is still largely the same, the immediate short-term tasks we're focusing on are as follows:

  • Create a Cairo backend to Azure, this will allow Azure to be usable on all platforms, allowing us to migrate more of our code to it.
  • Create a 'Thebes' wrapper for Azure. Thebes is our current cairo-wrapper library, with this wrapper we can use Azure through our traditional rendering code, and progressively move code in our tree to use Azure 'natively'.
  • Continue preliminary work on 'Emerald', our own, cross-platform, accelerated backend for Azure.

In addition to this, we've also decided to create an experimental Skia backend. This will allow us to do good performance comparisons, and of course on platforms where this can get us a performance improvement we'll be able to use more of the awesome work coming from the open source world!

That's all for now! Keep testing and don't hesitate to contact me, or even better, file bugs in bugzilla if you find any issues!

3 comments

# EuroScepti1C on 2011-08-16 at 15:50
I'm not expert neither experienced user, but, I'd like to know when you say:

"performance on the majority of real world use-cases"

What does it means? How I'm going to benefit from Azure as an average user? In my daily browsing, what Azure accelerates and even better than the previous system? I'd like an answer if you've available time, in short... Not complicated and long things.

Thank you!
# Dimitris on 2011-08-17 at 18:20
I think all this progressiveness is taking too long. I want azure powered screaming OpenGL performance on my Linux boxes NOW! I am excited yes :) I would say ditch the Cairo backend and go straight for OpenGL.
# Bas [Member] Email on 2011-09-26 at 11:14
@EuroSceptic:

For the Firefox 7 release, sadly the answer is probably 'not really' not a lot of sites are using 2D canvas yet. But for sites that do use canvas you should get faster performance if you're on Windows 7 with hardware acceleration.

@Dimitris:

Heh :) I'm afraid we don't have a choice, but you're enthusiasm is duly noted!
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