Direct2D Azure hits Firefox 7

Hrm, Azure, what's that again?

You can find out all about Azure other blog posts, there's an introduction from Joe Drew and there's several more in detailed posts discussing the Direct2D Azure backend and the performance implications to be found on my blog. The bottom line is that we're working on a new graphics API that will be used for rendering in Gecko.

What does that mean for Firefox 7?

Well, we're currently only using it with Direct2D and when using canvas. This allows us to stress test it, although a wide array of tests has been run, and it has been in use by our Aurora and Beta testers for a while now, there might still be issues we might have missed. If these issues show in the final release we'll only have caused a regression in Canvas and for a limited subset of our users, rather than in all browser rendering. The bottom line is you should generally see a speed improvement using 2D Canvas in Firefox 7 when using Windows 7 or Vista with a sufficiently powerful graphics card.

So what's next, what's the status?

We're currently working hard on both a Cairo and a Skia backend for the Azure API, this means we'll be able to use the Azure API on all platforms. Possibly getting some quick performance benefits on platforms where Skia outperforms the cairo backends we're currently using. At the same time we're working on creating a layer that will allow controlled migration of all our content drawing code from the current 'Thebes' API's to the new Azure API. Once that is done webpage rendering in general can start taking advantage of all the latest work!

That's about all I have for you right now, enjoy!


# jmdesp   on 2011-09-22 at 08:21

Which means that Azure won’t be used for general rendering until at least Firefox 11, or something like that ?

# Harsh86 on 2011-09-22 at 10:22

Have you considered making a backend using Nvidia’s new OpenGL’s path rendering extension?

# [Member]   on 2011-09-26 at 11:17

@Harsh86: We have known about the extension and have looked at it, but generally speaking at this point we’re not interested in investing significantly in it.

# [Member]   on 2011-09-26 at 11:18

@jmdesp: Quite possibly, yes, we’re moving as fast as we can on this though, but there’s a lot of legacy code to deal with that makes this hard.

# hjuo on 2011-09-30 at 16:31

that skia bugfix is specified for mac, but the comment talk about android. Is it related for everyone or not? Maybe it’s useful for low end system win/linux, just thinking….

PS: keep up the good work!

# Dave on 2011-10-04 at 00:10

Thanks for working to speed up firefox. It’s my browser of choice for development and day-to-day use and the one I recommend for use by lay persons.

Unfortunately, these hardware acceleration changes have broken the rendering on my website (causes flickering/failure to paint parts of the scene on windows 7). I have filed a bug report on the mozilla bug tracker:

Also, I know you’re just testing things out, but it also appears the hardware acceleration is slowing things down slightly on my box.

I have a little HTML5 benchmarking program on my website. It’s totally unscientific, but interesting nonetheless to test the differences between hardware accelerated and not on Firefox.

The benchmark can be found at

With “Use hardware acceleration when available” enabled, Firefox scores 10707. But with hardware acceleration *disabled*, it scores better with 11253. For reference, Chrome scores 24741 on the same box.

# Jay   on 2011-10-07 at 10:04

Hi there, great news, however there seems to be a serious bug with FF 7 canvas as it is now:

It seems like stroke pops the transformation stack. (?)

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