Two of the top five web browsers on today's Internet do not support hardware acceleration in their latest public releases. We are obviously talking about the Opera browser and Safari. Opera however has tweaked their implementation of hardware acceleration in the browser since 2008, when the company released a first working demo. Three years later, another demonstration has been released.
The release has the version Opera 11.50 labs, indicating that hardware acceleration will not be integrated into Opera 11.10 Barracuda but a future release instead.
Before we look at speeds, lets take a look at some general information about hardware acceleration in Opera:
A download link has been posted on the Opera Core blog. Existing Opera users should install the release in a different directory (as a portable installation) to avoid complications with their already installed copies of the Opera web browser. Please note that Opera has only released a Windows version. A commenter however reported that it worked fine under Wine as well.
Opera users can check if hardware acceleration is enabled by entering about:opera in the location bar. OpenGL under Vega Backend indicates that hardware acceleration is enabled, Software that the browser is not making use of the built-in hardware acceleration of Opera 11.50 labs.
It is recommended to update the drivers of the graphics update to the latest version before running any benchmarks.
So, how fast is Opera 11.50 labs with hardware acceleration? Lets take a look at Microsoft's Fish Tank demo with 1000 fish. Please note that the fps depend both on the browser's implementation and the hardware of the computer system. The maximum fps of the test are 60.
Opera's hardware accelerated build maxes out the fps in the Fish Tank demo just like Internet Explorer does. Chrome 11 Canary seems to be missing an option under about:flags as I was not able to find the gpu accelerated composing feature there, only gpu accelerated canvas 2d.
Opera on the other hand has improved considerably, from 3FPS to 60 FPS and probably even more if the benchmark would be able to display higher frames per second.
Several commenters have reported problems with the demonstration build. My test version did run fine, without crashes or other technical problems. The developers will tweak hardware acceleration further before it will be available in a release version of the browser.
The future however looks bright for the Opera browser. Hardware acceleration was one of the remaining missing pieces, especially since it is not limited to any specific operating system.
If you have another benchmark that you would like me to try, let me know in the comments.
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Ghacks is a technology news blog that was founded in 2005 by Martin Brinkmann. It has since then become one of the most popular tech news sites on the Internet with five authors and regular contributions from freelance writers.