When you think of GPGPU, what first comes to mind? Video encoding? Image restoration? Password cracking? How about Internet browsing? It might seem silly at first, but Intel and Microsoft have teamed up to make sure that Web browsing with Internet Explorer 9 will be made a lot snappier thanks to its ability of tapping into the power of our graphics processors.
Why Intel? Well, to be announced at this week’s Intel Developers Forum, the upcoming Sandy Bridge processor will include a beefier integrated graphics chip that will help deliver even more robust high-definition playback, and also improved support for GPGPU-bound code. Since most of us browse the Web a lot, such added acceleration could prove useful.
According to Microsoft, almost everything that gets loaded into your browser could be accelerated, from the content rendering to the page composition to the desktop composition. What this could all result in is not only faster rendering times, but smoother performance. And who knows… it could very well lead to less crashes, since many browser crashes seem to be the result of hangs.
To help prove the benefits of pushing some of the load to the GPU, Microsoft showed off a netbook running an HTML 5 page that played back two 720p videos, which resulted in very little CPU utilization. Of course, for those who’ve been using the latest version of Flash, this kind of benefit isn’t a complete unknown.
The added performance sounds good, but if you’re like me, you might be a bit “meh” given that it’s going to be limited to Internet Explorer. Or is it? According to Mozilla, Firefox has the same support that Microsoft is touting, and to be honest, I haven’t seen anything special with regards to a performance increase. So I guess it will take the actual launch of IE9 before we see what all the fuss is about, and whether or not the fuss was warranted in the first place.
In March, Johnson explains, Microsoft released the first IE9 Platform Preview with GPU-powered HTML5 turned on by default, enabling hardware acceleration on “everything on every Web page” including text, images, backgrounds, borders, SVG (scalable vector graphics) content, and HTML5 video and audio. And with Platform Preview 3 in July, IE 9 introduced a hardware-accelerated HTML5 canvas.