Hardware Acceleration in the latest Firefox 4 beta

The most recent Firefox 4 beta has enhanced support for hardware acceleration on Windows and Mac OS X. This release of Firefox will be faster on more webpages while at the same time being compatible with more computers.

Direct2D improvements

On Windows Vista and 7, Firefox hardware accelerates web content using Microsoft’s Direct2D framework. The latest beta of Firefox fixes bugs that made Firefox stop drawing when the graphics driver restarted. It also now has a graphics “block list” that makes sure Firefox doesn’t try to use graphics drivers or chips known to cause problems.

Hardware accelerated compositing

Firefox now hardware accelerates the composition of layers on Windows XP, Vista, and 7, and Mac OS X. If you’re running Windows, Firefox uses Direct3D-accelerated layers, while on Mac OS X, it uses OpenGL for the same task. Hardware accelerating layer composition will make some sites significantly faster; you will notice faster scrolling and faster interaction with graphically-intensive web pages. Firefox also accelerates the display of HTML5 video, giving a special boost to pages that use it.

Testing hardware acceleration

You can help us develop Firefox 4! Just use the Firefox 4 beta as your everyday browser and tell us about your experience via the Firefox Feedback button. If you notice something specific has gone wrong, you can also file a bug in Bugzilla; we have information on how to gather information for your hardware acceleration bug report too.


  1. Wonder if 64bit Firefox (on OSX) doesn’t have acceleration support because about:support shows no graphics info.

  2. I am a sucker since I tested beta6 only, sorry!

  3. I’m on an old macbook with intel graphics and don’t seem to have any acceleration.

    I’m also running vista and win7 under Parallels on the same machine and their Psychedelic Browser and FishIE demos run great in IE9. All my browsers running natively under OS X are struggling.

    In hacks.mozilla.orgs own hardware acceleration demo I’m only getting 2fps.

    Is there some about:config setting I have to turn on?

  4. Are there plans to enable Render-based or OpenGL-based acceleration for Linux in Firefox 4?

  5. DAMN!

    Ever since Beta 5 , hardware acceleration hasn’t worked for me!

    I wonder where I could report this too, perhaps quite a few people have this problem too?

    I know I’ve got an old GeForce 6800 GT, but IE 9 works fine on it in Windows 7!

  6. Sorry to sound like a party-crasher but why so late ??

    We (the gaming and general real-time graphics industry) have been doing HW 2D UIs as a routine for ten years minimum. Even in the dreaded times when we were constrained to 256×256 textures for HW accel it was fairly easy to slice and align 3D quads to build up a pixel-accurate 2D composition. And those (low-defs 32bits RGBA maps) were already supported by consumer graphic cards circa 1998.

    • @SarahC: Unfortunately we’ve seen far too many problems with older cards to enable acceleration via Direct2D on them. However, you should still get DirectX 9 layer composition acceleration. I wrote a post on how to tell if you’re using hardware acceleration.

      @Arnaud: There hasn’t been an easy way to accelerate arbitrary content like Direct2D until recently. Our non-Direct2D hardware acceleration, accelerated layers composition, could be made to work on those older cards, but we didn’t spend the time to do so until now.

  7. Which component should I list bug reports under in Bugzilla for graphical glitches that only appear when the use hardware acceleration box is ticked? Your post here:
    …is helpful is all other regards, but doesn’t mention that key fact 🙂


  8. Ahh was looking under Firefox, oops! Thanks!

  9. Hi Joe, with my GMA 3100 that about:support says Firefox doesn’t support, I don’t really notice an advantage speedwise for Firefox. I do like Firefox because it’s more compatible then Chrome, but the removal of the status bar, and the hijacking of CTRL+E have really gotten on my nerves. I’m not the only one if you look at something like input.mozilla.org.

    Considering that CTRL+K is unique to Firefox, while CTRL+E works for IE/Chrome, etc., I think at least panaroma should move to CTRL+K… Looks like a lot of good work on the engine side, the design by committee approach to the UI is irritating though.

  10. Hi Joe, my about:support page only contains ‘Application Basics’, ‘Extensions’ and ‘Modified Preferences’ sections. I can’t find the section labelled ‘Graphics’ at the bottom of the page! Can someone help?

  11. Krzysztof Mazurek

    I love HW acceleration in FF 4b7. There is one problem with windows 7 64bit and nVidia cards. Me and my sister are having laptops with nvidia hardware (Samsung: gforce 310 and Dell: Quadro NVS 3100). On both laprops nvidia driver loose stability and restarts few times a day.

    It’s enough to see the about:support to make driver restart and whole screen flicker.

    No problems on ATI drivers (ATI 5850) at my home computer.


  12. Unfortunately, On my Vista32bit laptop with Integrated Intel graphics I get no hardware acceleration.
    Maybe future updates!

  13. I note the Firefox support forum has some comments about Hardware Acceleration of firefox causing problems with webpages that use Flash Player.

    I thought it may be useful to post a cross link:
    I see many errors with text in the Flash plugin latest version

    It appears similar problems noted on separate machines, and is affecting firefox 4.0Beta8 and includes disruption of the Flash objects settings page, which is cured by turning off Firefox’s hardware acceleration.

  14. Mozilla must be kidding me. I’m using the MacBook Pro 17inch equipped with Geforce 9600 MT GT and yet I get only 4FPS for the hardware acceleration test. Are we in the pit or what ?

  15. DKSG, I wrote a separate post just for you: Why is HWACCEL slow on my computer with Firefox 4?

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