Full Hardware Acceleration Coming To Opera 13?

By | April 27, 2012 | 66 Comments

Full Hardware Acceleration Coming To Opera 13?

As you might know, the Beta version of Opera 12 has hardware acceleration (tagged as “experimental”) and WebGL disabled by default.

Although some of you might have expected to see the HWA in action in the Final version of Opera 12, it looks like this isn’t exactly the case. According to Opera’s Community Manager, Aleksander Aas, Opera 12 Final will not have hardware acceleration enabled by default.

While this is far from devastating news as you can still enable WebGL and HWA via opera:config, some of the Opera’s competitors have been experimenting with hardware acceleration for almost two years now:

Internet Explorer 9
Google Chrome 9
Firefox 4

It looks like you’ll have to wait for the next release, which is likely to be either Opera 12.5 or Opera 13, just in time for the Internet Explorer 10.

Is it a major blow? Let us know.

About (Author Profile)

Vygantas is a former web designer whose projects are used by companies such as AMD, NVIDIA and departed Westood Studios. Being passionate about software, Vygantas began his journalism career back in 2007 when he founded FavBrowser.com. Having said that, he is also an adrenaline junkie who enjoys good books, fitness activities and Forex trading.

Comments (66)

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  1. Andylee_Sato says:

    for me the important news about opera 12 are not HWA or WebGL but really cool RTL support, improved HTML5-support like camera and stuff and the clean-up of unite/widgets in order to make opera more concentrated on the real job.

    The real negative point about v 12 for me is themes… I don’t know why they invested time into just changing the background image?

  2. Hiram says:

    This by no means comes as a surprise to me. The moment they disabled HWA/WebGL on default back in the last days of the alpha phase of development it became more than probable that Opera 12 would ship with those features disabled on default.

    • EvilSparrow says:

      When they released the very first version with HWA long time ago, I had wrote a message in that article… I wished all users to be patient because the the road to… HWA would be extremely long and hard…

    • johnnysaucepn says:

      That’s pretty standard practice though. They always want the new features to be front-and-centre on new alpha builds, as they’re all about trying out the new features. Betas need to be a bit more cautious.

      • Hiram says:

        Really? When was the last time that they enabled a feature on default during the alpha phase and disabled it right before the beginning of the beta phase?

  3. Fgfgfgffgfg says:

    I hope opera 12 final will have a new featherweight skin

    been awhile since featherweight introduces back in 11.50 and im kinda getting tired of it

    the new “skin,themes,personas(or whatever they called it) in 12 just plain suck.

  4. Marcos Caceres says:

    Hopefully Opera will move to a faster release cycle. Having to wait for Opera 13 means waiting another year or more :( 

    • Rafael says:

      Ok so you just ignored the high possibility of 12.01 12.02 12.10 12.5 12.51 12.52 12.6 12.61 12.62…

      • Hiram says:

        Because obviously theres a chance that they would include such a major change in a 0.01 release, right?

        • Rafael says:

          WHICH change are you referring to?

          (Yeah not in 0.0x, but in 0.x yes.)

          • Hiram says:

            The enabling of HWA and WebGL on default. Which is what I assume Marcos had in mind with his comment.

          • Rafael says:

            This is a very pessimist vision… Ok, not in a 0.0x increment but you can guess 12.10 or 12.20. They’ll keep working on it for sure…

          • Hiram says:

            To Rafael: Don’t get me wrong, I find it much more likely that Opera will enable HWA on default in a .1 or .5 release than that they will wait for a full 1.0 release. I was just simply pointing out that it I think that there’s pretty much no chance of it happening in a 0.01 release.

          • Rafael says:

            And originally I was replying to @google-6ad0fc0ed3dd7dc144c557a225a78dbc:disqus about the release cycle speed.

      • Marcos Caceres says:

        I worked at Opera for 2.5 years… I know how it works ;)

        • jayjam says:

          Then you should know that just because Chrome is churning out version numbers, that doesn’t mean that each major new version contains as many features and fixes as each new major Opera version. You should know that you are comparing apples and oranges.

  5. Guest says:

    Hardware acceleration in Opera isn´t only for rendering pages but it’s also for all the GUI

  6. greg says:

    Opera is finished. I think its time to start moving to —> Firefox.com

    • Dante says:

      Opera is finished. I think its time to copy features to —> Firefox.com

      • nixda gibts says:

        ^ this

      • Hiram says:

        What features?

        • Dante says:

          Look at FX 13 or 14. Finally home-screen with Speed Dial, URL address completing and better download manager.
          Firefox still have problem with memory. Only one solution is cycle collector which permanently free everything necessary from RAM to reduce memory usage. Many important files are in few second deleted and after few second downloaded from server back when you want use history.
          In FX 14 will be few cycle collector performance improvements and I hope it help with browser lags.
          And don`t forget to smart session restore or TABs on demand. This is for better user experience because FX have problems with rendering tabs on background and make fast UI response on foreground tab.
          Firefox really need tabs with own process like IE or Chrome or tabs with own threads like Opera but I afraid about memory problems…

          • Hiram says:

            Huh? In your first comment you were implying(Atleast I assume you were) that Firefox should copy features from Opera and now your response to my asking as to what features should Firefox “copy” doesn’t make any sense. You’re just basically listing random features that Firefox has implemented in it’s future releases most of which aren’t even available in Opera.

          • Dante says:

            Once again! Speed dial, download manager and URL completing will be in Firefox 13 and 14.
            Other sentences was about Firefox problems and future solutions. 

          • Hiram says:

            Firefox already has a download manager, they are simply going to be replacing it with a different one in the near future. Firefox had auto completion of URL’s for a very long time now, it just simply wasn’t enabled on default: http://lifehacker.com/313533/enable-firefox-address-bar-auto+completion And frankly, the download manager in Opera is just absolutely outdated, it’s been generally the same since at least the days of Opera 8 which was released back in 2005.

    • ZombieDotCommer says:

      In your dreams.   I was using Opera before Firefox existed, and I’ll be using it when it’s gone.    

      zd’s latest browser benchmarks are slightly dated (comparing opera 11 to firefox 11), but they show opera beating out firefox in the sunspider benchmark.

      i don’t even know why i’m writing this… it’s like explaining quantum physics to a goat.

      • greg says:

        Who cares about benchmark tests. Tests differ like every month. Thats why I dont judge a browser from it because if that was the case I would be switching to Chrome one month then back to Firefox.. I blame Opera;s bad management . They hype up Wahoo like 2 years saying this and that and Hardware Acceleration giving people snapshots. Mind you this was 2 years ago. Everyone was hyped even me. When they finally focus on 12 HW. Wait? why are they finally focusing on 12 now? Its a no show and still in development?. Opera is way behind. I dont believe them no more. Hardware Acceleration in Opera 13? ok cool but that 13 is coming out probably 2014. That switching to Firefox was just a joke of mine ,You can choose what browser you want ,but In my opinion Opera is finished and cant compete with the top doggies.

        • I agree with you, it looks like Opera has been caught off guard when Chrome hit the streets, MS started innovating, Firefox too while Opera just continued to do the same thing that worked for them for many years… Just like Sony, look at them now…

          Out of process plugins, webgl, hardware acceleration, all still in beta.I mean, come on, Chrome receive out of process plugins back in 2009.

          • Dante says:

            Chrome? Look at it now. 30MB install package with 110MB of files every 6 weeks in your system. Address-bar without history or history indexation, no context menu, no options, low HWA performance but big package. 
            Firefox? Finally Speed Dial and normal download manager in Firefox 13 or 14. Steal design from Opera and Chrome and no innovative functions in history but new versions every 6 weeks. Innovation provide only community with extensions.

          • Since you like to play the “stealing” game

            What exactly did Opera innovate in the last 3 releases?

            Opera Unite? Dead
            Widgets? Dead
            Out of process plugins? Not their idea
            HWA? Nope
            WebGL? No
            Decent address bar? Not their idea
            Smarter tab loading sequence (which I assume is Firefox’s innovation) – No
            New themes? No, that’s from Firefox Personas
            New v11 skin? Borrowed from Chrome

            Sure, you can continue to think how Opera innovates, tab page, speed dial, etc. but that was a very long time ago…

          • Shane Bundy says:

            You are right – vendors “stealing” ideas is actually not so bad. For as long as the best ones become commonplace for every browser, everyone benefits.

            For example, IE9′s Chakra engine has dead code elimination – only Mozilla are working on getting it in their own implementation.

          • Dante says:

            Don`t count specification support as innovation. Is any difference in browsing on this page when you have HWA, WebGL or Out of process plugins support?
            What exactly did Chrome or Firefox innovate in the last 7 releases?

          • Hiram says:

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Google_Chrome#Release_history http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Firefox#Version_tables Also, if we are looking back to the days of when Unite was released, then we got to look far back than the last 7 releases of the aforementioned browsers to make a reasonable comparison. http://www.opera.com/docs/changelogs/windows/1010/

          • Dante says:

            I am check changelogs from FX 5.0 and I didn`t found any marginal innovation of browser experience like Opera TabStacking, SD extensions (I love clock, calendar or weather on SD fields), RSS folders and sorting, mail client with grouping and pinning, private mode tabs on one window with normal tabs, plugins on demand and power address-bar suggesting with bookmarks, search engines, history searches and indexed pages (URL,Title, part of page) and my loved Paste&Go function.
            Ok, i found in FX 12  lines in source editor and effect Page Inspector Tilt from FX 11.
            And Chrome have multi-profiles from 12 or build in PDF from 8.

          • Hiram says:

            You probably didn’t see innovation because you didn’t want to see it. In regards to Firefox you left out: Panorama, Awesome Bar, Speedy session restore, Addon sync, the first browser to offer cross-platform hardware acceleration, WebGL anti-aliasing, .
            In Chrome, besides the things you mentioned we have: preliminary Dart support, Native client, Tab sync, Omnibox, website pre-rendering, Panels, in-browser web page translation, SPDY, Asynchronious DNS, background WebApps, 3D software rasterizer, Touch Optimized UI and the Panorama view(different from firefox). And I’m sure I have left out some features in regards to both Firefox and Chrome.

          • Dante says:

            80% of mentioned innovations are not innovations. Only renamed functions known from others browsers and specifications support.

          • Hiram says:

            Really? I’d be happy to correct my statements if you provide me with reasonable proof that what you are saying is indeed the case.

          • A. says:

            Opera has had out of process plugins for years (long before chrome existed anyways) on *nix

          • Ichann says:

            @e15844d5d02ae0e1fb13197ace3ff595:disqus Those features are from the users. What made Opera were it is now is it’s userbase. They have unfortunately neglected users for a long time; deciding to implement what they deem is worth doing. Too bad that they were wrong.
            These features have been requested by us and are only just being implemented.

      • Hiram says:

        Actually, the only synthetic benchmark that Opera is and has been competitive in for a while now is Futuremark’s Peacemaker. In pretty much all the other ones it hasn’t been anywhere near top spot since days long gone. http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/chrome-17-firefox-10-ubuntu,3129.html http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/windows-xp-web-browser-performance,3167.html

        • Dante says:

          Look on Dromaeo DOM & CSS benchmark and compare it with Firefox or IE.

          • Hiram says:

            Impressive, however, you were originally referring to a javascript benchmark and so was I in my response to you. And two synthetic benchmarks where it performs fairly well in a plethora of many where it does not is hardly proof of Opera being the top dog when it comes to speed.

          • Dante says:

            Only in Google or Mozilla JS have average results but in complex Peacekeeper is better than FX, IE or Safari. There are some Flash, Java or Silverlight benchmarks with good results. In HTML5test have good specification score and Opera is good on page loading tests.
            When I test Opera 12 with DX support on HD5650 graphics It was on first place before STRONG IE9 HWA and good FX. Chrome have poor performance.

          • Hiram says:

            Futuremark’s Peacemaker tests many more things than just javascript performance and that is why is Opera places fairly nicely there. Flash,Java and Silverlight tests show very similar overall performance among all the browsers and Opera manages to take the top spot in only one of them by a lead of 0.04. The HTML5 test is not an indication of performance, however both Chrome and Maxthon place significantly higher in it then Opera. In regards to Chrome’s HWA performance – it was likely poor because you didn’t enable the “GPU Accelerated SVG and CSS Filters” flag in the chrome:flags page. And Opera’s HWA even though it’s fast, it’s basically in an unusable state right now.

  7. Just enable them back if you need them.

    Opera 13 youre talking about no less than july to september 2013.

    BTW, you get full HWA and WebGL support, just the user UI aint finished, and they come disabled. I cant think of a Opera user stupid enough not to know how to enable those.

  8. Caitlin says:

    Not all of us are running all the latest and brightest hardware, so for me, even being an Opera user, hardware acceleration isn’t to make a huge difference until I upgrade my computer.

    • Hiram says:

      Hardware that’s from 2002-2004(R300
      and NV40) is hardly what a reasonable person would call the “latest and brightest”.

    • Ichann says:

      Really. Just grab a off the shelf computer for 500 and it will run.

      PC’s have dramatically dropped in price. Get a decent HP notebook – using decent loosely here fro around 300 and you are good to go

  9. Rafael says:

    2 years? So what? For what exactly these browsers are actually using/needing Hardware Acceleration right now?
    What can’t Opera do right now in the real world? Is this a major thing (affecting the 99,9% of the web users) needing hardware acceleration?

    • http://blogs.msdn.com/b/ie/archive/2010/09/10/the-architecture-of-full-hardware-acceleration-of-all-web-page-content.aspx


      Also as said already, for browser UI

      It can’t: scroll without lagging, cache large pictures (example, if you scroll to bottom of the page and up, the picture in the top will be re-drawn).

      And if everyone would live by “it works fine now”, there would be no progress and people would still use Windows 98 as hey, you can still browse Internet with it

      • Rafael says:

        I can’t notice the difference.

        I’m not saying hardware acceleration is useless and that we should never get it, just that it isn’t a priority. The web may evolve and need it (for web-based games, etc), but it isn’t needed right now.

        • Marcos Caceres says:

          I agree! Computers need only 64k of memory right now!!! Those who want more are greedy! … Those innovating bastards and their “ideas” and “new experiences” … Shame on them from wanting to make games and push the envelope!

          • Rafael says:

            You know very well 64k of memory isn’t enough, it wasn’t enough for running the new OSs and software that kept appearing. The necessity of more RAM showed up. The necessity of hardware acceleration didn’t necessarily showed up yet. (I can’t see it. Anyway it can be enabled. And it’ll be improved to work better for more people and will be enabled by default “soon”. When it’s needed it’ll be made. Opera just noticed it’d be a waste of resources continue *focusing* on it and that they were losing time with it, holding releases, keeping more branches of the software [11.6x, 12 'Next', Labs, and who knows how much more internally] [lead to more time checking for errors and regressions], etc…)

            Plus, I’m not seeing anyone (any relevant company) interested in making a game in HTML5 right now.

  10. Toxigen says:

    HWA is just a gimmicky feature that most of the browsers out there do not need, especially Opera because their software acceleration is outstanding, and could beat FF and Chrome’s HWA in their early stage. Other than some fancy tests out there for features not even 1% of the websites use, HWA is useless right now. Most of the real page rendering speed relies on DOM and JS performance. Opera’s DOM performance is the best, although JS engine could use an upgrade, Carakan hasn’t received a boost in a while, where FF and Chrome keep pushing new boundaries. Opera’s position:fixed bug creates more performance issues than their lack of HWA.

    IMO Opera went wrong when they tried to hardware accelerate both the pages and the UI. I doubt the benefits of UI hardware acceleration, and in most cases because they share the same rendering engine, freezes in page freezes the UI which is irritating. Chrome did it right, they went for page acceleration first and now going for UI. Although Chrome’s HWA is buggy as hell anyway.

    Instead of focusing on marketing gimmicks such as HWA, Opera should focus on fixing the position:fixed bugs (which is the major reason for extremely slow performance in The Verge, FB and GMail) first. Chrome does not feel faster because of its HWA. Extending HTML5 features, although nice on paper, are not crucial. FF Nightly scores 345, that doesn’t make it a crap browser. Maxthon scores 437, but can not properly scroll in the actual HTML5Test page for its life.

    • Hiram says:

      Only an absolute idiot such as yourself would ever say that HWA is a gimmicky feature that most browsers do not need. HWA can accelerate the rendering of pretty much all the HTML elements on a website.
      http://alexjmackey.wordpress.com/2011/05/14/ie9-hardware-acceleration/ http://blogs.msdn.com/b/ie/archive/2010/09/10/the-architecture-of-full-hardware-acceleration-of-all-web-page-content.aspx
      The benefits of HWA are especially noticeable on older hardware, specifically computers with older cpu’s. HWA and WebGL also have a major role to play in the future of interactive web media, which Opera seems to be especially interested in. And where the fuck did you pull the “Chrome’s HWA is buggy as hell” bullshit out of? Probably out of your ass. And only a mental dwarf like you would think that extending support for standardized or soon to be standardized HTML5 features is not crucial, why the fuck do you think developers started using the -webkit- prefix in the first place? Thats because generally only webkit browsers were advanced enough at supporting the experimental stuff that their websites implementing. If the major browser vendors were to delay their HTML5 support significantly as you seem to be implying that they should, we would probably go back to the good ol’days of IE6, except that instead of IE6 we would have webkit at the helm.

      • Hiram says:

        Correction, not “that their websites implementing”, but “that they were implementing in their websites.” Vygantai, buciau dekingas jeigu pataisytum ta dali.

        • Toxigen says:

          First off, learn to argue without resorting to derogatory name calling and thinking calling someone moron makes you superior, it doesn’t. Second, I was talking about Opera’s case, about what they should prioritize and what not. Keep that in mind and do not read between the lines.

          Good job, you found some bullshit marketing crap from IE developers. I read those, not convinced that HWA is making my general browsing any better. In fact, DirectWrite seems to screw up the fonts,which is more irritating. Computers with older CPUs, as you put it, do not come paired with good GPUs, and older systems like that are not supported by HWA anyway. You’re trying to make a case situation that does not exist. Moreover, CPU to GPU and memory bandwidth in those older systems means HWA, even if it works, is just going to make things more laggy in ancient hardware because of the delay introduced by the new layer. I know about Chrome’s implementation because I run Chrome Canary, and just a few builds ago using GPU composition was making all the websites render incorrectly. Chrome’s HWA isn’t even remotely as fast as IE either, or even FF.

          Extending features which nobody are using is only for froth-mouthing geeks to swoon over and compare like their e-peen of their browser of choice. The -webkit case is not an issue of browsers not supporting the features, because most of the browsers already do support those, and the websites that are using them are recent, not old from when only webkit had those features. It is an edge case of mobile web developers being too lazy and saying fuck-all to non-webkit browsers, mainly because they were designed to only work on iProducts. And that’s a part of CSS, not HTML5. A little knowledge is a dangerous thing, especially when foul-mouthed people like you try to use them for arguments they don’t have any clue about. And since we are in that region, it was BECAUSE Webkit started pushing non-standardized crap like that that we are in a situation like this. Most of HTML5 isn’t finalized either, and they don’t have the prefix issue, so you’re comparing Apples to Oranges. If a browser doesn’t support a specific HTML5 feature, it’ll simply not work. Yet I don’t see FF with its measly HTML5 score not working on a ton of sites. So, think again. You push non-finalized crap now in browsers. then all the websites start using it, and we end up in a situation where we have to support buggy unfinished specs becuse they are “too prolific by now”.

          You’re using the days of IE6 as a juju to scare people into adopting unnecessary unfinished standards which do not contribute to user experience apart from a few edge cases affecting less than 1% users. Yet when I say that Opera should focus on fixing their position:fixed bug which makes several of the most visited websites frustratingly slowly, I’m wrong? Yeah, love how you’re using your logic. Or the lack thereof.

          I’m not saying you do not ever need webGL or HWA, I’m saying Opera has better things to do first than these.

          • Hiram says:

            First of all, that’s not some “marketing bullshit”. Simply calling something bullshit doesn’t rebuke it, so please go ahead and post proof. Second, DirectWrite doesn’t screw up fonts(it used to, but both Mozilla and Microsoft released patches to fix that issue), it simply renders them in a different manner and besides even when using D2D you can still render fonts using GDI if you prefer to do so. Third, GPU’s from 2002-2004(R300 and NV40) are able to handle DirectX 9.0C and OpenGL 2.0 and hence they are able to handle both HWA and WebGL. Also, it’s kind of ridiculous that you are pointing out that a daily, completely un-tested build(Canary) managed to have some HWA issues, hence the whole of Chrome has buggy HWA. And the reason why Chrome’s HWA implementation isn’t as fast is because they don’t yet accelerate as many layers as IE and Firefox. Fourth, I know the difference between CSS and HTML5. Most of the HTML5 features are either in their final draft stages or fairly close(they won’t change significantly in their future revisions) to that and if Opera and the other major non-webkit were to delay their HTML5 implementation significantly, the exact same thing as what happened with CSS would possibly happen in regards to HTML5. Then the -webkit- only issue would only grow and we would likely approach a situation similar to that of the days of IE6. And in regards to the fact that Opera should focus on fixing the position:fixed bug, I think it’s very probable that they are already working on it, as it would be extremely unwise to ignore such a drastic bug. And it’s very probable that the people working on HWA are not the same people working on fixing this bug so I don’t believe the focus card works in this regard. And lastly, I apologize for jumping on you like that, shouldn’t have done it.

    • Ichann says:

      I dont know about you, but I want to play graphically intense games in the browser as soon as possible.

      Giving that the browser is a central point of an Operating System, it will be great to seamlessly switch between browsing and say playing a nice 3d game

  11. Fgfgfgfgfg says:

    opera should just have tweaked carakan engine since(atleast in my system) is more HWA than 12 beta(if directx is enabled) my system gets fucked up and hang/freeze on 1 effin youtube video

    i uninstalled the beta and stick to 11.62 as my main daily browsing

    also, please opera devs you need to fix the position:fixed problem its giving me a headache and cant visit the sites that has those

    cnet is one example

  12. cyberstream_us says:

    I don’t think this will be a blow to Opera because the people that have wanted HWA are the geeks that are smart enough to go to opera:config#UserPrefs|EnableHardwareAcceleration and turn it on. The rest of the people don’t care.

  13. Armin says:

    I used to be a huge fan of Opera and paraded it around for its innovative features and underdog status. That underdog status still applies, but the innovative features are old news. I still recommend Opera to certain folk, but with the broken address bar (which is now fixed in Opera 12 but that ain’t coming out soon enough) and the fact that website incompatibility is actually affecting me (Gmail Chat (text, voice, and video) simply doesn’t work and I use it to stay in touch with my family in another country), I avoid Opera now.

    With Firefox having an amazing address bar and Gmail Chat actually working, I have switched back to Firefox (or Waterfox to be more precise) as they have greatly improved their browser in the mean time and continue to improve it. They also make it easy to give feedback, are open source, and more amiable as a company.

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