Microsoft details Windows 8 graphics performance gains through hardware acceleration

Microsoft details Windows 8 graphics performance gains through hardware acceleration

Summary: The company says it's been working hard on improving overall performance with its new OS, and a new developer blog post describes in great detail how Microsoft's done it.

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TOPICS: Windows, Microsoft
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Windows 8 is getting buzz for its Metro interface, touch-screen capabilities, and even for Microsoft's decision to remove the Start button from the legacy desktop view. But the company says it's been working hard on improving overall performance with its latest OS, and a new developer blog post describes in great detail how Microsoft's done it.

In particular, Rob Copeland, a Microsoft group program manager for its graphics team, discusses how Windows 8 makes greater use of hardware acceleration from graphics chips as well as taking advantage of new DirectX features. The tweaks have led to improvements in the following capabilities, according to Copeland:

  • Text rendering, including paragraphs, titles and headings, and UI controls
  • 2D geometry rendering for lines, ellipses, rectangles, and rounded rectangles
  • Image rendering for popular formats like JPG, PNG, and GIF
  • Optimizing mainstream (non-game) app rendering performance using DirectX

According to internal benchmarks, the performance gains over Windows 7 are indeed impressive -- such as a 336-percent framerate increase in handling titles and headings, a 438-percent framerate increase in rendering rectangles, and a 40-percent reduction in time to render a group of 64 images.

Microsoft also says Windows 8 is relying on the improved power of today's powerful graphics cards to help accelerate different types of content using the new Direct3D 11.1 API. On the other end of the spectrum, it's also trying to perfect the balance between performance and battery life in mobile devices running Windows 8, like forthcoming tablet PCs using the new operating system. For example, it allows graphics hardware to render using less precision in order to process more data simultaneously and improve power efficiency.

Of course, how this all correlates to the performance you see on your system is yet to be determined. If you've downloaded an early version of Windows 8, have you noticed an increase (or decrease) in performance in apps and games? Let us know your findings in the Talkback section below.

Topics: Windows, Microsoft

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Talkback

16 comments
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  • In a vacuum

    Subjectively I have felt some things working faster (on an old-school PC) ... but others more slowly. I suspect the slow ones are bugs (indeed my nVidia graphics driver crashes once every 3 days on average ... and it seems to take a long time before Homegroup network drives to attach properly ... and this morning ZDNET post title clicks didn't work at all-I had to switch to W7).

    What would be useful is to provide some measure of the real world speedups. If drawing has gone from 0.000001 to 0.0000001 then so what? Also does the PC's graphics card affect the threshold of observability: is Intel's integrated Ivy Bridge 4000 'good enough'. Otherwise the claims exist only in a vacuum.
    jacksonjohn
  • No difference

    I did the 8 preview install only about a week ago. There was zero noticeable difference of speed for me on my i5 with 8gb ram. I paid particular attention to this as well, given the hype on speed performance. I did notice font rendering in any web browser was horrible regardless of clear-type rendering adjustments, etc., just one more reason to go back on the Windows 7.
    D.J. 43
    • Terrible Font Rendering

      '....improvements in the following capabilities, according to Copeland:
      •Text rendering, including paragraphs, titles and headings, and UI controls................."

      Ha ha ROFLMAO!!

      What have those people at Microsoft have been smoking?

      Text rendering in windows 8 is as bad as I have ever seen.
      It is so bad, Windows 8 is completely unusable.
      I value my job, so I wouldn't dare roll Windows 8 out, even as a pilot, while font rendering is this bad.
      ITenquirer
  • I guess if you make the GUI resemble something made by 5 year olds

    .... there should be plenty of GPU power left!

    Windows 7 2020 all the way!
    ITTech001
    • The Windows 8 desktop looks

      almost exactly like the Windows 7 one.
      Michael Alan Goff
    • Synergy

      @DJ I know you're kidding, but I'll use that to make a point that combining raw new efficiencies like the ones mentioned in this article (rendering optimizations), along with the elimination of wasteful screen glitz and glam, is a killer combo. It directly addresses the multiple needs of smaller and mobile form factors, while only making the desktop an even better performer (although we may not notice it given the higher performance of desktops). We've been conditioned by years of graphical one-upmanship to expect fancier-looking OS's, but it has been wasteful and the growth seems to have plateaued. I don't need music delivered to me in a clam-shell case anymore, and I don't need apps delivered to me in gradienty-shadowy-transparenty chrome either. For those who do, Apple will probably be there for you for quite some time.
      scH4MMER
    • agree with you

      true comment
      shellcodes_coder
    • Doesn't matter, it's going to fail

      Windoze 8ista is going to be a big disaster and no new feature or blatant rip off of features of OS X will save that crap
      shellcodes_coder
      • Feature ripoff

        For example?

        Can you name something in Win8 that is being touted as a new feature that Apple came up with completely on it's own accord?
        milo ducillo
    • You opinion I suppose

      but I think simpler graphics don't necessarily mean amateurish.
      I like the minimilist approach with the stylish Metro font a lot.

      Works fine for me.
      milo ducillo
  • 8ista is going to fail

    Windoze 8ista is going to be a big disaster and no new feature or blatant rip off of features of OS X will save that crap
    shellcodes_coder
    • really?

      You mean like the xbox game center that Apple has dismally tried to copy?
      Or the links across social sites... that it has on its windows 7 phone, contacts as well (apple hasnt figured out yet)?
      Or is is that MS is consolidating into 1 operating system that you'll be able to use across all devices?
      Because for now Apple has a long long way to go to catch up to MS.
      JABBER_WOLF
  • Graphics Performance Gain

    Not on my rig. (a 5 yr old Asus gaming rig built for Vista. Ran W7, and 3 different flavors of Linux just great!)
    My NVIDIA graphics driver got to crashing on me on a regular basis; tho to MSoft's credit, they made the recovery of that crash happen in under 1 second. So, I had a flash and checked NVIDIA's site and found a driver for W8 and installed it.
    Now, the graphics driver only crashes occasionally.
    A related behavior, I think, is the inability to display entire page of text now... including this site. But I've found the fix to that is to scroll down to the empty screen and left-click / drag mouse down and the text appears. It's getting to be a huge bother.
    If I ever come into some money, I want to get a MSoft Slate "pablet" computer. THAT, should, eliminate the problem altogether.
    Crashin Chris
    • isBeta==true

      @Chrashin, hopefully that's because it's still in beta! ::crosses fingers::
      scH4MMER
  • Works faster

    It works faster for me compared to my Win7 config. So can't ask for more :)
    (dual cpu's, 24gb mem, crossfire ati cards)
    DJK2
  • Great - I say see for yourself...

    ... and if it fits you & your machine, awesome. I don't know if the temptation of it being only $40 will be too hard to for me ultimately to resist, but the preview told me otherwise. If it was all metro or all desktop, then it'd be a no-brainer.
    D.J. 43