[Arch Linux] Hardware accelerated video decoding on Intel Graphics


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Radium

Hello!

I have a laptop that has a Broadwell-U processor which has Intel HD Graphics but I'm unable to get software to use the hardware accelerated video decoding features that Intel have provided for quite some times now. This makes watching videos unbearable since since software decoding makes the processor warm really fast and it doesn't take long until the fan spins at full speed. I've installed Arch Linux and i use Gnome for now and I've tried both X and Wayland.

I've reached so far as noticing VDPAU for Intel isn't working. I've installed the necessary packages (and their dependancies):

  • xf86-video-intel
  • mesa
  • libva (includes vainfo)
  • libvdpau-va-gl
  • mesa-vdpau
  • libva-vdpau-driver
  • libva-intel-driver
  • vdpauinfo

I followed guides and forum threads regarding this, including VDPAU, VA-API and Xorg but the command "Xorg :0 -configure" always gives me error and the information that I've found out there is that some setups don't need configurations such as Intel HD Graphics. I also defined two environment variables:

  • VDPAU_DRIVER=va_gl
  • LIBVA_DRIVER_NAME=vdpau

I execute vdpauinfo to see if my configuration is correct but it doesn't go all the way through, it just stops right here:

display: :0   screen: 0
[VS] Software VDPAU backend library initialized
libva info: VA-API version 0.38.0
libva info: va_getDriverName() returns 0
libva info: User requested driver 'vdpau'
libva info: Trying to open /usr/lib/dri/vdpau_drv_video.so
libva info: Found init function __vaDriverInit_0_35

 

If I change LIBVA_DRIVER_NAME to i965 (which only the oldest guides and threads mention) then it works but all I get is this:

display: :0   screen: 0
[VS] Software VDPAU backend library initialized
libva info: VA-API version 0.38.0
libva info: va_getDriverName() returns 0
libva info: User requested driver 'i965'
libva info: Trying to open /usr/lib/dri/i965_drv_video.so
libva info: Found init function __vaDriverInit_0_38
libva info: va_openDriver() returns 0
API version: 1
Information string: OpenGL/VAAPI/libswscale backend for VDPAU

Video surface:

name   width height types
-------------------------------------------
420     1920  1080  NV12 YV12 UYVY YUYV Y8U8V8A8 V8U8Y8A8 
422     1920  1080  NV12 YV12 UYVY YUYV Y8U8V8A8 V8U8Y8A8 
444     1920  1080  NV12 YV12 UYVY YUYV Y8U8V8A8 V8U8Y8A8 

Decoder capabilities:

name                        level macbs width height
----------------------------------------------------
MPEG1                          --- not supported ---
MPEG2_SIMPLE                   --- not supported ---
MPEG2_MAIN                     --- not supported ---
H264_BASELINE                  51 16384  2048  2048
H264_MAIN                      51 16384  2048  2048
H264_HIGH                      51 16384  2048  2048
VC1_SIMPLE                     --- not supported ---
VC1_MAIN                       --- not supported ---
VC1_ADVANCED                   --- not supported ---
MPEG4_PART2_SP                 --- not supported ---
MPEG4_PART2_ASP                --- not supported ---
DIVX4_QMOBILE                  --- not supported ---
DIVX4_MOBILE                   --- not supported ---
DIVX4_HOME_THEATER             --- not supported ---
DIVX4_HD_1080P                 --- not supported ---
DIVX5_QMOBILE                  --- not supported ---
DIVX5_MOBILE                   --- not supported ---
DIVX5_HOME_THEATER             --- not supported ---
DIVX5_HD_1080P                 --- not supported ---
H264_CONSTRAINED_BASELINE      --- not supported ---
H264_EXTENDED                  --- not supported ---
H264_PROGRESSIVE_HIGH          --- not supported ---
H264_CONSTRAINED_HIGH          --- not supported ---
H264_HIGH_444_PREDICTIVE       --- not supported ---
HEVC_MAIN                      --- not supported ---
HEVC_MAIN_10                   --- not supported ---
HEVC_MAIN_STILL                --- not supported ---
HEVC_MAIN_12                   --- not supported ---
HEVC_MAIN_444                  --- not supported ---

Output surface:

name              width height nat types
----------------------------------------------------
B8G8R8A8            53    53    y  
R8G8B8A8         -906199177 -906199177    y  
R10G10B10A2      -906199177 -906199177    y  
B10G10R10A2      -906199177 -906199177    y  
A8               -906199177 -906199177    y  

Bitmap surface:

name              width height
------------------------------
B8G8R8A8          8192  8192
R8G8B8A8          8192  8192
R10G10B10A2       8192  8192
B10G10R10A2       8192  8192
A8                8192  8192

Video mixer:

feature name                    sup
------------------------------------
DEINTERLACE_TEMPORAL             -
DEINTERLACE_TEMPORAL_SPATIAL     -
INVERSE_TELECINE                 -
NOISE_REDUCTION                  -
SHARPNESS                        -
LUMA_KEY                         -
HIGH QUALITY SCALING - L1        -
HIGH QUALITY SCALING - L2        -
HIGH QUALITY SCALING - L3        -
HIGH QUALITY SCALING - L4        -
HIGH QUALITY SCALING - L5        -
HIGH QUALITY SCALING - L6        -
HIGH QUALITY SCALING - L7        -
HIGH QUALITY SCALING - L8        -
HIGH QUALITY SCALING - L9        -

parameter name                  sup      min      max
-----------------------------------------------------
VIDEO_SURFACE_WIDTH              -  
VIDEO_SURFACE_HEIGHT             -  
CHROMA_TYPE                      -  
LAYERS                           -  

attribute name                  sup      min      max
-----------------------------------------------------
BACKGROUND_COLOR                 -  
CSC_MATRIX                       -  
NOISE_REDUCTION_LEVEL            -  
SHARPNESS_LEVEL                  -  
LUMA_KEY_MIN_LUMA                -  
LUMA_KEY_MAX_LUMA                -  

 

I've tried to get hardware accelerated video decoding (H.264) to work properly but the features that should be there just never show up. Programs can run in GL mode just fine, Wayland works out of the box so the Intel driver and Mesa seems to work.

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The_Decryptor

What player are you using? Configuring X to use VDPAU won't help if you're running Wayland, or if the player you're using doesn't talk to X for video decoding (ffmpeg and gstreamer both handle it themselves)

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Radium

I try to get Firefox to support H.264 hardware acceleration, that support still won't show up. Will I have to run a desktop that doesn't have Wayland support at all for this to work at all? Gnome allows me to pick between X and Wayland and it doesn't matter what I pick. I follow the guides, run Gnome under X and still can't get it to work.

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Radium

What player are you using? Configuring X to use VDPAU won't help if you're running Wayland, or if the player you're using doesn't talk to X for video decoding (ffmpeg and gstreamer both handle it themselves)

I just installed xfce and I tried that. I can't play any video at all unless I unset those environment variables. But how do I go about making Firefox and similar programs support H.264 hardware decoding? Chromium is just as problematic, it refuses to use H.264 hardware acceleration.

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The_Decryptor

For Firefox it'll need to use gstreamer, and you'll need the right plugins installed for gstreamer to play video (I think it wants to play via VA-API instead of VDPAU), so look into libva and vainfo. That being said, Firefox doesn't currently use hardware accelerated rendering under Linux, so even if you're using HW video decoding, you're then doing readback to the CPU, which can make it even slower than unaccelerated decoding.

Chrome uses ffmpeg, but it's own copy of ffmpeg. I'm pretty sure it's up to them to enable it, and I've got no idea if they have or not. Other clients (like VLC) would have their own options, but generally anything using gtreamer should work fine if the hardware supports it and the plugins are right.

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Radium

For Firefox it'll need to use gstreamer, and you'll need the right plugins installed for gstreamer to play video (I think it wants to play via VA-API instead of VDPAU), so look into libva and vainfo. That being said, Firefox doesn't currently use hardware accelerated rendering under Linux, so even if you're using HW video decoding, you're then doing readback to the CPU, which can make it even slower than unaccelerated decoding.

Chrome uses ffmpeg, but it's own copy of ffmpeg. I'm pretty sure it's up to them to enable it, and I've got no idea if they have or not. Other clients (like VLC) would have their own options, but generally anything using gtreamer should work fine if the hardware supports it and the plugins are right.

So how do I make gstreamer use the right plugins? The plugin packages are named in a very strange way and how on earth am I supposed to know which plugin to install?

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simplezz

HTML 5 video's in Firefox are dog slow and chew the cpu. It's even worse than flash (freshplayer/pepper) on my system. You can get around that by installing mozplugger and setting a different default player. Personally, I use mpv. HW acceleration works great with it. For example, with a H.264 video file:

 (+) Video --vid=1 (*) (h264)
 (+) Audio --aid=1 --alang=eng (*) (aac)
libva info: VA-API version 0.38.0
libva info: va_getDriverName() returns 0
libva info: Trying to open /usr/lib/dri/fglrx_drv_video.so
libva info: Found init function __vaDriverInit_0_33
libva info: va_openDriver() returns 0
Using hardware decoding.
AO: [alsa] 48000Hz stereo 2ch float
VO: [opengl] 1920x800 vaapi

My mpv config file:

vo=opengl
hwdec=vaapi
#af=drc
softvol-max=400

bashrc:

export VDPAU_DRIVER=va_gl
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Radium

HTML 5 video's in Firefox are dog slow and chew the cpu. It's even worse than flash (freshplayer/pepper) on my system. You can get around that by installing mozplugger and setting a different default player. Personally, I use mpv. HW acceleration works great with it. For example, with a H.264 video file:

 (+) Video --vid=1 (*) (h264)
 (+) Audio --aid=1 --alang=eng (*) (aac)
libva info: VA-API version 0.38.0
libva info: va_getDriverName() returns 0
libva info: Trying to open /usr/lib/dri/fglrx_drv_video.so
libva info: Found init function __vaDriverInit_0_33
libva info: va_openDriver() returns 0
Using hardware decoding.
AO: [alsa] 48000Hz stereo 2ch float
VO: [opengl] 1920x800 vaapi

My mpv config file:

vo=opengl
hwdec=vaapi
#af=drc
softvol-max=400

bashrc:

export VDPAU_DRIVER=va_gl

Looks good. But does mozplugger+mpv play videos inside the HTML element or does it start a new window?

How do I configure mozplugger to use mpv for H.264 or any video at all? I look in /etc/mozpluggerrc and nothing makes sense. The default conf is packed with pointers to players that I don't have installed nor do I understand how to elegantly call mpv. I tried to enter my custom entry but all the other entries flood my terminal. Do I clean out all the junk and create a tailored made rc for the things I want?

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simplezz

Looks good. But does mozplugger+mpv play videos inside the HTML element or does it start a new window?

How do I configure mozplugger to use mpv for H.264 or any video at all? I look in /etc/mozpluggerrc and nothing makes sense. The default conf is packed with pointers to players that I don't have installed nor do I understand how to elegantly call mpv. I tried to enter my custom entry but all the other entries flood my terminal. Do I clean out all the junk and create a tailored made rc for the things I want?

You don't need to edit the whole config. Only the default video player. The Arch wiki tells you how to do it:

To change the default of MPlayer so that mpv is used instead, change the appropriate lines such that:

/etc/mozpluggerrc
...
### MPlayer

#define(MP_CMD,[mplayer -really-quiet -nojoystick -nofs -zoom -vo xv,x11 -ao esd,alsa,oss,arts,null -osdlevel 0 $1 </dev/null])
define(MP_CMD,[mpv -really-quiet $1 </dev/null])

#define(MP_EMBED,[embed noisy ignore_errors: MP_CMD(-xy $width -wid $window $1)])
define(MP_EMBED,[embed noisy ignore_errors: MP_CMD(--autofit=$width -wid $window $1)])

#define(MP_NOEMBED,[noembed noisy ignore_errors maxaspect swallow(MPlayer): MP_CMD($1)])
define(MP_NOEMBED,[noembed noisy ignore_errors maxaspect swallow(mpv): MP_CMD($1)])

...

#define(MP_AUDIO,[mplayer -quiet -nojoystick $1 </dev/null])
define(MP_AUDIO,[mpv -really-quiet $1 </dev/null])

#define(MP_AUDIO_STREAM,[controls stream noisy ignore_errors: mplayer -quiet -nojoystick $1 "$file" </dev/null])
define(MP_AUDIO_STREAM,[controls stream noisy ignore_errors: mpv -really-quiet $1 "$file" </dev/null])
...

https://wiki.archlinux.org/index.php/Browser_plugins#MozPlugger

You're basically replacing  the default video player (mplayer) with mpv.

I've only really tested it on Youtube where I use the ViewTube script in conjunction with GreaseMonkey. It works well on my system:

http://imgur.com/o5OxZNw

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The_Decryptor

So how do I make gstreamer use the right plugins? The plugin packages are named in a very strange way and how on earth am I supposed to know which plugin to install?

The Linux media stack is kinda a mess, there's 2 main versions of gstreamer in use (0.10 and 1.0), I think you need 1.0 for proper hardware acceleration, but even though Firefox supports both, most older distros still ship with 0.10, so they build their Firefox to target that. If your distro has 1.0, and builds their Firefox to target 1.0, and you've got the right plugins installed (VA-API support via libva), everything should just work.

But as I said, since Firefox doesn't use hardware accelerated rendering (The graphics stack is also a mess), it can end up being slower than unaccelerated decoding. Using a plugin to play video could help since it'd control its own rendering output to the screen, but also "breaks" stuff like YouTube that will only then offer 2 video qualities because they require native browser playback for normal operation.

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Radium

The Linux media stack is kinda a mess, there's 2 main versions of gstreamer in use (0.10 and 1.0), I think you need 1.0 for proper hardware acceleration, but even though Firefox supports both, most older distros still ship with 0.10, so they build their Firefox to target that. If your distro has 1.0, and builds their Firefox to target 1.0, and you've got the right plugins installed (VA-API support via libva), everything should just work.

But as I said, since Firefox doesn't use hardware accelerated rendering (The graphics stack is also a mess), it can end up being slower than unaccelerated decoding. Using a plugin to play video could help since it'd control its own rendering output to the screen, but also "breaks" stuff like YouTube that will only then offer 2 video qualities because they require native browser playback for normal operation.

It's a complete mess.
Arch Linux has stopped packaing gstreamer 0.10 and only 1.x is availible now so I would assume that the one who package Firefox has used that which is availible in the repository. And everything doesn't work at all out of the box. I've installed all that libva stuff and Firefox has always insisted on software decoding despite X loading the driver. VA-API (drivers and gstreamer-vaapi) is the first thing I install before I even try anything else. I haven't found any information on how to fiddle with gstreamer to see where things go wrong.

 

You don't need to edit the whole config. Only the default video player. The Arch wiki tells you how to do it:

https://wiki.archlinux.org/index.php/Browser_plugins#MozPlugger

You're basically replacing  the default video player (mplayer) with mpv.

I've only really tested it on Youtube where I use the ViewTube script in conjunction with GreaseMonkey. It works well on my system:

http://imgur.com/o5OxZNw

I finally got it to work after installing Greasemoney and ViewTube, however, I wish I had the same simple controls and direct options for fullscreen mode that YouTube has out of the box. All ViewTube (with MPV) allows is fullsize. No fullscreen button. :(

Thanks a lot! At least it plays videos without the fan starting. :)

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simplezz

I finally got it to work after installing Greasemoney and ViewTube, however, I wish I had the same simple controls and direct options for fullscreen mode that YouTube has out of the box. All ViewTube (with MPV) allows is fullsize. No fullscreen button. :(

You can always press f11 and go fullscreen in Firefox. The video window will automatically resize. Or alternatively just download the video and play it locally.

If you're serious about avoiding the bloat of Firefox though, I'd suggest going for something like youtube-viewer (excellent tool) or Minitube.

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Radium

You can always press f11 and go fullscreen in Firefox. The video window will automatically resize. Or alternatively just download the video and play it locally.

If you're serious about avoiding the bloat of Firefox though, I'd suggest going for something like youtube-viewer (excellent tool) or Minitube.

Youtube-viewer is sweeeeet! :)
I downloaded gtk-youtube-viewer from Arch Linux AUR and it's really nice. It just lacks that random suggested video startpage and the suggestions to the right but I can live without that until Firefox gets a grip around VA-API.

Apparently, Firefox has had problems with VA-API hardware acceleration off and on. Some have even had crashes. There are open issues about VA-API hardware acceleration not being enabled despite working damn fine in all media players.

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simplezz

Youtube-viewer is sweeeeet! :)
I downloaded gtk-youtube-viewer from Arch Linux AUR and it's really nice. It just lacks that random suggested video startpage and the suggestions to the right but I can live without that until Firefox gets a grip around VA-API.

Apparently, Firefox has had problems with VA-API hardware acceleration off and on. Some have even had crashes. There are open issues about VA-API hardware acceleration not being enabled despite working damn fine in all media players.

I like the cli version myself.

Ye it's a shame Firefox is so damn slow on Linux (HTML5 media). Even FreshPlayer/Pepper is smoother. I wish Mozilla would stop wasting their time on side projects (Windows 10/metro crap), and make the main browser solid and performant (HW accelerated) on all platforms.

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Radium

I like the cli version myself.

Ye it's a shame Firefox is so damn slow on Linux (HTML5 media). Even FreshPlayer/Pepper is smoother. I wish Mozilla would stop wasting their time on side projects (Windows 10/metro crap), and make the main browser solid and performant (HW accelerated) on all platforms.

Yeah, they need to trim Firefox down, make it more modular so that you can disable non-browser parts (such as Hello) and not just hide a button (turn the stuff into dynamic libraries). Port it to GTK+ 3 and cut all connections to X11 and stick to GTK+ so that it will run on both Xorg and Wayland natively and follow the advancements of GTK and device drivers tightly without having to spend too much on their own UI coding and spend more time on making Gecko better, improve support for content of all flavors and keep it on the forefront of the web. The CPU usage for just moving around your cursor on a site that has lots of links, images and scripts such as YouTube is crazy high even if you enable hardware accelerated rendering of the content. RedHat is spending time porting Firefox to GTK+ 3 and solve all X11 dependencies. Shouldn't this be in the best interest of Mozilla to trim Firefox down to make it run natively on Wayland which is widely used on all kinds of embedded systems that use hardware accelerated interface such as mobile phones and TVs. This will make Firefox enter more markets and they can make it run on anything and they will become much more relevant again.

gtk-youtube-viewer is buggy, it doesn't clear the search results when you search for something new. Minitube didn't work at all, the version in the Arch repo is too old and I didn't figure out how to compile the latest version due to Google's silly API key. So I'm sticking with smtube which interacts with a HTTP server running on developer's site which returns content for you (formats the search results, includes thumbnails and links to the media on YouTube's CDN). It's slim and easy to use but has no support for logging in, commenting, reading comments etc. It's better to let something light like smtube launch mpv for you than fill Firefox with extensions and plugins and still having to browse YouTube's website, have a player placeholder and still have it launch something external or replace it with a player that lacks the native player's ease of use.
I'll stick with smtube until Firefox and gstreamer plays well together with VA-API hardware acceleration.

Once I figured out that VDPAU_DRIVER should be set to "va_gl" and LIBVA_DRIVER_NAME should be "i965" then all media players play any H.264 I throw at them. I pick "vaapi" as the decoder where it's availible.

I avoid Flash as much as possible since it's no longer developed for Linux, is an enormous resource hog most of the time and is easy to exploit.

Chromium has the same issues with hardware accelerated decoding for certain hardware and the developers don't seem to care much about it either.

Thanks for your help. :)

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The_Decryptor

I like the cli version myself.

Ye it's a shame Firefox is so damn slow on Linux (HTML5 media). Even FreshPlayer/Pepper is smoother. I wish Mozilla would stop wasting their time on side projects (Windows 10/metro crap), and make the main browser solid and performant (HW accelerated) on all platforms.

Yeah, Mozilla is going to drop Windows support to focus on Linux.

They've been trying to do hardware acceleration for years, issue is so many drivers crash that they couldn't enable it by default. They're looking at it again as part of the Wayland port, removing X also reduces their dependence on drivers a fair bit (Since before they'd be shipping X11 surfaces to the GPU, now they'll be doing image surfaces)

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Mindovermaster

Yeah, Mozilla is going to drop Windows support to focus on Linux.

Where did you hear that? I heard nothing of that...

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Radium

 

Where did you hear that? I heard nothing of that...

I'm wondering the same. They did say that they would drop the "Metro" port for Firefox but that was back when "metro" and desktop was separate. Maybe they've changed their mind.

I've done some further testing and Firefox does indeed use hardware accelerated video decoding but it's terrible at handling the decoded video as it seems to take a detour back to RAM before it's integrated into the rest of the page and then being sent back to video RAM before displayed. Changing from Cairo to Skia did lower CPU usage but still not satisfied, CPU usage is still way too high, moving your mouse around seems to be very intense for the CPU. Horrible coding, just horrible.

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Mindovermaster

I'm wondering the same. They did say that they would drop the "Metro" port for Firefox but that was back when "metro" and desktop was separate. Maybe they've changed their mind.

I've done some further testing and Firefox does indeed use hardware accelerated video decoding but it's terrible at handling the decoded video as it seems to take a detour back to RAM before it's integrated into the rest of the page and then being sent back to video RAM before displayed. Changing from Cairo to Skia did lower CPU usage but still not satisfied, CPU usage is still way too high, moving your mouse around seems to be very intense for the CPU. Horrible coding, just horrible.

You code at all? :rolleyes: j/k

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simplezz

Yeah, Mozilla is going to drop Windows support to focus on Linux.

Huh? I didn't even say that. I said Mozilla should concentrate on making the desktop (aka not metro) browser solid and performant rather than wasting development time and resources implementing a browser exclusively for Windows 10. That includes the Windows desktop client. It needs a lot more attention and I fear Mozilla's propensity to get side tracked on useless features will be their downfall.

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simplezz

I've done some further testing and Firefox does indeed use hardware accelerated video decoding but it's terrible at handling the decoded video as it seems to take a detour back to RAM before it's integrated into the rest of the page and then being sent back to video RAM before displayed. Changing from Cairo to Skia did lower CPU usage but still not satisfied, CPU usage is still way too high, moving your mouse around seems to be very intense for the CPU. Horrible coding, just horrible.

That's unfortunate. Mozilla really needs to get their act together. We shouldn't have these kinds of problems in 2015.

From my limited testing, Firefox's HTML5 video playback performs a lot worse than flash (fresh player/pepper). Clearly it's not working correctly.

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Radium

 

You code at all? :rolleyes: j/k

Not graphics, no. But I've seen several comments on why CPU use is sometimes higher when hardware accelerated video decoding is on. The decoded video frames are brough back into software (RAM) as the content is structured for being sent to the graphics card again in a different part of the memory used by the hardware renderer if that's even used. If not, each frame is rendered in software and each frame is then just sent to the display server. Firefox defaults to software rendering. OpenGL by default is long overdue and other browsers have the same problems. There's no standardized solution yet and it's only now when hardware accelerated graphics in X11 has become the norm and the arrival of Wayland that the push towards a fully hardware accelerated interface is become a topic. Hardware accelerated graphics in X11 has been availible for many years and web browsers still can't handle it.

Check CPU usage when you scroll or move your mouse in Firefox. It shouldn't be spamming multitple threads with workload that put the CPU cores under 20-30% load. Let's not talk about 1080p60+ playback. Completely outrageous even when only one tab open and no other software running in the foreground, CPU use 40%+. My Broadwell CPU heats up really fast and that never happend when I used Windows. Even watching several videos after another and doing some scrolling and multitabbing at the same time as a video is playing didn't cause the fan to even start. It doesn't take much for Firefox to cause the fan to start spinning. I have turned on OpenGL and off-main-thread-compositing which lowers the CPU use slightly and it's still using crazy amounts of CPU power. Firefox is a known resource hog on all platforms.

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Mindovermaster

I only use Chrome these days. Because of the Flash games don't work, I need the latest version.

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      Pat Gelsinger thinks Intel can "be the leader in every category in which we compete"
      by Rich Woods

      Back in January, Intel announced that CEO Bob Swan was stepping down and he would be replaced by Pat Gelsinger, and just yesterday, Gelsinger stepped into his new role. Naturally, it's not going to be a tremendously easy role, and the new CEO published a note to employees today.

      To be clear, there's nothing surprising or out of the ordinary here. It's completely normal for a new CEO to publish what its goals are, and this is no different. But he does have some strong ambitions for Intel, saying that it can "be the world's leading semiconductor company" when the competition is stronger than it's been in a very long time.

      Gelsinger laid out four key priorities. The first, and probably the most important, is to "be the leader in every category in which we compete", and again, that's quite an ambitious goal. Keep in mind that AMD is doing big things with its Ryzen processors, which are built on a 7nm process while Intel is still getting the hang of 10nm. Qualcomm is entering the PC space as well, offering value like long battery life, integrated cellular connectivity at super-low price points, and fan-less designs.

      And of course, Apple is using ARM processors in its Macs now, a big loss for Intel no matter how you slice it. A commitment to not only compete with all of that, but to stay ahead of the competition, is a major one.

      The second priority is to "execute flawlessly to our commitments". This is another really important one because frankly, Intel hasn't been able to execute. Once the absolute leader when it comes to PC CPUs, its competition has caught up to it, and companies like AMD were only able to do so because Intel fell behind. Intel started delaying its 10nm processors back in 2015, they were delayed again in 2017, and they finally arrived in 2019.

      Even now, only part of the company's lineup has made the move to 10nm, while competitors like AMD and Apple are hitting 7nm and 5nm, respectively. And as of last summer, the move to a 7nm process is already delayed. Gelsinger plans to start keeping these promises.

      The third priority is to "passionately innovate with boldness and speed". This one kind of speaks for itself, but perhaps it's a hint that Intel won't be as afraid to take risks, and that it's going to move faster.

      Finally, the fourth priority is to "reignite our culture to attract and motivate the best engineers and technologists on the planet", even referencing "Groveian disciplines". Indeed, if Intel plans to be on top, it's going to need the best talent to get it there.

      Gelsinger signs off by saying he knows that Intel's best days are ahead of it. For sure, it's going to be a long road to get there.

    • By zikalify
      Intel's new CEO shares his vision for the company's future
      by Paul Hill



      Pat Gelsinger has become the CEO of Intel according to a post over at Intel’s Newsroom. The firm announced his appointment over the weekend and that he would replace Bob Swan in the role from today.

      Gelsinger is no stranger to Intel. According to the firm, he has worked in the technology industry for 40 years, with 30 of them being at Intel where he began his career. He is coming over from his CEO role at VMWare, a job he has held since 2012. At the virtualization firm, he managed to nearly triple the company’s annual revenues. In the coming months and years, it’ll be interesting to see whether he improves Intel’s revenues too.

      Commenting on the new job, Gelsinger said:

      During his long career, Gelsinger was the architect behind the 80486 (i486) processor and in his role as Chief Technology Officer created the Intel Developer Forum. The outgoing CEO, Bob Swan, said that he’s “fully supportive” of the board’s decision to appoint Gelsinger to head the company and that the firm will retain its market position under his leadership.

    • By Rich Woods
      Intel Evo vs Apple Silicon part five: Software
      by Rich Woods

      This is the fifth part of our Intel Evo vs Apple Silicon series, where we're taking a look at what each side can do better than the other. The MacBook Pro 13, Razer Book 13, Razer Core X, Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Ti, Samsung T7 Touch SSD, and CalDigit Thunderbolt 3 dock were provided by Intel. All opinions expressed are a result of our own testing and experience.

      When I started looking at software compatibility between the M1 MacBook Pro and Intel PCs like the Razer Book and the Spectre x360 14, I kind of expected to be writing something similar to what I wrote when I tested hardware compatibility. After all, there are plenty of peripherals that don't work with macOS, even more than don't work with M1 Macs, and they all work with Intel.

      That wasn't quite the case when it came to software though. As it turns out, there are absolutely some things that are better on a Mac from the software side of things.

      Windows 10
      Let's start out by talking about running good old Windows 10. As you may have heard, the M1 Macs do not support Boot Camp. In fact, the MacBook Pro actually comes with a Boot Camp Assistant app pre-installed, and just tells you it won't work if you try to open it. If you're looking to dual-boot between operating systems, you'll want to grab an Intel Mac while you can still get them.

      But as Apple promised when it introduced the M1, you can run other operating systems through virtualization. In the keynote, the firm only promised Linux, and you're about to find out why. It's because Windows just isn't ready.

      First of all, I ran the Windows Insider Program VHDX image for build 21286, which is available from Microsoft here. There is no production version of the image, mainly because Microsoft pushed back its major update from the spring to the fall. These images actually exist to run in Hyper-V, and Hyper-V for Windows on ARM won't ship until then. You can blame the delay of Windows 10X for all of this.

      Windows 10 runs well on the M1 MacBook Pro, in general. Windows on ARM runs native ARM32 and ARM64 apps, and it runs emulated x86 and x64 apps. Three of those things work, and the one that doesn't is ARM32. This is because the M1 chipset simply doesn't support 32-bit ARM apps, and why would it? There hasn't been a 32-bit ARM app in the Apple ecosystem since iOS 10.

      It's a problem when it comes to Windows 10 though, because while the OS itself is ARM64, most of the inbox apps are 32-bit. You can double-click on an image, but when it tries to open Photos to view the image, it won't work because Photos is 32-bit. The same goes for the Microsoft Store. One thing that does work is Edge, so you can use it to download other things that work.

      Another thing that's pretty cool is that Parallels has pretty tight integration with the file system. All of the files that I had on the desktop automatically showed up on the Windows 10 desktop (don't judge how many files are there; it's the default landing spot for macOS screenshots). And, there's a macOS folder that shows up and lets me access the Mac's file system. There's even a shortcut for Edge that shows up on the macOS desktop.

      macOS
      Obviously, you can't run macOS on a PC that's not sold be Apple. Well, it takes some work, and that's well beyond the scope of this article. I'm not really into comparing how one operating system works when compared to another, although I will say that macOS is more consistent and prettier.

      Instead, I want to talk a little bit about inbox apps. It's a common complaint that iPhones don't work particularly well with Windows, but they do work with macOS.

      Here are some examples. Microsoft has an app called Your Phone, and it lets you send and receive texts, mirror your screen, interact with your photo gallery, and more, as long as you're using an Android phone. Google has a web client for its Messages app, but of course, you can't change the default SMS client on iOS.

      And everyone loves to blame Apple. The Your Phone team will happily tell you that the app doesn't work with iOS because of restrictions from Apple; however, Dell Mobile Connect does everything that Your Phone can't do. You can send and receive text, and more importantly, send and receive files. Unfortunately, Dell Mobile Connect is exclusive to Dell PCs. There used to be some workarounds to get it going on non-Dell PCs, but those seem to have been shut down.

      Using this MacBook Pro, I've been living in the Apple ecosystem, since I've already been using an iPhone 12 Pro Max and Apple Watch Series 5 as daily drivers. And holy wow, did I miss having this kind of integration. It's so nice to be able to send and receive texts through the Messages application. Oh, and if I take a video with my iPhone and want to edit it on a PC, I just AirDrop it.

      Let's not forget about Find My. If I'm wondering if my wife is on her way home from work yet, there's no more need to pull out my phone and check. That's what this is really about too. You just don't have to take your phone out for anything when using a Mac and an iPhone.

      Of course, there's FaceTime too, the video-calling service that somehow succeeded in a world where it can't talk to non-Apple devices. That's there too, along with things like Apple Maps, Books, Podcasts, TV, and more.

      And then there are iOS apps, which are now on macOS for some reason. They don't feel natural to use, and some are speculating that this is Apple building up to a touch-based Mac, but I don't think so. I think this is a rare example of Apple doing something just because it can. I think the thought process was that Macs are getting ARM processors, it's easy to run iOS apps on them now, so let's do it, without a second thought as to what the experience might be like.

      But also, other than for testing purposes, I really didn't use any iOS apps, because I've never found myself wishing I had a mobile app while I'm on a PC. I use the browser and web apps, and that's it. I did try downloading the Toyota app thinking that I could use it to start my car from the MacBook instead of my iPhone, but that app was incompatible. I'm not actually sure what makes an app incompatible either, since the array of apps available seems too big to assume that Apple got explicit permission from each developer to bring their apps to the Mac.

      But it's there if you need it. Maybe you own a car from some company whose app does work on a Mac, and boom; this feature is suddenly useful to you. That's the thing. I can't tell you what's useful to you, and I'm sure there are people that love that they can run iPhone apps on a Mac now.

      Adobe CC
      Adobe is committed to bringing its full suite of apps to both Apple Silicon and Windows on ARM. We're going to talk a little bit about how it is now, but I just wanted to be up front with the fact that the situation will get better.

      The only app that currently supports Apple Silicon (and Windows on ARM) is Lightroom, although Adobe does have some additional apps that are in beta. Those include Photoshop, Premiere Pro, Media Encoder, Premiere Rush, After Effects, Character Animator, and Audition.

      Some of the beta software is more stable than others, and they've been getting updated pretty frequently. If you don't like them, you can run the Intel apps side-by-side with them, as they run through Apple's Rosetta translation. Specifically, I've been using Photoshop, Premiere Pro, and Media Encoder, and on the Intel side, I've been using Illustrator and Acrobat.

      In the Photoshop beta, at first, it would crash as soon as I tried to crop an image. That was fixed rather quickly, but it should tell you where these betas are at. I tried to add an audio track to a video in Premiere Pro, and I soon realized that the beta currently doesn't support the MP3 format. I ended up using Media Encoder on a Windows 10 machine to convert it to a WAV file that I could use, although like I said, I could have installed the Intel apps to do this stuff.

      I also attempted to use a FLAC file before I realized that Adobe doesn't support FLAC at all. I found a plug-in I could use and then realized I couldn't install it with the beta. Yes, let's not forget that it's one thing to turn extensible software native, but it's another thing to get all of the extensions on-board as well.

      All of this stuff is going to get there at some point. I just feel like all of my testing with the MacBook Pro is leading me to the conclusion that if you really want Apple Silicon, wait for the next generation.

      Microsoft Office
      I'm not a big Office guy, but it's my suite of choice. I don't use iWork or G Suite. Most of Office runs native for the M1 now, and that includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, and OneNote, although you could run into issues with extensions like with Adobe CC.

      Apps that are not native yet include To Do and OneDrive. Microsoft To Do is a simple enough application, so you're not running into any issues there. In fact, Apple's Rosetta 2 translation is very good, and I didn't find any major performance issues in most apps that I used.

      OneDrive was painfully slow though. I don't know if OneDrive for Mac is normally like this or not, but just getting the file system to sync before Files On-Demand worked took hours and hours. On Windows 10, it takes minutes. If I clicked on the OneDrive icon in the menu bar, it would freeze the PC for minutes before opening the menu.

      Gaming
      This is less of an Apple Silicon thing and more of a Windows vs macOS thing. It's pretty well-known that if gaming is a priority for you, you should get a Windows PC. It's the place where the games are, and it's the place where the more powerful hardware is. There's no Mac with an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3090, and there never will be.

      Forza Horizon 4 suggesting Ultra settings with external RTX 2080 Ti attached on Windows I actually downloaded Shadow of the Tomb Raider from Steam on the Mac, just to test out the Xbox Wireless Controller for the hardware comparison. Performance was surprisingly good. I expected that the translation might struggle a bit more with a game.

      But while there are obviously more native games on Windows than there are on the Mac, game streaming is coming. That's really the thing that puts all of these devices on an even ground. You can easily play games with services like Nvidia GeForce Now and Google Stadia, and Microsoft is bringing its Xbox game streaming to more platforms soon. What's also cool about Microsoft's service is that it's part of Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, so it offers access to over 100 games right out of the gate.

      Conclusion
      A lot of the time that I've been using this MacBook Pro, I've considered that I'd be totally willing to use it as a daily driver if it could support multiple monitors. It's just a pleasant machine to use if you're in the Apple ecosystem.

      Here's the deal when it comes to software. Everything works on Windows unless you're trying to make an Apple product work; however, if you've got a Dell, more Apple stuff works. There are also a bunch of issues with the Apple M1 right now, such as Adobe CC apps being in beta, OneDrive not working well, and a lack of Windows 10 support in Parallels.

      Most of this is going to change. Adobe is going to get its apps up and running eventually; we know that's going to happen. As for Windows 10, I'm frankly not sure why there are still 32-bit apps in the OS. It's not hard to convert them to ARM64, and the only devices that required 32-bit ARM apps were Windows 10 Mobile, and that's been unsupported for over a year now. But also, that's the kind of inconsistency that makes macOS pleasant.

      My biggest issue with the M1 MacBook Pro is that it feels like I'm doing more workarounds than I should have to do for a PC that costs well over a thousand dollars. Yes, there's a native version of Adobe Premiere Pro, but I had to convert an audio file to WAV before I could use it. Yes, OneDrive works, but I have to be selective about what I sync or else it gets wonky. Gaming works, as long as you find a streaming service with the game you want on it. Windows works, but not with the Store.

      All of this stuff is going to get worked out, but like I said in part four, it's worth waiting at this point.

      Check out the rest of the series:

      Part one: Unboxing the MacBook Pro 13 Part two: Unboxing the Razer Book 13 Part three: Setting up the peripherals Part four: Hardware compatibility Part six: Razer Book review