Mozilla enables WebRender on qualifying Firefox Nightly installations

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by Martin Brinkmann on September 14, 2018 in Firefox – 2 comments

Mozilla enabled the new WebRender component of the Firefox web browser by default on Firefox Nightly installations that meet the system requirements.

WebRender is a new technology that makes better use of a device’s video card to improve overall performance.

The project reached a new milestone recently when Mozilla activated WebRender by default on Nightly versions of the Firefox web browser if a supported Nvidia video card is installed and if the operating system is Windows 10. Mozilla ran a Shield Study before that to test WebRender on Firefox Nightly.

WebRender is a component of Mozilla’s next generation Servo technology that is written entirely in Rust. As the name implies, it is a component for rendering web content and the main goal of the component is to improve the performance of the rendering process by moving the heavy lifting from the processor to the video card.

Desktop users who run Firefox Nightly on a computer with a modern Nvidia video card and Microsoft’s Windows 10 operating system make up a small percentage of the entire Firefox Nightly population; about 17% of the entire Firefox Nightly userbase runs Nightly on the operating system and video card configuration.

Mozilla plans to extend support in future versions but it is not clear if Mozilla’s developers will focus on AMD or Intel video card support next.

Mozilla aims to push WebRender support to Firefox Beta with the release of Firefox 64. Whether that will indeed happen depends on a number of bugs and dependencies which are listed on Bugzilla. The same system and hardware restrictions will apply for WebRender support in Firefox Beta.

firefox nightly webrender information

Firefox users who want to find out whether WebRender is enabled on their version of the web browser can check that in the following ways (starting with Firefox 64):

  1. Load about:support in the address bar of the web browser.
  2. Scroll down to WebRender or use Ctrl-F to bring up the find bar, type WebRender to jump to the right listing.
  3. You should see WebRender and WebRender Qualified information there. It is either “blocked” or enabled” depending on the configuration.,

Please note that it is possible to enable WebRender on all systems. Note that your mileage may vary and that there is a good chance that you will encounter bugs and issues; WebRender is a component that is still in active development.

firefox webrender

  1. Load about:config?filter=gfx.webrender.all in the browser’s address bar.
  2. Confirm that you will be careful if the warning prompt is displayed.
  3. Double-click on the preference.
  4. Restart Firefox.

Setting the preference to true enables WebRender on the system; false is the default for all devices except for qualifying Nvidia video card devices on Windows 10 systems.

Mozilla focused primarily on stability and the correct rendering of web pages; performance will be a focus going forward.

Closing Words

It will take a while before WebRender lands in Firefox Stable. The next milestone is the enabling of WebRender for certain configurations in Firefox Beta.  (via Sören Hentzschel)