IE9 RC was already around for a couple of months now with news that Microsoft will be taking a leap ahead with the new Internet Explorer 9. It has landed now: Microsoft has released the final version of IE9 with a whole bunch of improvements. The main highlight is a new domain for browsers: utilizing GPUs (Graphics Processing Unit) for improved HTML5 and video encoding/decoding. Up until now, browsers mainly utilized CPUs even for compute intensive jobs. This changes with the new IE9.

So what’s all this fuss about GPUs and GPU accelerated web? To summarize, imagine this: CPUs have a limited number of workers (they call them ‘cores’) which do scale up with every new architecture but on the other hand those of us who have GPUs in our machines, they have a whole bunch of workers (they’re also called ‘cores’) laying idle while the browser sends all the jobs to the CPU. GPUs on the other hand are really good at doing parallel computing for example imagine 256 cores of the GPU working simultaneously on a frame. The execution time would naturally drop down. This is what Internet Explorer 9 brings on the table: it uses this immense GPU resource to do the compute intensive jobs while still making use of the CPU to do what it does best: serial tasks.

Here’s a summary of what IE9 brings:

  • GPU accelerated HTML5 which opens up gates for much richer UI that will further narrow down the performance gap between native and web apps.
  • Smoother and faster video encoding and decoding which means smooth video playback on all your favorite website
  • Faster switching between multiple tabs
  • Pinning: Just like you can pin all your favorite software into your taskbar, you can now pin any tab opened in IE9 into your taskbar by simply dragging it onto the taskbar. What’s the use of it? Shortcut to Facebook, GMail and any other website you frequent. Some websites will even show updates above the pinned icon!

These are just the highlights and you will have to experience it yourself to see it in action.

Download Internet Explorer 9

And if you’re interested in the performance benches, see them here