You may have heard the term “hardware acceleration” before, but you may not be sure what it means. Hardware acceleration is a technique used to improve the performance of a computing system by offloading some intensive tasks from the central processing unit (CPU) to dedicated hardware devices known as accelerators.
The most common device that is used as an accelerator is the Graphical Processing Unit (GPU). Some of the common examples of tasks that are normally offloaded to accelerators include video games, heavy web browsing, movies and image editing. But as we’ll see later, hardware acceleration is now being used for complex functions across technologies such as AI and cloud computing.
What Does Hardware Acceleration Do?
Simply put, hardware acceleration fastens the performance of your computer by using the power of the graphics card to get certain tasks to run faster. This will free up processing power on your computer’s main processor, which can then be used for other tasks.
Not all graphics-intensive tasks are handled by the GPU by default – for example, text rendering and layout are still handled by the CPU.
Which examples of scenarios can trigger hardware acceleration?
Let’s say you are watching a movie or playing a video game. As you play or watch, normally the visuals on the screen are constantly changing. This requires your CPU to work hard to keep up, which can slow it down and cause problems.
Acceleration takes some of this load off your CPU by using your graphics card to handle some of these tasks. The idea is to offload certain tasks to hardware that is optimized for them, hence accelerating the overall performance of your system.
The CPU is by default always taxed first by applications before any other hardware component. This is fine, especially if one has a powerful CPU, but there are times when it may be more effective for your computer to use other components in the system. In such cases, acceleration becomes necessary.
What makes GPUs effective as accelerators?
The graphics processing units in a computer (GPUs) are designed for graphics intensive tasks such as 3D rendering and gaming. When such a task is assigned to the GPU, which is the rightful hardware for these tasks, it will be processed much faster than if it were run on the CPU.
This is because GPUs have hundreds of cores compared to just a few cores on CPUs. By offloading tasks to the graphics card, the CPU is freed up to handle other important tasks, resulting in improved performance and efficiency.
Should I turn hardware acceleration on?
Yes, it is advisable to always enable hardware acceleration to improve the overall speed and responsiveness of your computer.
Acceleration can also help improve battery life by offloading work to dedicated hardware components, which can operate more efficiently than the main processor.
Ultimately, whether or not to enable hardware acceleration is up to you, but it is generally recommended for optimal performance. If you’re not sure whether you should turn it on, do some testing to see if it makes a difference.
How to check hardware acceleration status on a device
Most operating systems such as Windows and Mac usually have hardware acceleration enabled by default, but you can always check to verify. Here is how to check hardware acceleration on Windows, Mac and Linux
How to check hardware acceleration status on Windows
Follow these steps to check hardware acceleration settings on Windows (based on Windows 10);
- Right-click on the empty space on your Windows 10 desktop and select Display settings.
- Select Advanced display settings from the Display Settings page.
- Select the Display adapter properties for display 1.
- On the Graphic properties window, click the Troubleshoot tab.
- STOP if you don’t see the “Troubleshoot” tab! It means your PC does not have the hardware acceleration feature.
- If the Troubleshoot button is there, select it and choose “Change settings”. STOP if the Change Settings option is grayed out! It means your PC hardware may not actually support hardware acceleration.
- The button to turn off or on Windows 10 Hardware Acceleration can be found in the Display Adapter Troubleshooter bar.. Toggle the button to turn acceleration on or off.
- Save your settings by clicking okay.
Please note that even if your this feature is not supported in your device, it could already be taken care off under performance settings.
How to check hardware acceleration status on Mac
If you’re a Mac user, you can check if hardware acceleration is enabled by following these steps:
- Open the System Preferences window.
- Select the “Displays” icon.
- Click on the “Advanced” tab.
- Look for the setting that says “Use hardware acceleration when available” or “Accelerate Graphics Using Hardware”, depending on your version. If it is checked, then hardware acceleration is already enabled. If not, then you can enable it by clicking on the checkbox and clicking “OK.”
Does Linux have hardware acceleration?
Yes. The kernel has support for a variety of hardware devices, including GPUs. In addition, there are various user-space libraries and drivers that provide higher-level access to acceleration features.
Hardware acceleration in Linux can be accomplished by installing the appropriate drivers for your and then configuring the settings. One way to configure is through the X Server settings. You can access these settings by opening the “Settings” application and then selecting the “Display” tab. From there, you should see an option for “Acceleration.” Clicking on this will give you a list of different options that you can enable or disable as needed.
You can also configure through your video card’s control panel. This panel will allow you to adjust various settings related to your video card.
Pros and cons of hardware acceleration
Every good thing will always have two sides, and hardware acceleration too has its pros and cons. Here are the key ones;
Pros of hardware acceleration
- Increased speed and performance: Hardware-accelerated rendering can often produce faster results than rendering solely on the CPU. This is because GPUs are designed specifically for large-scale parallel computing, which means they can handle large amounts of data. This is especially beneficial when it comes to gaming, video editing and other activities that require superior computing power.
- Reduced power consumption: By offloading work to the GPU, the CPU can often enter into a low-power state, which can lead to reduced power consumption overall.
- Scalability: GPUs can be easily scaled up or down as needed, which makes it possible to achieve better performance without breaking the bank.
Cons of hardware acceleration
- Need for more hardware – Acceleration can bring with it an increase in complexity. This is because hardware components must be designed and added to the system, which can add cost and time to the overall project.
- Overreliance on hardware – If a system relies too heavily on hardware acceleration, then it may become difficult or even impossible to change or upgrade the system in the future. This could limit the lifetime of the system and constrain its flexibility.
- Limited compatibility – Not all devices or software programs are compatible with all types of acceleration. This means that some users may not be able to take advantage of the technology, or that it may only work with certain types of applications.
Hardware Acceleration in Browsers
Most browsers have hardware acceleration enabled as a default feature that uses the computer’s hardware to speed up the rendering of web pages and make processes smoother.
But to use the hardware acceleration feature on a browser, the computer’s graphics processor (GPU) needs to be enabled and your computer’s acceleration feature turned on. As we have just seen above, most operating systems have their hardware acceleration feature turned on by default and you can use the given steps to check this.
However, not all browsers support this, and not all websites are designed to take advantage of it. Let’s look at acceleration in some of the popular browsers, next.
What is hardware acceleration in Chrome?
Chrome hardware acceleration is a feature that uses your computer’s hardware to render pages on chrome more quickly. When activated, Chrome will use your graphics card and processor to render web pages instead of using the CPU. This can result in a significant speed increase for some users.
You can check if this feature is enabled by clicking the three dots in the top right corner of Chrome, then selecting “Settings.” Scroll down to “Advanced” and select “System.” Here you’ll be able to see whether the option is enabled or not.
Perhaps you are wondering how to turn off hardware acceleration chrome? It’s easy. Simply follow this procedure to disable hardware acceleration chrome. Go to Chrome Settings –> System –> and click on the blue button to turn off, click on the same button (now gray) to enable. And after that click “Relaunch”.
Opera hardware acceleration
Hardware acceleration in opera is a feature that allows the Opera browser to offload some of the graphical rendering work from the computer’s CPU to the graphics processing unit (GPU), which is specifically designed for handling complex graphics processes. This results in smoother animations, faster page loading and improved overall performance.
For the best experience, Opera will hardware accelerate as many tasks as possible without affecting compatibility or causing any problems.
How to enable or disable Opera hardware acceleration: To disable, open the Opera browser and go to “Settings”. Then, under the “System” section, look for the “Use hardware acceleration when available” tab. By default this tab is usually turned on and you will see that it’s blue in color. Click on it to disable (turns gray). To enable, click on the same button again (turns blue).
Firefox hardware acceleration
The acceleration feature allows the Firefox browser to use the computer’s hardware to render graphics instead of using the CPU. This makes Firefox faster and more efficient, especially when displaying graphics-intensive websites. If you’re having problems with Firefox lagging or crashing, you can try disabling acceleration to see if that resolves the issue.
To disable hardware acceleration Firefox, go to Settings. Under the “General” section, scroll down to “Performance”. Under Performance, uncheck the box that is next to “Use recommended performance settings. Once you uncheck, you will see a checkbox right below that says: “Use hardware acceleration when available”. Uncheck this box to disable hardware acceleration in your Firefox browser. To enable, simply check the box.
Hardware acceleration in other applications
Spotify hardware acceleration allows Spotify to play music without any stuttering or buffering. Hardware acceleration Spotify works by caching songs locally on your device so that they can be played immediately, without having to wait for them to download first.
When enabled, it allows your computer’s GPU to take on some of the workload. This makes streaming music much smoother and faster, especially on slower internet connections.
The acceleration feature is turned on by default in Spotify, but you can disable it. Open the Spotify app and go to Settings > Show Advanced Settings > Compatibility. Uncheck the box next to “Enable hardware acceleration” and click Save. This is how to disable hardware acceleration in Spotify.
What is hardware acceleration in Discord? In Discord, hardware acceleration is used to improve the performance of voice and video calls. By default, Discord will attempt to use hardware acceleration when available.
To turn hardware acceleration discord on or off, open Discord settings by selecting the gearwheel icon next to your username. It’s normally on the lower left side. Choose the Appearance tab. Scroll down to “Hardware Acceleration” and toggle it on or off.
In Autocad, hardware acceleration improves the speed and performance of the software by using the computer’s video card. When enabled, Autocad sends all rendering tasks for 3D objects and shaded views to the video card. This process frees up the computer’s processor so that it can handle other tasks, such as opening and working on files.
How to enable or disable hardware acceleration Autocad: In Autocad, you can enable or disable hardware acceleration through the Graphics Performance menu. To access this menu, go to the View tab and select Graphics Performance. Then, click on the Hardware Acceleration drop-down menu to enable or disable the feature.
Hardware Acceleration in AI and Cloud Computing
Hardware acceleration is no longer exclusive to desktop computing. The concept is increasingly being used in other areas especially AI and cloud computing.
Here is what is happening:
Artificial Intelligence tasks are some of the most resource-intensive activities that a computing system can undertake. From deep learning to neural networks, training and running AI models require massive quantities of data and computational horsepower. Hardware acceleration is helping here in many different ways.
One common way is to use GPUs (graphics processing units) to speed up the training of deep learning models. GPUs are well-suited for this task because they are designed to perform the kind of repetitive computations that are required for training neural networks.
Another way to use it is to deploy inference on devices such as smartphones and embedded systems that have limited resources. This can be done using various techniques such as quantization and pruning. Finally, there is a growing trend of using specialized hardware accelerators such as FPGAs (field-programmable gate arrays) and ASICs (application-specific integrated circuits) for deep learning.
One of the primary benefits of hardware acceleration in the cloud is the ability to offload compute-intensive tasks from the CPU to the GPU. This can dramatically improve server performance, especially for applications that require heavy number-crunching or graphics processing.
Acceleration can also help optimize power consumption, making it an attractive option for data centers and other large-scale deployments. By leveraging the power of the GPU, data centers can reduce energy costs while still delivering peak performance.
The Future of Hardware Acceleration
With its ability to exponentially speed up performance, hardware acceleration will eventually become the new standard for computing.
This shift is largely fueled by developments such as the declining processing ability of the CPU, the rise of artificial intelligence, high consumption of video and graphical content. With more and more data being processed, acceleration is needed now more than ever to keep up with the demands of these applications.
Not only is acceleration making our devices faster and more powerful, but it’s also making them more energy efficient. This is crucial for our increasingly mobile world, where battery life is always a concern.
Hardware acceleration will also find greater use in software development. By taking advantage of the latest advancements in hardware, software developers will be able to create faster, more efficient applications that utilize the full potential of modern hardware.
While hardware acceleration has been around for many years, its use has become more prevalent in recent times as we demand more from our devices amid declining CPU performance.
And now with the advent of artificial intelligence and other complex tasks, hardware acceleration will indeed accelerate to become more important than ever. This will allow users to get more out of their devices and businesses to offer better, faster services.
What is better hardware acceleration on or off?
This really depends on your device, what you’re using it for and individual preferences. There are pros and cons to enabling hardware acceleration. The main pro is that it enables some tasks – like scrolling through a web page, editing heavy graphics, playing games or watching a video – to run more smoothly. The main con is that depending on your needs, acceleration can mean adding more hardware to your devices which can bring extra costs.
If your device is running low on resources, you may want to turn it off. If you’re not sure whether it’s right for you, try it both ways and see which one works better for you.
What happens if you turn off hardware acceleration?
When you turn off hardware acceleration, your computer runs everything on the central processing unit (CPU) instead of passing intense tasks to the graphics processing unit (GPU). So disabling hardware acceleration could potentially use more of your CPU’s resources and may result in a slower experience.
Many people disable hardware acceleration because they believe it will improve their computer’s performance. However, this is not always the case. In fact, it can actually have the opposite effect. If you disabled it without knowing what you were doing, then you may want to try re-enabling it to see if that improves the speed.
When is it advisable to turn off hardware acceleration?
It’s advisable to turn off acceleration to help with troubleshooting instances where you could be experiencing issues with your device (e.g. crashes.). This will disable the use of your graphics processor and allow you to narrow down to the issue. However, it should be noted that disabling acceleration can also cause problems with some websites and applications.