VMware Workstation 8.0.1 released with little fanfare and included an innocuous bullet in the list of highlights "Graphics performance and compatibility enhancements". We purposely did not provide much more detail until now when our users could begin to take advantage of some of the performance enhancements!
For the past several months we have been working with Microsoft to enable Internet Explorer 9 to use VMware's virtual GPU to accelerate the rendering of graphics displayed in the browser. VMware included several changes to our graphics driver in Workstation 8.0.1 and Microsoft has just released an update to Internet Explorer 9 that completed the project.
Not surprisingly, the results are astouding!!!!! Using a graphics processor dedicated to rendering images is radically faster than rendering them on your CPU.
We tested the results using Microsoft's IE Test Drive site and by running speed demos such as the FishBowl Benchmark, FishIE Tank, Galactic, Paintball, Particle Acceleration, Psychedelic Browsing etc.
We achieved improvements from 6-10 frames per second to maxing out at 60 frames per second on many of the tests. In an unscientific test that I ran on my machine the Psychedelic Browsing benchmark jumped from 12 rotations per minute to 7043.... yes that is an incredible increase in speed!!! (individual results may vary...)
The point is that these improvements are not incremental they are exceptional and our users who run Internet Explorer in a virtual machine should be ecstatic about the results!
We encourage you to upgrade to VMware Workstation 8.0.1, install the latest version of VMware Tools ensure that you have run Windows Update to get the latest IE patches and try running these tests yourself. You can see the difference simply by toggling on and off the IE 9 setting that lets you "Use software rendering instead of GPU rendering". Please remember to restart Internet Explorer after checking or unchecking this setting.
The setting can be found on the Internet Explorer -> Internet Options menu under the Advanced tab.
Please respond to this post with your own results!