Opera 12 Alpha Browser with Hardware Acceleration Arrives

Paul Lilly

In some ways, Opera is the Rodney Dangerfield of browsers. Both have their rabid followers, and both struggle to gain respect from the mainstream audience. That's where the similarities end, and where Opera really distinguishes itself is in being relevant still today (apologies for the gut punch, Dangerfield fans). Opera Software's next big browser release -- Opera 12 -- is now available as an alpha build, and with it another major development.

Opera 12 alpha supports full hardware acceleration with WebGL. This isn't the first browser to support hardware acceleration, but it's perhaps more liberal in its use by offloading the whole user interface to the GPU and not just specific elements of a webpage. This, the Norwegian browser maker says, will make it possible to accelerate all webpages.

There's a new HTML5 engine in Opera 12, one that "allows recovery of broken pages in a standard manner, enhancing compatibility with the Web. It's now possible to mix vector graphics (SVG) with HTML, enabling a new class of Web applications." Opera 12 is supposed to load webpages 40 percent faster and use 30 percent less memory on JavaScript heavy sites. You'll also find new themes and a revamped address field with search suggestions and other additions.

Before you decide to give it a spin, keep this in mind: "It is not feature complete and may have severe known issues, including crashes, and data loss situations," Opera Software warns.

Still want to kick its tires? You can hop in the driver's seat here .

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