Firefox 4.0 and Chrome 10 activating dedicated video card. MBP 2011

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by syan48306, Mar 2, 2011.

  1. syan48306, Mar 2, 2011
    Last edited: Mar 23, 2011

    syan48306 macrumors 6502a


    Apr 15, 2010
    So I initially created this thread to look for a program to show when the video card was active but I've found one myself.

    Now my problem is it seems like whenever Firefox is open, the video card kicks on. Even if it's just a blank screen with no webpage open. That probably explains why I only got 4 hours of battery life last night while browsing. As soon as Firefox is completely closed, the dedicated symbol changes to integrated.

    Chrome seems to have this issue as well while Safari does not.
  2. pricej636 macrumors 6502

    Mar 30, 2010
    My 2010 stays on integrated with firefox open, even while doing flash stuff. Really the only times it changes to the nvidia is if I have x11 open or if I am playing angry birds or something. I was actually surprised it doesnt switch more. Might be something different with the 2011 though.
  3. c1phr macrumors 6502

    Jan 8, 2011
    Are you using Firefox 4 beta? Mine does the same (2010 model) in Chrome (Beta, not sure about stable?) and FF4, but FF3 doesn't do this. It has to do with the WebGL implementation in these browsers, the renderer is calling for graphic power when they launch WebGL, and Snow Leopard thinks that it needs the dedicated GPU.

    Not sure if your tool can force one or the other like you can on the 2010, but I just force Intel and any browser I use works just fine.
  4. syan48306 thread starter macrumors 6502a


    Apr 15, 2010
    I'm surprised no one seems to care about this...

    Anyway, it seems like Firefox 4 (currently running b12) is causing the trouble. 3.6 seems to play nice with the video card. :/ Chrome on the other hand activates the video card regardless of the version.

    Looks like it IS the WebGL that's activating the video card. Is there any program that will allow you to specifically adjust video card behavior based on what programs are launched? Cranking up the video card for VLC or Firefox 4 seems excessive to me :(
  5. Whitelightning macrumors regular

    Apr 21, 2007
    Isnt there an app that allows you to control specifically when you don't want to switch to dedicated for certain applications?
  6. alphaod macrumors Core


    Feb 9, 2008
    It's been like that since the 2010 models came out.
  7. syan48306 thread starter macrumors 6502a


    Apr 15, 2010
    Well that's no good D:
  8. altecXP macrumors 65816

    Aug 3, 2009
    Its the framework the Firefox and Chrome use. When loaded it activates the Dedicated GPU even if it's not needed. Apple needs to fix that.
  9. Drecca macrumors regular

    Aug 30, 2010
    is there any fix for this, instead of having gfxcardstatus and forcing the intel chip?
  10. TheHoff macrumors 6502

    Oct 22, 2008
    Skype does this as well even with only text chats going (and Coda, though that is much less popular).

    There is no fix AFAIK since they're calling OpenCL for some reason. The above linked program works well on 2011.
  11. syan48306 thread starter macrumors 6502a


    Apr 15, 2010
    Hopefully Apple makes an exception in their code for this. TBH, there's really no reason you need a 6750M to power through Firefox or Skype. The Intel HD3000 can do just fine at those tasks. Any more is just a waste of battery life and extra heat.
  12. kgarr macrumors newbie


    Jul 14, 2005
    I narrowed it down last night. Firefox 4.0 Beta 7 was the first version to cause this problem, the first beta with WebGL.

    I tried setting WebGL.disable to true in about:config, but that didn't work.
  13. jvmxtra macrumors 65816


    Sep 21, 2010
    gfxstatus, from program description it only mentions the ability to monitor yet one of the comment on that website mentions that now you can manually switch graphic(discreet vs dedicated).

    Is this true? (I am getting my mbp on wed so I cannot test this)
    If so, has anyone tried to see if it will override the browser's default behavior?
  14. PurpleMarmalade macrumors regular

    Aug 29, 2010
    My new MBP is arriving next week, and I'm also very interested in the answer to this. I'm amazed that there isn't an option, or any kind of granular control, over the switching built into OS X. It's doubly a shame, as FF4b12 is, right now, by far the best browser on the Mac.
  15. syan48306 thread starter macrumors 6502a


    Apr 15, 2010
    There is an option to override and set it to either dynamic, integrated, or dedicated. Furthermore, there's an option to have specific profiles based on power source.

    ie. i have mine on integrated 100% while i'm on battery and dynamic when i'm plugged in. For the most part, under this setting, i don't worry about what mode it is in.

    No, this program does not allow you to control OSX's behavior based on specific programs although it does show you what program is activating the video card.

    Attached Files:

  16. syan48306 thread starter macrumors 6502a


    Apr 15, 2010
    After a bit of digging, I found an option in FF4 Beta to disable hardware acceleration.

    Preferences > Advanced > General > *Uncheck use hardware acceleration whenever available*

    The other thing that cause firefox to activate the video card is the plugin-container. To disable that, go to about:config and search ipc. Set the dom.ipc.plugins.enabled.x86_64 option to false. (My system is 64 bit, thus x86_64. There's another option for i386 systems.

    However, disabling the plugin container also has some bad side effects. Flash videos in FF depend on that little plugin to function and essentially, by disabling it, you kill flash.

    There has to be a better way to get FF off the discrete video card.

    Attached Files:

  17. Benito, Mar 12, 2011
    Last edited: Mar 12, 2011

    Benito macrumors 6502a


    Jan 5, 2010
    Toronto, Canada
    Very weird, just installed this but when I click on preferences, nothing happens. I cannot get into the gfxcardstatus preferences for some reason.

    Edited: I rebooted and now I'm able to get into preferences.
  18. adnoh macrumors 6502a


    Nov 14, 2010
    If it's really bothering you, you can get a program that stops switching to the dedicated gpu
  19. terzinator macrumors 6502

    Feb 27, 2011
    I can see how it's nice to have control over the graphics card, but is it really only an issue of battery life? (Meaning, other things being equal, no worries using the discrete card for anything/everything?)
  20. punchwalk macrumors regular

    May 16, 2010
    Maryland, USA
    Your MBP will run considerably hotter with the discrete GPU on (usually between 55C & 70C even for minor tasks).
  21. benpatient macrumors 68000

    Nov 4, 2003
    last night, i was surfing for a couple of hours, and this thing was getting really, really hot in my lap. also, i was down to 45% battery after just 2 hours. i got annoyed and looked it up.

    I use Chrome pretty much exclusively (some sites require firefox for some specialized web apps for my job, but other than that, I'm all Chrome now.

    I found that little utility and installed it, and I'm down to only 65% battery after a longer time online tonight, and even better, there is no "hot spot" on my thighs, and I can't hear any fans.

    Apple probably won't fix it because it's the "other" browsers that do it. Safari should, in theory, cause the same problem. The fact that they made an override for Safari, but not FF and Chrome tells me that we're going to be seeing some successful legal action against apple sooner than later. Microsoft wouldn't be able to get away with this kind of thing.

    "Use Safari, and your macbook pro will get 3x the battery life while browsing the internet!"

    Anyway, the utility works. I like the different options for battery/power supply, and the little detail message that tells you what's asking for the big guns.
  22. syan48306, Mar 22, 2011
    Last edited: Mar 22, 2011

    syan48306 thread starter macrumors 6502a


    Apr 15, 2010

    Sure the application works but the main issue is the FF 4 / Chrome 10 hardware acceleration that they're implementing. Safari doesn't have that AFAIK. With Firefox going gold today, we're going to get a lot more people complaining about their battery life and power usage for something as simple as checking your email and leaving it open. Your power consumption literally jumps from 9-10 watts to 16-17 watts while idle. Thus bringing down 7-8 hrs to like 4-5 hours.

    I've heard legitimate arguments about power consumption of the intel 3000HD vs the Dedicated video card, mainly the integrated is actually part of the CPU so you have to ramp up a quadcore and even more so since it's not as efficient. However when doing low level processing, skype, Firefox, Chrome, the intel should always win. Software developers have to pay more attention to OSX's video switching api's and conditions and not just port things over from windows. Also, apple should make it easier for developers and consumers to control what they want.

    Though, with all the confusion the average user had with the 9600GT/9400M switching, it's understandable why they don't give us the option.
  23. iBunny macrumors 65816

    Apr 15, 2004
    The new generation of browser uses the GPU for rendering. Which is a good thing.

    I will make the counter argument that this = more performance. Which to me, I would take over battery life. But I know most people will boo hoo about this.
  24. vettefanZR1 macrumors newbie

    Mar 17, 2011
    Chicago, IL
    I'm a big supporter of Apple's "performance per battery life" philosophy. Recently I tried to maximize performance per battery life.

    I have never been a big Safari fan, but I started using safari when out and about to (attempt to) conserve battery. Since then I have essentially adopted Safari as my primary browser.
  25. diamond.g macrumors 603


    Mar 20, 2007
    The downside to how Apple is doing it, from my understanding, is any call to a Core Graphics API will cause the dGPU to activate. Versus how, in Windows, there are application profiles that dictate which GPU is active at any given moment. Apples way is less headache for devs as they don't have to worry about what GPU is active, but causes issues for end users as most things can be done just fine via the iGPU.

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