CSS performance relative to translateZ(0)


A number of blogs have expressed the performance gain in 'tricking' the GPU to think that an element is 3D by using transform: translateZ(0) to speed up animations and transitions. I was wonder what are the implications, if any, of applying this transform in the following manner:

* {
    -webkit-transform: translateZ(0);
    -moz-transform: translateZ(0);
    -ms-transform: translateZ(0);
    -o-transform: translateZ(0);
    transform: translateZ(0);
Problem courtesy of: Ahmed Nuaman


CSS transformations create a new stacking context and containing block, as described in the spec. In plain English, this means that fixed position elements with a transformation applied to them will act more like absolutely positioned elements, and z-index values are likely to get screwed with.

If you take a look at this demo, you'll see what I mean. The second div has a transformation applied to it, meaning that it creates a new stacking context, and the pseudo elements are stacked on top rather than below.

So basically, don't do that. Apply a 3D transformation only when you need the optimization. -webkit-font-smoothing: antialiased; is another way to tap into 3D acceleration without creating these problems, but it only works in Safari.

Solution courtesy of: Dan Eden


On mobile devices sending everything to the GPU will cause a memory overload and crash the application. I encountered this on an iPad app in Cordova. Best to only send the required items to the GPU, the divs that you're specifically moving around.

Better yet, use the 3d transitions transforms to do the animations like translateX(50px) as opposed to left:50px;

Discussion courtesy of: Perry

If you want implications, in some scenarios Google Chrome performance is horrible with hardware acceleration enabled. Oddly enough, changing the "trick" to -webkit-transform: rotateZ(360deg); worked just fine.

I don't believe we ever figured out why.

Discussion courtesy of: o.v.

I can attest to the fact that -webkit-transform: translate3d(0, 0, 0); will mess with the new position: -webkit-sticky; property. With a left drawer navigation pattern that I was working on, the hardware acceleration I wanted with the transform property was messing with the fixed positioning of my top nav bar. I turned off the transform and the positioning worked fine.

Luckily, I seem to have had hardware acceleration on already, because I had -webkit-font-smoothing: antialiased on the html element. I was testing this behavior in iOS7 and Android.

Discussion courtesy of: J. Hogue

It forces the browser to use hardware acceleration to access the device’s graphical processing unit (GPU) to make pixels fly. Web applications, on the other hand, run in the context of the browser, which lets the software do most (if not all) of the rendering, resulting in less horsepower for transitions. But the Web has been catching up, and most browser vendors now provide graphical hardware acceleration by means of particular CSS rules.

Using -webkit-transform: translate3d(0,0,0); will kick the GPU into action for the CSS transitions, making them smoother (higher FPS).

Note: translate3d(0,0,0) does nothing in terms of what you see. it moves the object by 0px in x,y and z axis. It's only a technique to force the hardware acceleration.

Good read here: http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2012/06/21/play-with-hardware-accelerated-css/

Discussion courtesy of: Neo

This recipe can be found in it's original form on Stack Over Flow.