Have you ever wished you could watch your favorite videos in high definition, even if they were originally recorded in lower quality? Well, now you can, thanks to a new feature we are experimenting with in Edge Canary: video super resolution (VSR).
Frame at 0:30 from “Big Buck Bunny.” Left half VSR OFF, right half VSR ON. Original video credits: © 2008, Blender Foundation / www.bigbuckbunny.org
Video super resolution uses machine learning to enhance the quality of video viewed in Microsoft Edge by using graphics card agnostic algorithms to remove blocky compression artifacts and upscale the video resolution, so you can enjoy crisp and clear videos on YouTube and other video streaming platforms without sacrificing bandwidth.
Due to the computing power required to upscale videos, video super resolution (VSR) is currently offered when the following conditions are met:
 Note: We are working on automatic Hybrid GPU support for laptops with multiple GPUs. Meanwhile, you can try VSR by changing Windows settings to force Edge to run on your discrete GPU.
Video super resolution is automatically enabled by Edge and indicated by an HD icon on the address. The feature can be computationally intensive, so this icon allows a user to be in full control of enabling or disabling the feature.
An “HD” icon is displayed in the address bar when video super resolution is enabled for the current video.
As noted above, we’ve started experimenting with a small set of customers in the Canary channel and will continue to make this feature available to additional customers over the coming weeks. We are also looking forward to expanding the list of supported graphics cards in the future.
Let’s go into some additional details about how video super resolution, or VSR, works behind the scenes.
VSR in Microsoft Edge builds on top of ONNX Runtime and DirectML making our solution portable across GPU vendors and allowing VSR to be available to more users. Additional graphics cards which support these technologies and have sufficient computing power will receive support in the future. The ONNX Runtime and DirectML teams have fine-tuned their technology over many years, resulting in VSR making the most of the performance and capabilities of your graphics card’s processing power. ONNX Runtime handles loading ML models packaged as an .onnx files and uses DirectML, which handles the optimization and evaluation of the ML workload by leveraging the available GPU capabilities such as the native ML tensor processing to achieve the maximum execution throughput at a high framerate.
To preserve disk space, the components and models that VSR requires are only added to your device when we detect a compatible GPU. The presence of a component named “Edge Video Super Resolution” when visiting edge://components/ in Edge Canary is a signal that your GPU is supported by the video super resolution feature. This component-based approach lets us ship specific and multiple models based on device capability and performance.
To support VSR, we have built a new DX12 presentation pipeline in Microsoft Edge. Chromium, which Microsoft Edge is built on, uses DX11 for video decode/rasterization and generates DX11 textures after video decode. DirectML on the other hand only works with DX12 buffers. To support VSR, we built a new flexible DX12 pipeline into the Chromium engine that’s embedded in Microsoft Edge. Our new pipeline runs the shaders to convert DX11 textures into DirectML buffers/tensors for use with ONNX Runtime.
Video super resolution can be disabled at any time by clicking the HD icon in the address bar and selecting the toggle for Enhance Videos:
Turning off video super resolution persists for all sites in Edge preferences. This will also restore any video super resolution features supported by the graphics card driver on your system. To change your preferences for the feature or provide feedback, you can find the toggle and the feedback buttons by navigating to edge://settings/system in your Edge browser.
All the details above wouldn’t matter if we did not have great results. Let’s start with some comparisons of 360p videos with our current models: