The new version of Visual Studio Code from September’s development cycle is out now. The ample list of improvements, which includes macOS touchbar integration, regular expression highlighting, and a smarter process for extracting methods, also includes a behind-the-scenes overhaul of the integrated terminal renderer. The update claims to improve performance of the integrated terminal by 5 to 45 times over the previous version and abolishes forced frame skipping. Admittedly, I hadn’t noticed any issues or slowdown myself. But, as the update states, the newer renderer will at the very least be lighter on your laptop’s battery.
The VS Code team accomplished the performance improvements by migrating away from a memory-intensive DOM design to a single HTML Canvas element. Apparently, the old design invoked a sizable amount of garbage collection due to the number of elements being managed by the layout engine, while the new approach allows for more direct drawing via the one canvas element. Additionally, instead of re-drawing the terminal in its entirety after every change, the new renderer only draws the areas that have changed between frames.
More details can be found in the official update.