Minecraft is a CPU intensive game, not that its players seem to mind. I've seen teens hunched over laptops, merrily battling single digit frame-rates in order to expand their Creative repertoire. Does it have to be this way? Mojang think not. Their latest Minecraft Snapshot lets player trial what they refer to as "major optimizations" to the client's rendering, hopefully making for a smoother game.
...That's smooth as in faster... It's still all cubes and stuff.
Here are the notable changes, as noted by the Mojang blog:
Added Banners! But I'm not going to tell you how they work :)
Made Creeper, Skeleton and Zombie Heads available in survival. How? Don't ask me!
Major optimizations to client rendering. It's magical!
Lots of fun bugs fixed. Lighting should behave a little nicer now!
Crafting cuddles now requires one extra hug in the recipe.
It's been a while since I logged into the game, so I'm only, like,
sure that last one is a joke.
Snapshots are Minecraft's experimental patches—offering more frequent but potentially less stable updates. You can download the new Snapshot by creating a new profile in the launcher, and selecting "enable experimental development snapshots".