Watching Flash Video on the Ion

You should never have to worry about your system specs when it comes to watching Flash video. Sites like YouTube and Hulu exist simply because of the large number of PCs that can play Flash video. Can the dual-core Atom 330 in the Zotac Ion-A handle watching video online?

To test this I watched the season finale of 24 on Hulu. I performed three tests: I watched the season finale in its default window at low res, high res (480p) and then full screen.

Thankfully, Adobe’s Flash player appears to be well threaded - all four cores (two physical, two virtual) had parts of the playback task running on them. The first test proved to work just fine:

CPU utilization never hit above 27% and for the most part stayed around 19%.

Next I tried Hulu’s high-res option, which keeps the playback window the same size but increases the resolution to 480p. While CPU utilization jumped to nearly 40%, playback was still smooth. Note that high-res Hulu isn’t smooth on a single-core Atom, the 330 is necessary for a good Hulu experience.

Note that I tested under Google Chrome, however if you use Internet Explorer your CPU utilization will drop a bit.

The experience you get when going full screen in Hulu is very dependent on your desktop resolution. With a 1920 x 1200 desktop resolution, 480p Hulu is unwatchable on the Zotac Ion. CPU utilization maxed out just under 80% and video playback was choppy.

Dropping the desktop resolution to 1280 x 720 made things more bearable, with CPU utilization generally under 50% but it still wasn’t totally smooth. I’m not sure how much of this is Adobe’s fault and how much is the Atom just not being able to keep up, but full screen Flash video playback just isn’t in the cards.

Zotac Ion: 720p Gaming Performance Overclocking the Atom Processor
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  • Anand Lal Shimpi - Tuesday, May 19, 2009 - link

    The Logitech G5 actually sets this option to true by default in Windows Vista, and yes it was enabled. I'm still waiting to hear back from Zotac on it.

    Take care,
    Anand
    Reply
  • Badkarma - Wednesday, May 20, 2009 - link

    Thanks for writing something on the Wake on USB issue, it's really too bad Zotac leaves this feature out on HTPC-centric mobos. Reply
  • icrf - Tuesday, May 19, 2009 - link

    I'm more curious about HD flash video, like Dr. Horrible on Hulu, or NCIS on CBS, or Heroes on NBC, than I am about SD flash scaled to HD resolutions. I haven't had major issues with SD hulu on my Atom netbook, but the HD content would be nice, especially considering how awesome this would be as an HTPC.

    But, that aside, wake-on-usb for a remote is the primary concern. Keep hounding them for us. :)
    Reply
  • icrf - Tuesday, May 19, 2009 - link

    Also, on scaling flash video to full screen, I think there are underlying problems. My C2D E6600 can't smoothly scale flash video on my WQXGA moniter. I checked task manager, and the CPU isn't maxed out, but the video is pretty jumpy. My 1024x600 Atom netbook does just fine. Different browsers don't make any difference on either box. Reply
  • ltcommanderdata - Tuesday, May 19, 2009 - link

    I wonder if you could do a review of the GN40 chipset and compare it to the 945G and Ion. The GN40 and the GMA 4000 may not be as fast as the nVidia 9300, but it seems that the primary limitation in gaming is Atom itself anyways even with Ion. The GN40 is supposed to offer accelerated 720p playback so it may well be good enough on the multimedia side.

    It also wouldn't surprise me if the GN40/GMA4000 is what is integrated into Pineview.
    Reply
  • icrf - Tuesday, May 19, 2009 - link

    I thought the HD-decoding GPU wasn't actually an Intel part? If that's the case, it's doubtful the current GPU is what makes it on-die. Reply
  • MadMan007 - Tuesday, May 19, 2009 - link

    Is it possible wake on USB is a chipset problem? Do other manufacturer's GF9300/9400 motherboards have no issue waking from USB?

    Anyway Atom is still a little too underwhelming to me for what I'd look to use it for. I'd rather go with the Zotac 9300ITX LGA775 and a cheap C2D-based Celeron. Poor flash video playback just kills it, maybe Adobe will make those things GPU-accelerated in the future. If that or other tasks that require some modicum of CPU grunt weren't expected I'd get a 945-based Atom board.
    Reply
  • plschwartz - Friday, September 4, 2009 - link

    I think I read that the 9300 775 board in newer revisions now wake on USB But the earlier versions are still sold in US.
    I am going to Hong Kong next month and will get board there.
    How on this board can one find out the revision number?
    Thanks
    Reply

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