Huge Improvements under OS X

The release notes for the Flash 10.1 preview say the following about cross-platform hardware accelerated H.264 decoding support:

In Flash Player 10.1, H.264 hardware acceleration is not supported under Linux and Mac OS. Linux currently lacks a developed standard API that supports H.264 hardware video decoding, and Mac OS X does not expose access to the required APIs. We will continue to evaluate adding the feature to Linux and Mac OS in future releases.

Ouch. Linux isn’t ready and Apple isn’t open enough. That’s not to say that there aren’t major performance gains to be had.

I took the same Office clip I’d been using for all of the other tests and ran it on my Mac Pro at full screen (2560 x 1600). Using Activity Monitor I looked at the CPU utilization of the Flash Player plug-in. I compared both versions of Flash and saw a significant drop in CPU utilization:

Hulu Full Screen (2560 x 1600) Average CPU Utilization Flash Flash
Hulu 480p - The Office - Murder 450% 190%

Going from roughly 450% down to 190% (or a bit over 10% of total CPU utilization across 16 threads) made full-screen Hulu playable on my machine. In the past I always had to run it in a smaller window, but thanks to Flash 10.1 I don’t have to any longer.

With actual GPU-accelerated H.264 decoding I’m guessing those CPU utilization numbers could drop to a remotely reasonable value. But it’s up to Apple to expose the appropriate hooks to allow Adobe to (eventually) enable that functionality.

Until then, even OS X users have something to look forward to with the Flash 10.1 upgrade.

Final Words

It's finally here. GPU accelerated video decode for Adobe Flash. Grab the preview and let us know how it fares on your system in the comments.

ATI and Intel Update
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  • Adasha - Tuesday, November 17, 2009 - link

    I would hate to live in your ideal world. I bet you'd be happier if we got rid of all GUIs and reverted to command line only.
  • B3an - Tuesday, November 17, 2009 - link

    I'd also like to add, that the bad Flash performance in many things like Flash based ads, is nearly always down to the web developer of the ad itself. SO many of them could be made to use less CPU power, or even get file size way down.
    It's nearly always down to web design amatures who dont know the following:
    What image files types are best suited for what they're doing,
    When to use vector graphics instead of jpegs,
    And what quality settings and Flash publishing settings to use.
  • Voldenuit - Tuesday, November 17, 2009 - link

    There's also the problem of Flash chewing resources when the application is in the background (eg if I'm playing a game and would like/need to keep my browser open).

    Users should have control over what applications run on their PCs, and the fact that Flash doesn't let you do this is a strike against Adobe (already not the most consumer-friendly company out there).

    We have anti-spyware, anti-virus, anti-phising as recommended and standard on most systems. I say anti-Flash should be just as important.
  • danacee - Tuesday, April 13, 2010 - link

    Even with a 9500GT that plays back 1080p mkv beautifully flash player chugs. It also only uses one core! What the hell, atleast you'd think it would multithreaded. The Atom D510 may be pathetically weak, but it goes to show how far adobe's heads are up their asses when even with supported cpu/gpu on a supported OS (Win XP/Vista x64) flash is still such a piece of garbage it can only grab one thread of a cpu.
  • marosy - Thursday, December 16, 2010 - link

    Anand, I'd like to congratulate to you for this article. I learn a lot from your articles.
    It seems that the bug with the 8400GS has been fixed in Adobe Flash Player 10.2 Beta.

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