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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  • JarredWalton - Saturday, November 21, 2009 - link

    I stopped messing with Folding when I started doing the calculations for how much it was costing me in electricity (and a few pieces of failed hardware). Plus, the GPU client in particular always seemed to slow down system responsiveness. If you want to multitask GPU intensive applications, I think we're still deep in the driver update stages (whether ATI or NVIDIA). Give it another year... LOL.
  • dicobalt - Friday, November 20, 2009 - link

    I have been using Flash 10.1 for the last few days and it seems to crash Firefox in an Nvidia dll. All while using YouTube. Downgraded to the stable release and all is well again. Using Win7 driver 190.38 because newer drivers cause Flash to freeze video up for a half second for every every 10 seconds of video.

    How I wish Flash would die...
    PS. Adobe too.
  • JarredWalton - Friday, November 20, 2009 - link

    My testing on the ION LE was with Win7 and I didn't have any problems. Can you list details of exactly what hardware you're running on? Also, I believe the 195.55 drivers from NVIDIA are part of the requirements for this to work optimally (though if it's just DXVA that shouldn't be true).
  • dicobalt - Friday, November 20, 2009 - link

    e6300 / gigabyte-p35-dq6 4gb ram / 9600GT

    I have not yet tried the 195.55 drivers, those are still beta but I will give it a try. I was also having problems with the new Nvidia drivers not load balancing gpu folding@home while playing videos. The drivers in Vista would allow me to run gpu folding@home and playback a 1080 video without any frames skipping. None of the Win7 drivers allow me to do this so far.
  • JarredWalton - Friday, November 20, 2009 - link

    I would assume you're probably overclocking as well? Most people with something like an E6300 do that. Anyway, you might need to try several combinations, and with this beta software (and beta drivers) I wouldn't count on load balancing of multiple GPU applications.
  • dicobalt - Friday, November 20, 2009 - link

    The CPU from 1.86 to 2.8GHz yea, GPU is stock 650Mhz, all works ok in Vista though. I did just install the 195.55 drivers and it's not as severe as a problem with folding and 1080 video but it is still too much dropping to make it watchable. So far YouTube has not caused Firefox to crash yet, that usually takes some time though, it doesn't happen right away. These drivers need some more work and Flash needs to reach a final version so that Nvidia can fix Adobe's screwups lol
  • Halcyon666 - Friday, November 20, 2009 - link

    Will the 10.1 prerelease help with flash games like the SPAM on facebook? or is it just for flashed video?
  • JarredWalton - Friday, November 20, 2009 - link

    Currently this is targeting video, but Adobe doesn't rule out the possibility of improving other Flash applications in the future.
  • 7Enigma - Friday, November 20, 2009 - link

    Anand I've got to be honest, I'm not liking the new trend of reposting an old article with a small update. It is difficult to find since you have to go through the article to find the updated information, and the comments section becomes jumbled up with old posts and new posts.

    Please go back to the old way of posting a small updated blog post with a link to the original article for those that didn't read it originally, or would like to read it again.

    For your faithful readers, it's not a small annoyance.
  • JarredWalton - Friday, November 20, 2009 - link

    Actually, the update was by me. I also tried to make it very clear, seeing that the page is labeled with "AMD and Intel Update". I could have done it as a blog, true, and perhaps next time I will.

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