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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  • brundlefly - Tuesday, November 17, 2009 - link

    I don't know why you are saying that everyone has an issue with Flash, including Windows users, because I have never had a problem with it under Windows - ??

    On MacOS - BIG problems with HD YouTube content.

    I installed the 10.1 Flash Beta on my 2008 unibody 2.4GHz MacBook - both on Snow Leopard side and on the Windows 7 x64 Boot Camp partition.

    Made no difference whatsoever on either side.

    I used Firefox playback of the 1080P version of the Dark Knight trailer for comparison:">

    Under Snow Leopard, the video was obviously jittery and video info indicated many dropped frames. CPU usage: 127% AVERAGE. Even the buffer froze at one point, stopping the video - I get this often under MacOS for some reason. The fan started up in seconds.

    Under Windows 7, I experienced a handful of dropped packets on starting the video, but never observed anything but pitch-perfect playback, and the buffer raced far ahead of the playback time with no slowdown. CPU usage: 55% AVERAGE

    Its the same damn hardware.

  • Drakino - Tuesday, November 17, 2009 - link

    It is an issue specific to the Mac, however the ball is in Adobe's court to fix it. It's their code that sucks ass under OS X. Apple had HD video content playable just fine full screen prior to the switchover to Intel CPUs.

    This is why Apple pushes for open standards and wants Flash to die. Apple can't improve the closed Flash platform on their own, but they can build their software to support standards well. It looks bad for the Mac when the platform has problems playing keyboard cat due to closed proprietary crap.

    The fact that Adobe "magically" brought CPU usage down from 450% to 130% is clearly a sign they can improve it if they try. Now they just need to stop acting like children and use the OpenCL standard on OS X 10.6 to accelerate it via the GPU.
  • 7Enigma - Tuesday, November 17, 2009 - link

    "This is why Apple pushes for open standards..."

    I'm sorry your post is negated by this hysterical comment.
  • Drakino - Tuesday, November 17, 2009 - link

    "I'm sorry your post is negated by this hysterical comment."

    How so?

    Sure, Apple likes to control their platforms, but that doesn't mean the platform is built on closed technology.

    WebKit (the foundation of Safari, tons of mobile browsers including the ones on Android and the Pre) started as KHTML. Apple helped extend it and turn it in the mobile browsing powerhouse. It's also one of the most HTML compliant browsing cores out there. If HTML5 ever sorts out this video codec mess, it is possible it can replace Flash, a technology only controlled by Adobe.

    Quicktime is completely MPEG 4 compatible, due to the fact that most of MPEG 4 is based on Quicktime technology. H.264 is everywhere now, streaming into the crappy Flash players, being used to encode movies on BluRay, and so on. MPEG 4 audio is also widespread mostly due to the iTunes Store.

    PDF is a core part of OS X.

    Bonjour/DNS-SD is an open protocol widely adopted by many printers and other devices, and even Microsoft with Link-local Multicast Name Resolution borrowed heavily from it.

    OpenCL is a unified GPU compute language that helps to get GPGPU acceleration out of the "Glide/3dfx" realm and on it's way to a wider adoption.

    Grand Central Dispatch is a great technology for developing programs that run well on multicore CPUs, and is being adopted by FreeBSD as well.

    Would you like to bring up any counterpoints, or just mindlessly try to bash comments without anything to back them up?
  • mindless1 - Tuesday, November 17, 2009 - link

    I will mindlessly bash. Ha!

    Apple is closed, all you did is list how they perverted something open to make it closed, extra effort in doing so.

  • menting - Tuesday, November 17, 2009 - link

    if you rephrase it this way it'll be more correct.
    "Apple pushes for open standards on anything they don't/can't control/own"
  • Souka - Tuesday, November 17, 2009 - link

    My wife's old ThinkPad T30 laptop, with its ATI 7500 Radeon isn't supported. Guess she can't watch her latest shows in full screen..heh.

  • iwodo - Tuesday, November 17, 2009 - link

    I need 70% of CPU Core to watch Full HD Video on a bleeding edge Computer?

    I dont know if it is poor programming or what. But i expect more with OpenCL support, and faster software, as well as near Zero CPU resources for H.264 content.

    Why do I have extra 40% CPU usage watching H.264 content inside Flash, when i have sub 10% CPU usage when watching it through OS Media Player....
  • Xplorer4x4 - Tuesday, November 17, 2009 - link

    Will this be of use on a GT 130M?
  • Stereodude - Tuesday, November 17, 2009 - link

    The acceleration does work for at least some people on the Intel 4500MHD chipset. You need the absolute latest drivers from Intel (.1986) that came out only a few days ago though.

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