ATI and Intel Update, 11/19/2009:

After uninstalling Flash 10.1, reinstalling, rebooting, and switching to the High Performance power profile (instead of Balanced), some of the Hulu problems noted on the previous page seemed to clear up slightly. We already tested with the latest Intel drivers, so that wasn't the issue. Additional testing revealed that if you disable GPU acceleration with 10.1 (and restart your browser), the Hulu 480p problems are not present, but we continue to have difficulties with Hulu 480p playback on the GMA 4500MHD with GPU acceleration enabled on all the videos we've tested. The 360p videos work without any problems. Here are the updated results, including results from the Gateway NV52 HD 3200 laptop using the Catalyst 9.11 drivers. We've also added the data for 10.1 with GPU acceleration disabled as a point of reference.

Intel GMA 4500MHD (Gateway NV58)

Updated Gateway NV58 (GMA 4500MHD)
Full Screen 1366x768 Performance
  Flash 10.0 Flash 10.1
(GPU)
Flash 10.1
(No GPU)
Hulu 720p - CPU 61% 37% 69%
Hulu 720p - FPS 26.3 24.7 25.3
Hulu 480p - CPU 58% 56% 68%
Hulu 480p - FPS 35.9 10.9 33.9
YouTube 720p - CPU 32% 24% 37%
YouTube 720p - FPS (Dropped) 26.5 (0) 24.0 (0) 19.5 (104)

Starting with Intel, the results have only changed slightly. We can now use Flash 10.1 in all cases, but we have to disable GPU acceleration for certain videos. This may be an issue similar to NVIDIA stating that ION has problems with YouTube HD videos that are 854 pixels wide; hopefully it will be cleared up with driver and/or Flash updates. HD Flash on the other hand definitely benefits from the GPU acceleration and DXVA in Flash 10.1. The Hulu HD Legend of the Seeker video has CPU usage drop 24% while the 720p Prince of Persia trailer on YouTube reduces CPU usage by 8%. Hulu's The Office does reduce CPU usage 2%, but frame rates drop from 30+ FPS to only 10 FPS.

Turning off GPU acceleration in Flash 10.1 shows where and how much the 4500MHD is helping. The YouTube HD trailer drops to around 20 FPS with occasional dropped frames causing noticeable stuttering, and CPU usage jumps 13%. Hulu HD playback remains smooth, but CPU usage jumps 32%, so the DXVA acceleration clearly helps a lot in this instance. Standard Hulu videos like The Office return to a smooth frame rate, but CPU usage is 10% higher than Flash 10.0. Overall, since the Intel GMA 4500MHD with a T6500 CPU manages to handle Flash video up to 720p in full screen mode using Flash 10.0, the 10.1 update isn't critical right now. If you're using a CULV processor (or a display with a higher resolution), Flash 10.1 may be more beneficial. We'll look at that scenario in a future article.

ATI HD 3200 (Gateway NV52)

Gateway NV52 (ATI HD 3200)
Full Screen 1366x768 Performance
  Flash 10.0 Flash 10.1
(GPU)
Flash 10.1
(No GPU)
Hulu 720p - CPU 76% 56% 76%
Hulu 720p - FPS 13.2 24.5 24.5
Hulu 480p - CPU 72% 62% 73%
Hulu 480p - FPS 12.7 34.9 31.3
YouTube 720p - CPU 53% 22% 42%
YouTube 720p - FPS (Dropped) 26.0 (0) 24.0 (0) 21.3 (103)

With the updated Catalyst 9.11 drivers, our results were a lot better than before. Previously, using Flash 10.0 we were unable to view either of the Hulu videos (720p or 480p) in full screen mode without severe stuttering. YouTube HD on the other hand worked fine with 0 dropped frames. Moving to Flash 10.1 with DXVA GPU acceleration, we now see smooth frame rates on all Hulu content and lower CPU usage for both Hulu and YouTube videos. YouTube CPU usage on the Prince of Persia trailer drops 31%, Hulu's Legend of the Seeker drops CPU use 20% while nearly doubling the frame rate (i.e. from dropping half the frames to showing everything), and 480p Hulu drops CPU usage 10% with frame rates almost tripling (from ~13 FPS to over 30 FPS for what appears to be 30 FPS video content).

Disabling the GPU acceleration in Flash 10.1 still results in a better experience at Hulu than Flash 10.0, with roughly the same CPU load but no stuttering. YouTube HD is similar to the GMA 4500MHD in this case, with a frame rate of 21 FPS and slight stuttering. Unlike the Intel platform, if you have an ATI card and a moderate CPU it appears that Flash 10.1 is a clear win.

Flash on GM45 and Ion Laptops Huge Improvements under OS X & Final Words
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  • Olen Ahkcre - Monday, January 11, 2010 - link

    This article is totally off base...

    Flash video playback pausing frequently isn't caused by the Flash player. It's cause by the server being overloaded with too many requests.

    GPU acceleration is for playing back Flash _CONTENT_, not Flash video (FLV).

    The reason being some apps created using Flash place an unusual amount of load on the CPU.

    If you think GPU accelerated Flash has anything to do with video playback, I think you might be seriously confused.
    Reply
  • modulo - Tuesday, March 02, 2010 - link

    This article makes ANANDTECH, look like a bunch of apple swilling morons.

    Hello ANANDTECH, did you know that 95% of the worlds computers still use windows? Probably not, which is why you put an article like this using a MAC, on a website 90% dedicated to PC hardware. And what is there to know about mac anyway? RUMOR RUMORS RUMORS, being a mac"enthusiast" is all about how much shit you can talk, how many rumors you can start, and how hard you would suck steve jobs cock if he put it in your mouth.

    NOW.

    Flash, is a fabulous technology that makes 10 million different things possible on the web that would NOT HAPPEN without it. OK, and interestingly, this article advocates turning on an adblocker, for their own website!!! If I was a sponsor of this website I would demand to have my motherf***inh money back.

    LOL, now you noobie losers want to complain because your computers are slow, go talk to your grandma about how long it takes her to have a bowel movement, THAT is slow.
    Reply
  • TravisO - Tuesday, April 06, 2010 - link

    On Flash 10.1 video _IS_ GPU accelerated but there is a catch, only H.264 video is GPU accelerated but the old FLV video is not. Here's the text from the 10.1 release notes:

    H.264 video hardware decoding
    Flash Player 10.1 introduces hardware-based H.264 video decoding to deliver smooth, high quality
    video with minimal overhead across mobile devices and PCs. Using available hardware to decode video offloads tasks from the CPU, improving video playback performance, reducing system resource utilization, and preserving battery life.

    PS: Keep in mind you must use a supported video card to be accelerated, which means only GPUs invented these past two years approximately, virtually nothing from Intel is supported except the new Core i CPUs with the integrated GPU, if you have a Netbook you're screwed unless you have an Ion chipset.
    Reply
  • Xmister - Saturday, April 17, 2010 - link

    You should get some information before starting to write bull***t.
    "Flash video playback pausing frequently isn't caused by the Flash player. It's cause by the server being overloaded with too many requests. "
    You think they are so stupid, that can't see the difference of buffer-loading and framedrops?!

    "GPU acceleration is for playing back Flash _CONTENT_, not Flash video (FLV). "
    The GPU accelerated flash's main point is H.264 decoding, and all the HD flash videos are now H.264 encoded(on youtube non-HD too).

    "The reason being some apps created using Flash place an unusual amount of load on the CPU."
    And what do you think, what amount of load an HD video places on the CPU? I'll help you a bit: a lot.

    "If you think GPU accelerated Flash has anything to do with video playback, I think you might be seriously confused. "
    You are seriously confused, clear the lot irrelevant information from your head, and get some relevant. I could only advise this whenever you want to comment on anything.
    Reply
  • coachingjoy - Sunday, November 29, 2009 - link

    Is flash worth the install when advertisements are taken into account? Reply
  • Sunagwa - Saturday, November 21, 2009 - link

    I don't understand the problem. I have a Core 2 Duo @ 3.8Ghz and I use Hulu all the freaking time with absolutly no problems whatsoever. Reply
  • JarredWalton - Saturday, November 21, 2009 - link

    Exactly. You have a high end system that can do all the video decoding in software on the CPU without problems. Not everyone has that. (And OS X is a different beast, apparently, at least as far as Flash is concerned.) Reply
  • Sunagwa - Saturday, November 21, 2009 - link

    I see, my bad I guess I didn't really consider my CPU to be high end. The system he mentions at the beggining sounded pretty powerful though I have never run anything but windows so I may be wrong... Reply
  • JarredWalton - Saturday, November 21, 2009 - link

    I should clarify: it may not be high-end by today's standards (what with Core i7), but a moderate ~2.0GHz Core 2 Duo can handle 1080p video decoding in software (albeit at high CPU utilization). It's really more of a question of laptops and even then more netbooks and nettops. And Flash optimizations are of course also important - I've seen Flash choke other laptops with Intel IGPs on older Flash revisions, but 10.0 does much better. Reply
  • dicobalt - Saturday, November 21, 2009 - link

    You guys misunderstand what I was saying. I can play 1080 video just fine, HULU, WMV, MP4, MOV, whatever. I am unable to play 1080 smoothly when I have the Folding@Home GPU client running, that's the only time I have trouble with it (and standard def video too). Though it was working fine on Vista before I installed Win7.

    Most of the time when I am playing HD video files CPU usage is about 28-48% on the most loaded core.

    BTW since I updated to Nvidia drivers to 195.55 now Firefox is no longer crashing on YouTube videos with Flash 10.1 installed. Seems to me that Nvidia was not ready for Win7 with their drivers, they got a lot going on right now.
    Reply

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