GPU-accelerated Flash 10.1 beta hits the web

A little over a month ago, Adobe announced plans to release a beta of its GPU-accelerated Flash 10.1 player “later this year.” Well, we’re now later in this year, and as planned, the beta has become available for download from the Adobe Labs site.

Adobe offers versions of the Flash Player 10.1 “prerelease” plug-in for Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux, but only Windows plug-in has hardware acceleration goodness enabled. Adobe welcomes consumers to try the new plug-in “to preview hardware acceleration of video on supported Windows PCs and x86-based netbooks.”

According to the official release notes (PDF), the hardware acceleration applies to H.264 Flash videos only, and you’ll want a GPU that has hardware H.264 acceleration functionality built in. That includes Radeon HD 3000-series, GeForce 8 graphics processors, and Intel 4-series chipsets. On the AMD side, Adobe doesn’t mention support for Radeon HD 5000-series cards, and it says users need the still-unreleased Catalyst 9.11 drivers even with older Radeons.

Anand Lal Shimpi at AnandTech tried the new plug-in on a handful of different systems, and he reports great results with an Atom nettop based on Nvidia’s Ion integrated graphics chipset. CPU utilization generally decreased in 720p YouTube and Hulu videos, reducing the number of dropped frames to the point where videos were “totally playable.” Performance with AMD GPUs running 9.10 Catalysts wasn’t so great, predictably, and Intel GMA 4500MHD integrated graphics turned out to be a “mixed bag,” with frame rates in a standard-def Hulu stream inexplicably tumbling to 10 FPS.

Comments closed
    • Voldenuit
    • 10 years ago

    I was just forced to install Flashblock on my desktop (my laptop has had it for years) because Flash would kill my framerate in DA:O if I left my web browser open. Hell, if it weren’t for the Steam store needing Flash to work, I wouldn’t even have the damn thing on my system.

    Flash is a very poorly implemented tool, especially in ads, and will continue to chew up system resources even when it’s not the active application. Sure, a modern CPU may be powerful enough to play HD Flash content by itself, but the demands of Flash grow with the number of pages you have open concurrently, so benchmarking single app performance is not a realistic scenario for most users these days.

    We have anti-virus, anti-spyware and anti-phising standard in most systems (and some browsers), I say anti-Flash is just as important, especially if you’re a gamer and/or enthusiast.

    • crsh1976
    • 10 years ago

    Erm.. well, with the new ATI 9.11 drivers and the Flash 10.1 beta plug-in, my old HD 3870 isn’t doing so well – not even sure it’s supported at this point, Anandtech themselves seem rather confused by AMD’s information (or lack of).

    PoP HD trailer in full screen is very choppy at 1680×1050, but as I said, I don’t even know if my card is supported.

      • Voldenuit
      • 10 years ago

      Anand says that they weren’t able to get acceleration working with 9.11 either, so you’re probably not alone.

      I’d be more interested to see an article testing how much Flash affects framerate in games. Make up a ‘bad’ webpage with tons of Flash ads and then benchmark games with FRAPS with the browser in the background – or, as is becoming increasingly common, on a second monitor.

    • Meadows
    • 10 years ago

    Bug: pixelated video with hardware acceleration enabled. *[

    • Machupo
    • 10 years ago

    Imagine my surprise… no x64 flash. I hope you burn in hell, Adobe.

      • bios_hazard
      • 10 years ago

      Linux has it 😉

        • UberGerbil
        • 10 years ago

        There’s no higher reward than to be used by Adobe as an alpha tester.

      • indeego
      • 10 years ago

      No real need, eitherg{<.<}g

        • shank15217
        • 10 years ago

        Right, because 32-bit flash works in 64-bit browsers..

    • Fragnificent
    • 10 years ago

    Wow, hopefully my Flashblock is GPU accelerated too.

    • fpsduck
    • 10 years ago

    AMD just released Catalyst 9.11 which supports the new Hardware Acceleration features of Adobe Flash Player 10.1 Beta for video encoded in the H.264 format.

    §[< http://game.amd.com/us-en/drivers_catalyst.aspx<]§

      • northreign
      • 10 years ago

      As well as Nvidia too.

    • jstern
    • 10 years ago

    I HATE flash, I really do. It’s actually a daily annoyance. Isn’t flash like a virtual machine? So in a sense watching a video on it would be like watching a video on lets say a Windows XP virtual machine? I was so happy yesterday when I saw that the NBA simplified their site yesterday, it actually put a big smile on my face, even though I’m not really following the games. It still has flash, but it’s not as crippled, no surprise that they re did it so early into the season. But yes, I hate flash, because it’s something that we have to encounter on a daily bases. If it was once in a while, fine, but everyday.

      • UberGerbil
      • 10 years ago

      It’s not really like a virtual machine (except to the extent that Flash as a runtime environment is a VM like Java or .NET, but that’s /[

        • jstern
        • 10 years ago

        I’m still no expert, but that helped me out a lot in understanding. And I am noticing a good difference in cpu usage when using IE and Firefox for the same youtube videos. I normally just download the video to my computer 1st and then watch them, but now I think I’ll just watch them on IE. Again I’m no expert so I was thinking that since flash might work like a virtual machine, that it didn’t run naively and that’s why it uses so much cpu power. So I was wondering that since Silverlight is a Microsoft product that maybe unlike flash it ran directly off the CPU, etc, and that maybe that would be a better solution for video on the web.

      • potatochobit
      • 10 years ago

      flash built the internet in the late 90s
      there would be no newegg, no tech report, etc. without flash

        • tfp
        • 10 years ago

        What? Are you serious?

          • UberGerbil
          • 10 years ago

          If he is, he can’t be old enough to actually remember the late 90s.

      • indeego
      • 10 years ago

      It’s such a glorious joy to browse on an iphone or droid without flash. If they ever do get it I will be last in lineg{<.<}g

    • ssidbroadcast
    • 10 years ago

    You know what’s crazy? Watching the CPU utilization spike while watching something as simple as a YouTube vid. Often, avg. utilization across 8 threads is /[

      • bcronce
      • 10 years ago

      so you’re saying it uses less cpu to use software than hardware accelerated?

    • Firestarter
    • 10 years ago

    How does this help the biggest problem of all the frakking Flash ads slowing down our computers?

      • kvndoom
      • 10 years ago

      indeed, that’s the only thing I want to see improved with Flush performance.

      • Skrying
      • 10 years ago

      Eh? Something is wrong with your computer or… you’re probably using Chrome, Opera or Safari. The only time I’ve had Flash slow down my computer was with intense video streams (think HQ YouTube or the NBA’s Flash based online streaming that can have 3 simultaneous streams) or with the NFL.com Flash based game trackers (and only with multiple open). Flash performance is highly sensitive to the browser your using with IE being the best and Firefox second.

      With that said in IE, Firefox or Chrome I’ve never been on a site where the Flash ads alone caused such issue. Also, I’m willing to bet you’d be surprised how few of those dynamic ads are still Flash. Many are but many are also switching to using Javascript.

        • Meadows
        • 10 years ago

        Many flash ads can make page scrolling very choppy even on a peppy machine. There are a few such websites that practically kill your eyes.

          • Dr_b_
          • 10 years ago

          install adblock plus.

            • Meadows
            • 10 years ago

            Go away, foo’.

    • jstern
    • 10 years ago

    I was so excited about this, looking forward to it for so long and every time I go to youtube, but unfortunately my Intel graphics is no go. I’ve never used that expression. I’m so pissed off though.

    • brm001
    • 10 years ago

    This update helps out my 945GM a lot. Looking good!

      • derFunkenstein
      • 10 years ago

      I didn’t think the 945GM supported H.264 acceleration, so wouldn’t work here.

        • brm001
        • 10 years ago

        Huh, it seems to help Firefox not bog down under the weight of two+ paused, loading Flash videos. Maybe they’ve made improvements other than the H.264 acceleration

      • jstern
      • 10 years ago

      I believe that’s what I have and there’s no difference.

      • Skrying
      • 10 years ago

      There’s some mentioned general performance improvements in the release notes. However, you don’t have video acceleration.

    • Skrying
    • 10 years ago

    Impressed to see Adobe getting this out so quickly (for them).

    Also very glad to see support for graphics all the way down to Intel’s 4 series.

    As for OS X/Linux support… it’ll come in time. This is a prerelease version of 10.1 after all.

      • northreign
      • 10 years ago

      Very slow for a .1 improvement in the version number and its only beta.

        • UberGerbil
        • 10 years ago

        Yes, because we have a rigorous system defining exactly how much work goes into each decimal increase in software version number.

        If only they’d called it “11” we’d be much more impressed.

          • northreign
          • 10 years ago

          The number should be based on what changes and how important they are. Its basically .1 for gpu otherwise it probably wouldn’t be a .1 at all.

            • UberGerbil
            • 10 years ago

            Adding support for offloading to another processor is major architectural work, and could easily justify a full (or .5) version revision. But my point is that version numbers are arbitrary, and this is a non-trivial amount of work. Work they should’ve done long ago, of course, but that’s a separate problem.

      • wiak
      • 10 years ago

      pointless with intel integrated crapstics ;P
      ATI or NVIDIA ftw!

    • adisor19
    • 10 years ago

    Right so let’s see here, the only OS that officially supports OpenCL out of the box gets the shaft. GG Adobe.

    Adi

      • Corrado
      • 10 years ago

      This is a BETA/PRERELEASE. They say its coming to OS X… so uh… how are you getting the shaft exactly?

      • UberGerbil
      • 10 years ago

      If other OSes had the marketshare to matter, Adobe would make them a higher priority.

      • indeego
      • 10 years ago

      The little OS that tries so hardg{

      • jstern
      • 10 years ago

      “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.”

        • adisor19
        • 10 years ago

        Oh come on ! Do you actually believe that ?! Apple includes OpenCL support out of the box. ALL the API calls are there for Adobe to offload the decoding on the GPU.

        Adi

          • insulin_junkie72
          • 10 years ago

          There’s a good reason there’s a DXVA-based version, and not an OpenCL-based version.

          OpenCL doesn’t expose the video decoder hardware (VP2/UVD/etc) built onto the video cards.

          • Fighterpilot
          • 10 years ago

          WTF are you babbling about?
          All the API calls are NOT there for Adobe to offload.
          If OSX had any sort of decent market share it would be supported…get over it.

          • UberGerbil
          • 10 years ago

          Adi, OpenCL isn’t the answer to every problem, not even all the ones that can be solved/improved by a GPU. (And for the record, Grand Central isn’t the solution to all threading problems either. And mini-DisplayPort is not the breakthrough that made small notebooks possible.)

            • insulin_junkie72
            • 10 years ago

            And even if OpenCL could expose the dedicated video hardware, it wouldn’t help OS X users with ATI cards.

            ATI’s support of their UVD hardware is pretty much limited to Windows. Under alternate OS’s, the video hardware is pretty much stuck passing the time playing cards and checking out the porn stash on the hard drive.

            I believe somebody is attempting to write a general shader-based driver for Linux to enable some hardware acceleration on older ATIs, but that’s a lot more work and isn’t going to perform as well as using the dedicated hardware. To create an OpenGL-accelerated version of Flash, Adobe would have had to have gone the same route (more work and poorer performance).

      • Da_Boss
      • 10 years ago

      Hate to say it, but this one may be Apple’s fault.

      Firstly, Windows’ drivers have had OpenCL support for what feels like months now. Secondly, Anandtech explains on page 5 that Adobe has explained why OS X doesn’t have GPU acceleration support. It has less to do with OpenCL and more to do with Apple’s closed-minded attitude towards flash:

      /[<"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."<]/ That being said, I love the improved efficiency that the plugin brings to my MBP. It's about time.

        • Veerappan
        • 10 years ago

        Agreed. I loaded up a 480p Hulu clip using the old version, watched a minute or two with ‘top’ open, and my CPU was hovering around 60-85% usage. Then I installed the new plugin and started watching the same video again. 40-60% CPU usage.

        It may not be hardware accelerated, but they did make the code more efficient.

          • anotherengineer
          • 10 years ago

          wow from 480p and that high!! Is that due to bad adobe flash coding or is that just normal for 480p or flash?????

            • northreign
            • 10 years ago

            His cpu is slow.

            I have 4 cores and 720p flash is ~20% cpu usage.

            But yeah flash is crap. It has such high cpu usage my old laptop can’t play it.

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