Are we nearing the end of the road for sluggish Flash video playback on low-end systems? Adobe has released a beta version of the Flash Player 10.2 plug-in, which introduces Stage Video, a "new API that delivers best-in-class, high performance video playback across platforms." That's apparently marketing talk for hardware acceleration across the whole video rendering pipeline, not just hardware H.264 decoding like Flash 10.1 currently offers. Translation: much lower CPU usage.
Flash Player Senior Computer Scientist Tinic Uro demonstrated Flash 10.2 earlier this month at the MAX event (while inexplicably wearing an ill-fitting Star Trek shirt). The demo pretty much speaks for itself:
The Flash Player 10.2 beta also adds other goodies, like Internet Explorer 9 hardware-acceleration support and another feature that has me particularly excited: proper multi-monitor support. Yes, finally, you can full-screen a YouTube video on one monitor and work on the other monitor without having the video pop back into the browser windows as soon as you click somewhere—the same behavior as any self-respecting video player. Oh joy! Now I can enjoy adorable kitten videos all day, every day.
The Flash Player 10.2 beta is available from this page right now for both Windows and Mac OS X.