GPU acceleration comes to Flash video


The introduction of Intel’s Atom and the rise of the netbook have unquestionably validated the market for low-cost, low-power computing. Compact little systems that are “just fast enough” for the general set of uses people have for computers—surfing the web, chatting via Skype, sending emails, balancing the checkbook, taking notes, conducting Ponzi schemes via Craigslist—have been selling like mad for the past couple of years, and they show no signs on slowing down in the future. Once you exclude a few tough cases like video editing and hard-core gaming, low-cost PCs tend to do very well on the most common sorts of PC applications, which is why consumers have been buying them in droves.

But there’s long been one area of common PC usage where low-cost systems tend to choke: dealing with Adobe’s Flash platform, especially the near-ubiquitous Flash-based videos plastered all over the web. Pull up that latest hilarious YouTube clip of babies and/or kittens on your hot pink MSI Wind, and you’re in for deep disappointment. Those lovable little balls of flubber/fluff slow to a near-standstill. Meanwhile, the Wind works to earn it name; its fan kicks up, shooting a stream of hot air out of its side, to no great effect. You’re stuck in slideshow land, from which the best escape is closing the browser tab—if only the system would respond to your clicks.

This is a tragic outcome for what is otherwise a dynamite little computer, made more infuriating by the fact that such systems will play a range of video formats just fine via Windows Media Player or the like. The difference is that traditional media players often employ some form of GPU acceleration, at least for scaling up the video to the size of the display or window in which it’s being played—and perhaps even for decoding a highly compressed format like H.264. Trouble is, Flash doesn’t make use of the video acceleration logic built into most graphics chips, so the poor low-power CPU is left to fend entirely for itself. A tragic kitten slideshow is the only possible outcome.

Until now, that is. Adobe has recently released a beta version of Flash 10.1 with built-in GPU acceleration. The support for GPUs is preliminary and is largely focused on video decoding alone, but it’s already being facilitated by new video drivers from AMD, Nvidia, and Intel. The promise? Low-power computing just might be able to conquer its one long-standing bugaboo. Amazingly enough, given Flash’s broad popularity, this is a development of pretty serious import in certain quarters. To see how much of a difference GPU acceleration can make, we rounded up a trio of low-power systems with integrated graphics and took the Flash 10.1 beta for a spin.

Intel Atom 330 and Nvidia Ion performance

Nvidia has generated a tremendous amount of press coverage and general goodwill for its Ion platform, which simply pairs up the GeForce 9400 chipset and IGP with an Atom processor. The not-so-subtle message of the Ion platform pitch is simple: that a small, commodity-class CPU will suffice for most users, so long as it’s paired with a competent chipset and graphics solution. The fact that Intel tends to restrict the Atom to the time-worn 945G chipset and its moldy old IGP, with no H.264 decode acceleration and all the graphics power of a Lite Brite, only helps underscore Nvidia’s point. A system based on the Ion platform has substantially more potential than your usual netbook or nettop, and for some practical purposes, it may rival PCs based on much more powerful CPUs.

Flash video acceleration, then, is a great test case for the Ion’s mojo. We checked it out using an ASRock ION 330 nettop. Even its dual-core Atom 330 struggles with Flash video, though not quite as much as your average single-core Atom netbook.

For this test, we installed Windows 7 x64 on the ION 330, along with Firefox 3.5.5, the Flash 10.1 beta, and Nvidia’s ForceWare 195.5 beta drivers with Flash video support. The ION 330 was driving a VGA monitor at 1600×1200 resolution and an 85Hz refresh rate. We used the Flash 10.1 beta for both sets of tests, simply disabling GPU acceleration for the CPU-only portion of our testing.

Those of you who have read one of our netbook or laptop reviews will likely be familiar with our simple red-yellow-green system of rating video playback performance. The rest of you had better be able to figure it out on your own. Heh. We’re simply playing back a video and recording our impressions of the playback’s fluidity, while taking notes about any quirks or problems.

We do have some approximate CPU utilization numbers taken from the Windows Task Manager for the windowed playback tests, but I wouldn’t put too much stock into them, frankly. Many factors can throw off CPU utilization numbers, including the Atom’s dual front ends used for Hyper-Threading. Anyone who has seen an Atom struggle to play back a video, dropping frames left and right while posting only 80% CPU utilization, will understand why utilization alone isn’t a great indicator of performance. These numbers can help us understand the before-and-after comparison between GPU video acceleration and CPU-only playback on a given platform, though, so I’ve included them for reference.

We tested with a range of video clips on both Hulu and YouTube, ranging from low-res 360p to full-size 1080p HD. 720p videos are still rare on Hulu, but we tried one of the few 720p videos in Hulu’s HD Showcase, the premiere episode of Legend of the Seeker, being sure to use the pop-out feature to display the full 720p image. We used a pair of movie trailers on YouTube, including one for Moon in HQ format and another for Star Trek in 720p. Our 1080p clip was a PureVideo demo posted by Nvidia. At Nvidia’s suggestion, you may notice, I added some format strings to the ends of those YouTube URLs to work around some problems with GPU acceleration when the video is first opened in a lower-resolution format. In all cases, we tested at the native windowed resolution and then again when scaled to full-screen mode.

CPU only With GPU acceleration
CPU

utilization

Result CPU

utilization

Result
Fringe

Hulu 360p

windowed

24-37% Smooth 17-22% Perfect
Fringe

Hulu 360p

full-screen

Some dropped
frames
Smooth
Fringe

Hulu 480p

windowed

40-47% Smooth 20-30% Smooth
Fringe

Hulu 480p

full-screen

Lots of dropped
frames
Smooth
LoTS

Hulu 720p

windowed

66-80% Rough, dropped frames 42-51% Generally fluid, but

short pauses every

few seconds

LoTS

Hulu 720p

full-screen

Slideshow Generally fluid, but

short pauses every

few seconds

Moon

YouTube HQ

windowed

52-74% Perfect 14-20% Perfect
Moon

YouTube HQ

full-screen

Perfect Perfect
Star Trek
YouTube 720p

windowed

50-72% Rough, dropped frames 7-14% Perfect
Star Trek
YouTube 720p

full-screen

Rougher, ~10 FPS? Perfect
PureVideo demo

YouTube 1080p

windowed

74-99% Slideshow 17-24% Perfect
PureVideo demo

YouTube 1080p

full-screen

Slideshow Some dropped
frames

As you can tell, the ION 330 struggles quite a bit when the dual-core Atom alone is asked to decode and play back our test videos. Even our episode of Fringe at a low 360p resolution dips into iffy yellow territory with dropped frames in full-screen mode, and anything above that on Hulu is hopeless. On YouTube, only the Moon trailer proves workable.

With some help from the Ion’s PureVideo acceleration logic, though, the ION 330 is transformed into a much more competent media playback system. Suddenly, all but the most difficult videos play back smoothly, some of them even ranging into “Perfect” territory, where I consider playback entirely fluid.

There is one disappointing exception in the form of the 720p LoTS episode. Although playback is typically fluid and CPU utilization relatively low, the video pauses briefly every few seconds, though audio is uninterrupted.

I tried a number of things to resolve this issue. I started with Win7 x86 and installed a fresh copy of Win7 x64 hoping to sidestep the issue, but it persisted. I let the Hulu player queue up a 100% full buffer, to see if that would help, to no avail. I compared to playback on my own PC, using the same network and Internet connection; my Core 2 Quad-based system had no trouble playing the video flawlessly. I even tried dropping the display resolution and refresh rate on the monitor, to no apparent effect. In the end, I had to settle for vastly improved Hulu video playback that fell somewhat short of perfect with this video, though not quite into the red.

Still, the overall improvement is startling. The drop in CPU utilization with the 720p and 1080p YouTube clips is especially striking. The Star Trek trailer runs fluidly with Task Manager dipping into the single digits. Interestingly, the Ion is unique on the PC, as far as I know, in that it assists with scaling the video’s size as well as decoding it. No doubt Nvidia made this extra effort due to the fact that the Atom could definitely use the help. That work seems to have paid off nicely.

This first beta of Flash GPU video acceleration remains fragile and incomplete, of course. I doubt most folks will bother with appending format strings onto YouTube URLs manually, for instance. Also, I ran into a problem with 480p Hulu video, unscaled in a window, looking as if it had been poorly scaled to a non-native resolution. Nvidia tells us this problem will be resolved when Adobe releases its next Flash 10.1 beta version.

Here’s hoping subsequent improvements to the software and driver stacks involved here can also overcome the intermittent video pauses we saw in the 720p Hulu video format. If they can, the Ion will have nearly aced this test, which would be quite the revelation.

Intel’s GS45M chipset and CULV processor

My next victim is my new favorite laptop, the Acer Aspire 1810TZ. This little 11.6″ ultraportable is technically not a netbook; it’s a step above, based as it is on one of Intel’s consumer ultra-low-voltage (CULV) processors, the Pentium SU4100. This is a Penryn-based dual-core CPU with a 1.3GHz core clock, 800MHz bus, and 2MB of L2 cache. Like most CULV systems, the 1810TZ has an Intel GS45 chipset with GMA 4500MHD integrated graphics. This is a newer chipset than the 945G found in most netbooks, and it’s capable of accelerating HD video decoding and playback.

We tested the Aspire 1810TZ with Intel’s 15.16.2.1986 video drivers. This laptop has a native screen resolution of 1366×768 and comes with Windows 7 Home Premium x64 installed. For this system, our CPU-only numbers come from Flash 10.0.32, while the GPU-accelerated ones come from the 10.1 beta. Since the dual-core CULV processor is really quite competent, as you’ll see, we’ve omitted the Hulu 360 tests from this round.

CPU only With GPU acceleration
CPU

utilization

Result CPU

utilization

Result
Fringe

Hulu 480p

windowed

32-46% Perfect 48-53% ~15 FPS
Fringe

Hulu 480p

full-screen

Perfect ~15 FPS
LoTS

Hulu 720p

windowed

81-93% Smooth 52-64% Some dropped frames
LoTS

Hulu 720p

full-screen

Smooth, a few

dropped frames

Smooth, a few

dropped frames

Moon

YouTube HQ

windowed

46-63% Perfect 20-26% Perfect
Moon

YouTube HQ

full-screen

Perfect Perfect
Star Trek
YouTube 720p

windowed

31-48% Perfect 14-22% Perfect
Star Trek
YouTube 720p

full-screen

Smooth, a few

dropped frames

Perfect
PureVideo demo

YouTube 1080p

windowed

83-98% Lots of dropped frames 35-40% Rough, some dropped
frames, occasional audio static
PureVideo demo

YouTube 1080p

full-screen

Lots of dropped frames Lots of dropped frames,
occasional audio static

All by its lonesome, the Aspire’s dual-core Pentium handles the 480p Hulu clip and the Moon trailer perfectly. The 720p Hulu and YouTube videos are also quite good in windowed mode. Only when scaling the 720p clips to full screen do some small cracks begin to appear in its armor. This is way better than a netbook, but even so, decoding the 1080p clip is clearly beyond the Pentium SU4100’s capabilities.

The results with GPU acceleration enabled are intriguing. The problems are evident immediately with the 480p Hulu video. CPU utilization is actually higher with GPU acceleration enabled, and the frame rate drops to maybe half of what it should be—perhaps less. Clearly, Intel and Adobe haven’t got this one sorted out yet. The issues continue with the 720p Hulu video, where CPU utilization is lower, but so are frame rates, dropping performance into the iffy yellow territory. Once again, playback is smoother without GPU acceleration.

The bad news in Hulu is offset by unmitigated success with the first two YouTube clips, where CPU utilization is lower and playback is pristine. Thanks to GPU acceleration, the 1810TZ can play back the 720p Star Trek trailer perfectly at its full screen resolution (which, incidentally, is just a tad larger than the 720p format and the exact same aspect ratio). The CPU alone didn’t quite pull off that feat.

Then again, the GMA 4500MHD isn’t any practical help with the 1080p clip, which has the 1810TZ overwhelmed yet again.

Unfortunately, GPU acceleration on the GS45 chipset doesn’t appear to be a clear win. You’re better off overall sticking with the CPU-only release versions of Flash at this point in time. Here’s hoping Intel can manage to get video decode acceleration working properly. If they do not, some forms of Flash HD video will play back smoother on an Atom + Ion platform combo than on Intel’s 4-series chipsets and CULV Penryn dual-cores, amazingly enough.

AMD Phenom II and 785G performance

Next up is my home theater PC, based on AMD’s “Maui” platform, which has been serving faithfully in my living room while awaiting a proper write-up for a shamefully long time. (It’s half done, I swear!) This box is by no means a slow computer, based on a 785G chipset and a low-power Phenom II X4 905e processor, a 2.5GHz quad-core. Yet it still has a few problems with Flash video from time to time, which matters a lot to me since I watch shows on it via Hulu Desktop with some frequency. Accordingly, I’ve added another test for this system: full-screen playback of 720p video view the Hulu Desktop application.

This system runs Windows 7 x86 and is hooked up to a 1080p television via HDMI. We tested with the Catalyst 9.11 drivers and Flash version 10.0.32 (CPU only), along with the Flash 10.1 beta for GPU acceleration. Here are the results.

CPU only With GPU acceleration
CPU

utilization

Result CPU

utilization

Result
Fringe

Hulu 480p

windowed

18-26% Perfect 6-10% Perfect
Fringe

Hulu 480p

full-screen

Some dropped frames Perfect
LoTS

Hulu 720p

windowed

33-42% Perfect 7-38% Perfect
LoTS

Hulu 720p

full-screen

Some dropped frames Very smooth
LoTS

Hulu 720p

Hulu Desktop

full-screen

Smooth, a few

dropped frames

Perfect
Moon

YouTube HQ

windowed

17-35% Perfect 16-22% Perfect
Moon

YouTube HQ

full-screen

Perfect Perfect
Star Trek
YouTube 720p

windowed

18-26% Perfect 3-12% Perfect
Star Trek
YouTube 720p

full-screen

Perfect Perfect
PureVideo demo

YouTube 1080p

windowed

33-45% Perfect 12-22% Perfect
PureVideo demo

YouTube 1080p

full-screen

Smooth, a few

dropped frames

Smooth, a few

dropped frames

As I said, even this system with a relatively fast quad-core processor stumbles slightly over Flash video at times. Fortunately, playback of video with the Flash 10.1 beta and integrated Radeon graphics smoothes over those few bumps in the road, turning in a near-perfect performance. CPU utilization drops quite a bit with GPU acceleration, too.

The 785G’s Flash acceleration is so good that I’ve decided to leave it enabled for everyday use. The primary impact of doing so is that run-of-the-mill 480p Hulu videos played via Hulu Desktop are now more fluid. Previously, playback was acceptable but not stellar, with occasional obvious dropped frames. Now, Hulu Desktop looks as good as one could want—save for the fact that no Flash-based solution offers the kind of high-quality scaling routine one would expect from Windows Media Center or other fully-DXVA-accelerated media players.

AMD has a few extra tricks up its sleeve, too. In the Catalyst Control Center, one can enable and modify the values for a host of color enhancements and post-processing effects, and GPU-accelerated Flash videos will be modified in real time. In fact, AMD has a split-screen preview mode to show how the video output is being modified.

A few of the controls available in the CCC

The Star Trek trailer in split screen with edge enhancement enabled

This is beyond nifty. I’ll admit I’ve only used such controls with other video players occasionally, but from time to time, an interesting video from a poor source can be redeemed through judicious use of the right filters. Having such capabilities available once Flash video becomes GPU-accelerated only makes sense, and it’s good to see AMD making it happen.

Conclusions

This Flash 10.1 beta is just a first step, and obviously both Adobe and the various GPU makers have some work to do yet. GPU acceleration is still pretty fragile, and although AMD and Nvidia seem to have a good handle on the basics, Intel’s GMA 4500MHD currently doesn’t perform very well. Even so, most of the initial performance indications are positive. One can’t help but be encouraged by watching an Atom/Ion-based system playing back Flash video with fluidity.

Heck, I’m not even sure exactly how to feel about this development. For so long, Adobe and Flash have been objects of derision for many PC enthusiasts, because really, how could Flash not be GPU-accelerated? Now that it’s happening, I suppose I feel more relief than gratitude, like a captive being released from a terrible ordeal—only, you know, in a really muted and low-stakes way.

With that said, unless things change, GPU acceleration of Flash video won’t extend to some notable platforms, including the vast majority of today’s netbooks and nettops. Not only does the 945G chipset not support H.264 decode acceleration, but as of now, Intel only has 4-series chipset video drivers supporting Flash 10.1 for Vista and Win7. A great many older systems, both Atom-based and Windows XP-based, are likely to be out of luck. That fact ought to put the damper on some netbook buying decisions this holiday season. Then again, I wouldn’t recommend buying any netbook when dual-core CULV systems like the excellent Aspire AS1410 are selling for just over 400 bucks. I’ll have to admit, though, that I am curious about the Flash video performance of a single-core Atom/Ion netbook. If we get our hands on one soon, we’ll be sure to test it.

The very best news here is that GPU video acceleration is just a first step on Adobe’s roadmap, which includes plans for GPU acceleration of all sorts of Flash animation going forward. Full-on GPU acceleration of the Flash platform could lead to dramatic improvements in battery life and the perceived user experience for low-cost, low-power systems. So, to all involved, I’ll say: keep doing what you’re doing. The sooner the better from our standpoint. Please, think of the kittens and babies.

Comments closed
      • BobbinThreadbare
      • 10 years ago

      Now where is the firefox version?

        • sigher
        • 10 years ago

        Is that some weird sarcasm, or are you not aware FF3.5+ does html5 out of the box without an extension?

    • stmok
    • 10 years ago

    Flash is crap. It doesn’t matter what the platform its on, it sucks…From the average computer user to the guy reverse engineering it to build an open source equivalent. (See Gnash project)…We all know its bad.

    The problem with dumping the load to the GPU is that its not really solving how bad Flash really is. We’re just shifting a piece of crap to hardware that can better deal with it…It doesn’t change the fact that its still a piece of crap.

    As *[

    • warisshah
    • 10 years ago

    It could even be a player issue. H.264 playback on G45 has been reviewed before and is known to work well, even when compared to 785G. People dont understand how much support from the players is required for hardware acceleration.

      • Meadows
      • 10 years ago

      Since Flash is used for playback, it _[

    • Anonim1979
    • 10 years ago

    Firefox + Plugins:
    DownloadHelper – for downloading flash videos to disc.
    Flashblock (MUST HAVE for single core/nettops users) so they wont play in browser without permision.

    Windows media Player Classic Home Cinema. FFDshow.

    My Athlon Xp 2200+ plays 720p videos PERFECTLY….

    PS.
    Flash is the bane of internet….
    Please DIE.

      • Firestarter
      • 10 years ago

      Umm.. thank you for sharing, I guess?

    • Shark
    • 10 years ago

    what?

    • Shark
    • 10 years ago

    test

    • statrekgeneral
    • 10 years ago

    for some reason, hulu seems crazy inefficient even when compared to youtube. my friend and i both have fx7805u’s from gateway, which definitely arent slouches of a laptop. yet when we play from hulu, it still stalls and drops frames when you put it into high resolution

      • Buzzard44
      • 10 years ago

      I’ve been noticing that ever since I started using Hulu. I wonder why.

        • indeego
        • 10 years ago

        DRM adds another layerg{<.<}g

      • zima
      • 10 years ago

      Hulu uses higher bitrates than…practically everybody else.

    • Welch
    • 10 years ago

    “Conducting Ponzi schemes via Craigslist”

    Priceless!

      • My Johnson
      • 10 years ago

      That one was good, but I found this one to be better:

      l[<...the graphics power of a Lite Brite.<]l

    • albundy
    • 10 years ago

    i think i’ll wait a few more years until they sort it right. i dont need to accelerate HD with my rig in any case. i guess this was made primarily for cr@ptops with quality onboard intel graphics and the sort, lol!

    • indeego
    • 10 years ago

    Would be interesting how Intel GMA does with this. HD video is starting to be somewhat important in the Business sector, and that could tilt the balance to other discrete solutions if Intel doesn’t pass musterg{<.<}g

      • Kurotetsu
      • 10 years ago

      Read the article. They tested Intel GMA graphics and it failed miserably.

        • indeego
        • 10 years ago

        /[<"Then again, I wouldn't recommend buying any netbook when dual-core CULV systems like the excellent Aspire AS1410 are selling for just over 400 bucks."<]/ It *[

          • no51
          • 10 years ago

          I think it’s to prevent cannibalizing sales of the 1810. Otherwise you’d just be paying $200 extra for a bigger battery.

          • bthylafh
          • 10 years ago

          Charging what the market will bear. I just ordered an Acer AS1410 (2 gigs of RAM) & the price has been steadily going up since just after Thanksgiving. Before it was something like $399 or $405 and now it’s $429. They’re apparently quite popular.

            • indeego
            • 10 years ago

            I’m sure they are. But I linked the Newegg link to friends and coworkers with specific $ and specs. People that aren’t paying attention would then order and not get the link I recommended. 2 GiB is a /[

    • cygnus1
    • 10 years ago

    This has nothing to with Flash, but the pic you guys used for the article completely threw me off. I had basically the same pic as my background for months before that movie came out. Capped it myself from the 1080p trailer.

    • Thresher
    • 10 years ago

    This just goes on to validate why intel integrated graphics are so bad. The worst part is that they are the market leader, despite the fact that they actually hold back overall computer performance. This is another reason why intel’s stranglehold on chipsets needs to be broken.

      • Chrispy_
      • 10 years ago

      The low-end machines – cheap laptops and slim desktops or all-in-ones that have limited thermal envelopes are /[

    • no51
    • 10 years ago

    I see you have the Aspire 1810TZ, mind sharing a review for it? From what I gather, it’s the 1410 on steroids and is very much in the lead for my next mobile computer.

      • Damage
      • 10 years ago

      It’s awesome. Full TR review pending……..

    • mczak
    • 10 years ago

    I’m still wondering actually how flash manages to play back worse (with no gpu acceleration) in fullscreen mode rather than windowed. Is it really using software scaling and displaying single images or something like that? Even your good old S3 Virge could do video scaling without any performance hit…
    That would probably explain the generally very poor performance of (old) flash compared to any media player…

    • l33t-g4m3r
    • 10 years ago

    was amd’s pixelated playback fixed?
    I tried the beta, and it was not filtering low resolution vids.
    using old version now for quality.

    Does the control panel checkmark for enforce smooth video playback fix this?
    I didn’t notice that feature until this review, and it was disabled.

      • Meadows
      • 10 years ago

      It’s a bug. Disable GPU acceleration and pixel smoothing works.

      • gtoulouzas
      • 10 years ago

      I’ve had the same problem and reverted to the old version. Youtube videos were hideously pixellated on my 4850 video card. So, a thumbs down from me until they fix their issues.

        • Meadows
        • 10 years ago

        Was it present even after disabling hardware acceleration?

    • deathBOB
    • 10 years ago

    My only problem with Flash 10.1 is that it doesn’t let go of the graphics card while hanging out in the background. Keeping a browser window open while playing a game results in a dramatic performance hit. Otherwise, it’s great.

    • Freon
    • 10 years ago

    /[<"all the graphics power of a Lite Brite"<]/ I about spit my coffee. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • shakyone
    • 10 years ago

    I tried out the beta flash, it killed the functionality of Flash games, but the video was smooth… didn’t pass the “Wife test” as she uses Facebook games… Re-installed 10.0 and things went back to normal. Thanks Adobe, hopefully you get it right some time.

      • nanoflower
      • 10 years ago

      I didn’t see a problem with Flash games but I found that Youtube videos wouldn’t work reliably with the beta Flash code so I uninstalled it and went back to the official 10.0 Flash code and videos played back without any problems. That’s with the latest ATI drivers on a 4670.

    • Fragnificent
    • 10 years ago

    What’s Flash ๐Ÿ˜‰ Seriously, this s&&t is (and has been for years) the new RealAudio. It’s not touching my PC. Ever.

    • Hattig
    • 10 years ago

    I wish Flash would die in a (flash) fire.

    • flip-mode
    • 10 years ago

    I do hate Adobe. How have they stayed on top? Dunno. Too expensive for a company to mount a legit challenge against their software?

    • Usacomp2k3
    • 10 years ago

    So this could accelerate flash ads as well?

    • Lianna
    • 10 years ago

    Scott, I understand right and duty of the journalist to speak in an interesting way, but over-dramatizing “my pink Wind” issue… come on. Mine is white, BTW. Yes, I can’t watch YouTube clips in HD, much less full screen. But it’s watchable. If I want HD, I watch Blu-ray on PS3. Do I know Flash is crap? Yes, I do. Everybody does. The new accelerated Flash is just a little bit less crappy, Anand can finally watch YouTube full-screen on his double-Nehalem workstation, amazing, isn’t it?

    Now, it would be much more interesting if you could include one other type of clip to your laptop video tests (but not Flash-based), 1080i (yes, interlaced, you read that correctly) AVCHD 24Mbps clip. This is what higher-end consumer video cameras are shooting in, and what most of cheaper cards and CPUs struggle with. If I can take photos and watch them on my laptop, why can’t I do the same with videos? Win7 takes care of decoding these clips natively, and it should play smoothly without user tinkering with the system. (Well, if you want the test to be hard, make it play smoothly showing _both_ fields without artifacts… if you can.)

    If you have trouble getting such a clip, write in answer to this post and I can provide you with one – just that I live in Europe so my AVCHD is 50i, not 60i. That could still make for an interesting test – whether or not you find 60i one – for all of us on this side of the big pond.

    Best regards, Anna

    • odizzido
    • 10 years ago

    now flash can run the CPU and the GPU up to 100 and still not run well. awesome.

    • Firestarter
    • 10 years ago

    As long as random flash ads bog down systems I dare not think of Flash as accelerated.

      • HiggsBoson
      • 10 years ago

      Flashblock Add-in to the rescue.

    • codedivine
    • 10 years ago

    Great post, thanks! Request: Is it possible to benchmark the dv2 with its discrete 3410? And maybe a Neo X2 + Congo based laptop? That will be very helpful.

    • Meadows
    • 10 years ago

    g{

      • Fighterpilot
      • 10 years ago

      Do full HD H.264 videoes stream smoothly?…..none that I’ve seen.
      Perhaps that’s Flash’s strong/weak point…..?

        • codedivine
        • 10 years ago

        Silverlight streams 1080p h.264 smoothly.

        • Meadows
        • 10 years ago

        If they play fine in a media player, then I can’t see why streaming them on the network should be a problem.

        Especially since Scott has stated that waiting for all of the video to load has made no substantial differences. Streaming isn’t the problem. Flash can’t play anything without multiplying the CPU requirements by 5.
        Absurd.

          • Chrispy_
          • 10 years ago

          Absurd indeed.

          If I had a dollar for every time Adobe had made me step back and think, “WTF?!?”, I’d have enough money to blow up their offices in every country of the world.

          Sucky Flash is the very small tip of a seriously gargantuan iceberg.

            • indeego
            • 10 years ago

            Just in time: Very serious Flash vulnerability announced. Get your patching done boysg{

      • DrDillyBar
      • 10 years ago

      Flash 3 was all about vectored graphics, or some such.

        • Meadows
        • 10 years ago

        U-huh, sure.

      • alphaGulp
      • 10 years ago

      For programming, Flash is also a total piece of crap, IMO. There were a lot of web projects with Flash components at my last job and it was absolutely amazing: all the non-Flash developers were able to code their stuff generally within 150% of their original estimate (and they were building way more complicated stuff), whereas anything flash would end up taking 500% more time than estimated! We went through a number of Flash developers too (some contract, some not), so I don’t think it was only that we had some bad coders.

      Another example of Flash’s insane, never-ending suckage is how it defaults to catching all mouse and keyboard events in the browser (except alt-f4 / ctrl-f4). Several times a day I inevitably end up having to click outside of the flash area in order to be able to scroll up the page with the mouse or affect the browser from the keyboard. I installed adobe air for a short while to run the Pandora player and had the following happy discovery: adobe air also defaults to catching everything, but since it’s not constrained by the browser, it actually traps global key presses like Windows-key combos!

      Instead of creating a stupidass OS, it would have been a lot more useful for google to create something to beat flash (silverlight is great but really Windows-only, whatever they say is possible). It doesn’t seem to me that google’s thing will be anything like that, but I haven’t looked at it closely, to be honest.

      The crazy thing is that this affects web-based ad revenue immensely: I have never run an ad blocker (that I can remember), but I have generally been using a flash blocker since they’ve been around – how many others out there are like me? Based on the popularity of certain plugins, I’d wager quite a few…

        • BlackStar
        • 10 years ago

        Yes, what’s up with that “catch all input” in flash? It stops the mouse wheel from working, fucks up tab navigation and generally makes the flash object feel like a nasty thorn in your side. I’d wager people would be much more accepting of flash if it behaved like any other html element (say, an image).

        Google is promoting HTML5, with canvas and video elements heavily. With a little luck, this might turn out to be what we need to get rid of flash completely.

    • bdwilcox
    • 10 years ago

    /[<"Intel's GMA 4500MHD currently doesn't perform very well"<]/ Shocking!!!!! Intel's graphics are the new S3 ViRGE, i.e. graphics decelerator.

    • Kurotetsu
    • 10 years ago

    Smooth playback of 1080p Flash content on an Atom netbook (outputted to a 1080p display, I imagine) is amazing. Yet another reason NOT to settle with crappy Intel graphics even on a netbook.

    The “Intel’s GS45M chipset and CULV processor” test was hilarious though. Accelerating Flash on Intel graphics is actually WORSE than just running it on the CPU.

      • Skrying
      • 10 years ago

      I’m hoping this is a driver issue. Flash is the sort of ubiquitous technology that Intel is generally decent at supporting in their drivers. But then again I’m not going to hold my breath.

    • DrDillyBar
    • 10 years ago

    Legend of the Seeker; I meet a girlfriend of 3 years over the 4th book in the series that that show is … based off. The Author is a part of it, so I’ll not bitch. It’s shot in NZ.

      • 5150
      • 10 years ago

      My head hurts.

    • ssidbroadcast
    • 10 years ago

    ATi makes really cool tools but does anyone else think that the user interface is hard to understand and kinda ugly?

      • DrDillyBar
      • 10 years ago

      I also can’t add 1920×1200 to my monitor, which it claims to support in the documentation, but isn’t in the inf.

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This