Brandon Hill, Editor in Chief of DailyTech, IMed me an hour ago with this: "OK, stop laying on the couch with your iPad and do some OS X benchmarking". He ended the IM with a link to a DT article stating that less than a week after Apple opened hooks into NVIDIA's VP2 decode engine, Adobe delivered a version of Flash 10.1 with GPU acceleration under OS X (Windows users have had it for six months now).

Impressive turnaround time for a company that has recently been thrashed by Apple quite a bit. It just goes to show one thing: there's no room for ego in engineering. Adobe claims the beta only supports Flash acceleration on the GeForce 9400M, GeForce 320M or GeForce GT 330M, however in my testing it worked fine on EVGA's GeForce GTX 285 Mac Edition. The tests below look at CPU utilization of the Flash plugin alone in Chrome (this is single core CPU utilization). The column on the left is without GPU acceleration, the one on the right with GPU acceleration:

Adobe Flash GPU Acceleration in OS X 10.6 - CPU Utilization
  Flash Flash 10.1 Gala (GPU Acceleration On)
Hulu - Glee - 480p (Window) 105% 107%
Hulu - Glee - 480p (Full Screen) 140% 117.8%
YouTube - Karate Kid Trailer - 720p 116% 51%
YouTube - Karate Kid Trailer - 1080p 141% 67.4%

While hardware acceleration doesn't appear to work on Hulu's website, there's definitely an improvement in CPU utilization when scaling to full screen. YouTube is a different story however. CPU utilization is cut roughly in half. The fact that it's taken this long is upsetting, but at least we're making some progress. You can tell the GPU acceleration is working if you see a little white square in the upper left hand corner of your YouTube video:

Because the GPU acceleration only works on NVIDIA hardware, owners of the new 15/17-inch MacBook Pros will tradeoff lower battery life for lower CPU utilization (the NV GPU has to be powered up during Flash video playback). Hopefully this is just the first step as there's no reason why Intel's HD graphics can't offer the same H.264 acceleration as the NVIDIA GPUs.

And to set the record straight, I wasn't laying on the couch with my iPad.

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  • teryan2006 - Wednesday, April 28, 2010 - link

    Wouldn't it make more sense to compare the new GPU accelerated to flash to the previous Flash 10.1 beta without acceleration? Instead of comparing it to 10.0?
  • Anand Lal Shimpi - Wednesday, April 28, 2010 - link

    The numbers are roughly the same between the two versions for these tests (just confirmed - ~150% using in the 1080p Karate Kid trailer).

    Thanks for the heads up though, you had me worried for a moment :)

    Take care,
  • Naton - Wednesday, April 28, 2010 - link

    Is there any word on whether this might be expanded to support ATI cards at some point?
  • LoneWolf15 - Thursday, April 29, 2010 - link

    Good question, one I want to know too. There are modern, aluminum iMacs with ATI graphics hardware in them; to not support them would be disappointing.
  • B3an - Sunday, May 2, 2010 - link

    It you want this to work with an ATI card use Windows. It's been working with my ATI's for months.

    Otherwise it's more than likely up to Apple and not Adobe/ATI with regards to it working with ATI hardware on OSX. Apple have to basically allow Adobe access to the API's for it to work. At the moment as far as i know only 3 NV cards work with apple and Flash acceleration.

    This is what you get when you support a closed system.
  • idontusenumbers - Wednesday, April 28, 2010 - link

    I tried the new player on my 8800GT and it doesn't seem to work. This seems to be Apple's doing considering their tech note on the topic.

    It's now even more depressing that my E8400 Dual core PC can still play back Flash video better than my 2xQuad core Mac Pro with identical video cards.

  • Ryan Smith - Thursday, April 29, 2010 - link

    Which makes things all the weirder since the GTX 285 works.

    9000 and GTX 200 Series = VP2
    9400M = VP3
    330M (and presumably 320M) = VP4

    So there's no reason why 8800GT shouldn't work, since it's VP2. The same goes for 9600M. VP2 is fully capable of full H.264 decoding.
  • jordanclock - Thursday, April 29, 2010 - link

    Perhaps the mechanism that checks for compatibility isn't checking for VP2, but for the model number to be >9200 or something.
  • B3an - Sunday, May 2, 2010 - link

    Guys the only cards that work with Flash acceleration on OSX are:

    GeForce 9400M,
    GeForce 320M,
    GeForce GT 330M.

    This is most probably down to Apple. They only just allowed Abobe access to the low level API's.

    Please stop supporting a closed system.
  • drvelocity - Thursday, April 29, 2010 - link

    They programmed in 9400 support but left out the 9600M? Odd..

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