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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  • solipsism - Thursday, April 29, 2010 - link

    I'm not sure who your 'they' refers to, but it's Apple that created the API for Adobe to connect to in 10.6.3 and those are the only GPUs they included. I have to expect that more support for current and older GPUs will come, but remember this *is* Apple.
  • Brian Klug - Thursday, April 29, 2010 - link

    I think it's a safe bet the 9600M works since it's architecturally similar to the 9400M. It appears that Adobe was pretty conservative about what GPUs they mentioned in that blog post - I'd wager that we'll find out the real list empirically as people test and report back.

  • Dâniel Fraga - Thursday, April 29, 2010 - link

    Well, now Adobe needs to implement GPU acceleration on their Flash 64 bit (still alpha) client for Linux too...
  • HangFire - Thursday, April 29, 2010 - link

    Adobe has to fix ALL of their Linux Flash implementations to stop crashing or running away with the CPU, not just add acceleration to their wildly unstable alpha 64 bit drivers.
  • HangFire - Thursday, April 29, 2010 - link

    I meant "wildly unstable 64 bit alpha Flash", not drivers.

    Where's the edit feature?
  • Necrosaro420 - Thursday, April 29, 2010 - link

    Wish they would get the x64 flash working already....
  • BlakJupitr - Thursday, April 29, 2010 - link

    I can't even use it with my PC, considering the FX 5200 I'm still using. >=\

    Flash at this level.. *bangs head on keyboard*
  • piroroadkill - Thursday, April 29, 2010 - link

    A 5200? I'm sorry
  • BlakJupitr - Thursday, April 29, 2010 - link

    Me too.. lol

    It can actually play 720p flash video's just fine. It's also fine with 1080 from my TV tuner, it's just the flash won't use it. It's so old now anyway though that it doesn't bother me, I'm just going to have to finally upgrade it, and pretty much everything else.
  • vasu42 - Thursday, April 29, 2010 - link

    Since I do a lot of online video deployment, I've been running some tests tonight as well. Using The Muppets: Bohemian Rhapsody in 1080p as a test video:

    Running on a 2.4ghz 13" Unibody MB (9400M) and tested in Safari 4.0.5 and tonight's nightly Webkit build... results are identical.

    Flash 10.1 RC2 = 166% Flash + 20% Safari
    Flash 10.1 Gala = 92% Flash + 20% Safari
    HTML5 Playback = 20% Safari

    I know that 1080p is an extreme and not the norm for browser playback, but the CPU temp never went over 154ºF while in the Youtube/HTML5 player and the fans never ramped up speed from the base 1800RPM. However, using the Gala preview, the temp climbed up to 200ºF as the fans slowly ramped up to 6000RPM to rein it in, eventually settling in at 172ºF at 6200RPM.. at least the frame rate didn't drop and playback was fluid. But still, 154ºF/1800RPM vs 172ºF/6200RPM. So Adobe has offloaded A LOT to the GPU, which is great, but the underlying performance issues are still there. GPU acceleration is great, but Flash on OSX still sucks at drawing anything to the screen.

    Oh, and just for fun, the 480p version of this video is encoded in VP6 with Flash 10.1 Gala using 60% and Safari using 8%

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