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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  • MonkeyPaw - Thursday, April 29, 2010 - link

    I think that if both playback methods are watchable, then I guess the big question would be which approach has better battery life? It seems to me that the savings from the drop in CPU usage would be completely lost by starting up the GPU. Perhaps it's worth comparing? If it makes it worse, then I'd probably pass on that upgrade until they support the IGP (if I owned a mac, that is).
  • Spivonious - Thursday, April 29, 2010 - link

    AFAIK, Hulu doesn't support hw acceleration. It's a big gripe over at the AVS Forum.
  • DukeN - Thursday, April 29, 2010 - link

    You're not allowed to get mad at Father Steve.

    Please remember, all thoughts need 2-5 days of approval by Father Steve's committee before you can express them. Just like the apps.
  • KJ242 - Thursday, April 29, 2010 - link

    I read this as Apple finally enabling this and not adobe:
  • B3an - Sunday, May 2, 2010 - link

    Yep it's all down to Apple. Closed system POS remember.
  • happycamperjack - Thursday, April 29, 2010 - link

    I've tested it on Macbook Pro 13 inch 2.53 ghz with 9400m on karate kid 1080p. CPU utilization seems to be slightly lower about 10-20% with Gala, but what I cared about more is battery life. I was monitoring the wattage my battery is draining, both Flash Gala and the current flash player drain about equal about of wattage, perhaps slightly higher with Gala at about 26-33 watts, the difference is not very noticeable. With HTML5 though however, it's lowered to 24-28 watts. Well I'm disappointed to say the least. I thought 10.1 is gonna further boost battery life on laptops, but I guess it's only true for the androids right now.
  • osmosium - Monday, May 3, 2010 - link

    Oh Flash, how many ways can you be the infection vector for viruses... let me count the ways... now with OS X driver virus vector support!

  • mindbomb - Monday, May 3, 2010 - link

    It's only using the vp4 video processor on the graphics card, right? Loading that alone must be a better alternative than loading a corei5 i would think.

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