Adobe Will Accelerate Flash Video Using New Apple API
Posted on April 24, 2010 by vincent oliver
From Ars Technica:
Apple isn’t giving any ground in its decision to keep Flash content off its mobile devices, and Adobe has made no effort to hide its displeasure with Apple’s decision. Flash will continue to be available for the Mac for the foreseeable future, on the other hand, even though many users find its performance less than stellar. The lackluster performance may change, though: Apple recently added an official API to access the H.264 decoding features of certain NVIDIA GPUs used in recent Macs, and Adobe plans to use these APIs to improve Flash performance when playing back video content.
The war between Apple and Adobe became heated earlier this year when Steve Jobs reportedly dissed Flashas having poor performance and stability, both to Apple employees and to executives at the Wall Street Journal. Mac users are painfully familiar with the performance disparity of Flash between Mac OS X and Windows (and it’s even worse on Linux). Adobe executives told Ars that one of the main causes of the performance disparity is that Mac OS X lacks comparable APIs that Adobe uses for Flash on Windows, including a way to access hardware-based H.264 video decoding.
In the recent Mac OS X 10.6.3 update, Apple added a Video Decode Acceleration Framework for accessing H.264 decoding hardware present in the NVIDIA GeForce 9400M, 320M, and GT 330M GPUs. It turns out that this is precisely one of the APIs Adobe was hoping for.
“We will be enabling support for hardware accelerated video decoding for Flash Player on Mac,” Adobe spokesperson Matt Rozen told Ars. “Now that the required APIs are available, we are working on an additional Flash Player release to follow shortly after Flash Player 10.1 to include this functionality for the hardware configurations supported by the new APIs.”
This is good news for owners of most recent Macs, including NVIDIA 9400M-equipped MacBooks, MacBook Pros, iMacs, and Mac minis. It will also work on the updated MacBook Pro models released earlier this month. Unfortunately, users with older Macs, or those still running Leopard or older won’t gain the boost to video decoding—our logs show that about 26 percent of Ars readers are running older versions of Mac OS X. Mac Pro users and some newer iMacs won’t either, but the overall beefier hardware should make the issue moot.
Adobe plans to have Flash Player 10.1 ready for the general public in the next couple of months, and it will include a number of performance improvements on Mac OS X, especially on Snow Leopard. Adding support for Apple’s new APIs just wasn’t possible at this late stage in development, but as Rozen said, an update to support hardware-accelerated video decoding should be available shortly after the 10.1 release.