Good News: Flash Just Got Less Painful

Adobe (s ADBE) released the first beta of its Flash player 10.2 today. The most notable improvement is advanced hardware acceleration, which should considerably reduce — and in some cases entirely eliminate — the CPU load of playing Flash videos on most modern computers. The improved efficiency is due to the implementation of Adobe’s Stage Video API, which makes use of a computer’s GPU for close to all video-related computation.

First reports indicate the impact of the new player is most notable under Windows (s msft), with reporting it was able to play 1080p HD video with a CPU load of zero percent. The online magazine reported CPU loads between four and five percent under Mac OS X (s aapl). These loads could even be maintained while displaying overlays on an HD video — something that led to much higher CPU usage without Stage video.

I saw slightly less efficient CPU loads when I tried the new Flash player under OS X today, but 8 percent isn’t really all that bad for 1080p, either.

However, desktop users won’t be the only ones happy about the Flash player’s new efficiency. Flash 10.2 and its underlying stage video technology should also improve playback on set-top boxes and other connected devices. From Adobe’s web site:

“The performance benefits of stage video are especially pronounced for televisions, set-top boxes, and mobile devices. These devices do not have CPUs as powerful as desktop computers, but they do have very powerful video decoders capable of rendering high-quality video content with very little CPU usage.”

In fact, Adobe cooperated with Google to bring Stage Video to Google (s GOOG) TV, where the technology is currently up and running. We should see more devices making use of the optimized hardware acceleration soon.

Photo courtesy of Flickr user Digital_Rampage.

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