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Adobe Launches GPU Accelerated Flash 10.1 & Air 2.0 Betas

Gordon Kelly


Adobe Flash, it's a name synonymous with slowing the Internet to a grinding halt (Yes. We know. We know). Still, could things be on the up? Today the company has announced public betas of Flash 10.1 and AIR 2.0 and, despite their version numbers, it is 10.1 which really holds our interest.

The big news is Flash 10.1 brings GPU acceleration which means your system will get extra assistance when playing (the vast majority) of streaming videos online. This couldn't come at a better time with Full HD YouTube videos launching this week and will help radically improve performance while reducing CPU strain. Good things!

At this stage nVidia cards should work best (notably ION) since it worked directly with Adobe, though ATI Radeon 3xxx and Radeon/Mobile Radeon 4xxx, Intel 4 series chipsets and Broadcom Crystal HD models should also be fine. GMA500 and GMA950 integrated graphics are off the list though since they're too weedy to do much to help the processor anyway, sorry (most) netbook owners.

As for AIR, this has hit headlines most notably by being the backbone of Twitter clients like twhirl and TweetDeck and v2.0 brings multi-touch and accelerometer support, USB storage device detection and claims of significant performance increases. Developers will also benefit from a new API, local microphone access, improved socket support and a faster, more powerful Webkit with HTML5 support.

Happily these are just the start too since a mobile version of Flash 10.1 for smartphones is due in early 2010 which should finally open up the last remaining barrier to true handset Internet (except for iPhones thanks to squabbling).

Time for you to take the afternoon off and go try out some High Def YouTube videos... extensively.


Flash Player 10.1 Release Notes (PDF warning)

Air 2.0 Official Blog Post


November 17, 2009, 6:03 pm

Does this work the same way as DXVA GPU acceleration you get in MPC:Home Cinema? My ATI 2600XT card is older than the 3000 series cards but can do DXVA. So this should work right?


November 17, 2009, 8:22 pm

I believe in the future we will have a device that you can put under your hand and move objects and stuff on the screen with the minimum amount of body movement, it will be pretty small my guess is they might call it something like a mouse. This will be a great move forward as RSI (Repetitive Shoulder Injury) is now a common complaint.

On a serious note, multi-touch is a good idea on a device like a phone, but on a 50" screen just seems silly. Maybe it might also work in a pub with those special tables, but beyond that it all seems limited.

Also did anyone notice how many times that bloke had to sometimes tap/swipe for it to register, I think I'd get frustrated pretty quick with that sort of responsiveness.

Nicholas Name

November 17, 2009, 9:18 pm

Happily, despite Adobe's rather confusing release notes (which list the recommended hardware, rather than the supported hardware), this does make a difference to flash playback using the GMA945 chipset. The downside is that you don't get as long to enjoy each frame of a 1080p slideshow now.


November 17, 2009, 9:31 pm

@jopey in theory yes, but only one way to find out! Working beautifully for me on a laptop with nVidia 8400M graphics, so...


November 17, 2009, 10:14 pm

I can't find a time-line that tells me if Flash 10.1 supports ATi Mobility Radeon X1600? Any help/clue?


November 17, 2009, 10:16 pm

@ThaDon - because I don't believe it does. As I said above: "only one way to find out". If it doesn't work you'll just be using your CPU as normal and if you get any issues then just go back to 10.0


November 17, 2009, 10:51 pm

Interesting that the GMA 500 is considered too weak considering that it happily plays 1080p x264 with hardware accelerated codecs and Windows 7.


November 17, 2009, 11:11 pm

@nkh - I'd like to know how you've set that up. It barely copes with 720p after extensive tweaking in our experience and can't handle Windows 7 Aero smoothly at all.


November 17, 2009, 11:35 pm

@Gordon - I'm having good results with the CoreAVC codec and the Windows Media Player that comes with Windows 7. This is on a Dell Mini 10, the video looks nice on the internal 1366x768 display but 1080p video does stutter if you try output it through the HDMI with the resolution set to 1920x1080.

Others have success with other mediaplayer/codec setups: http://www.mydellmini.com/f...


November 18, 2009, 12:24 am

Tried the new flash beta to see if it would get rid of the jerky iPlayer playback on my Mac (9400M graphics) but no luck. However, that was using the iPlayer program, so maybe it's dependent on Adobe Air? Streaming HD from the iPlayer web-site seemed smoother.

Also should note, that installing the new Air beta breaks the BBC iPlayer program, on the Mac at least. But that's probably to be expected considering its beta status.


November 18, 2009, 2:43 am

Flash seems particularly bad at making Firefox scrolling "judder". Furthermore I've noticed that high quality flash video can be juddery at sub-100% processor usage (i.e. dropping frames despite having headroom for additional resource usage - although this may be intentional to avoid hogging the processor {however this tends to be left to the OS scheduler}).


November 18, 2009, 3:00 am

Just updated to latest flash beta but 720p iplayer still struggle to play even though my HD4550 graphics card handles 1080p via external players just fine.


November 18, 2009, 7:08 am

if iplayer is juddering when your pc has the specs to play HD flash vids then it is prob your internet connection thats the problem

firefox scrolls fine with me even with 1080p HD


November 18, 2009, 12:22 pm

not internet connection related in my case, iplayer hd works fine on a 2nd PC with a fast processor but no graphics acceleration just not on an older PC with a new graphics card.


November 18, 2009, 6:38 pm

Just read the release notes, ATI Radeon 3xxx discrete cards ARE NOT supported. Only mobility/integrated 3xxx.

"At this stage nVidia cards should work best (notably ION) since it worked directly with Adobe, though ATI Radeon 3xxx and Radeon/Mobile Radeon 4xxx, Intel 4 series chipsets and Broadcom Crystal HD models should also be fine."

Only spotted as I have a 3870..

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