Flash Cuts CPU Usage With Hardware Acceleration

Those who complain that Adobe (s ADBE) Flash player is a CPU hog may have a little less to moan about soon, as the company released a new version of the video playing plug-in designed to limit processor overhead by using hardware acceleration provided by the graphics processor instead. Using a technology called Stage Video, Adobe Flash Player 10.2 is designed to provide more efficient playback of video content.

Flash has long been criticized for using too many CPU cycles, which not only slows processing of other applications, but also reduces the battery life of laptops and mobile devices. Adobe says the latest version of the Flash Player provides an antidote to those problems, reducing CPU usage to no more than 15 percent during video playback, which is up to 34 times more efficient than previous versions of the plug-in. Instead of using the logic chip, Adobe follows in the path of other graphics and video-heavy software makers and uses the GPU for processing.

Adobe first announced plans for Stage Video last year, and made the technology available in beta last December. But a stable version of Adobe’s ubiquitous Flash plug-in is now available for Windows (s msft), Mac (s aapl) and Linux PCs.

Even if users install the latest version of the plug-in, they might not start seeing the benefits from downloading the new Flash Player right away. In order for it to work, publishers need to update their video players to make them compatible with Stage Video hardware acceleration. Some publishers have already done so, including YouTube, (s GOOG) Vimeo and Epix, and publishers using Brightcove’s white-label platform for distribution of their video assets will also be able to use Stage Video for hardware acceleration. That said, it could be a while before most other publishers make the adjustments necessary to take advantage of the new technology.

In addition to added hardware acceleration, Flash Player 10.2 has multiple display, full screen support, which allows users to watch a video in full screen on one monitor while working on another monitor. Publishers can also create custom native mouse cursors for use with the plug-in, and new sub-pixel text rendering enhances readability of typography in the player.

Image courtesy of Flickr user Cameron Russell.

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