Apple opens hardware acceleration for Flash, other third party software [Updated]

Via the latest 10.6.3 update for Mac OS X Snow Leopard, Apple seems to be finally allowing third party developers to access the low level H.264 decoding power of the GPUs within its Macs. 

Adobe’s upcoming Flash Player 10.1 only provides hardware acceleration to Windows-based computers because Mac OS X “does not expose access to the required APIs” and Linux lacks a “developed standard API” for H.264 hardware decoding.

Apple seems to have addressed this issue now with Video Decode Acceleration Framework. Technical Note TN2267 describes the new API:

The Video Decode Acceleration framework is a C programming interface providing low-level access to the H.264 decoding capabilities of compatible GPUs such as the NVIDIA GeForce 9400M, GeForce 320M or GeForce GT 330M. It is intended for use by advanced developers who specifically need hardware accelerated decode of video frames.

The new framework should allow Adobe and other developers to provide smoother and more efficient raw H.264 decoding in their software through the GPU. Developers were previously required to use the QTKit API to gain hardware acceleration through Quicktime X which has limited format support and cannot render onto third party video players. 

Update: Adobe has responded to the new API and will be offering H.264 acceleration for OS X shortly after 10.1 releases.

"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."

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27 Comments

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That's the point of this article. There was nothing holding back Flash using APIs provided by Microsoft to implement this feature in windows since forever ago, but OSX has always been the roadblock to allowing it on Apple Mac systems.

smithy_dll said,
That's the point of this article. There was nothing holding back Flash using APIs provided by Microsoft to implement this feature in windows since forever ago, but OSX has always been the roadblock to allowing it on Apple Mac systems.

How come windows didnt get official h.264 accelleration in flash yet? Its now in RC state only...

CoolBits said,

How come windows didnt get official h.264 accelleration in flash yet? Its now in RC state only...

I think you are missing the point, and the fact there are dozens of windows applications that support h.264 hardware acceleration, yet none on the Mac (until now).

This is about Apple and how poor OSX is as a complete platform, not at how poor Adobe is at delivering their products.

smithy_dll said,

I think you are missing the point, and the fact there are dozens of windows applications that support h.264 hardware acceleration, yet none on the Mac (until now).

This is about Apple and how poor OSX is as a complete platform, not at how poor Adobe is at delivering their products.


Yes but you said flash... anyway i have no problems watching h.264 videos on mac... accellerated or not... oh quicktime supports HW accell...

Edited by CoolBits, Apr 23 2010, 11:58am :

The main problem was and never has been the video with the Adobe Flash.

For h.264, Flash merely a contender. With this new framework either HTML5 or Flash or any other similar contender can accelerate h.264 so will practically give the same performance levels.

Another good step for the advancement of HTML5...

Contrary to what most people seem to think, hardware acceleration for H.264 is built into the Windows Flashplayer since version 9 Update 3.
But it wasn't that great. On some hardware, in fullscreen, it ran much worse with acceleration enabled. Unbearable worse.

dodgetigger said,
Contrary to what most people seem to think, hardware acceleration for H.264 is built into the Windows Flashplayer since version 9 Update 3.
But it wasn't that great. On some hardware, in fullscreen, it ran much worse with acceleration enabled. Unbearable worse.

At the time of this writing, approximately 75% of online video is viewed with Flash Player. With the release of Flash Player 10.1, Adobe has added support for hardware-accelerated H.264 decoding to further the experience of watching video online.
http://www.adobe.com/devnet/fl...rdware_acceleration_02.html

Oscar Salinas said,
We should make the change to HTML 5 already, Flash it's getting old, heavy and problematic.

Hmmk but what will be done about games then since HTML5 is only for videos?

Oscar Salinas said,
We should make the change to HTML 5 already, Flash it's getting old, heavy and problematic.

One of these two will play 1080p on a netbook on Win.
Now that apple stopped living in the past, it can play catch up.

Edited by Udedenkz, Apr 23 2010, 7:55pm :

Apple dragged their feet to support this (I think, when did Windows support this?). Something tells me that Adobe will be dragging their feet to support this as well...

Shadrack said,
Apple dragged their feet to support this (I think, when did Windows support this?). Something tells me that Adobe will be dragging their feet to support this as well...

With a lot of pressure from HTML5, I don't think Adobe will intentionally take a long time to implement this.

bangbang023 said,

With a lot of pressure from HTML5, I don't think Adobe will intentionally take a long time to implement this.

This just effects video playback when the H.264 codec is used, correct? This hardware acceleration doesn't apply to all Flash I am assuming. Still, it will be nice to see a snappier Flash for YouTube and Hulu on Mac. I hope you are right.

Shadrack said,

This just effects video playback when the H.264 codec is used, correct? This hardware acceleration doesn't apply to all Flash I am assuming. Still, it will be nice to see a snappier Flash for YouTube and Hulu on Mac. I hope you are right.


hardware acceleration for flash itself is BRANDnew... like... just came out the past weeks.

h.264 acceleration is important for youtube and co, that's right.

Adobe still has a lot to do, especially when it comes to resources etc... Good grief!
Furthermore: I hope that flash h/w acceleration will be adopted rather soon.

bangbang023 said,

With a lot of pressure from HTML5, I don't think Adobe will intentionally take a long time to implement this.

there is no pressure from html5, adobe makes money from their flash studio and flex studio, and those two will be able to export to html5/javascript. I hate adobe with a passion, but they are not that stupid

OTD said,
So wait, why was it Adobe's fault for having Flash running poorly on Apple computers?

Because it's their framework, after all. Before 10.1, all platforms lacked hardware acceleration, so this doesn't change the past.

OTD said,
So wait, why was it Adobe's fault for having Flash running poorly on Apple computers?

Stems on the fact that even with hardware acceleration taken out of the picture, Flash Player still consumes far more resources than the H.264 video playing in Quicktime, VLC, Mplayer, etc.

That combined with its frequent crashes lends it leave a bad taste with many Mac users.

giga said,

Stems on the fact that even with hardware acceleration taken out of the picture, Flash Player still consumes far more resources than the H.264 video playing in Quicktime, VLC, Mplayer, etc.

That combined with its frequent crashes lends it leave a bad taste with many Mac users.

Ahh thank you for the clarification =)