New API to speed up Flash on the Mac

It has been known in the Mac world for a while that Adobe’s Flash on the Mac is woefully inadequate when compared to the Windows version. It has been described as buggy, slow, and horrendous. From my own experience, using Flash on any portable Mac has never been a very good experience. Take for instance when I run a YouTube video, the processor pegs itself at 100% and sometimes even higher; meaning that it’s using more than one core, leaving absolutely nothing for everything else to use. This is completely unacceptable for most Mac users. Well, things may get a bit better for us Mac owners.

It appears as though Apple has opened up an API that will allow access to H.264 hardware decoding on some Nvidia Chips. This is great news for both Adobe, which can use the new API for off-loading some of the difficult video codec functions to the much faster Graphics card, and other developers who need the extra umphf. More specifically, applications like Handbrake could use the API for transcoding video.

The exposure of this API will mean that those with specific Nvidia Graphics cards can take advantage of having more standard CPU processing power for their applications. Now, there are some limitations. Most importantly, which graphics cards can handle the API. The list includes:

  • Nvidia Geforce 9400M
  • Nvidia 320M (in the latest 13″ MacBook Pros)
  • Nvidia GT 330M (in the latest 15″ and 17″ MacBook Pros)

This covers most of the newer computers, including the Mac Minis, iMacs, MacBooks and MacBook Pros. However, this does leave older machines, like those running any ATI graphics card, out of the loop. Additionally, if you’re not running Snow Leopard you will not get any performance boost.

Adobe states that there will be an update after their next update to Flash, 10.1, which is slated in the next couple of months. I hope that more developers of applications like Handbrake will be taking advantage of this new API because it will just be a better experience for everybody if applications utilize the newer technology.

Article Source: Ars Technica.
Image Source: Adobe, Apple

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