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Flash Player 10.1 Benchmarks and Beta 2 Release

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Flash Player 10.1 Benchmarks and Beta 2 Release

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About a month after unleashing its lighter, mobile-targeted Flash Player 10.1 in the first beta release, Adobe delivered the beta 2 release.   With a number of bug fixes and enhancements, 10.1 is getting faster by the day.  Especially for HD video, the 10.1 Flash Player is showing a vast performance improvement over the previous version.  This is largely due the technology that allows the CPU to give processing tasks to the GPU.  Adobe invites users to test the beta on their favorite websites and let them know if the new Flash Player doesn't work equal to, or better than the current player.  They also encourage users to try Flash Player 10.1's  hardware acceleration capabilities on x86-based netbooks.

The focus of Flash Player 10.1 is optimization for mobile devices.  The Flash Player has frequently been criticized for being too heavy for the mobile phone.  As a part of its Open Screen Project, Adobe wants to build software that can provide a consistent interface across desktops, mobile devices, and notebooks.  The second beta is already moving quickly towards this goal.  

There's already anecdotal evidence showing that CPU usage has dropped significantly (to about 50% usage) between beta 1 and beta 2.  Independent benchmarks are also showing vast improvements over the last version.  Although standard definition processing requirements have remained relatively stable between Flash Player 10 and 10.1, the 720p and 1080p HD resolutions use a lot less processing power in the newer version.  In 1080p, the processor utilization is virtually cut in half with 10.1.

This drastic decrease in processing needs comes from Adobe's GPU tactics for hardware acceleration.  To decompress streaming video, Flash Player 10.1 basically tells the CPU to babysit in-memory data transfers while the GPU does all the heavy lifting for HD video.  The strategy of giving more tasks to the GPU is becoming a trend in the industry.  In the future, we could see even more tasks being given to the GPU over the CPU.

Here are the bug fixes specifically for the beta 2 found in the Flash Player 10.1 release notes:
  • Escalation - Active Directory is causing Local Shared Objects to fail when the information is saved on a network location.
  • Safari Only: File Reference upload test always results in a cancelled event.
  • Video freezes sometimes when using multi-bit rate streaming in conjunction with hardware video decoding.
  • Scaling of videos (fullscreen) causes blockiness or pixilation.
  • Youtube video stalls after seek backwards.
  • Truncation occurs on fonts using advanced anti-aliasing in TextField instances with the autoSize property set to true.
  • FileReference.upload does not support files 0-bytes in size.
  • Can not do paste with keyboard shortcut (CMD+v) in Flash Player applications on Safari/Mac.
  • Clipboard keyboard shortcuts don't function in Safari3 and 4.

For developers, a major new feature in Flash Player 10.1 is the global error handler. The technology enables a single handler to process all runtime errors that weren’t part of a try/catch statement.  Another feature is the streaming performance enhancements in Flash Player 10.1, which improve support for live events, buffer controls and peer assisted networking. Network context-aware services, such as smart seek and stream reconnect, enable the streaming enhancements and the improved resource utilization on mobile devices.  You can also check out this video of SWF content running on smartphones.

Flash 10.1 beta 2 is available for Windows, Mac, and Linux, but Adobe says H.264 video acceleration is only supported in Windows.  The second beta is downloadable in plug-in or ActiveX formats.   In other news, Adobe recently confirmed that the other Flash, Flash CS5, would not be coming out in public beta.  Adobe says this is so they can provide the earliest possible delivery.  Flash Player 10.1 is expected to ship in the first half of 2010.

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