updated 08:50 pm EDT, Wed April 28, 2010
Adobe Flash Gala does hardware decode on Macs
Adobe tonight released Gala, its first-ever version of Flash for the Mac with GPU-based hardware acceleration. The release takes advantage of Mac OS X 10.6.3's hardware video decoding API to offload the work of decoding H.264 to the graphics chipset rather than the main processor. The change both eases the strain on the system and helps battery life on notebooks by moving tasks to the more power-efficient GPU.
The test release currently requires a modern NVIDIA video core, including the GeForce 9400M on the older unibody MacBooks, present-day Mac minis and certain iMacs; newer MacBook Pros using the GeForce 320M or GT 330M also accelerate video. It shouldn't require special usage patterns but currently displays a small square in the corner to indicate when GPU acceleration is active.
Gala should be finished sometime after the launch of Flash 10.1 on other platforms, which is still on track to arrive within the first half of the year.
While slightly delayed, the release helps catch Macs up to Windows PCs in the beta stage and should significantly streamline HD video playback in Flash, especially on systems with slower processing such as the MacBook Air or Mac mini. A number of Windows netbook and tablet makers are counting on Flash 10.1 to enable HD on their PCs by using hardware from Broadcom and NVIDIA to take the burden from the otherwise too-slow Intel Atom.