Since last October, Adobe has been releasing small updates to its beta version of Flash 10.1, which brought new features to the plug-in, including hardware acceleration; however, the new hardware acceleration was limited to the Windows version. At the release of the last version, some claimed that Apple had not been forthcoming with the code for Adobe to properly implement hardware acceleration. Following this announcement, Apple released the code, and now the 10.1 beta for Flash has been rereleased with hardware acceleration.
Regardless of the level of cooperation between Apple and Adobe, we're happy to see Flash have the same features as its Windows counterpart and hope Adobe furthers development to better optimize Flash for the Mac platform.
The 10.1 beta requires OS X 10.6.3 or later (Apple is ramping up development of 10.6.4) and basically introduces hardware-based H.264 decoding, which should improve performance when running the majority of Flash-based content out there, which is movie distribution (one example being CNET TV).
If you have a Mac running OS X 10.6.3, and have an appropriate GPU (Geforce 9400M, 320M, or 330M, or any other GPU capable of H.264 decoding) you should be able to take advantage of the plug-in. Keep in mind that it is beta, so while it will offer advanced features, there will be unforeseen bugs, incompatibilities, and purposefully implemented debugging features. For example, hardware-accelerated videos will for now show a small white box in the corner, which may be annoying to some users.
The Flash 10.1 beta can be downloaded at the Adobe Labs Web site (be sure to grab the 7.4MB "Gala" release for hardware acceleration). If you have trouble with the update, just remove the plug-in from your /Macintosh HD/Library/Internet Plug-Ins/ folder or use the prerelease uninstaller and then reinstall the latest stable version of Flash to get yourself up and running again.