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Update: Reports of Flash playback issues in new 27-inch iMacs surface

With a new design that includes a 27-inch display with a 16:9 aspect ratio, and nearly as many pixels as the 30-inch Cinema Display, the new 27-inch iMac promises to be a media-watching Mecca.

Update: As more people have had a chance to dissect this issue, it is becoming more apparent that the problems with the new 27-inch iMacs are not directly related to Flash, but more likely a system-wide issue. As The Unofficial Apple Blog (TUAW) reports, Flash just highlights the issue because of the system resources it requires. TUAW also reports another possible workaround. Try power-cycling your wireless setup. Many users report relief, if only temporarily.

Original Article: With a new design that includes a 27-inch display with a 16:9 aspect ratio, and nearly as many pixels as the 30-inch Cinema Display, the new 27-inch iMac promises to be a media-watching Mecca. Right now, however, some users are having issues surrounding Flash playback. Apple has had no response on this issue, though several outlets are now picking up the story.

The main issue seems to be when any Flash content is being viewed, the CPU in the new 27-inch iMacs spikes to over 100%. The problem could also be occurring when any video source is used for a substantial amount of time. Users then report a general slowness in their systems. The best summary of these issues comes from Apple Support Discussion user "tgriff7":

1) I first experienced the problem after several hours of heavy editing in IMovie rather than in Flash. Here's how it happens. First, audio becomes choppy and playback increasingly jumpy until the whole machine eventually grinds to a halt. I thought this was an IMovie problem at first. (does Imovie use Flash?)

2) I pulled up a YouTube video, and there was the exact same issue. So, I am getting an identical problem in I-Movie. Unless Imovie uses Flash, I don't know, this shows me that it's not Flash.

3) A Quicktime video I tried to view in my gallery on had a different issue, it froze after playing back for 14 seconds and would not load further.

4) The night before last, a cooling fan came on. I assumed i had just been working for too long and it just needed a few minutes with the fan to cool off. I went to bed and got up the next morning to find the fan still running. Something is overheating.

5) While Flash may trigger it, given enough time up and running, things start to bog down regardless of Flash. This afternoon, without running video of any kind (Flash or otherwise) my machine ground to a halt again -- to the point that I was getting the swirling rainbow and extreme latency trying to type an email in Entourage.

6) I've been watching the Activity Monitor. The longer the computer is on, the more CPU resources dwindle. When I started typing this post, I had 2.47 GB free. At this point I am down to 2.19 GB (correction, now 2.18 GB). I haven't opened any additional software.

I definitely think that this is a hardware bug of some kind. There seems to be a leak of system resources that goes on the longer I work on my computer. Flash seems to be trigger it, but I certainly don't think, from what I've seen using this machine pretty heavily over the past week, that this is a problem limited to Flash.

Image by Apple

Another thread on Apple's Web site also gets into this issue. For a look at video of the issue, click the link to the Engadget report in the first paragraph of this story. We will keep an eye on this situation as the story develops and let our readers know if and when Apple produces a solution. Remember, Mac OS X 10.6.2 should be coming out soon and could very well have fixes for this issue.

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