Adobe Systems has announced a beta release of Flash player 10.2 for all supported platforms (Windows, Mac, and Linux) that includes a new "Stage Video" feature that promises high-performance video playback which uses "just over 0 percent CPU usage," according to a news release issued today.
Adobe has been developing GPU acceleration in recent builds of Flash player, and the Stage Video feature in the 10.2 release now offloads the whole video rendering pipeline to the GPU, so not only is H.264 decoded in hardware, but other adjustments such as color conversion and scaling are managed by the GPU.
This allows for very little CPU usage during video playback, with the only requirement being that Web developers will have to update their sites to use the latest APIs for their video players. No other changes will need to be made for the site's infrastructure or video encoding.
In addition to the Stage Video, the 10.2 update includes up to 35 percent improvement in performance when using Internet Explorer 9, and now for multidisplay setups allows for full screen players to stay persistent on one display while you continue to browse or perform other tasks on the remaining displays. Before this update when you would do other tasks the full-screen video would go back to a windowed view.
The latest update is available for download from Adobe Labs, and will require you to quit and relaunch your browsers upon installation. Be aware that this is the first beta release of the new version; there are bound to be some incompatibilities that Adobe will have to iron out, so while you might try the software out, if there are any crashes or other odd behavior, you can revert back to the current stable version of Flash.
The latest release is also the first that will only be available for Intel-based Macs. The last version of Flash to support the PowerPC platform will be the 10.1 series, so if you have a PowerPC Mac running Leopard or Tiger, Adobe you will not be able to run Flash 10.2.