ADOBE’S FLASH PLAYER might be one of the most controversial pieces of software at the moment, especially with the lack of love from Apple’s upcoming iPad and of course the iPhone and iPod Touch as well. The latest beta version of Flash 10.1 just landed and revision three adds hardware support for a few new Intel chipsets, as well as fixing a lot of bugs.
Adobe has given Intel’s new Core i3 and Core i5 processors with Intel HD graphics the thumbs up as long as you’re using the latest drivers from Intel and are running either Windows Vista or Windows 7, 32-bit or 64-bit. What is a lot more interesting is that Adobe has added support for Intel’s GMA 500 which is found in Intel’s US15W, US15L and UL11L chipsets, which were formerly known as Poulsbo. The support is currently limited to Windows 7 32-bit and again you need to use the latest drivers.
You might be asking why the GMA 500 is so important. Well, it’s found in some netbooks, but more interestingly in a lot of smaller mobile internet devices. This is the chipset that Intel paired up with the Z-series Atom processors and it hasn’t had the best of reputations when it comes to video playback performance. Getting hardware accelerated Flash support should solve all of the YouTube/Hulu/[insert online video streaming service here] problems that owners of devices based on the chipset have been suffering from.
The same chipset is also paired up with Intel’s CE3100 and CE4100-series of “media processors”, which are meant to turn up in set-top-boxes and even be built into certain HD TVs. So far devices have been announced by Samsung, Toshiba, Gigabyte and a Dutch company called Yuixx. Support for Adobe Flash might not be quite as important on some of these devices, but considering that the GMA 500 is in fact a PowerVR SGX535, things take a slightly different turn.
The PowerVR SGX graphics core can be found in a wide range of devices, including many smartphones, least not Apple’s iPhone and iPod Touch. Although outside of Apple it appears that it’s mostly Texas Instruments that relies on the PowerVR SGX core in its line of OMAP ARM processors, so these chips can still be found in a wide range of popular devices. Now we’re not suggesting for a second here that Adobe is going to support every platform out there, but we can’t see it as too much of a hassle to add support on other platforms.
In the release notes Adobe claims that “Linux currently lacks a developed standard API that supports H.264 hardware video decoding” and as such Linux won’t be getting any hardware acceleration. As far as Apple is concerned, Adobe seems to be getting little to no support as “Mac OS X does not expose access to the required APIs” that would allow for hardware acceleration. Still, this doesn’t mean that it’ll never happen, but by then HTML5 might just have taken over, maybe.S|A
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