There is the first beta release of the Adobe 10.2 Flash Player now available for Microsoft Windows, Apple Mac OS X, and Linux platforms that brings a variety of improvements since the Flash Player 10.1 release from earlier this year. For Linux users this Adobe Flash update is quite important since it finally delivers GPU-based video acceleration support via their new Stage Video technology that is now supported on all platforms. Adobe's Stage Video offloads the entire video process to the GPU and in this article are some initial tests illustrating the benefits of this Flash update for Linux users.
While we have been reporting for a while that Adobe's Linux Flash Player would gain video acceleration support after Adobe previously shafted its Linux users by not providing any H.264 GPU video decoding support while Mac OS X and Windows operating systems picked up the support. Adobe blamed this lack of video acceleration on poor Linux video APIs like VA-API and VDPAU. However, as was shared yesterday afternoon, Adobe's 10.2 Flash Player with its Stage Video on Linux is using NVIDIA's VDPAU along with OpenGL for trying to provide a smooth video playback process. This is great news for those owners of semi-recent NVIDIA graphics hardware running the binary driver, but it does not mean much to those running the open-source Nouveau driver or other drivers/hardware that do not support the Video Decode and Presentation API for Unix. Flash Player 10.2 on Linux is also able to handle Broadcom's Crystal HD decoder, but we have not been able to test or verify those claims yet. The current Flash 10.2 Beta also does not support 64-bit Linux users at this time, which are still bound to Flash 10.1.
If you are a NVIDIA Linux user that is dependent upon Flash, the Adobe Flash Player 10.2 release is extremely exciting to say the least. Some tests were ran on a NVIDIA ION-based ASUS Eee PC 1201N netbook that boasts the dual-core Intel Atom 330 1.60GHz CPU, 1GB of system memory, a 250GB Hitachi SATA HDD, and the NVIDIA ION GeForce 9400M GPU. On the software side we had Ubuntu 10.10 (x86) with the Linux 2.6.35 kernel, X.Org Server 1.9.0, an EXT4 file-system, and the NVIDIA 260.19.21 proprietary display driver.
The Flash video playback experience was a night-and-day difference on this Atom netbook when comparing the 10.1 and 10.2 Beta experience. Running 1080p H.264 videos off YouTube were now playable with Adobe Flash 10.2 Beta on Linux where with the 10.1 release the videos were choppy and a complete mess. One of the video samples we used for comparing the Flash performance is embedded below.