Adobe finds hardware helpers for Flash

Adobe is working with its hardware partners to improve Flash performance on lower-end hardware.
Although Flash is widely used and supported (Apple's iPhone is a major exception), badly-written Flash content can sap even a relatively powerful CPU such as an Intel Core 2 Duo.

One way around this is to shift more of the work onto the graphics processor, and that's what Adobe is aiming to do with the assistance of Nvidia and Broadcom.

Nvidia and Adobe have announced that they are working on Flash acceleration across the Nvidia range, including the Tegra, a system-on-a-chip intended for smartphones, netbooks, mobile Internet devices and so on.

Many Tegra-based devices were revealed at Computex, where the Adobe/Nvidia announcement was made.

"Nvidia and Adobe share precisely the same vision – visually compelling applications running on every device, said Michael Rayfield, general manager, handheld business at Nvidia.

"Consumers don't have to sacrifice streaming video performance on small inexpensive platforms such as netbooks. A Tegra-based platform enables the rich, smooth playback they expect from a desktop PC," he added.

Please read on for information about the Adobe/Broadcom announcement.

David Wadhwani, general manager and vice president of Adobe's platform business unit chimed in with "Nvidia's unique expertise makes it an ideal partner for Adobe to integrate cutting-edge graphics and video acceleration into the Adobe Flash Platform, benefiting all types of devices."

"Flash Player will leverage the power of the GPU to provide a rich, desktop-compatible Web experience on a wide range of devices," added Wadhwani.

No timeframe was mentioned for the arrival of an Nvidia-optimised version of Flash Player.

The Adobe/Nvidia collaboration is part of the Open Screen Project, which aims to deliver web content and standalone applications to a wide range of computing and consumer electronic devices including TVs.

The Broadcom announcement was similar, but more specific. Adobe and Broadcom are working on hardware acceleration that will allow the playback of high-definition Flash video on Atom-based netbooks and other devices, such as the HP Mini 110 XP.

The Broadcom Crystal HD chip has also been adopted by Acer for certain Aspire One netbooks.

An optimised version of Flash Player will be able to display HD content from sites such as YouTube and the BBC iPlayer without sapping the CPU and with very low power consumption. Its delivery is expected in the first half of 2010.

"Enabling Adobe Flash Player with our industry-leading Crystal HD video technology provides an essential advantage in accessing and viewing online multimedia content," said Dan Eiref, vice president and general manager of Broadcom's consumer electronics group.

"Our Crystal HD solutions will optimize the playback performance of Adobe Flash technology based videos, at lower power consumption, paving the way for more exciting mobile Web content and entertainment experiences for netbook users."

Crystal HD is designed to display 720p or 1080p H.264 video with no frame drops or jitter, even when the CPU is fully loaded. Other formats such as MPEG-2 are also supported.

Adobe's Wadhwani again: "With 80 percent of all videos online delivered with Flash technology today, netbooks are one of the platforms that are ideal for users to experience the vast amount of rich multimedia Web content on the go."

"Broadcom's low cost, high performance media processing engine for netbooks combined with Adobe Flash Player will deliver great video experiences," he added.

Intel welcomed the announcement. "We are pleased to see industry partners like Broadcom innovating and developing solutions around the Intel Atom processor," said Noury Al-Khaledy, Intel's general manager of netbook and nettop platforms.

Last month, Adobe announced that it had extended the Flash platform to deliver HD Flash video and applications to Internet-connected TVs, set-top boxes, Blu-ray players and other devices. The Adobe Flash Platform for the Digital Home is already available to manufacturers, and the first devices using the platform are expected to ship in the second half of 2009.

BY Stephen Withers



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