Adobe this week stealth-released a version of Flash Player for Mac that supports GPU decoding of H.264-encoded video. However, the "cool" feature only works on Macs with certain NVIDIA graphics cards. The culprit: Blame Apple for the spotty coverage.
Adobe product manager Thibault Imbert said on the ByteArray.org blog that Flash Player 10.1.82.76 , a security update, enabled the feature that offloads decoding to the GPU hardware.
We just pushed a few minutes ago a new version of the Flash Player 10.1.82.76 containing a nice feature that was in beta until now called "Gala". Yes, H.264 GPU decoding in Mac OSX is now officially enabled in the Flash Player.
You should notice now a nice difference when playing H.264 content on your Mac in terms of CPU usage. We rarely enable new features in security releases but we really wanted to enable such a cool feature.
However, followup posts from readers revealed that only some Macs are supported in this initial release of Flash Player. The feature requires Mac OS X 10.6.3 Snow Leopard and a Mac with a NVIDIA GeForce 9400M, GeForce 320M or GeForce GT 330M GPU.
It appears that the Player update uses Apple's Video Decode Acceleration framework, which is an API that offers "low-level access to the H.264 decoding capabilities of compatible GPUs."
Imbert wrote a response in a comment:
I know it is frustrating for GPU chips which are not compatible. Again, understand that this decision was not made by us and is not in our hands. We do rely on the Video Decode Acceleration framework provided by Apple, which works on specific NVIDIA cards only today.
For ATI cards, we will need to wait until the Video Decode Acceleration framework does handle those cards.
The video decoding is done in two steps, first one is decoding the frames, hat is actually done here with the Video Decode Acceleration framework and then we need to actually display the decoded frames. This step, will be improved in a future version of the Flash Player, which will improve even more the video experience.
You guys should be able to try some more stuff soon.