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Adobe Promises Flash Video Acceleration on Netbooks, but Not For a While, or for Everyone

June 2, 2009
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HD Flash video, which has a hearty appetite for CPU cycles, and Intel’s Atom, which doesn’t have huge surplus of said CPU cycles, have never made a great couple. So Adobe getting serious about Flash hardware acceleration on netbooks is great news! Well, for some. Eventually.

The announcement comes in two parts: one from Nvidia; one from Broadcom. Both promise full hardware acceleration for Flash video, primarily by means of upgrades to Adobe’s plugin, guaranteeing smooth playback of HD flash video. Perhaps more importantly, this also means much, much lower CPU usage during regular video playback.

The reason behind this two-pronged announcement strategy, unfortunately, is that the first wave of optimization will only benefit hardware based on either Nvidia’s powerhouse Tegra solution, or Atom netbooks which have Broadcom’s Crystal HD video accelerator add-on, which must either be installed by the OEM (rare) or plugged into a PCI-E Mini port or ExpressCard port. In other words, current-gen netbooks, based on Intel’s chipsets, are kinda left out in the cold, unless Adobe pulls a surprise out of their hat in the next few months.

We won’t see this Flash upgrade for Atom until “the first half of 2010”, though the release hints the Tegra will support it from the get-go. It’s a step in the right direction, but not a huge one.

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