updated 04:05 pm EDT, Thu April 22, 2010
NVIDIA-based Macs may get hardware Flash decode
A new Video Decode Acceleration Framework in the recent Mac OS X 10.6.3 update may let Macs have truly hardware-accelerated Flash video for the first time. The API would let developers use the graphics chipset to directly decode H.264 video on unibody MacBooks and any other Mac with a GeForce 9400M, 320M, GT 330M or similar parts. It's intended for "advanced developers" but should be accessible to anyone who downloads the extension for Xcode.
The addition potentially opens the door to hardware-accelerated Adobe Flash and other apps or plugins that depend heavily on video playback and could reduce the workload for Apple's less expensive systems, especially the Mac Mini and MacBook Air.
Adobe has been promising GPU acceleration for Windows over the past several months with plans for Flash 10.1 to add the feature for everyone as soon as it leaves the beta stage. The absence of a direct hook for Mac OS X has left Flash on the Mac still using the CPU for most of its decoding work and can trigger high processor usage for HD video.
The addition could partly mend a rift between Apple and Adobe that has seen it drop Flash-to-iPhone cross-porting and routinely criticize Apple for being unwilling to support Flash directly on its handhelds. [via Daring Fireball]