NVIDIA, Broadcom, and Adobe are working on adding GPU acceleration for Flash video to their video solutions for low power netbooks and MIDs. Because, while you can stream full screen standard definition Hulu video pretty well on a machine 1024 x 600 pixel display and an Intel Atom CPU, good luck trying to do the same thing on a 1366 x 768 pixel screen. And you can forget about high definition Flash video.
NVIDIA’s recently launched ION and Tegra platforms bundle NVIDIA graphics processors with low power Intel Atom and ARM chips to improve overall graphics performance. But since there’s no GPU acceleration for Flash yet, web video playback is typically handed off to the CPU. And the truth is that most low power netbook processors aren’t up to the task of handling high quality Flash video yet. That’s why I’ve been disappointed with the performance of low power machines that should make excellent home theater PCs. Because an HTPC that can’t handle Hulu and HD YouTube videos is so 2003.
Anyway, it looks like relief could be on the way. Unfortunately it won’t arrive until next year.
Both NVIDIA and Broadcom have announced that they’re working with Adobe to bring GPU acceleration for Adobe Flash to their products. Broadcom makes the Broaddcom Crystal HD accelerator which will be available as an option in the recently announced HP Mini 110 netbook. Both platforms will be able to handle high definition Flash video using he H.264 codec, which means you should see better performance from YouTube, CBS, Hulu, and the BBC iPlayer.
Unfortunately, Broadcom says its solution won’t be available until the first half of 2010. There’s no timeframe at all in the Adobe press release.