has today released Flash Player 9 Update 3
), which introduces high-definition video streaming to the popular browser-based player.
The two biggest changes introduced in Update 3 are the inclusion of the H.264 video codec (as used by Apple's QuickTime
video player) and support for the hardware acceleration features provided by modern graphics cards.
Previous versions of Flash relied entirely on software-based decoding and rendering which processed everything via the CPU: fine for a simple animated banner, but not so good for full-screen 1080p streaming video. The new update should see CPU usage drop drastically when playing Flash content.
Adobe hasn't forgotten the sound side of things, with supported added for the High-Efficiency AAC (HE-AAC) audio codec to ensure that streamed HD content sounds as good as it looks. Whether anyone here in the UK has an Internet connection fast enough to stream (in real-time, mark you) a full H.264 video with multichannel HE-AAC audio is another thing entirely – and even if your connection is fast enough, I can't imagine it taking too many feature-length films before running afoul of the dreaded Fair Use Policy
In addition to the Windows flavour, Update 3 is available for Linux and finally
introduces a proper full-screen mode, something that has been sadly lacking in the past. Still no news on a working 64-bit build, however.
You can download this latest release from Adobe's website
, and Adobe has kindly created a page of sample HD content to test it out here
How does the new player run on your systems? Can you see any performance improvement from the new hardware acceleration features? Let us know in the forums