CPU Performance Test Results: Flash Player vs. HTML5

If you’ve been hearing the noise about Flash Player and CPU utilization over the past couple weeks, you’ll want to check out Jan Ozer’s post on StreamingMedia.com: Flash Player: CPU Hog or Hot Tamale? It Depends.

Instead of weighing in with his opinion, Jan rolled up his sleeves, did some tests, and performed a detailed analysis comparing Flash and HTML5 by monitoring CPU utilization during video playback. His conclusion? Hardware acceleration is key.

“When it comes to efficient video playback, the ability to access hardware acceleration is the single most important factor in the overall CPU load. On Windows, where Flash can access hardware acceleration, the CPU requirements drop to negligible levels. It seems reasonable to assume that if the Flash Player could access GPU-based hardware acceleration on the Mac (or iPod/iPhone/iPad), the difference between the CPU required for HTML5 playback and Flash playback would be very much narrowed, if not eliminated.”

The analysis does not show that Flash is better than HTML5 or vice versa for all platforms. Rather, it shows that blanket statements and over-generalizations about CPU performance should be viewed with some healthy skepticism.

Jan adds:”Overall, it’s inaccurate to conclude that Flash is inherently inefficient. Rather, Flash is efficient on platforms where it can access hardware acceleration and less efficient where it can’t. With Flash Player 10.1, Flash has the opportunity for a true leap in video playback performance on all platforms that enable hardware acceleration.”

The full post describes the test procedures and actual test results, so if you’re interested in all the details, be sure to read the whole thing.

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