February 03, 2010

Adobe CTO talks Flash performance on Macs, more

Adobe Chief Technology Officer Kevin Lynch posted some thoughts on Flash, HTML5, the iPhone/iPad, and more yesterday. I didn’t see anything really new relative to all the discussions that have taken place here, so I’ve been slow in blogging it.

Now, however, Kevin has posted an interesting follow-up via the comments. It’s worth reading in its entirety, but here are bits I found significant:

For those wondering, the main computer I use is a MacBook Pro, and I’ve been using the Mac (and developing software for it) since it came out in 1984. [...]

Regarding crashing, I can tell you that we don’t ship Flash with any known crash bugs, and if there was such a widespread problem historically Flash could not have achieved its wide use today. [...]

Before we release a new version of Flash Player we run more than 100,000 test cases and have built an automated system that has scanned over 1 million SWFs that we use for testing from across the web. Our QA lab has a very large variety of machines to represent the machines in real use on the web.

Addressing crash issues is a top priority in the engineering team, and currently there are open reports we are researching in Flash Player 10. From the comments across the web there may either be an upswing in incidents or there is a general piling on happening — we are looking into this actively and will work to resolve any real issues. If you are experiencing issues please report them directly to the Flash engineering team via the public bug database and the team will investigate and resolve each. [...]

Now regarding performance, given identical hardware, Flash Player on Windows has historically been faster than the Mac, and it is for the most part the same code running in Flash for each operating system. We have and continue to invest significant effort to make Mac OS optimizations to close this gap, and Apple has been helpful in working with us on this. Vector graphics rendering in Flash Player 10 now runs almost exactly the same in terms of CPU usage across Mac and Windows, which is due to this work. In Flash Player 10.1 we are moving to Core Animation, which will further reduce CPU usage and we believe will get us to the point where Mac will be faster than Windows for graphics rendering.

Video rendering is an area we are focusing more attention on — for example, today a 480p video on a 1.8 Ghz Mac Mini in Safari uses about 34% of CPU on Mac versus 16% on Windows (running in BootCamp on same hardware). With Flash Player 10.1, we are optimizing video rendering further on the Mac and expect to reduce CPU usage by half, bringing Mac and Windows closer to parity for video.

Posted by John Nack at 9:15 PM on February 03, 2010
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