What’s up ? Flash Player “Square”! by Thibault Imbert

Flash Player Square - IllustrationWhat's next ? You guys may ask. It's been a while since I wanted to talk about this, but there it is, the Flash Player "Square" preview has been posted this morning.

The drops we posted today includes :

- 64-bit releases for the following platforms (Linux, MacOS and Windows).
- Enchanced support for IE9 (leveraging the GPU through Direct3D9 for compositing)

So what is this Flash Player "Square" thing ?

This preview includes support for two new areas, namely enhanced support for Microsoft’s Internet Explorer 9 Beta and native 64-bit support for all major desktop operating systems including Linux, Mac, and Windows.

As part of our collaboration with Microsoft’s Internet Explorer team over the past few months, Flash Player “Square” has been enhanced to directly support the hardware-accelerated graphics capabilities in the newest version of IE. Flash Player “Square” leverages the new GPU support available with Internet Explorer 9 Beta to deliver a faster and more responsive user experience with Flash content. In our internal testing, we’ve seen significant improvements in Flash Player graphics performance exceeding 35% in Internet Explorer 9 Beta compared to Flash Player running in previous versions of IE. While the performance improvements will vary based on the type of content and how it’s created, bitmap-heavy Flash content will experience the greatest benefit. Flash content that’s embedded as transparent (wmode=”transparent”) will also run more efficiently given the benefits of offloading the HTML and Flash compositing to the GPU. Try it out by downloading the Internet Explorer 9 Beta and the Flash Player “Square” preview. We’d appreciate your feedback and observations on performance.

The community has been very vocal around the need for native 64-bit support and we’ve heard you loud and clear. Today we’re also sharing a refresh of the Linux 64-bit version of Flash Player together with the first preview of both the 64-bit Windows and Mac versions. If you’re using a 64-bit browser, I encourage you to install a 64-bit version of Flash Player and give it try. These new versions are fully functional, so all content should be compatible. We’ve found “Square” to be stable and ready for broad testing, but keep in mind this a sneak peak and not everything will be fully baked. Those using the previous 64-bit version of Flash Player for Linux should find this new version even faster and more stable.  If you encounter any issues, I’d encourage you to file a bug in our public database [https://bugs.adobe.com/flashplayer/] so we can investigate.

Check the release notes and the FAQ, it should answer most of your questions.

Why "Square" ?

Well, as you can imagine we are a lot of nerds in the player team. So you should be able to find out quickly ;)

Also, expect more to come in the following months, cause winter is going to be great for Flash developers, and 2011 even better ;)

To download this, go to adobe.com/fpsquare

Comments (26)

  1. Valentin wrote::

    Great news! Does it mean that standalone AIR application will gain same speed boost and hardware-accelerated graphics?

    Wednesday, September 15, 2010 at 8:20 pm #
  2. Thibault Imbert wrote::

    Hi Valentin,

    It will not bring speed boost for 64-bit. It will just run natively without any compatibility layer in some browsers. For IE9, this is the exact same work as what we have done in the past with the Safari team with CoreAnimation leveraging the GPU for compositing the layer frames on screen.

    http://blog.kaourantin.net/?p=81

    This brought nice speed boost for rendering in Safari and same now in IE9, especially in cases like wmode=transparent.

    best,

    Thibault

    Wednesday, September 15, 2010 at 10:24 pm #
  3. hmmm wrote::

    First, congrats. Second, about f-ing time. Third, well, I hope it’s stable enough to not make our wonderful rock solid 64bit IE start crashes every other site. heh Cheers mates.

    Thursday, September 16, 2010 at 12:57 am #
  4. Thibault Imbert wrote::

    Yes hmmm, it may not be release quality but should not crash your browser at all. Crashes is something we cannot accept. If you have any issue, let me know.

    Thanks!

    Thibault

    Thursday, September 16, 2010 at 1:02 am #
  5. Héctor wrote::

    I know the reply is gonna be the same as #2… but I lose nothing by asking :P.

    As you know, I tend to use the Flash ActiveX control as it is in different types of Windows Forms applications, would it be possible to get these speed enhacements under these circumstances? or has anyone inside Adobe “simulated” the hardware rendering surfaces?

    Thursday, September 16, 2010 at 1:06 am #
  6. edogawaconan wrote::

    “All platforms”? Where’s the FreeBSD, OpenBSD, NetBSD, DragonFly BSD, Solaris, OpenIllumos, Haiku, QNX version?

    Thursday, September 16, 2010 at 3:33 am #
  7. SlickMcRunFast wrote::

    Do other OSs and browsers get hardware acceleration? Maybe with some OpenGL?

    Thursday, September 16, 2010 at 7:26 am #
  8. Thibault Imbert wrote::

    Hi edogawaconan,

    Good catch, I updated this :)

    Thibault

    Thursday, September 16, 2010 at 8:51 am #
  9. Thibault Imbert wrote::

    Hi SlickMcRunFast,

    Safari 4 does through CoreAnimation and we are looking at working with other browser vendors to enable this in browsers like Firefox or Chrome.

    Thibault

    Thursday, September 16, 2010 at 9:08 am #
  10. lonic wrote::

    I might have noticed some improvements for 3D. But also some bugs and slower performance…

    An example of a bug:
    http://www.aviary.com/online/filter-editor?fguid=a902b9ee-c547-102b-b565-0030488e168c

    There’s clearly a difference between the Square version and the 10.1 version of flash.

    Examples of worser performance:
    http://www.brooksandrus.com/blog/2009/01/19/pixel-bender-effects-video-killer-runtime-effects/

    Especially when you use the effects Eschereizer, halftone and lightbeams.

    The CPU usage is notable higher (1/2 X times).

    Alchemy might be horrible, but nobody uses it anyway in the whole flash universe anyway… Well, except:

    http://www.unitzeroone.com/labs/alchemyPushingPixels/

    Thursday, September 16, 2010 at 2:42 pm #
  11. Kevin Newman wrote::

    A lot more detailed even lower level information on how and when GPU acceleration actually works would be greatly appreciated! Particularly what happens when filters, PB filters, graphics API, and BitmapData APIs are used (is it only an issue for cacheAsBitmap is on? Is it an issue all times with 10.2? Are we clogging up the bus uploading dynamic textures in these cases?) So far, it’s been difficult to develop for GPU acceleration because it’s simply too hard to tell when or if it’s working, or whether it’s providing a clear benefit or even harming performance.

    A brand new API that is less integrated (accross CPU/GPU) than the current clearly software intended display list would be even better. An API with more specific control over the “surfaces” and what is rendered on the CPU vs. the GPU would be so fantastic! Here’s hoping that’s what is coming in the near term (that which “Square” has laid the ground work for!).

    (I hope this kind of comment isn’t too inappropriate! Thanks!)

    Thursday, September 16, 2010 at 9:42 pm #
  12. tomsamson wrote::

    I hope this isn´t what you were hyping up as big thing to be announced in October
    (
    http://www.bytearray.org/?p=1836
    )
    because this is ridiculous.
    Sorry to be blunt, but whoever is making these decission in the flash player team has to wake up and realize what kind of mess is being done there.
    For years and years you resisted propperly rewriting the entire graphics side of flash player to make propper, full on from the ground up use of the gpu, stating things like wanting to keep hardware requirements down or ensuring the content running the same accross platforms not depending on what hardware someone had.
    But what has that lead to?
    Flash has crazy high cpu and ram requirements when compared to pretty much any other tech out there when doing similar things and now one needs a certain mac/browser combo or certain win+ie version combo to get a tab bit (laughable) performance increase?

    What is going on there with Adobe?!?

    Friday, September 17, 2010 at 12:48 am #
  13. leng wrote::

    Well, the flash player can actually render graphics pretty wel…. As long as you don’t use ‘botlenecked’ effects, like: http://bit.ly/b0h5YO

    This is the fault of the flash player team, ofcourse…

    But what kind of things are you trying to do with flash graphics, anyway, tomsamson?

    Please show a case where the performance is horrible, like me! ;)

    Friday, September 17, 2010 at 2:39 pm #
  14. tomsamson wrote::

    I´ve done a good bunch of things with flash for many years, no need to get link posting crazy.

    Likewise its also known how flash performs compared to various other technologies, you can google the many people complaining, why should i do that for you? Maybe the Adobe guys posting html5/ Flash comparisons should instead post
    native app/ flash comparisons or unity/ flash comparisons, once that doesn´t make flash look ridiculous we can talk.

    I´m not sure whether its the flash player team´s fault or more due to higher up decisions made at Adobe lead, no idea who decided that one shouldn´t let the whole graphics side of flash be handled by the gpu “to keep it as hardware independent as possible” but then they get forced into doing nonsense like this as everyone groans for performance raise, and “solutions” like this are as hardware/ OS/ browser (version) specific as it gets.
    Next up, again, its just a bit of an increase that is only effective in certain use cases, not a general increase in all or even just most use cases.

    Friday, September 17, 2010 at 9:34 pm #
  15. leng wrote::

    It’s true that flash isn’t so fast as native apps, but please show me an example of something that performs really really bad. It’s musn’t be hard if you have programmed so much in flash to just show 1, not like 10…

    Friday, September 17, 2010 at 10:59 pm #
  16. Thibault Imbert wrote::

    Hi lonic,

    Thanks for the feedback, the QE team is going to work on those bugs and see the issue.

    Kevin,

    For now, we only do the blitting on the screen (basically just pushing the pixels on screen) by using Direct3D in IE9 and CoreAnimation in Safari and soon Chrome and others. For a full GPU renderer we are working on it (and we have a prototype currently). It will be the next step in the GPU work we have been doing.

    Again we will more and more take advantages of the GPU but we need to make sure that we get the best performance for every kind of developer, we do not want Flash Player to become so hardware specific cause coders will freak out. On the other hand, we know we need to give you more power and control (like have more information on the hardware to adapt your code and logic) we are currently investigating such a feature in the player.

    You should definitely check the stuff we are going to show at Max.

    tomsamson,

    I know it can be frustrating, I have been waiting for this since a long time. The good news is that we will be able to share some new stuff around this very soon. The Flash Player is not a tiny plugin we can change like this, like other technologies were backward compatibility is less an issue and less people using it. So yes, the fact that we need to make sure we do not break the web and work hands in hands with partners reduce the chance to be more cow boy style ;)

    But again, 10.1 was an effort regarding mobile devices and not innovation in the sense of new features. Today we are back on feature to really change the web “again” ;)

    Thibault

    Friday, September 17, 2010 at 11:58 pm #
  17. Kevin Newman wrote::

    Thibault – thank you that’s fantastic news! I’m very much looking forward to it.

    For the “legacy” renderer (is it ok to call it that yet?) there are some performance problems with it in GPU mode, so a software switch to turn if off would be nice (wmode doesn’t seem to work on “Square”).

    Also, if I may sneak in a feature request – please port the “noscale” fix from Android to desktop (but make it more selective, it doesn’t always need to be on like it is on Android, only if certain scale-modes are set, like noscale) as this will help with pages that are “zoomed” using the browser controls.

    Saturday, September 18, 2010 at 12:40 am #
  18. tomsamson wrote::

    @leng:
    Maybe you didn´t get my previous message: Its not that its hard to find examples of content running poorly, there´s lots and lots of it that should run way better and consume way less system ressources at what it does compared to how comparable content runs when done in other tech.
    I don’t see any need for googling around for you, that´s it. Come on, you can do it.
    But if you´re serious in stating that there are no obvious glaring problems when comparing flash to other technologies, sorry, then i see no worth in talking to you at all, because you´d then either be talking uninformed and ignorant or lying knowingly.
    The main problem of flash is that problems are ignored or talked down stating things like it would be about teaching developers how to create well performing content.
    The reality is that with the same code and content type content would perform hugely better when done in certain other technology, so acting as if there is no problem could be the main reason for flash becoming further less compeitive so that stance is the first thing that has to be changed.
    If you like flash stop with that stance.
    It makes no sense trying to tell people they have to code in AS3 and further tweak that in all thinkable ways to get content performing passable at all on some platforms when with other tech one can code in lua or js and get 100 times the performance of flash going without any performance tweaking.

    @Thibault:
    Thanks for understanding the frustration. I imagine its tough to bring huge improvements without breaking lots of existing functionality (i suggest bundled old player next to new one), but man, its about time :)
    Well, i highly appreciate efforts made on performance side but i remain on the stance that i think it is the wrong way to do such improvements largely based on a browser feature rather than rewriting the graphics handling core as needed, but yeah, i´ll stop the complaining until i see what you guys have on offer for the october announcement.

    Saturday, September 18, 2010 at 4:06 pm #
  19. leng wrote::

    Well, no… If I google examples of poorly running flash content ( http://www.google.com/search?q=examples+of+poorly+running+flash+content ), I get: ‘Top Flash Misperceptions : Flash cannot run on touch devices’, ‘Adobe: Flash Apps Will Run On The iPad’, ‘Examples of Flash Content Running on Android’ All examples of flash that will run, even on touch devices, ipad and Android.

    Oh, these smart evangelists :P

    Saturday, September 18, 2010 at 6:56 pm #
  20. Antymon_SB wrote::

    Thibo, and what about the book WCYDWB?
    cheers :)

    Sunday, September 19, 2010 at 12:02 pm #
  21. tomsamson wrote::

    @leng: you were joking but you actually got it right: oh, these smart evangelists: each time people moan and groan a lot on one end someone like Mike Chambers puts out a blog entry about “misconceptions” people have and thanks to how many flash fanatics visit and link to his blog, well, these entries usually get ranked high in google results.
    You could also try googling with some other terms like “flash performance issues” and maybe get other results than ones like from Mike Chambers.
    Nothing against Mike Chambers of course.

    Monday, September 20, 2010 at 11:21 pm #
  22. Seikent wrote::

    @Thibault,
    I’m very very excited about the upcoming flash 3d support, but I’ve a serious doubt. Will alchemy still be compatible in future flash releases? I know that it hasn’t been popular, but for some people it is crucial to use some bulky c/c++ libraries.

    @leng,

    http://unity3d.com/gallery/live-demos/index.html#tropical-paradise

    Wednesday, September 22, 2010 at 1:25 am #
  23. nicoptere wrote::

    “directly support the hardware-accelerated graphics capabilities”[...]“leverages the new GPU support”[...]“offloading the HTML and Flash compositing to the GPU”
    hmmm… this tells quite a lot about the ‘surprise’ of october ;)

    is it safe to say that we’re heading to a ‘unity3D-like’ GPU handling within the flash player ?

    anyway, things are moving, slowly, not so reliably as they should of course but it’s a nice breakthrough.

    congrats to the team :)

    Wednesday, September 22, 2010 at 11:24 am #
  24. dsirijus wrote::

    What flash needs is a complete rewrite, not these updates.
    I mean, here’s how my day working in flash looks like…

    Flashlog.txt, for some strange reason, refuses to be updated all of sudden. Newest debug player in firefox, mm.cfg all rightie, haven’t got a clue why would it do that.
    Then input text field refuses to accept ‘@’ char. Both TLF and Classic, both device fonts and embedded ones. I know it ain’t English keyboard but it’s still close to basic Latin, why should it have problems with that…
    Then CS5 crashes when importing slightly complex vector graphics.
    Then it crashed when using JSFL.
    Then it crashed when importing certain symbols from other library created by the same app.
    Then mxmlc reported error on a line that doesn’t exist.

    Then I go to lunch and ditch this crapola. I’ll probably get fired cause boss thinks I’m incompetent at making a simple input text field with some stock graphics around it.
    32 bit Boolean? C’mon…

    Thank you Adobe. Thanks to you, I might be hungry and broke within few months.

    Thursday, September 30, 2010 at 2:28 pm #
  25. Jerome wrote::

    Faster, stronger, better! Keep up the god work guys.
    @Thibault thank you for sharing :)

    Saturday, October 2, 2010 at 1:18 am #
  26. Jerome wrote::

    Correction for my last comment: Keep up the **good** work guys. Not “god” :)

    Saturday, October 2, 2010 at 1:20 am #

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