Adobe Flash Player 10 adds 3D support and GPU acceleration

Posted by Christian Zibreg

San Jose (CA) - Adobe finally released its Flash Player 10, a long-awaited update, probably the most significant release in the software’s history. Adobe promises "game-changing visual experiences on the web" - and we agree. Developers can now use 3D effects, create custom graphic filters and effect, take advantage of print-quality text layout engine and enhanced drawing and sound APIs. All these bells and whistles come at little tax on the main processor since Flash Player 10 will now take advantage of GPGPOU acceleration as well.

Flash Player 10 arrives as the key release for Adobe, Flash developers and end-users. The free multi-platform Flash Player 10 is a key component in broader set of technologies centered around Adobe CS 4 suite  that includes tools to create Flash 10-compatible content. It's remarkable that after all these years and ten major releases, the Flash Player 10 browser plug-in is still lightweight, compact and under 2 MB in size (download it here). It delivers color-managed graphics and interactive sound, in addition to print-quality typography and performance optimization.

The player taps your GPU to improve overall performance (an Open GL 2.0 capable graphics card with GLSL capabilities is required) and offers advanced effects within the browser without overwhelming the main processor. GPU acceleration works when drawing, video decoding and playback, overlays, and applying bitmaps, filters, and blend modes.

Developers can also create and share custom filters and effects with Adobe's Pixel Blender technology and use them across different platforms. The latest encoding formats for HD video are now supported, while video streams dynamically adapt to the quality of user's connection speed.

A completely overhauled text engine embeds professional typography that Adobe practically invented 25 years ago. Available elements include sophisticated ligatures across multiple columns, around inline images, bidirectionally, vertically, or chained together, right-to-left and vertical text layouts with multiple columns and inline images - in addition to anti-aliased, rotated, and styled fonts. The new text promises to enable print-quality layouts on the web “for the first time”.

Drawing APIs and enhanced vector data types now support 3D, eliminating the need to code complex shapes line by line. New file upload and download APIs enable file load and save operations in web applications. Low-level access to sound paves the way to real-time audio mixing through ActionScript and audio filtering with Adobe’s Pixel Blender. A new high-fidelity open source Speex voice codec is supported, in addition to ADPCM, HE-AAC, MP3, and Nellymoser audio.

As previously reported, Adobe also opened Flash to search engines to index information contained within Flash file format (SWF) that is currently not recognized by search engines. Adobe says it will "increase the accuracy of web search results by enabling top search engines to understand what's inside of rich Internet applications (RIAs) and other rich web content created with Adobe Flash technology and add that relevance back to the HTML page."