Flash Player 10.1 beta Update Adds H.264 Hardware Acceleration

Adobe rolled out a new public beta update for Flash Player 10.1, code named “Gala,” that adds H.264 hardware acceleration support. The new beta takes advantage of the new hardware decoding features Apple added to Mac OS X with the recent 10.6.3 update.

The update should offer better Flash performance when streaming video content that’s been encoded with the H.264 codec. According to the Adobe release notes, “To date, support for hardware accelerated H.264 video playback in Flash Player has only been possible on Windows PCs and x86-based netbooks. Beginning with Gala, Mac users will also benefit from hardware decoding of H.264 video in Flash Player.”

The new beta requires Macs with NVIDIA GeForce 9400M, GeForce 320M or GeForce GT 330M video processors to take advantage of H.264 hardware acceleration. 

Adobe plans to release the final shipping version of Flash Player 10.1 some time in the first half of 2010. The beta is available as a free download at the Adobe Labs Web site, but since it’s pre-release software, shouldn’t be installed on mission critical Macs.