Friday, April 23, 2010

Flash Performance Issues on Mac OS X

There has been a lot of debate about the lack of Flash support on the iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad, and part of the larger debate is that Adobe hasn't invested in Flash support on OS X sufficiently leading to performance issues on that platform.  As I use a Mac, I've suffered from some of these issues including high CPU utilization when watching video using Flash to having the fan turn on when the system is seemingly idle because a Flash applet or two in a web-page is using excessive CPU.

So, I was pleased to hear the Adobe is promising to address these performance issues in the forthcoming Flash 10.1 release.  I was more pleased to see that release candidate 2 is available and downloaded it and installed it to try things out.

For my test, I elected to compare CPU utilization of the Flash plug-in while watching a Dodger game on  On a side note, this service which provides the ability to watch out of market games in HD on a computer or on  many mobile devices is an awesome service and I highly recommend it.

Using the latest Flash 10.0, I observed the CPU utilization of the process running the Flash player at around 90-95%.  Good thing I have a dual core machine (2.33 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo), but it is still working pretty hard to play the streaming video.

With 10.1 RC2, I did observe a slight decrease in utilization to around 80-85%, so it has improved, and it may improve more before the final release.

But the performance is still well short of Flash on Windows it would seem as an old notebook I have with an AMD Turion 64 Mobile ML-34 at 1.8 GHz can watch the same HD stream using around 80% CPU and that is a single core machine.  For comparison, according to the old notebook has a 437 CPU rating and the Mac is around 1400 so even using 1 core at around 700, the Mac is "using" 560 while the old PC is "using" 350, so more efficient.

Let's hope the work Adobe is doing to improve the performance of Flash on the Mac continues.


  1. Hi, there. Thought the following may be of passing interest if you're willing to experiment with another browser:
    Below are some links to screengrabs of my Macbook* CPU levels while using the Camino 2.0.2 browser, with 'Flash 10.1 RC2' installed.
    [The Macbook's a 2GHz Intel C2D with GMA 950 64MB (shared) graphics]
    The first three links are fullscreen flash playing on the MLB site you mention.
    The fourth and last link is just a typical 360p Youtube clip. Although I mostly use Firefox for general browsing, I only ever use Camino for watching videos in Flash these days! [Nearly forgot: I use the 'floating' CPU meter in the screengrabs, at the top-right of each image. Not an insanely accurate way to gague CPU usage, granted!]

  2. @Marshall Given the CPU meter not giving a terribly accurate number, it is hard to tell if there is much improvement or not. It looks like it is showing 35-40% on each core so around 70-80% total which is close to what I observed. I wouldn't think the browser itself changes things that much but perhaps it can.