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Wednesday, February 09, 2011, 12:50 pm PT (03:50 pm ET)

Adobe Flash Player 10.2 offers improved hardware acceleration for Mac

Adobe has publicly launched Flash Player 10.2 for Mac, Windows and Linux, an update to the Web plugin that introduces full hardware acceleration support for video which, when supported, is said to be up to 34 times more efficient.

Adobe claims that "Stage Video" offers "best-in-class, beautiful video across platforms and browsers." In addition, Flash Player 10.2, which is now available for download, has new features like custom native mouse cursors, multiple monitor full-screen support, Internet Explorer 9 hardware accelerated rendering support and enhanced sub-pixel rendering for superior text readability. Flash Player 10.2 was previously available in beta form.

Hardware acceleration for H.264 content first appeared on Flash Player for Mac with version 10.1, released in August of 2010. But content built for Stage video allows websites to take advantage of full hardware acceleration of all video.

According to Adobe, Stage Video will allow Flash Player to play high quality video while using "dramatically less processing power," offering better performance and longer battery life on mobile devices. Adobe said that its testing has found Stage Video to make Flash playback up to 34 times more efficient.

Put another way, Flash Player using Stage Video can effortlessly play beautiful 1080p HD video with just 1-15% CPU usage on a common Mac or Windows computer — working across platforms and browsers, it will enable the best video experience for the most people," the company said. "Many millions of additional PCs, from netbooks to desktops, can now become slick HD home theaters on the web."

Even with the addition of Stage Video to Flash Player 10.2, users will likely not see any immediate changes, as websites and content providers must first update video players to support the new feature.

In a very public battle, Apple and Adobe have sparred over Flash, as the Mac and iPhone maker has argued that the Web plugin results in poor battery life and system crashes. Last year, Apple began shipping its Macs without Adobe Flash preinstalled, and it was discovered that the absence of Flash boosted battery life on the new MacBook Air by two hours.

For its part, Adobe has suggested that any performance issues with Flash on the Mac are a result of issues with Apple's Mac OS X operating system. With respect to the MacBook Air, Adobe said last November it is working on an optimized version of Flash for the thin-and-light notebook, but added that hardware acceleration offers superior performance and battery life.