Regardless of the amount of hate it gets, flash is an integral part of the modern web. HTML5 videos are still not as widespread as they should be. The major woe with flash being the high CPU usage, especially on weaker CPU’s. All the major GPU vendors do support hardware acceleration for flash, however the process for enabling it is pretty tricky.
To take maximum advantage of your GPU and to reduce CPU usage, you need to make sure Flash is using both hardware accelerated rendering and decoding. Here is how to enable flash hardware acceleration in Firefox on Windows.
Flash Hardware Acceleration: Enable Hardware Accelerated Decode
This is a straightforward task. Simply right click any flash video, select settings and click on Enable hardware acceleration. This is the easy part. This step alone should offload a good chunk of burden from the CPU.
Flash Hardware Acceleration: Hardware Accelerated Rendering
For most of the times, depending on the hardware configuration, YouTube enables Hardware accelerated rendering only in full screen mode. To fix that, you need to follow the following steps
- Install Grease Monkey addon for Firefox
- Install YousableTubeFix Grease Monkey Script
- Navigate to any YouTube video using Flash in Firefox and click on the GreeseMonkey Menu. In User Script Commands, select YousableTubeFix configuration.
You will be greeted with the configuration window for the script. Head to the All pages section of the configuration. In Flash Player wMode option, select direct mode or GPU mode. I would rather recommend the former for stability reasons. As expected, this addon at the moment works only on YouTube, however work is in progress for a similar script applicable on all sites.
Verifying Hardware Acceleration
While you can simply fire up task manager and check for lowered CPU usage, a better way to do this would be to right click on the flash video being played and select stats for nerds. If it reads both accelerated video rendering and accelerated video decoding, you are golden. Else retrace through these steps again.
Why Not Chrome?
Chrome has a peculiar problem of not supporting hardware accelerated decoding in Flash as it has it’s own version of Flash directly from adobe. While Windows has full support for hardware accelerated flash decoding, it is turned off in Chrome at the moment. Forcing GPU acceleration through Flash Settings has no effect. You can force HTML5 in Chrome only video easily through this extension though, for better playback.
Interestingly Internet Explorer in Windows 8 and probably even in Windows 7 has full hardware acceleration for Flash. However, for obvious reasons, Internet Explorer even in it’s current state cannot be completely recommended against Chrome or Firefox.
Let us know if this method did not work for you for any reason. Enjoy lowered CPU usage and full flash hardware acceleration!