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Adobe release Flash Player 10.1 with GPU acceleration for HD video

This morning Adobe is launching a beta version of Flash Player 10.1 with support for hardware decoding of H.264 Flash video. In other words, if you have a supported graphics card (PDF link), you should be able to watch high definition and high quality Flash video without killing your CPU.

This comes as particularly good news for people who have picked up small laptops and nettops based on the NVIDIA ION platform. While the graphics processor is powerful enough to decode Blu-Ray video and play many modern video games, the ION chipset uses a low power Intel Atom processor that seems to think that 1080p Flash video would look better as a slideshow than a video.

With Flash Player 10.1 beta installed, even these ION-based machines can handle 1080p Flash video from sites like YouTube, which is good because YouTube is getting ready to roll out a whole heck of a lot more 1080P video.

You can download Flash Player 10.1 beta from Adobe Labs.

NVIDIA loaned me an ASRock ION 330 nettop with NVIDIA ION graphics to test the new Flash Player, and it performed as advertised, easily handling 720p and 1080p HD video playback from Hulu and YouTube. The video at the top of this post shows the ASRock nettop playing video smoothly after installing the latest version of the software. To see what video playback looked like with the older version of Flash Player 10, check out the video after the break.

Tags: 1080p, 720p, adobe, adobe flash, adobe flash player 10, adobe flash player 10.1, AdobeFlash, AdobeFlashPlayer10, AdobeFlashPlayer10.1, hd video, HdVideo, nvidia ion, NvidiaIon