Steve Jobs Flash rant put to the test
CPU hog Adobe v HTML5
When Steve Jobs badmouthed Adobe Flash to The Wall Street Journal, he said it was buggy, littered with security holes, and a "CPU hog". It's hard to argue with the first two, but a new study claims the Apple cult leader was wrong about the hog bit.
According to tests from the Streaming Learning Center - an online media consultancy that conducts public seminars on the delivery of net video - Flash is no more of a CPU drain than the HTML5 setup favored by Steve Jobs. The issue is not whether you use Flash or HTML5, says Jan Ozer, who conducted the tests, but whether you back them with hardware acceleration.
After Valleywag outed that Jobsian Flash rant, Ozer decided that someone should actually make an effort to determine whether he had a point. "There's so much commentary about how good HTML5 is and how bad Flash is, but there were no facts," Ozer tells The Reg. "I thought somebody should at least do some testing."
Testing Jobs' claim that Flash causes a majority of Mac crashes is almost beyond the realm of possibility. And that Flash is full of security holes should go without saying. So Ozer focused on CPU utilization during video playback, pitting Flash and HTML5 against each other on both Apple's Safari browser and Google Chrome.
These are the only two browsers that offer HTML5 with the H.264 codec, the same codec that backs Flash on YouTube. Ozer also tested Flash on Firefox and IE.
With Safari on the Mac, Flash did show a significantly higher CPU utilization, but Ozer attributes that to Apple's use of GPU hardware acceleration with HTML5. Things even out with Chrome on the Mac and even swing in Flash's favor with Chrome on Windows. Naturally, the platforms that performed the best were those that benefited from hardware acceleration. "When it comes to efficient video playback, the ability to access hardware acceleration is the single most important factor in the overall CPU load," Ozer writes.
"It's inaccurate to conclude that Flash is inherently inefficient. Rather, Flash is efficient on platforms where it can access hardware acceleration and less efficient where it can't." In one respect, that's merely stating the obvious. But the point is that if you test Flash and HTML5 with Chrome for Mac - where both lack hardware acceleration - CPU utilization is similar.
Adobe has added hardware acceleration with Flash Player 10.1, and Ozer argues that if Jobs were to embrace such a setup, CPU hogging would no longer be a problem. Of course, that still leaves the buggy bit. And the security bit. ®
"If Flash somehow magically disappeared, do you think advertisers would stop advertising?"
Quite frankly, Joel, I'd never notice the difference ...
"Join or get left behind."
Why? What is in it for me?
here's a theory
Jobs is blocking flash for iPhones and iPads because it'd open security holes on those devices. Its not necessarily flash he's worried about, but opening a well-documented, well-used exploitable hole in an OS that historically exploiters dont really go balls-deep for.
The biggest problem with homogenisation in computing is the same for nature : eventually a virus comes along and eats all your stuff. Diversity, virtually guaranteed on the motley frankenOS of a windows machine, is verboten on apple devices. homogenisation is king, which essentially leaves them with a time bomb waiting to go off.
So when you put flash on an iphone, everyone who uses flash to sploit goes "hand me that SDK book, it cant be that hard to branch out". Apple does just fine with security when everything is developed at their end and approved by them, sticking some foreign code on their beloved little devices gives them the fear because when apple is faced with lolznewsploit, it takes them _forever_ to fix it.
That original Streaming Learning Center article is getting way too much online attention. The author did a limited test and posted simplistic results. Comparing Flash to HTML5 in a performance benchmark test at this time is pointless. Of course Flash will do better in selected platforms with hardware acceleration support, Flash has had years of well funded development to mature, HTML5 has not. Once there is more adoption of HTML5 and its developers get similar time and financing, THEN do the kind of tests Streaming Learning posted.
The most obvious omission in that article is it focuses solely on statistics, but leaves out the Big Picture. (...and anyone who has any familiarity with statistical analysis knows how easy it is to manipulate results simply through omission.) HTML5 will certainly catch up performance wise, but the real issue is the massive software patent problems we in the U.S. have crippled the Internet with. Blind acceptance of Flash simply because it's the dominant web video technology won't solve the problem, it just hampers progressive development overall.
Rich interactive content?
By "rich interactive content" do you mean those goddamn' flickering, bouncing, migraine-inducing ads that won't hold still? The slide shows that take forever to load, and don't really _need_ Flash? The pointlessly over-designed Web sites that you can't bookmark, can't search, can't index? The goddamn' Smack The Monkey game?
Forgive me if I'm overly cynical here, but I've been designing for the Web since around '94 -- after fifteen years in print design -- and I've learned that the phrase "rich interactive content" is marketing-speak for "useless glitzy shit".
time to send flash packing. Am behind Steve on this one. Seeing my CPU meter peg and my browsers constantly crash even when running the latest versions of both flash and the browser makes no sense. I am tired of this thing killing off my work. HTML 5 is a cleaner spec and not having flash around will sew up some serious code execution holes that have been open for way too long.
the iPhone, iPad & Mac don't need flash to be successful. They need a solid OS and when leaving flash out of the picture, they have one.