Flash, HTML 5 comparison finds neither has performance advantage

Posted:
in General Discussion edited January 2014
A comparison of streaming video via the Adobe Flash and HTML5 formats with numerous different browsers on both Mac and Windows produced wildly different results based on the operating system and browser, making neither a clear winner.



The test, from Streaming Learning Center, was conducted in response to recent comments alleged to have been said by Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, in which he reportedly called Flash a "CPU hog." While the test found that HTML5 is significantly more efficient than Flash on the Mac when running the Safari Web browser, those same advantages do not exist on other Mac browsers, or in Windows.



"It's inaccurate to conclude that Flash is inherently inefficient," author Jan Ozer wrote. "Rather, Flash is efficient on platforms where it can access hardware acceleration and less efficient where it can't. With Flash Player 10.1, Flash has the opportunity for a true leap in video playback performance on all platforms that enable hardware acceleration."



The report noted that Apple has not enabled the hooks to allow GPU-based acceleration for H.264 video decoding. Anand Lai Shimpi, founder of AnandTech, asserted "it's up to Apple to expose the appropriate hooks to allow Adobe to (eventually) enable that functionality."



Adobe's update to Flash 10.1 on the Mac improved CPU efficiency within Safari by 5 percent, but the Web format still trails far behind HTML5 due to hardware acceleration. With Google Chrome, neither were particularly efficient, and Firefox saw slightly better performance than Chrome.







On Windows, Apple's Safari browser doesn't play HTML 5 content. But the Google Chrome browser in Windows played Flash 10.1 content with 58 percent more efficiency than HTML5.



HTML5 is not natively supported in Firefox or Internet Explorer, but the update from Flash 10 to Flash 10.1 improved CPU performance for the browsers by 73 percent and 35 percent, respectively. Flash 10.1 in Windows offers added 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," Streaming Learning Center noted. "On Windows, where Flash can access hardware acceleration, the CPU requirements drop to negligible levels.



"It seems reasonable to assume that if the Flash Player could access GPU-based hardware acceleration on the Mac (or iPod/iPhone/iPad), the difference between the CPU required for HTML5 playback and Flash playback would be very much narrowed, if not eliminated."







Google added support for the most popular video destination on the Internet, YouTube, in January. The beta opt-in program is available only for browsers that support both HTML5 and H.264 video encoding.



Scrutiny over Flash has grown in recent months since Apple introduced its multimedia iPad device, which does not support the Web format from Adobe. Apple, instead, has placed its support behind HTML5.



For more on why Apple isn't likely to add support for Flash in the iPhone OS, read AppleInsider's three-part Flash Wars series.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 155
    cimcim Posts: 197member
    HTML5 shows significantly better performance, over Flash, on a Mac.



    So why would anyone want Flash over HTML5?
  • Reply 2 of 155
    bigmigbigmig Posts: 77member
    Ironically, Safari/Mac with Flash 10.1 (not HW accelerated) is almost as efficient as IE/Win with Flash 10.1 (HW accelerated). Safari uses 32.07% CPU, while IE uses 14.62*2 = 29.24% CPU.



    (For those unfamiliar with both platforms, OS X measures CPU usage such that "one core = 100%", while Windows measure CPU usage such that "all available cores = 100%").
  • Reply 3 of 155
    sflocalsflocal Posts: 4,146member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post


    While the test found that HTML5 is significantly more efficient than Flash on the Mac when running the Safari Web browser, those same advantages do not exist on other Mac browsers, or in Windows.



    The main stink is Flash on mobile devices. Flash on desktops is bad enough. I find it a bit odd as to why the discussion is flash on the desktop. Efficient or not, full PC's can handle Flash. Stability is another issue.



    Why isn't there a comparison between HTML5 on the iPhone vs. Flash on Android or something? It's mobile platforms that's making the most noise.
  • Reply 4 of 155
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by CIM View Post


    HTML5 shows significantly better performance, over Flash, on a Mac.



    So why would anyone want Flash over HTML5?



    Perhaps because



    1) 90% of people use a platform on which Flash performs better

    2) There is much, much more content encoded for Flash than HTML5. If you had to pick better battery life with less access to content, or vice versa, which would it be?



    The iPhone promised us "Full Internet," and Apple has yet to deliver on that statement. Instead they insist upon fighting a war with Adobe - for whose benefit? Certainly not the users...



    -Clive
  • Reply 5 of 155
    chronsterchronster Posts: 1,894member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by CIM View Post


    HTML5 shows significantly better performance, over Flash, on a Mac.



    So why would anyone want Flash over HTML5?



    Not everyone's on a Mac
  • Reply 6 of 155
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post


    The report noted that Apple has not enabled the hooks to allow GPU-based acceleration for H.264 video decoding.



    Apple provide access to the Quicktime framework. Adobe just wants direct access to the hardware, and there is no reason for that other than to introduce security holes and instability. If they would be willing to stick with the proper API than they wouldn't have such a preformance problem (with video anyway).
  • Reply 7 of 155
    john.bjohn.b Posts: 2,714member
    We should post this guy's results over at WindowsInsider.com.



    If most crashes are related to poorly-written drivers, then the last place I want want Flash to have it's hooks is into the OSX kernel. Which is what Adobe is really asking for...
  • Reply 8 of 155
    brlawyerbrlawyer Posts: 828member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by chronster View Post


    Not everyone's on a Mac



    I thought this was APPLEinsider...
  • Reply 9 of 155
    cimcim Posts: 197member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Clive At Five View Post


    Perhaps because



    1) 90% of people use a platform on which Flash performs better

    2) There is much, much more content encoded for Flash than HTML5. If you had to pick better battery life with less access to content, or vice versa, which would it be?



    The iPhone promised us "Full Internet," and Apple has yet to deliver on that statement. Instead they insist upon fighting a war with Adobe - for whose benefit? Certainly not the users...



    -Clive



    The ?less content? argument is stupid and false. There?s no lack of content on the iDevices. I can find all the web apps, h.264 videos, and App Store apps I could ever want.
  • Reply 10 of 155
    john.bjohn.b Posts: 2,714member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Clive At Five View Post


    The iPhone promised us "Full Internet," and Apple has yet to deliver on that statement. Instead they insist upon fighting a war with Adobe - for whose benefit? Certainly not the users...



    We'll see when Flash arrives on Android phones and the battery life only lasts 30 minutes or an hour...



    Windows users... Sheesh!
  • Reply 11 of 155
    There are times and places for Flash and there are times and places for HTML5 in terms of presenting web content. But will one of them be completely overcome by the other and done away with for good in the future?
  • Reply 12 of 155
    auxioauxio Posts: 1,870member
    While CPU usage is one factor, I'd like to see memory usage and overall browser stability comparisons as well.
  • Reply 13 of 155
    wizard69wizard69 Posts: 12,504member
    First the way I see it a Mac with HTML 5 supported video is doing pretty damn good. to get similar performance with flash requires leveraging all the computing resources available on the platform. now someone explain to me how Flash using all those resources to maintain parity with HTML 5 native video play back is an advantage or even a good thing.



    Allied with that is that fact that Flash video is only part of it performance killing problem. I've logged onto sites with no Flash video playing that killed performance on my MBP. In fact experiences like that made me a big believer in Click to Flash. You can't pick and choose facts to justify your position, the whole impact of the software has to be taken into account. Frankly I've seen similar performance degradation on Windows machines. So lets not give to much credit to this smear campaign that tries to pick and choose what features to benchmark and then tries to twist the data in a gross manner.



    As to hooks for GPU acceleration, maybe the people doing this report haven't heard of OpenCL. Yes I know it isn't the perfect solution to a solution to movie playback when hardware specifically for that exists, but it may very well be a better long term solution. Apple is putting a lot of support behind OpenCL so it isn't going to go away. Further Apple already supports OpenCL on more GPU's than it does GPU specific video acceleration hardware. In the end I wouldn't be surprised if Adobe is behind this report, it just seems like the data is being bent to support their position.



    IF that is the case Adobe isn't doing themselves any favors. Flash has already gotten a reputation as a poor program on the Mac platform and justifiable so. This is just another sad example of trying to use marketing to fix technical issues with your products. That is trying to make people believe that your software isn't crap through manipulation and seeding half truths. What is funny here is that this is about Flash but yesterday I read an article about Adobe Reader being the new target of the virus writing crowd. This due to all the exploitable security issues there.





    Dave
  • Reply 14 of 155
    stevetimstevetim Posts: 482member
    Quote:

    While the test found that HTML5 is significantly more efficient than Flash on the Mac when running the Safari Web browser, those same advantages do not exist on other Mac browsers, or in Windows.



    html 5 is still being tweaked (working draft stage) and want be implemented until 2012 at earliest. So when the browser start implementing you will see the numbers similar to safari or better.
  • Reply 15 of 155
    -ag--ag- Posts: 123member
    You will start to see more and more of these kind of articles over the next few months.



    Mainly thanks to lazy "webmasters" and not wanting to "loose" any revenue from their site when they change to NON flash.



    Mind you there are always other ways around this but people are inherently lazy. Why must you have to change something when close enough is good enough (hey it worked for MS for years )
  • Reply 16 of 155
    davegeedavegee Posts: 2,765member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by CIM View Post


    HTML5 shows significantly better performance, over Flash, on a Mac.



    So why would anyone want Flash over HTML5?



    Silly!!



    196% of the top 10 zillion web sites ALL use flash and it ALWAYS for really really really important stuff and not just super annoying web site ADs and porn-games like you might be thinking... In fact the entire backbone AND ribcage of the interweb is totally dependent on Flash and if you don't believe me just as Al Gore!



    And most important... If Flash were to disappear Jesus would cry! Do you **really** want to be a party to THAT? I think not!
  • Reply 17 of 155
    MacProMacPro Posts: 17,457member
    Try looking at major web site with clicktoflash on and you will often see invisible flash boxes over the top of places you are supposed to click. They ate created to intercept your click and load ads. Even if all things were equal Flash is being abused so badly it is reason enough to switch it off.
  • Reply 18 of 155
    str1f3str1f3 Posts: 573member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Clive At Five View Post


    Perhaps because



    1) 90% of people use a platform on which Flash performs better

    2) There is much, much more content encoded for Flash than HTML5. If you had to pick better battery life with less access to content, or vice versa, which would it be?



    The iPhone promised us "Full Internet," and Apple has yet to deliver on that statement. Instead they insist upon fighting a war with Adobe - for whose benefit? Certainly not the users...



    -Clive



    I agree with #1 but disagree with #2. I don't know about you but I'll take battery life. Believe it or not people actually use their smartphones as phones first. I'd also take stability and apps after that. Bring able to view all kinds of videos is always a plus but there are more important things than Flash.



    BTW did it ever occur to you that Apple actually believes that Flash would be bad for the iPhone instead of believing there is some sinister plot at hand?
  • Reply 18 of 155
    mstonemstone Posts: 11,510member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by bigmig View Post


    Ironically, Safari/Mac with Flash 10.1 (not HW accelerated) is almost as efficient as IE/Win with Flash 10.1 (HW accelerated). Safari uses 32.07% CPU, while IE uses 14.62*2 = 29.24% CPU.



    (For those unfamiliar with both platforms, OS X measures CPU usage such that "one core = 100%", while Windows measure CPU usage such that "all available cores = 100%").



    The article was not very clear on the procedure used with respect to that percentage issue.



    On dual core for example Mac full CPU usage = 200% where full usage on Windows is 100%



    So maybe my math is faulty or the data needs adjusting but it makes Flash look even less of a CPU hog.



    I think one of the things that you hear a lot is that as soon as you click on a Flash element you hear the hard drive and the fans come on. That could be because you are running Click2Flash which is blocking the plugin. When you click it the plugin launches. This behavior is different if the plugin loads when the browser is launched without Click2Flash. In the later case you don't sense the ramp of launch on click, making it much less noticeable.



    But with all the ads you have to run Click2Flash.
  • Reply 20 of 155
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Clive At Five View Post


    There is much, much more content encoded for Flash than HTML5.



    That's actually not true. What most people don't know is that Flash video is H.264. It's the same encoded string of bytes sitting on a hard drive someplace. The only difference is that Flash uses its own software component to decode and play back that string of bytes, while HTML 5's implementation of the video tag uses the native operating system's H.264 playback.



    That's how Youtube was able to flip a switch and enable HTML 5; they don't have to reencode anything. It's the same bytes, just played back by the operating system instead of a crappy and unnecessary browser plug-in.



    Quote:

    The iPhone promised us "Full Internet," and Apple has yet to deliver on that statement.



    I've said this on another thread here, but I'll repeat myself: Adobe doesn't get to unilaterally declare that Flash is "part of the Internet." To the extent that the word "Internet" has any useful meaning at all, it refers to a set of standardized protocols that anybody can implement and use. Flash doesn't meet that definition.



    Flash is not part of "the whole Internet." Flash is merely Internet-adjacent.
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