A second improvement, says Murarka, is that some ARM chips have been built with graphics subprocessors–pieces of silicon that are specifically designed to handle the heavy lifting of graphics rendering. Desktop versions of Flash, he says, don’t use graphics processors, but the new version of Flash will take advantage of the graphics subprocessor, making graphics rendering more efficient on mobile devices and also saving battery power.
Third, the software that Adobe uses to compress and decompress videos will be optimized to run on ARM’s chips. Today, content providers have to make sure that Flash videos are encoded in a specific way, in order to run on some mobile devices. This is how YouTube videos can play on the iPhone. “Flash now delivers over 80 percent of Web video,” Murarka says. “By working with ARM, we can optimize that so that content that exists in video or audio form will be compatible with more devices.”
A broader implication of this initiative is that both the hardware and software companies are providing the tools that programmers need to build content that works across devices, says Michael Gartenberg, vice president of mobile strategy at Jupitermedia, a research firm based in Connecticut. “The problem is [that] developers face a fragmented [mobile] landscape,” he says. “And Adobe, by trying to get this content architecture on multiple handsets, is trying to make it easier for developers.”
Earlier this year, Adobe announced the Open Screen Project, a collaboration with Nokia, Sony Ericsson, Qualcomm, and others aimed at standardizing Flash on mobile devices. The project led to Adobe removing licensing fees, which lets developers integrate Adobe Flash Player and Adobe AIR into any device or application without paying a fee. Many industry watchers saw the move as a reaction to Microsoft’s release of Silverlight, a Flash competitor.
The announced Adobe and ARM partnership is “about the ability to get Open Screen Project onto handsets,” says Gartenberg. “You’ve got the ARM folks supporting the technology, which is the critical first step.”