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Adobe Adding 3D Flash Game Hardware Acceleration, Expanding AIR Support

Adobe has announced a new set of APIs enabling hardware-based 3D acceleration for Flash and AIR games, also debuting a new version of AIR that supports devices including TVs and many mobile phones.
At its MAX 2010 conference today in Los Angeles, Adobe announced a new set of APIs enabling large-scale, hardware-based 3D acceleration on its popular Flash and AIR platforms, also unveiling a new version of AIR with support for devices including TVs and a variety of mobile phone systems. Adobe's Molehill APIs, which the company has an Adobe Labs page devoted to, will be available as a public beta starting in the first half of 2011. It will provide low-level programmable shader-based engine features including z-buffering, stencil color buffering, fragment and vertex shaders and cube textures, all of which will use the GPU "where possible" for "significant performance gains." Developers were told to expect "hundreds of thousands of z-buffered triangles to be rendered at HD resolution in full screen at around 60 Hz" under the new APIs, compared to "thousands" of un-z-buffered, 30Hz triangles under the current Flash Player 10.1. The acceleration will rely on DirectX 9 standards on Windows, OpenGL ES 1.3 on Macs and OpenGL ES 2.0 on mobile platforms, and potentially puts Flash more directly into competition with 3D-centric web game engines such as Unity. Adobe also used today's conference to unveil version 2.5 of its Adobe AIR development and distribution platform, available now. The company said the new version will be integrated into Samsung's SmartTV devices in early 2011 as well as the upcoming Blackberry PlayBook tablet and a variety of mobile phones from HTC, Motorola, Acer and Research in Motion. To facilitate easy deployment to this wide variety of new AIR devices, Adobe today announced Adobe InMarket, which promises to let developers prepare a single application for multiple app stores with only minor tweaks. The company is reportedly in negotiation with various platform holders to integrate this support into their app stores, with Intel's AppUp the only confirmed partner thus far. Following on the AIR runtime's recent release on Android and loosened restrictions tentatively allowing AIR-developed apps on iOS platforms, Adobe appears to be positioning AIR as a Java-style platform agnostic development environment -- designed to distribute the same content across multiple screens.

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