Adobe launches 3D APIs for Flash

Adobe has launched a new set of low-level GPU-accelerated 3D APIs for use across the Flash runtimes.

Named Molehill, the new tools will allows developers to use multi-platform graphics card acceleration on PC Mac and Linux through Flash Player 10.1.

Adobe has been demonstrating Molehill using an implementation of 3D racing game MAX Racing at the company's recent shindig.

"Technically, Molehill is a set of shadow-based 3D GPU-accelerated APIs which expose features like cube textures, Z-buffering, fragment and vertex shaders and all that cool stuff," said Flash project manager Thibault Imbert. "Developers will be able to create high-end 3D rendering in the Flash runtime, Flash Player or AIR."

Flash Player currently renders thousands of non Z-buffered triangles at approximately 30 Hz. With the new 3D APIs, developers can expect hundreds of thousands of z-buffered triangles to be rendered at HD resolution in full screen at around 60 Hz. Which is quite a leap.

GPU overhead is reportedly tiny even with sophisticated 3D rendering, but even if your graphics card isn't up to snuff, Imbert reckons all is not lost.

"We also provide as part of the same API a CPU foldback for when the hardware is incompatible, which is very exciting."

You can see more of Imbert's Molehill musings here, or check out the video of MAX Racing below.