Flash 10: Hydra and AIF (Adobe Image Foundation) and Hardware Rendering

Adobe has announced the release of the inital developer views of AIF and Hydra in “Astro” the next version of the flash player (10).

AIF (Adobe Image Foundation) like AIR (Adobe Integrated Runtime) is a new technology just out of the gate but it does show that Adobe is into innovating and the vector wars. AIR is beta2 and Flash player 9 “moviestar” updates for video are coming along nicely but here we have more news out of MAX in Chicago that AIF is now available.

What is AIF? It is a new imaging and effects technology to help people create their own filters for Flash (blur, drop shadow etc are defaults). Hydra the new language for this is reminiscent of processing.org (if you haven’t been to flight404.com since the 90′s then processing is all it is about there) and Cg from nVidia to write and test shaders. The fact that it is based on GLSL (OpenGL Shading Language) will help it easily port shaders coming in 3d gaming into Flash which is really sweet. The direction slowly is that Flash and maybe Silverlight will become more of gaming platforms and this is a nice point in that direction.

From Adobe here is what AIF is:

Introduction to the Adobe Image Foundation Toolkit Technology Preview

The Adobe Image Foundation (AIF) Toolkit preview release includes a high-performance graphics programming language that Adobe is developing for image processing, codenamed Hydra, and an application to create, compile and preview Hydra filters and effects. The toolkit contains a specification for the Hydra language, several sample filters, and sample images provided by AIF team members. The AIF technology delivers a common image and video processing infrastructure which provides automatic runtime optimization on heterogeneous hardware. It currently ships in After Effects CS3 and will be used in other Adobe products in the future. The next release of Flash Player, codenamed Astro, will leverage Hydra to enable developers to create custom filters, effects and blend modes.

Hydra is a programming language used to implement image processing algorithms in a hardware-independent manner. Some benefits of Hydra include:

  • Familiar syntax that is based on GLSL, which is C-based
  • Allows the same filter to run efficiently on different GPU and CPU architectures, including multi-core and multiprocessor systems in a future update
  • Abstracts out the complexity of executing on heterogeneous hardware
  • Supports 3rd party creation and sharing of filters and effects
  • Delivers excellent image processing performance in Adobe products

Reaction is that this is a strong Adobe direction to move towards more capable technology as in AS3 and Hydra and allow more customizable possibly hardware rendered and accelerated shader like technology for Flash filters. The new AVM2 and AS3 allow for faster processing and pixel based operations that you need for buildng filters and or shaders.

This is pretty interesting, it isn’t full blown hardware rendering which would just be excellent. So far hardware accelerated full screen stretching in Flash 9 Moviestar beta and now filters will have an element of hardware capable rendering, it should help performance. Full hardware acceleration seemingly will not happen in Flash 10 so the 3d engines and new 3d elements from Adobe are all software rendered still. However dual and multi-core processing will help rendering of 3d in flash BUT video cards are more prevalent than dual or multi-core for some time. Basic hardware rendering even for a low bar could greatly change the flash platform.

It is still a while off yet but it was good to know that performance and shaders/filters are getting attention but hardware rendering not just yet for 3d and basic drawing/rendering. One thing is for sure, in 2007 developing interactive for the web is being shook up and changing rapidly.

Here’s a video taken by Aral Balkan of the Astro presentation at MAX


  • http://wttf.org jeremy

    Oh how great this will be. A nice step towards a fully 3d internet.

  • http://drawk.wordpress.com/ drawk

    Yes good stuff afoot in the flash world through 2008.

  • http://labs.zeh.com.br Zeh

    I thought you’d like it. I’m quite excited.

    Although it still remains to be seen whether the simple 3d and the new shading capabilities will be hardware accelerated or not. I’m seeing people 100% sure they will, and people 100% sure they won’t, so I’m still expecting Adobe to come up and say something. :/

    Tinic Uro, I choose you!

  • http://drawk.wordpress.com/ drawk

    Hey Zeh,

    Yes digging the shader like Hydra and the 3d elements. If anything even if the 3d rendering is software rendered it may be able to speed up some by using native calls and having some effects in hydra that might be hardware rendered to make things perform better. The Hydra AIF kit will be hardware rendered as they identify the cards it will work with but the 3d stuff I think it might still be up in the air maybe. I know it brings with it many levels of quality issues and it starts to separate the flash platform into levels of what can be handled. I think if they did it smart where they only supported hardware acceleration where you specify it and at a low level meaning not too intensive that works on video cards even around 32MB I think that the tiering of the platform stays pretty together.

    I know I can’t wait til 3d is hardware rendered but taking it slow is a must due to the leap in technology and supported platforms and attempting to keep flash reigned in to it isn’t just built for the latest video cards. Although I am all for a new flash based gaming market that is beyond 2D.

  • http://drawk.wordpress.com/ drawk

    Tinic we need you to get us some info :)

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  • Daniel

    RTL support!

  • http://43kg.com Horrow

    This is pretty interesting, it isn’t full blown hardware rendering which would just be excellent.

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  • http://freewebs.com/jaco208 Jaco208

    So is there going to be a built in 3D modeler? The reason i have always liked flash is because everything you need to program with is right there in front of you. Built-in organizer for code. draw all pictures in vector in the program it-self. make an entire game in 1 file. put the game ANYWHERE on the web, in your computer. ANYWHERE.