[K12OSN] I need to make Flash work faster....wanna pitch

William Fragakis william at fragakis.com
Mon Dec 5 13:09:40 UTC 2005

Flash is a more critical technological issue than many people outside of
education realize -

Things we've found:
1) Flash creates a huge datastream. I presume you have a gigabit 
connection between your server and switch. Each client can easily suck 
up 10-15 mb per second. Beyond 5-6 clients on a normal Flash page would 
saturate a 10/100 network and add a few instances of Tuxtype being used 
by other students and you couldn't get past 4-5.

2) It's important that your clients use a specific video driver, not a 

3) Sometimes you get a Flash animation done in "high quality" mode. 
Those will kill a server as they require 2-3x the cpu as a normal 

4) Block all the flash ads that you can. A lot of "kids" educational 
sites are also full of Flash adverts that compound the problem.

We run Flash-based testing programs (ie Accelerated Reader) and 
educational web sites without much problem now, especially after 
implementing points 1 and 2. If the Disney site is using high rez 
animations, there isn't much you can do. A couple of bad adverts were 
killing our dual core P4 as well. I'm not sure that a 64bit Opteron is 
going to give you much of an advantage on running Flash over a regular 
desktop processor anyway - I could be dead wrong on this.

Now, if I could figure out how to run Shockwave...

If you haven't, run "top" in the terminal and try to find which 
specific client (and therefore animation) is causing problems in terms 
of cpu load or if it is really a network issue, in which case you'll 
still have CPU headroom but the animations will lag. In our experience 
with Flash, it wasn't CPU utilization that brought the CPU to it's 
knees but a saturated network.

If you wish, let us know which animations they were running and others 
can see how it behaves on their networks, too.

William Fragakis
> We're also having major flash problems. 4 kids running disney.com
> games brought our dual opteron server to its knees today. I couldn't
> even log in on the console. I had to  ssh in just to 'init 6'.  Each
> of their firefox-bin processes was trying to suck up 70% cpu.  Is that
> typical? 

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