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https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/how-get-smooth-youtubeflash-video-playback-raspberry-pi-kovalenko

The Raspberry Pi is a tiny singleboard computer with a great potential. Its VideoCore GPU has a very interesting ability to make web surfing more smooth and comfortable. This ability is not implemented in regular Raspbian image yet, so I decide to write this topic.

Chromium browser, the default browser in last Raspbian, was not developed for using hardware acceleration of the ARM GPU's. If we want to have exellent fullscreen video playback we need to use special programs, like Minimal Kiosk Browser which use OpenMax interface for media processing on the VideoCore IV GPU. So, can we have smooth fullscreen video in Chromium browser? Yes, we can!

Make sure we have 128 Mb shared GPU memory and updated system:

sudo apt-get update; sudo apt-get dist-upgrade -y

We need installed some libraries to get Chromium's ability to use Raspberry Pi GPU:

sudo apt-get install mesa-vdpau-drivers -y

Then, open Chromium browser and write in address line:

chrome://flags

Update 2019: For the latest version of the Chromium browser, I have a lot of settings that, as I mentioned earlier, are no longer needed (Thanks to the developers of Chromium). Therefore, we only need to enable the following flags:

For Raspberry Pi 3 (128 MB GPU memory) my updated result is smooth 1080p youtube playing with 17% CPU load. If you want to play HTML5 videos set GPU memory to 256 MB and disable h264ifi extension. Note that Raspberry Pi 3 can smoothly play max 720p video in this mode.

To fix random system hangs due to a small amount of RAM you can enable optimized swapping according to my article Effective Raspberry Pi ZRAM usage.