Adobe's Flash Player is about to receive its largest update since the introduction of hardware-accelerated H.264 video decoding in 2009. Version 11 of the software is set to go live early next month and will reportedly introduce a GPU-assisted rendering API called Stage 3D. Adobe claims this addition will boost Flash's ability to render 2D and 3D games by one thousand times, enabling "console-quality games."

The company explains that Stage 3D can display millions of objects on screen while maintaining a smooth 60 frames per second. This was demonstrated in a few clips that show gameplay in "Tanki Online" and "Zombie Tycoon" (we've included the former below). Even dated budget machines with integrated graphics and Windows XP can expect a 2-10x boost over Flash Player 10 when rendering software.

Adobe estimates that some 70% of Web games are powered by Flash, including 9 out of the top 10 games on Facebook and 70% of the titles on Google+. That supposedly amounts to an audience that's over 11 times larger than Nintendo's Wii, and nearly half the Web upgrades Flash Player within four weeks of a new release. Naturally, the company feels like it's paving a fresh avenue for developers to pursue.

"Flash Player 11 and Air 3 allow game publishers to instantly deliver engaging games to anyone with a PC, tablet, smartphone, or connected TV," wrote Adobe's Tom Nguyen. "And with Stage 3D, game publishers and developers can take their games to a new level, creating new opportunities for game developers and publishers to deliver and monetize their content." You can find more details and videos here.

Alongside that announcement, Adobe said it's preparing an emergency patch for Flash. The update should drop tomorrow and will address a zero-day vulnerability (CVE-2011-2444) that is being actively exploited in the wild by tricking users into clicking on a malicious link via email. Attackers can potentially gain control of compromised machines. Chrome users should have already received the fix automatically.