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The AV1 codec is coming, and it is a massive deal

YouTube and Twitch Logos side by side

(Picture credit score: Twitch / YouTube)

Video codecs are a type of issues that everybody makes use of, however few perceive. For a lot of customers, codec help is little greater than a frustration, akin to when your software program participant tells you an audio or video format shouldn’t be supported. Anger ensues.

Present video codecs embrace H.264 (AVC) and H.265 (HEVC), however there’s one other one gaining traction. AV1. AV1 is developed by the Alliance for Open Media (AOM) (opens in new tab), which is a consortium made up of a who’s who of tech firms (opens in new tab). The indicators level towards AV1 changing into the dominant web video format. It’s gaining widespread help from main content material suppliers, {hardware} and infrastructure firms, sport streamers, and creators.

The goal of AV1 is to ship equal video high quality at a decrease bitrate (with a ensuing smaller file measurement), or larger high quality at an equal bitrate to the likes of an HEVC video. This implies it’s capable of stream 4K and future 8K content material extra effectively than older codecs, delivering bandwidth financial savings in addition to decreasing the calls for on the community Infrastructure.

The second key characteristic of AV1 is that in contrast to HEVC and AVC, it’s open supply and royalty-free. This makes it a lot simpler for builders to combine it into their programs with decrease prices that do not find yourself being handed on to customers.

However will it’s broadly adopted? Let’s have a look at the lengthy checklist of firms throwing their weight behind AV1, beginning with content material suppliers. There’s Google (YouTube), Amazon (Prime, Twitch), Netflix, and Meta (Fb). Add to that Microsoft, Tencent, and Vimeo amongst others and also you’ve acquired the help of the streaming business. It’s of their monetary curiosity to avoid wasting bandwidth wherever doable.

The checklist of {hardware} supporters is equally spectacular. Intel, AMD, Nvidia, Apple, Arm Cisco, Broadcom, Mediatek, and lots of others mix to make up a listing that has sufficient affect to make sure the success of AV1, although whether or not they all push for it equally is an open query. Notice that there’s one main exclusion from that checklist. Qualcomm. Nonetheless, its Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 due in 2023 will reportedly embrace AV1 decoding help.

AV1 ecosystem and adoption slide

(Picture credit score: Alliance for Open Media)

In accordance with Phoronix (opens in new tab) (through Tom’s {Hardware} (opens in new tab)), Google launched an replace that reduces encoding occasions by as much as 34%. This, together with AV1 encoding help on Nvidia’s new RTX 40 sequence (opens in new tab) and Intel Arc GPUs (opens in new tab) is a significant step in direction of widespread adoption. It’s virtually sure that AMD’s upcoming RDNA 3 GPUs may also help AV1 encoding. Notice that RDNA 2 (besides the 6500 XT and decrease), RTX 30-series, and lots of cellular SoCs already characteristic AV1 decode help.

Now that content material and {hardware} help are locked in, it’s solely a matter of time earlier than adoption accelerates. It’s not a change that may occur in a single day. However, in case you do occur to have one of many aforementioned AV1 decode supporting merchandise, you should utilize AV1 now. Go to your YouTube settings, Playback and efficiency, and choose “All the time want AV1.”

So, AV1 ticks nearly each field from each a supplier and client perspective. It’s royalty-free and requires much less bandwidth. Each are robust incentives for suppliers to undertake it because it means decrease prices. For finish customers, it means both smaller downloads or larger video high quality, and its open-source nature ought to result in common software program help. Look out for lots extra AV1 content material within the months and years forward.

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