What Is AV1 Codec And Why You Should Care About It?

AV1 Codec

AV1 Codec, is this the first time you have been acquainted with this word? If yes, then here is a big bag of knowledge for you. Well, have you heard of Netflix and Google? Well, even a child may be known to these online platforms. A big bang of entertainment and knowledge is what these platforms are famous for.

AV1 Codec is a video codec that both the online platforms Google and Netflix are planning to use somewhere in near future. To know what AV1 Codec is and why you should care about it, all you need to do is to go well through this blog once.

What is AV1 Codec?

In the media industry, AV1 Codec is a new video codec. This codec is well known for its efficiency. The full name of AV1 is AOMedia Video 1 and is developed by the Alliance for Open Media (AO Media). AO Media includes many big players and some of them are Google, Apple, Facebook, Netflix, Amazon, Mozilla, and Samsung, etc. One of the best things to note about this video codec is that it is not only royalty-free but also an open-source codec.

Need for AV1 Codec

We all know that there are many video codecs still running with large players then why there is a need to have an AV1 codec in the library?

Well, undoubtedly codec plays an imperative role in the world of online media delivery. Followed by the H.265 known as HEVC, H.264 is the dominant codec. A group led by Samsung, General Electric, Dolby, Nippon Telegraph and Telephone, etc has developed these codecs. Also for these codecs, vendors require to pay a negotiated licensing fee and they are royalty-bearing standards.

As we all know that there is a vast consumption of videos on the internet and it is also increasing at a sky shooting speed. Hence, to reduce the high cost of delivering online media, streaming companies need a royalty-free codec. And this is the main reason behind the birth of AV1 Codec, which is an alternative to MPEG-4 by the Silicon Valley companies.

Also along with the need the plus point to note about AV1 codec is that in comparison to HEVC or H.264 standards, it is more efficient. Next, let’s jump on how the AV1 is better in performance than the HEVC.

Technology Behind AV1

Being based on Google’s VP9 codec, AV1 Codec is just a blessing for the encoders. The reason behind that is it adds endless options for the encoders to adapt to different input types.

Well, layman terms can work well in giving you the untwisted explanation of the process that encoders use while encoding videos with the AV1 codec. There are superblocks for the starters in which the encoder partitions frames into same-sized blocks of 128×128 or 64×64 pixels. Then comes the division of the smaller blocks from these superblocks according to different patterns.

Being originally developed for the VP10 codec, these patterns can be 4×4 (recursive), horizontal split (4:1), vertical split (1:4), or T-shaped patterns. Then a bitstream is formed by quantizing and coding these partitions. With things like predictions, loop filtering, and film grain synthesis, decoders pretty much take this encoded stream of information and run it back to form an output frame.

AV1 Codec Specifications

Currently, up to 8K at 120 FPS can be supported by the AV1 codec. With the definition of more levels in the coming future, this might increase. For the decoders as well as multiple decoder levels, the AV1 codec has three profiles ranging from 2.0 to 6.3.

AV1 Profiles

Main, High, and Professional are the three profiles within the AV1 specification.

AV1 Levels

Within the AV1 spec, there are a total of 14 levels defined ranging between 2.0 and 6.3.

Current Applications of AV1 Codec

Several platforms, devices, and services have started supporting the AV1 coding even though AV1 has an issue with hardware decoding.

The main reason behind this is the lower bit rates that are required by the AV1 as compared to H.265 or H.264 encoded videos for high-quality content.

AV1 supporting devices List

Also, it has been mandatory by Google that an in-built AV1 decoder is a must to use Android TV. Earlier this March was the deadline for compliance. Hence for AV1 decoding, we can see a lot of smart TVs come out with hardware support.

Supporting streaming services

  • Netflix
  • Vimeo
  • YouTube
  • Twitch (expected in 2022/23)

Supporting Browsers

Here is the list of browsers supporting AV1.

  • Chrome 70+
  • Vivaldi
  • Firefox 67+
  • Brave
  • Opera 57+
  • Microsoft Edge (requires the AV1 Video Extension add-on)

Top Platforms/Operating Systems with AV1 Support

  • Windows 10
  • Linux
  • Android 10 and above
  • Chrome OS

Wrapping up

Things look better for AV1 adoption as more chipsets come with hardware-based AV1 encoding/decoding support. Also, it is a must to remember that AV1 is a new standard hence for mass adoption we should wait for another 2-3 years as it was developed in 2015. After the ARM integrates the AV1 specs into its SoC design, Android TVs including Google TV will also start supporting AV1.

Hence, there is a vast scope for AV1 codec shortly.

In the next few years, even low-end and mid-tier chips will start having support for AV1 decoding. Also, it is crystal clear that the future of low-bitrate, high-quality streaming cannot travel much far in their journey. Hope every inch of the AV1 Codec is clear to you along with the need to care for it.

Who uses AV1 codec?

Both Google and Netflix plan use the AV1 codec.

Does YouTube use AV1?

Yes, YouTube uses the AV1 codec.

Does RTX 3080 support AV1?

Yes, RTX 3080 supports the AV1 codec.