UPDATE: 9/14 5 PM ET: Adding information regarding Netflix videos transcoded using AV1.

YouTube has uploaded about a dozen videos that were transcoded using the AV1 codec, whcih was introduced earlier this year. The test sequences are expected to give Google as well as developers of browsers, decoders, and encoders an understanding how to better use the new royalty-free codec. Netflix is also testing AV1 codec and offers everyone a video in different resolutions and featuring various color depth.

To date, YouTube has added 14 videos transcoded using the AV1 codec to a special playlist. The list includes various types of content, including a talking-head program, musical clips, action videos, and demo footages from RED and Blackmagic Design. YouTube says that this type of content represents a large share of videos hosted by the service, so it makes a lot of sense for the company to learn how they behave on various devices in terms of performance, power consumption, and overall stability.

At present, AV1 support is available only in those Chrome 70 and Firefox Nightly builds released after September 12th. Meanwhile, the test videos use AV1 for resolutions that are lower than 480p, underscoring the fact that they are meant to test decoders that, for the moment, are going to be anything but optimized. This is on top of the fact that at the moment there are no hardware decoders that support AV1, so everything is being handled in software by the CPU to begin with. Eventually the codec will be used for content in 4K+ ultra-high-def resolutions, along with HDR and wide color gamuts.

Netflix's approach to the AV1 codec is a bit different. The company is offering just one video, but in from 432p all the way to 1080p and featuring 8 or 10 color depth.

Finally, YouTube is promising to expand the collection of AV1-transcoded videos over time.

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Source: YouTube (via SH SOTN)

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  • mooninite - Friday, September 14, 2018 - link

    Yes, it is supposed to improve everything across the board.
  • scott967a - Friday, September 14, 2018 - link

    What's the status of GPU hardware decode / Windows and Linux APIs for AV1?
  • timecop1818 - Friday, September 14, 2018 - link

    You gotta wait about a decade or so until the standard is obsolete, and by the time everyone stops caring about it, lunix will get some pre-alpha support.
  • Rocket321 - Friday, September 14, 2018 - link

    Completely absent. You'll need to buy a new Gpu/smartphone/streamer in a couple years down the road for hardware decode. Start saving up now.
  • saratoga4 - Saturday, September 15, 2018 - link

    Probably 12-18 months before hardware support hits.
  • GreenReaper - Sunday, September 16, 2018 - link

    For hardware decode we're probably talking Navi for AMD and whatever is *after* the soon-to-be-shipped Turing architecture for NVIDIA's - think mid-to-late 2019 or perhaps early 2020. On the software side, it'll plug into the existing APIs - it's just another video format in that respect.
  • Santoval - Monday, October 21, 2019 - link

    FFmpeg 4.0+ supports (reasonably fast) AV1 decoding via libdav1d and (slower) AV1 decoding/encoding via libaom-av1 (the reference AV1 encode/decode library). As for software players that I'm aware of mpv fully supports AV1 decoding since version 0.28, while VLC supports full decoding and encoding of AV1 since version 4.0 and preliminary AV1 decoding since version 3.0
    As for hardware decoding & encoding you can do it with Intel's SVT-AV1 if you have an Intel CPU. I don't think Nvidia and AMD have yet announced support for AV1.
  • Morawka - Saturday, September 15, 2018 - link

    How does it compare with HEVC in terms of compression efficiency?
  • GreenReaper - Sunday, September 16, 2018 - link

    It does pretty well especially for low-resolution video, but in some areas HEVC is still better - perhaps in part because it uses certain patented techniques which AV1 has had to avoid:

    AV1 is very slow to encode, but in the past few months a lot of work has gone into making it faster (SSE2/3/4/AVX optimizations and the like), so the graph there may not be fully representative.

    What will likely happen is that companies like Google will use their copious free CPU time to crunch their more popular videos to AV1 in the short term until hardware is available. When it can be decoded efficiently, it will be possible to encode it efficiently as well.

    Incidentally, *decode* performance is pretty good. Like, not ideal yet - I can't *quite* run 1080p 30 FPS on my anemic dual-core AMD 2011 netbook. But 720P 30FPS works fine, for example - in fact it can handle 40 FPS.

    If you want more detailed comparisons you can use the tool the developers are using:

    You need to select a result set and then add items from both H.265 and AV1. In this case it shows that AV1 is giving a better quality (for the VMAF metric) at a particular file size for this set of videos but takes ~2.5-5 times longer to generate it (I tried H.265's veryslow as well but it didn't improve quality).
  • eastcoast_pete - Monday, September 17, 2018 - link

    Wasn't one of the big "to dos" for AV 1 that current encoders still lag (lagged?, any updates?) support for multithreading. So, in addition to support of SSE and AVX, if an AV 1 encoding program could make use of multiple cores/threads, it'd speed it up a lot. For illustration, try x265 encoding w and w/o multithreading on a modern desktop chip (i5 or better for Intel, Ryzen six core or better for AMD). Encoding speeds scale quite well with number of cores/threads, can't imagine it'll be that much worse for AV 1.

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