AOMedia Video 1 (AV1) is an open, royalty-free video coding format initially designed for video transmissions over the Internet. It was developed as a successor to VP9 by the Alliance for Open Media (AOMedia), a consortium founded in 2015 that includes semiconductor firms, video on demand providers, video content producers, software development companies and web browser vendors. The AV1 bitstream specification includes a reference video codec. In 2018 Facebook conducted testing that approximates real world conditions, the AV1 reference encoder achieved 34%, 46.2% and 50.3% higher data compression than libvpx-vp9, x264 high profile, and x264 main profile respectively.
The Alliance's motivations for creating AV1 included the high cost and uncertainty involved with the patent licensing of HEVC, the MPEG-designed codec expected to succeed AVC. Additionally, the Alliance's seven founding members – Amazon, Cisco, Google, Intel, Microsoft, Mozilla and Netflix – announced that the initial focus of the video format would be delivery of high-quality web video. The official announcement of AV1 came with the press release on the formation of the Alliance for Open Media on 1 September 2015. Only 42 days before, on 21 July 2015, HEVC Advance's initial licensing offer was announced to be an increase over the royalty fees of its predecessor, AVC. In addition to the increased cost, the complexity of the licensing process increased with HEVC. Unlike previous MPEG standards where the technology in the standard could be licensed from a single entity, MPEG-LA, when the HEVC standard was finished, two patent pools had been formed with a third pool was on the horizon. In addition, various patent holders were refusing to license patents via either pool, increasing uncertainty about HEVC's licensing. According to Microsoft's Ian LeGrow, an open-source, royalty-free technology was seen as the easiest way to eliminate this uncertainty around licensing.
The negative effect of patent licensing on free and open-source software has also been cited as a reason for the creation of AV1. For example, building an H.264 implementation into Firefox would prevent it from being distributed free of charge since licensing fees would have to be paid to MPEG-LA. Free Software Foundation Europe has argued that FRAND patent licensing practices make the free software implementation of standards impossible due to various incompatibilities with free software licenses.
Many of the components of the AV1 project were sourced from previous research efforts by Alliance members. Individual contributors started experimental technology platforms years before: Xiph's/Mozilla's Daala already published code in 2010, Google's experimental VP9 evolution project VP10 was announced on 12 September 2014, and Cisco's Thor was published on 11 August 2015. Building on the code base of VP9, AV1 incorporates additional techniques, several of which were developed in these experimental formats. The first version 0.1.0 of the AV1 reference codec was published on 7 April 2016.
Although a soft feature freeze came into effect at the end of October 2017, development continued on several significant features. One of these in-progress features, the bitstream format, was projected to be frozen in January 2018 but was delayed due to unresolved critical bugs as well as further changes to transformations, syntax, the prediction of motion vectors, and the completion of legal analysis. The Alliance announced the release of the AV1 bitstream specification on 28 March 2018, along with a reference, software-based encoder and decoder. On 25 June 2018, a validated version 1.0.0 of the specification was released. On 8 January 2019 a validated version 1.0.0 with Errata 1 of the specification was released.
Martin Smole from AOM member Bitmovin said that the computational efficiency of the reference encoder was the greatest remaining challenge after the bitstream format freeze had been completed. While still working on the format, the encoder was not targeted for production use and speed optimizations were not prioritized. Consequently, the early version of AV1 was orders of magnitude slower than existing HEVC encoders. Much of the development effort was consequently shifted towards maturing the reference encoder. In March 2019, it was reported that the speed of the reference encoder had improved greatly and within the same order of magnitude as encoders for other common formats.
A recurring concern in standards development, not least of royalty-free multimedia formats, is the danger of accidentally infringing on patents that their creators and users didn't know about. The concern has been raised regarding AV1, and previously VP8, VP9, Theora and IVC. The problem is not unique to royalty-free formats, but it uniquely threatens their status as royalty-free.
|Patent licensing||AV1, VP9, Theora||HEVC, AVC||GIF, MP3, MPEG-2|
|By known patent holders||Royalty-free||Royalty bearing||Expired|
|By unknown patent holders||Impossible to know until expiry|
To fulfill the goal of being royalty free, the development process requires that no feature can be adopted before it has been confirmed independently by two separate parties to not infringe on patents of competing companies. In cases where an alternative to a patent-protected technique is not available, owners of relevant patents have been invited to join the Alliance (even if they were already members of another patent pool). For example, Alliance members Apple, Cisco, Google, and Microsoft are also licensors in MPEG-LA's patent pool for H.264. As an additional protection for the royalty-free status of AV1, the Alliance has a legal defense fund to aid smaller Alliance members or AV1 licensees in the event they are sued for alleged patent infringement.
Under patent rules adopted from the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), technology contributors license their AV1-connected patents to anyone, anywhere, anytime based on reciprocity (i.e. as long as the user does not engage in patent litigation). As a defensive condition, anyone engaging in patent litigation loses the right to the patents of all patent holders.
This treatment of intellectual property rights (IPR), and its absolute priority during development, is contrary to extant MPEG formats like AVC and HEVC. These were developed under an IPR uninvolvement policy by their standardization organisations, as stipulated in the ITU-T's definition of an open standard. However, MPEG's chairman has argued this practice has to change, which it is: EVC is also set to have a royalty-free subset, and will have switchable features in its bitstream to defend against future IPR threats.
The creation of royalty-free web standards has been a long-stated pursuit for the industry. In 2007, the proposal for HTML5 video specified Theora as mandatory to implement. The reason was that public content should be encoded in freely implementable formats, if only as a "baseline format", and that changing such a baseline format later would be hard because of network effects. The Alliance for Open Media is a continuation of Google's efforts with the WebM project, which renewed the royalty-free competition after Theora had been surpassed by AVC. For companies such as Mozilla that distribute free software, AVC can be difficult to support as a per-copy royalty easily is unsustainable given the lack of revenue stream to support these payments in free software (see FRAND § Excluding costless distribution). Similarly, HEVC has not successfully convinced all licensors to allow an exception for freely distributed software (see HEVC § Provision for costless software).
The performance goals include "a step up from VP9 and HEVC" in efficiency for a low increase in complexity. NETVC's efficiency goal is 25% improvement over HEVC. The primary complexity concern is for software decoding, since hardware support will take time to reach users. However, for WebRTC, live encoding performance is also relevant, which is Cisco's agenda: Cisco is a manufacturer of videoconferencing equipment, and their Thor contributions aim at "reasonable compression at only moderate complexity".
Feature wise, AV1 is specifically designed for real-time applications (especially WebRTC) and higher resolutions (wider color gamuts, higher frame rates, UHD) than typical usage scenarios of the current generation (H.264) of video formats, where it is expected to achieve its biggest efficiency gains. It is therefore planned to support the color space from ITU-R Recommendation BT.2020 and up to 12 bits of precision per color component. AV1 is primarily intended for lossy encoding, although lossless compression is supported as well.
AV1 is a traditional block-based frequency transform format featuring new techniques. Based on Google's VP9, AV1 incorporates additional techniques that mainly give encoders more coding options to enable better adaptation to different types of input.
The Alliance published a reference implementation written in C and assembly language (
aomdec) as free software under the terms of the BSD 2-Clause License. Development happens in public and is open for contributions, regardless of AOM membership.
The development process was such that coding tools were added to the reference code base as experiments, controlled by flags that enable or disable them at build time, for review by other group members as well as specialized teams that helped with and ensured hardware friendliness and compliance with intellectual property rights (TAPAS). When the feature gained some support in the community, the experiment was enabled by default, and ultimately had its flag removed when all of the reviews were passed. Experiment names were lowercased in the configure script and uppercased in conditional compilation flags.
To better and more reliably support HDR and color spaces, corresponding metadata can now be integrated into the video bitstream instead of being signaled in the container.
Frame content is separated into adjacent same-sized blocks referred to as superblocks. Similar to the concept of a macroblock, superblocks are square-shaped and can either be of size 128×128 or 64×64 pixels. Superblocks can be divided in smaller blocks according to different partitioning patterns. The four-way split pattern is the only pattern whose partitions can be recursively subdivided. This allows superblocks to be divided into partitions as small as 4×4 pixels.
"T-shaped" partitioning patterns are introduced, a feature developed for VP10, as well as horizontal or vertical splits into four stripes of 4:1 and 1:4 aspect ratio. The available partitioning patterns vary according to the block size, both 128×128 and 8×8 blocks can't use 4:1 and 1:4 splits. Moreover, 8×8 blocks can't use "T" shaped splits.
Two separate predictions can now be used on spatially different parts of a block using a smooth, oblique transition line (wedge-partitioned prediction). This enables more accurate separation of objects without the traditional staircase lines along the boundaries of square blocks.
More encoder parallelism is possible thanks to configurable prediction dependency between tile rows (
AV1 performs internal processing in higher precision (10 or 12 bits per sample), which leads to compression improvement due to smaller rounding errors in reference imagery.
Predictions can be combined in more advanced ways (than a uniform average) in a block (compound prediction), including smooth and sharp transition gradients in different directions (wedge-partitioned prediction) as well as implicit masks that are based on the difference between the two predictors. This allows combination of either two inter predictions or an inter and an intra prediction to be used in the same block.
The Warped Motion (
warped_motion) and Global Motion (
global_motion) tools in AV1 aim to reduce redundant information in motion vectors by recognizing patterns arising from camera motion. They implement ideas that were tried to be exploited in preceding formats like e.g. MPEG-4 ASP, albeit with a novel approach that works in three dimensions. There can be a set of warping parameters for a whole frame offered in the bitstream, or blocks can use a set of implicit local parameters that get computed based on surrounding blocks.
Switch frames (S-frame) are a new inter-frame type that can be predicted using already decoded reference frames from a higher-resolution version of the same video to allow switching to a lower resolution without the need for a full keyframe at the beginning of a video segment in the adaptive bitrate streaming use case.
Intra prediction consists of predicting the pixels of a given blocks only using information available in the current frame. Most often, intra predictions are built from the neighboring pixels above and to the left of the predicted block. The DC predictor builds a prediction by averaging the pixels above and to the left of block.
Directional predictors extrapolate these neighboring pixels according to a specified angle. In AV1, 8 main directional modes can be chosen. These modes start at an angle of 45 degrees and increase by a step size of 22.5 degrees up until 203 degrees. Furthermore, for each directional mode, six offsets of 3 degree can be signaled for bigger blocks, three above the main angle and three below it, resulting in a total of 56 angles (
The "TrueMotion" predictor got replaced with a Paeth predictor which looks at the difference from the known pixel in the above left corner to the pixel directly above and directly left of the new one and then chooses the one that lies in direction of the smaller gradient as predictor. A palette predictor is available for blocks with very few (up to 8, dominant) colors like in some computer screen content. Correlations between the luminosity and the color information can now be exploited with a predictor for chroma blocks that is based on samples from the luma plane (
cfl). In order to reduce visible boundaries along borders of inter-predicted blocks, a technique called overlapped block motion compensation (OBMC) can be used. This involves extending a block's size so that it overlaps with neighboring blocks by 2 to 32 pixels, and blending the overlapping parts together.
To transform the error remaining after prediction to the frequency domain, AV1 encoders can use square, 2:1/1:2, and 4:1/1:4 rectangular DCTs (
rect_tx), as well as an asymmetric DST for blocks where the top and/or left edge is expected to have lower error thanks to prediction from nearby pixels, or choose to do no transform (identity transform).
AV1 has new optimized quantization matrices (
aom_qm). The eight sets of quantization parameters that can be selected and signaled for each frame now have individual parameters for the two chroma planes and can use spatial prediction. On every new superblock, the quantization parameters can be adjusted by signaling an offset.
For the in-loop filtering step, the integration of Thor's constrained low-pass filter and Daala's directional deringing filter has been fruitful: The combined Constrained Directional Enhancement Filter (
cdef) exceeds the results of using the original filters separately or together.
It is an edge-directed conditional replacement filter that smooths blocks with configurable (signaled) strength roughly along the direction of the dominant edge to eliminate ringing artifacts.
Film grain synthesis (
film_grain) improves coding of noisy signals using a parametric video coding approach.
Due to the randomness inherent to film grain noise, this signal component is traditionally either very expensive to code or prone to get damaged or lost, possibly leaving serious coding artifacts as residue. This tool circumvents these problems using analysis and synthesis, replacing parts of the signal with a visually similar synthetic texture, based solely on subjective visual impression instead of objective similarity. It removes the grain component from the signal, analyzes its non-random characteristics, and instead transmits only descriptive parameters to the decoder, which adds back a synthetic, pseudorandom noise signal that's shaped after the original component. It is the visual equivalent of the Perceptual Noise Substitution technique used in AC3, AAC, Vorbis, and Opus audio codecs.
Daala's entropy coder (
daala_ec), a non-binary arithmetic coder, was selected for replacing VP9's binary entropy coder. The use of non-binary arithmetic coding helps evade patents, but also adds bit-level parallelism to an otherwise serial process, reducing clock rate demands on hardware implementations. This is to say that the effectiveness of modern binary arithmetic coding like CABAC is being approached using a greater alphabet than binary, hence greater speed, as in Huffman code (but not as simple and fast as Huffman code).
AV1 also gained the ability to adapt the symbol probabilities in the arithmetic coder per coded symbol instead of per frame (
Quality and efficiency
In April 2017, using the 8 enabled experimental features at the time (of 77 total), Bitmovin was able to demonstrate favorable objective metrics, as well as visual results, compared to HEVC on the Sintel and Tears of Steel short films. A follow-up comparison by Jan Ozer of Streaming Media Magazine confirmed this, and concluded that "AV1 is at least as good as HEVC now". Ozer noted that his and Bitmovin's results contradicted a comparison by Fraunhofer Institute for Telecommunications from late 2016 that had found AV1 65.7% less efficient than HEVC, underperforming even H.264/AVC which they concluded as being 10.5% more efficient, and justified this discrepancy by having used encoding parameters endorsed by each encoder vendor, as well as having more features in the newer AV1 encoder. Decoding performance was at about half the speed of VP9 according to internal measurements from 2017.
Tests from Netflix in 2017, based on measurements with PSNR and VMAF at 720p, showed that AV1 was about 25% more efficient than VP9 (libvpx). Tests from Facebook conducted in 2018, based on PSNR, showed that the AV1 reference encoder was able to achieve 34%, 46.2% and 50.3% higher data compression than libvpx-vp9, x264 high profile, and x264 main profile respectively.
Tests from Moscow State University in 2017 found that VP9 required 31% and HEVC 22% more bitrate than AV1 in order to achieve similar levels of quality. The AV1 encoder was operating at a speed "2500–3500 times lower than competitors" due to the lack of optimization (which was not available at that time).
Tests from University of Waterloo in 2020 found that when using a mean opinion score (MOS) for 2160p (4K) video AV1 had bitrate saving of 9.5% compared to HEVC and 16.4% compared to VP9. They also however concluded that at the time of the study at 2160p the AV1 video encodes on average took 590.74× longer compared to encoding with AVC, HEVC took on average 4.2810× longer and VP9 took on average 5.2856× longer than AVC respectively.
The latest encoder comparison by Streaming Media Magazine as of September 2020, which used moderate encoding speeds, VMAF, and a diverse set of short clips, indicated that the open-source libaom and SVT-AV1 encoders took about twice as long time to encode as x265 in its "veryslow" preset while using 15-20% less bitrate, or about 45% less bitrate than x264 veryslow. The best-in-test AV1 encoder, Visionular's Aurora1, in its "slower" preset, was as fast as x265 veryslow while saving 50% bitrate over x264 veryslow.
Profiles and levels
AV1 defines three profiles for decoders which are Main, High, and Professional. The Main profile allows for a bit depth of 8- or 10-bits per sample with 4:0:0 (greyscale) and 4:2:0 chroma sampling. The High profile further adds support for 4:4:4 chroma sampling. The Professional profile extends capabilities to full support for 4:0:0, 4:2:0, 4:2:2 and 4:4:4 chroma sub-sampling with 8, 10 and 12 bit color depths.
|Main (0)||High (1)||Professional (2)|
|Bit depth||8 or 10-bit||8 or 10-bit||8, 10 & 12 bit|
AV1 defines levels for decoders with maximum variables for levels ranging from 2.0 to 6.3. The levels that can be implemented depend on the hardware capability.
Example resolutions would be 426×240@30 fps for level 2.0, 854×480@30 fps for level 3.0, 1920×1080@30 fps for level 4.0, 3840×2160@60 fps for level 5.1, 3840×2160@120 fps for level 5.2, and 7680×4320@120 fps for level 6.2. Level 7 has not been defined yet.
|Min Comp Basis||Max Tiles||Max Tile Cols||Example|
Supported container formats
- ISO Base Media File Format: The ISOBMFF containerization spec by AOMedia was the first to be finalized and the first to gain adoption. This is the format used by YouTube.
- Matroska: Version 1 of the Matroska containerization spec was published in late 2018.
- Unfinished standards
- MPEG Transport Stream:
- Not standardized
- WebM: As a matter of formality, AV1 has not been sanctioned into the subset of Matroska known as WebM as of late 2019.
- On2 IVF: This format was inherited from the first public release of VP8, where it served as a simple development container. rav1e also supports this format.
- Pre-standard WebM: Libaom featured early support for WebM, before Matroska containerization was specified, but has been changed to conform.
YouTube has begun rolling out AV1, starting with its AV1 Beta Launch Playlist. According to the description, the videos are (to begin with) encoded at high bitrate to test decoding performance, and YouTube has "ambitious goals" for rolling out AV1. YouTube for Android TV supports playback of videos encoded in AV1 on capable platforms as of version 2.10.13, released in early 2020.
Vimeo's videos in the "Staff picks" channel are available in AV1. Vimeo is using and contributing to Mozilla's Rav1e encoder, and expects, with further encoder improvements, to eventually provide AV1 support for all videos uploaded to Vimeo as well as the company's "Live" offering.
In October 2016, Netflix stated they expected to be an early adopter of AV1. On 5 February 2020, Netflix began using AV1 to stream select titles on Android, providing 20% improved compression efficiency over their VP9 streams.
Following their own very positive test results, Facebook said they would gradually roll out AV1 as soon as browser support emerges, starting with their most popular videos.
- Libaom is the reference implementation. It includes an encoder (aomenc) and a decoder (aomdec). As the former research codec, it has the advantage of being made to justifiably demonstrate efficient use of every feature, but at the general cost of encoding speed. At feature freeze, the encoder had become problematically slow, but speed optimizations with negligible efficiency impact have continued to be made also after that.
- rav1e is an encoder written in Rust and assembly. rav1e takes the opposite developmental approach to Aomenc: start out as the simplest (therefore fastest) conforming encoder, and then improve efficiency over time while remaining fast.
- SVT-AV1 includes an open-source encoder and decoder first released by Intel in February 2019 that is designed especially for usage on data center servers based on Intel Xeon processors. Netflix collaborates with Intel on SVT-AV1.
- dav1d is a decoder written in C99 and assembly focused on speed and portability. The first official version (0.1) was released in December 2018. Version 0.2 was released in March 2019, with users able to "safely use the decoder on all platforms, with excellent performance", according to the developers. Version 0.3 was announced in May 2019 with further optimizations demonstrating performance 2 to 5 times faster than aomdec.; version 0.5 was released in October 2019. Firefox 67 switched from Libaom to dav1d as a default decoder in May 2019.
- Cisco AV1 is a proprietary live encoder that Cisco developed for its Webex teleconference products. The encoder is optimized for latency and the constraint of having a "usable CPU footprint", as with a "commodity laptop". Cisco stressed that at their operating point – high speed, low latency – the large toolset of AV1 does not preclude a low encoding complexity. Rather, the availability of tools for screen content and scalability in all profiles enabled them to find good compression-to-speed tradeoffs, better even than with HEVC. Compared to their previously deployed H.264 encoder, a particular area of improvement was in high resolution screen sharing.
- libgav1 is a decoder written in C++11 released by Google.
- Firefox (since version 67.0, May 2019; enabled by default on all desktop platforms - Windows, macOS and Linux for both 32-bit and 64-bit systems)
- Google Chrome (since version 70, October 2018)
- Opera (since version 57, 28 November 2018)
- Microsoft Edge (since Windows 10 October 2018 Update (1809) with AV1 Video Extension add-on)
- VLC media player (since version 3.0)
- GStreamer (since version 1.14)
- FFmpeg (since version 4.0, 20 April 2018)
- mpv (since version 0.29.0)
- Xine-lib (since 1.2.10)
- MKVToolNix (adoption of final av1-in-mkv spec since version 28)
- MediaInfo (since version 18.03)
- Bitmovin Encoding (since version 1.50.0, 4 July 2018)
- Elecard StreamEye Studio (tools for video quality analysis)
- K-Lite Codec Pack (since version 14.4.5, 13 September 2018)
- HandBrake (since version 1.3.0, 9 November 2019; decoding support)
- PotPlayer (since version 1.7.14804, 16 October 2018)
- Google Duo (since April 2020)
Operating system support
|Microsoft Windows||macOS||BSD / Linux||Chrome OS||Android OS||iOS|
|Container support||ISO base media file format (.mp4)
|No||ISO base media file format (.mp4)
|Notes||- Support introduced in Windows 10 October 2018 Update (1809) with AV1 Video Extension add-on.||Unsupported as of macOS Catalina.||supports decoding, from Chrome OS 70 onward||Supported since Android 10.||Unsupported as of iOS 13.|
(D = Decode, E = Encode)
|Allegro||AL-E195||E||Main (0) and
|AL-E210||E||Main (0)||4K 30fps||?|||
|Chips&Media||WAVE510A||D||Main (0)||4K 60fps||4K 120fps|||
|D||Main (0)||8K 10-bit|||
|MediaTek||Dimensity 1000||D||4K 60fps||4K 60fps|||
|Nvidia||GeForce 30||D||Main (0)||8K 10-bit 60fps|||
|Rockchip||RK3588||D, E||4K 60fps 10-bit|||
Several Alliance members demonstrated AV1 enabled products at IBC 2018, including Socionext's hardware accelerated encoder. According to Socionext, the encoding accelerator is FPGA based and can run on an Amazon EC2 F1 cloud instance, where it runs 10 times faster than existing software encoders.
According to Mukund Srinivasan, chief business officer of AOM member Ittiam, early hardware support will be dominated by software running on non-CPU hardware (such as GPGPU, DSP or shader programs, as is the case with some VP9 hardware implementations), as fixed-function hardware will take 12–18 months after bitstream freeze until chips are available, plus 6 months for products based on those chips to hit the market. The bitstream was finally frozen on 28 March 2018, meaning chips could be available sometime between March and August 2019. According to the above forecast, products based on chips could then be on the market at the end of 2019 or the beginning of 2020.
- On 7 January 2019, NGCodec announced AV1 support for NGCodec accelerated with Xilinx FPGAs.
- On 18 April 2019, Allegro DVT announced its AL-E210 multi-format video encoder hardware IP, the first publicly announced hardware AV1 encoder. The AL-E210 supports, aside from VP9, H.265/HEVC, H.264/AVC and JPEG, the AV1 Main profile, with which it can encode 4:2:0 Chroma subsampling with 8 and 10 bit color depth. A single core can encode 4K with 30 fps, with multiple cores that should even be higher.
- On 23 April 2019, Rockchip announced their RK3588 SoC which features AV1 hardware decoding up to 4K 60fps at 10-bit color depth. 
- On 9 May 2019, Amphion announced a video decoder with AV1 support up to 4K 60fps On 28 May 2019, Realtek announced the RTD2893, its first integrated circuit with AV1 decoding, up to 8K.
- On 17 June 2019, Realtek announced the RTD1311 SoC for set-top boxes with an integrated AV1 decoder.
- On 20 October 2019, a roadmap from Amlogic was shown which includes 3 set-top box SoCs that are able to decode AV1 content, the S805X2, S905X4 and S908X. The S905X4 was used in the SDMC DV8919 by December.
- On 21 October 2019, Chips&Media announced the WAVE510A VPU supporting decoding AV1 at up to 4Kp120.
- On 26 November 2019, MediaTek announced world's first smartphone SoC with an integrated AV1 decoder. The Dimensity 1000 is able to decode AV1 content up to 4K 60fps.
- On 3 January 2020, LG Electronics announced that its 2020 8K TVs, which are based on the α9 Gen 3 processor, support AV1.
- At CES 2020, Samsung announced that its 2020 8K QLED TVs, featuring Samsung's "Quantum Processor 8K SoC," are capable of decoding AV1. 
- On 13 August 2020, Intel announced that their Intel Xe-LP GPU in Tiger Lake will be their first product to include AV1 fixed-function hardware decoding.
- On 1 September 2020, Nvidia announced that their Nvidia GeForce RTX 30 Series GPUs will support AV1 fixed-function hardware decoding.
- On 2 September 2020, Intel officially launched Tiger Lake 11th Gen CPUs with AV1 fixed-function hardware decoding.
- On 15 September 2020, AMD merged patches into the amdgpu drivers for Linux which adds support for AV1 decoding support on RDNA2 GPUs.
- On 28 September 2020, Roku refreshed the Roku Ultra including AV1 support.
- On 30 September 2020, Intel released version 20.3.0 for the Intel Media Driver which added support for AV1 decoding on Linux.
- On 10 October 2020, Microsoft confirmed support for AV1 hardware decoding on Xe-LP(Gen12), Ampere and RDNA2 with a blog post.
Sisvel, a Luxembourg-based company, has formed a patent pool, and are selling a patent license for AV1. The pool was announced in early 2019, but a list of claimed patents was first published on 10 March 2020. This list contains over 1050 patents. The substance of the patent claims remains to be challenged.
Sisvel's prices are 0.32 € for display devices and 0.11 € for non-display devices using AV1. Sisvel has stated that they won't seek content royalties, but their license makes no exemption for software.
As of March 2020, the Alliance for Open Media has not responded to the list of patent claims. Their statement after Sisvel's initial announcement reiterated the commitment to their royalty-free patent license and made mention of the "AOMedia patent defense program to help protect AV1 ecosystem participants in the event of patent claims", but did not mention the Sisvel claim by name.
AV1 Image File Format (AVIF)
AV1 Image File Format (AVIF) (pronounced [əˈ vif]) is an image file format specification for storing images or image sequences compressed with AV1 in the HEIF file format. It competes with HEIC which uses the same container format, build upon ISOBMFF, but HEVC for compression. Version 1.0.0 of the AVIF specification was finalized in February 2019.
AVIF supports features like:
- High dynamic range
- 8, 10, 12 bit color depth
- Lossless compression and lossy compression
- Monochrome (alpha/depth) or multi-components
- Any color-space including: wide color gamut, ISO/IEC CICP and ICC profiles
- 4:2:0, 4:2:2, 4:4:4 chroma subsampling
- Film grain
On 14 December 2018 Netflix published the first .avif sample images, and support was added in VLC. Microsoft announced support with the Windows 10 "19H1" preview release, including support in File Explorer, Paint and multiple APIs, together with sample images. Paint.net added support for opening AVIF files in September 2019, and the ability to save AVIF format images in an August 2020 update. The Colorist format conversion and Darktable RAW image data have each released support for and provide reference implementations of libavif, and a GIMP plugin implementation has been developed supporting both 3.x and 2.10.x plugin APIs. Native AVIF import and export was added to GIMP in October 2020. AVIF read support is present in qView image viewer starting with v4.0.
AVIF support in web browsers is in development. In August 2020, Google Chrome version 85 was released with full AVIF support. Mozilla is working on support for the image format in Firefox. Cloudflare announced AVIF support in a blog post on 3 October 2020.
- "AV1 Bitstream & Decoding Process Specification" (PDF). The Alliance for Open Media.
- Zimmerman, Steven (15 May 2017). "Google's Royalty-Free Answer to HEVC: A Look at AV1 and the Future of Video Codecs". XDA Developers. Archived from the original on 14 June 2017. Retrieved 10 June 2017.
- "An Invisible Tax on the Web: Video Codecs". 11 July 2018. Retrieved 4 January 2019.
Mozilla uses Cisco’s OpenH264 in Firefox. If not for Cisco’s generosity, Mozilla would be paying estimated licensing fees of $9.75 million a year.
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- "Why is FRAND bad for Free Software?". 20 June 2016. Retrieved 8 April 2019.
As Free Software gives each user the freedom to redistribute the software itself, keeping track and collecting royalties based on distributed copies is also, in practice, impossible.
- Shankland, Stephen (1 September 2015). "Tech giants join forces to hasten high-quality online video". CNET. CBS Interactive Inc. Retrieved 15 April 2019.
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- "OpenH264 Now in Firefox". 14 October 2014. Retrieved 8 April 2019.
Because H.264 implementations are subject to a royalty bearing patent license and Mozilla is an open source project, we are unable to ship H.264 in Firefox directly. We want anyone to be able to distribute Firefox without paying the MPEG LA.
- Stephen Shankland (12 September 2014). "Google's Web-video ambitions bump into hard reality". CNET. Retrieved 13 September 2014.
- Romain Bouqueau (12 June 2016). "A view on VP9 and AV1 part 1: specifications". GPAC Project on Advanced Content. Retrieved 1 March 2017.
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two tracks in MPEG: one track producing royalty free standards (Option 1, in ISO language) and the other the traditional Fair Reasonable and Non Discriminatory (FRAND) standards (Option 2, in ISO language). (…) The Internet Video Coding (IVC) standard was a successful implementation of the idea (…). Unfortunately 3 companies made blank Option 2 statements (of the kind “I may have patents and I am willing to license them at FRAND terms”), a possibility that ISO allows. MPEG had no means to remove the claimed infringing technologies, if any, and IVC is practically dead.
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Flash is today the baseline format on the web. The problem with Flash is that it's not an open standard. It's a proprietary format, it hasn't been documented, and it probably requires the payment of licenses if you are going to (…) write software for it (…) The web community has always been based on open standards. This has been what the web was founded on, where HTML started. That's why we developed the PNG image format – we wanted a freely implementable open standard to hold the content we are putting out there. Our content is too valuable to put into some locked format. This goes back all the way to SGML, in which the mantra was “own your data”. (…) If we look at open standards for video today (…), there is one which I believe is the right one, and that's called Ogg Theora.
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What can Thor add to VP9/AV1? Since Thor aims for reasonable compression at only moderate complexity, we considered features of Thor that could increase the compression efficiency of VP9 and/or reduce the computational complexity.
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... Once available, YouTube expects to transition to AV1 as quickly as possible, particularly for video configurations such as UHD, HDR, and high frame rate videos ... Based upon its experience with implementing VP9, YouTube estimates that they could start shipping AV1 streams within six months after the bitstream is finalized. ...
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In addition, we're engaged with the AOM as far as providing test vectors, providing requirements, we'll be looking forward to testing AV1 in our workflow against a large catalog and providing results there. And also we would expect to be an early adopter of AV1.
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but we're hoping, towards 2024-2025 the AV1 ecosystem's ready, we wanna switch to AV1 a 100%. … this is our projection right now. But on the other hand, as I said, our AV1 release will be, for the head content will be a lot sooner. We are hoping 2022-2023 is we are going to release AV1 for the head content.
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We have been focusing on freezing the bitstream and getting the quality, not necessarily making things fast. This is a graph of the [encoding] speed of AV1 over its development process. You can se that as we near the end of that process, we started making things faster again, and it's now two orders of magnitude faster than it was at its slowest point. So that's going to improve. And this is a corresponding graph of the quality. (…) So you can see that even as it has continued to get much faster, the quality hasn't really gone down. (…) We wanted to approach this from the other end, so we started an encoder of our own, called rav1e, and the idea is that we would start out always being fast, and then try to make it better over time.
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