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AV1 Ecosystem Update: April 2019

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It’s been an exciting time following the progress of the royalty free video codec AV1 over the past year and April might just be the most exciting active month in the amount of news we got about AV1! It’s not every day that media industry giants such as Netflix, Google, Mozilla, Microsoft, Apple, Amazon, ARM, Facebook, Nvidia, Intel, Cisco and many others agree on the same technology stack!

Samsung joins the party

The month started with Samsung announcing they were joining the Alliance of Open Media Board at the highest level.

Samsung Joins the Alliance for Open Media Board of Directors

Intel and Netflix are joining forces

At NAB 2019, Netflix announced they had selected Intel’s SVT-AV1 encoder for their workflow.

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Although surprising at first, given the gulf in visual quality between the aomenc encoder vs the SVT-AV1 encoder at the moment, Netflix posted a techblog few days later explaining the rationale.

At Netflix, we believe that the AV1 ecosystem would benefit from an alternative clean and efficient open-source encoder implementation. There exists at least one other alternative open-source AV1 encoder, rav1e. However, rav1e is written in Rust programming language, whereas an encoder written in C has a much broader base of potential developers. The open-source encoder should also enable easy experimentation and a platform for testing new coding tools. Consequently, our requirements to the AV1 software are as follows:

  • Easy to understand code with a low entry barrier and a test framework
  • Competitive compression efficiency on par with the reference implementation
  • Complete toolset and a decoder implementation sharing common code with the encoder, which simplifies experiments on new coding tools
  • Decreased encoder runtime that enables quicker turn-around when testing new ideas

MSU Codec Comparison 2018

In April, we also got the yearly Moscow State University codec comparison report. This can be viewed below

As expected, AV1 came in first place!

Mozilla’s NAB 2019 presentation

At NAB 2019, we also heard from Mozilla on the latest technical and business progress of AV1 and accomplishments in the last year. The presentation is embedded below:

dav1d 0.3.0 release

Near the end of April, we saw 0.3.0 release of dav1d decoder codenamed ‘Sailfish’. This release brought with it another set of awesome speedups compared to 0.2.1

  • +24% performance on SSSE3
  • +26% performance on SSE4.1
  • +4% performance on AVX2
  • +12% performance on Arm64

Ewout ter Hoeven wrote an amazing summary here capturing all the pull requests that made the improvement as well as many charts showing performance improvements amongst different videos.

SVT-AV1’s big update

After going silent for most of the month, SVT-AV1 got a big commit with many new features!

  • Trellis
  • Multi-reference pictures support
  • Chroma search
  • Tiles enc dec mismatch fix / tiles bitrate overhead fix
  • Enhanced Adaptive Depth partitioning algorithm
  • Cabac Update
  • New M0-M8 Preset tuning
  • Quality and Stability bug fixes

AVIF POC and libraries

Kagami Hiiragi published a very interested PoC for the AV1 derived image format – AVIF here and demonstrated how to use AVIF in the browsers today.

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