Intel Releases Open Source CPU Encoder for AV1 Video Format

Intel has released an open source CPU encoder for the AV1 video format developed by the Alliance of Open Media (AOMedia) consortium. As one of its founding members, Intel has been involved in the development of the royalty-free next-generation format that was released last year.

The encoder was created by the same team responsible for the SVT-HEVC encoder that was released some time ago.

The new Intel encoder is dubbed SVT-AV1, which is short for Scalable Video Technology AOMedia Video 1. It aims to provide a good CPU encoding option for AV1 video until other dedicated AV1 encoders are available.

Intel’s target is to make the encoder fast enough to cater to video-on-demand and live encoding applications. However the real-time encoding specifications needed by the SVT-AV1 encoder are hefty, and it currently requires an Intel Xeon Skylake generation processor or newer with 112 threads, and 48GB of RAM in order to encode 4K 10-bit videos.

For 1080p videos, the requirements will be similar though it will only need 16GB of RAM.

Based on the specifications as well as Intel’s targets it should be clear that the SVT-AV1 encoder is primarily focused on server applications and not personal desktop encoding. Together with the dav1d AV1 decoder released by the VideoLAN and FFmpeg community, video platforms will have access to both AV1 encoding and decoding.

The availability of encoders and decoders is the next step for AV1 in its roadmap. Already it has significant browser support on Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Opera, and Microsoft Edge as well as on platforms such as Windows 10. Up till now, encoders for the format have been in short supply, however, by SVT-AV1 should help to address that.

It will be some time until AV1 encoding and decoding is widely available in PC and Mac video converter software. However, you can use Movavi Video Converter for these purposes.

Although in theory, it is possible to start using AV1 for distribution, it is likely that any moves to adopt the format on a large scale will only take place after hardware encoding and decoding is available. That is only expected to start to be incorporated in new chipsets towards the latter part of this year and roll out in devices sometime in 2020.

For a format that is just a year off of its release, AV1 is showing very positive signs. Its rapid adoption among AOMedia members has contributed to its rollout and allowed it to quickly start gaining support and being tested.

The promise of a royalty-free video format is not lost on many other online video platforms either, all of which could stand to benefit from it should it live up to its potential. Although it was initially expected that HEVC would eventually replace H.264 as the format for online streaming video, its adoption has been slow for several reasons.

In the next few years, AV1 could start to take advantage of that to position itself as the format of choice for online video.

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