Handbrake Video Transcoder adds official AV1 codec support in the latest version

Handbrake Video Transcoder adds official AV1 codec support in the latest version

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Alliance for Open Media

Hardware and software support for the royalty-free AV1 video codec has been steadily evolving over the past few years. Hardware-accelerated encoding and decoding is becoming standard in more GPUs, phone SoCsand other hardware, while video streaming services such as YouTube and Netflix began serving AV1-encoded video to devices that supported it.

Open source software projects are also starting to follow suit. The Open Broadcaster Software (OBS) suite has expanded its AV1 capabilities in recent releases, and now video transcoding application Handbrake has also added AV1 support. Version 1.6.0released yesterday, added support for AV1 video encoding using both CPU-based SVT-AV1 software encoding and Intel’s AV1-compatible QuickSync video encoder included in its Arc GPUs.

The latest RTX 4000 and RX 7000 series GPUs from Nvidia and AMD also include hardware encoding support for AV1, but the software required to use it is not yet built into Handbrake.

AV1 is an open source video codec developed by the Alliance for Open Media, a group that includes industry heavyweights such as Google, Netflix, Amazon, Intel and Microsoft. Like the H.265/HEVC codec, AV1 allows for much more efficient video compression than the old H.264 codec, allowing streaming of 4K and HDR video without requiring a huge increase in bandwidth over 1080p video. Unlike HEVC, support for the AV1 codec can be added to almost anything without paying royalties.

HEVC’s main advantage over AV1 at the time of writing is that it enjoys much wider support than AV1 across many generations of hardware from most major manufacturers. Roku supports AV1 decoding in some of its higher-end streaming devices, but which are said to be opposed to Google when the company tried to force Roku to support AV1 decoding across its lineup. Apple’s plans for AV1 are also murky – the company is a member of the AOMedia group, and some rudimentary AV1 support has emergedn its developer documentation recentlybut hardware-accelerated AV1 decoding and encoding is either not supported or enabled in the latest Apple Silicon chips.

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