Youtube Begins Beta Testing New AVI Codec
Samuel Wan / 7 months ago
AV1 Offers Cheaper Alternative to HEVC H.265
With every new codec generation, the codec wars heat up again. This generation, the battle is an extension of the war between VP9 and HEVC (H.265). Kicking things off again, Google is trying to champion the new AV1 codec. Supplementing VP9, the new codec aims to provide stronger competition against HEVC. To push AV1 adoption, Google is now beta testing the codec for Youtube with the latest build of web browsers.
The key attraction for AVI is that is is royalty free. This makes it a lot easier to adopt and use, especially for either for smaller scale usage where licensing is impractical and high volume usage where licensing costs would be high. Another hurdle HEVC face is the fact there are 3 major bodies that hold patents. Each group of patent holds charges different licensing fees which increases complexity.
Youtube Debuts AV1 With Special Playlist
This is where AV1 comes in with free licensing from patent holders. Anyone can get a license to use AV1 so long as they don’t engage in patent disputes with the patent holders. AV1 also offers superior compression compared with HEVC, coming in at about 30% more efficient, and supersedes VP9 as well. The only downside is the lack of hardware acceleration support for AV1. While HEVC is largely supported in hardware by now, AV1 adoption will likely take until 2020 for most devices to have support. This puts the load onto general CPU and GPU computing. As a bonus AV1 also handles images as well.
Due to the new nature of AV1, Youtube is only beta testing the new codec with the latest beta Chrome and Firefox builds. Microsoft should bring Edge support soon as well as they support AV1. While there is a significant CPU load right now to decode AV1, modern CPUs should handle without much trouble. The biggest benefit for users will be improved image quality for the same bitrate or less data consumption. Be sure to check out the Youtube AV1 playlist with the beta browsers to see how your system holds up.