Handbrake video encoder adds official AV1 codec support in the latest version

Alliance for Open Media

Hardware and software support for the royalty-free AV1 video codec has been steadily increasing over the past two years. Hardware-accelerated encoding and decoding are becoming standard in more GPUs, phone SoCsand other devices, while video streaming services such as YouTube and Netflix have begun offering AV1-encoded video to devices that support it.

Open source software projects are starting to follow suit as well. The Open Broadcaster Software (OBS) package has been expanding its AV1 capabilities in recent versions, and now the Handbrake video transcoding application has added AV1 support as well. Version 1.6.0released yesterday, added support for AV1 video encoding using both the CPU-dependent SVT-AV1 codec as well as via Intel’s AV1-enabled QuickSync video codec included in their Arc GPUs.

The latest RTX 4000 and RX 7000 GPUs from Nvidia and AMD also include hardware encoding support for AV1, but the software required to use it isn’t included in Handbrake yet.

AV1 is an open source video codec developed by the Alliance for Open Media, a group that includes industry heavy hitters such as Google, Netflix, Amazon, Intel, and Microsoft. Like the H.265/HEVC codec, AV1 enables more efficient video compression than the older H.264 codec, allowing 4K and HDR video to be streamed without the massive increase in bandwidth relative to 1080p video. Unlike HEVC, AV1 codec support can be added to just about anything without paying royalties.

The main benefit of HEVC over the AV1 as of this writing is that it has much wider support than the AV1 across many generations of devices from most major manufacturers. Roku does support AV1 decoding on some high-end streaming devices, however It was allegedly pushed back against Google When the company tried to force Roku to support AV1 decoding across its entire lineup. Apple’s AV1 plans are also vague – the company is a member of the AOMedia group and some initial support for the AV1 i has surfaced.n its developer documentation recentlybut hardware-accelerated AV1 decoding and decoding are either not supported or not enabled in the latest Apple Silicon chips.

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