AV1 Codec: Advantages of using it on NVIDIA GPUs

The AV1 codec is what we call a format or container that provides a specific aesthetic result. On the web, we frequently discover videos and images compressed with technologies that include the formats we usually mention, such as .mp4. Although the AV1 codec compresses video and image files to save space, maintain the same quality, and stream more efficiently, it is a critical component in today’s technological world to avoid the need for too much bandwidth.

Index of contents

  • What is the AV1 codec?
  • Advantage
  • Why does NVIDIA implement it in hardware on its GPUs?

What is the AV1 codec?

The codecs used for streaming video over the Internet are . They are used for 4K and 8K resolutions, as well as HDR and HFR (H.265) support. Video streaming platforms like Netflix and Amazon use this codec. It is also used on Ultra HD Bluray. An example is VP9, ​​a codec developed by Google to improve multimedia playback. In September 2015, the “video format of the future” was announced, AV1 or AOMedia Video 1. The Alliance for Open Media, Google, Facebook, Amazon, Netflix, Nvidia, Intel, Microsoft, Samsung, Hulu and Apple, among others companies, support the launch. Therefore, it has a good chance of becoming a standard, since it has the support of the main companies in the sector.

The fact that this codec is free and absolutely free makes it especially useful for video producers and businesses. It should also help spread it, as open source and free software companies can use it. VP9 and HEVC are two of the contemporary codecs that charge companies and developers to use them in their videos and products, something that is not common with AV1. It can be used for both photos and videos. It can achieve up to 40% more compression than VP9 and HEVCEV, which is typical. Additionally, it reduces the size of JPEG files by 15%, halving the size of classic JPEG.

A codec reduces the amount of data needed to store a video or image through compression. It does not interfere with the format in which video, audio, subtitles, images or anything else is stored. I don’t mean AV1 when I talk about codecs. The aforementioned MP4 file is an example of this. It doesn’t matter if you use AV1 or not. It can still be an MP4 file regardless of whether it has been compressed with AV1. The same goes for images. Even if they change the codec, the name remains the same.

It will allow videos and photos viewed on the web to consume less space while maintaining their quality , something that will help save data and increase the efficiency of thousands of online services. Some of the container formats that will adopt this codec are .mp4, .mkv and .webm, among others. The AV1 codec is being developed natively and is being tested on Netflix and VLC. Images as .avif for images are also being developed and are currently being tested on Netflix or VLC. The AV1 codec is currently being tested on Firefox and Edge, as well as Chrome, which means that Chrome and all its derivative versions, including Vivaldi, Edge, and more, will also be supported. On Android, Windows and GNU/Linux it will also work.


Streaming services that use the AV1 codec have the advantage of being more efficient. Resolution, bit rate, and many other factors determine the quality of images. The AV1 codec can maintain all the quality of the videos, but it will require less bitrates and space. This will allow video servers to stream less data to maintain quality, reducing bottlenecks in delivering high-quality 4K or even 8K video, as well as ensuring the highest quality for users.

As discussed above, the AV1 has the ability to compress high-quality video into minimal file space, although the amount of video that can be sent at one time will probably decrease. Therefore, it is crucial to make sure that your video compression system is up to the task. You can compress HEVC videos up to 40%, but 25% is most common. This means that if a HEVC-compressed video is around 10 GB, it can be reduced to 7.5 GB using AV1.

H.265 typically offers the same quality at the same bitrate as AV1 , but provides a better image than HEIF, which produces a 15% less complex JPEG. Its other great strength is that it is an open codec, which allows anyone to access it without paying a fee. This increases its appeal, since it is free and offers better results. It is a completely open codec, so developers and users can access it without paying.

Both manufacturers and online services will have to rely on this technology, which should help standardize it and drag the rest of the industry along .

Why does NVIDIA implement it in hardware on its GPUs?

The production of AV1 content is starting to increase. And the latest GeForce RTX 30 and 40 series GPUs are ready to handle 8K HDR streams with a new AV1 hardware encoder . By enabling AV1 decoding at the hardware level, we are working to advance the ecosystem and drive AV1 usage, so more people will be able to consume AV1 content, leading to more AV1 production.

Furthermore, the decoding and encoding of the audio, video and image codecs can be done both by software and by hardware. Doing it by software would imply loading the CPU with extra work, which would reduce system performance. While doing it by hardware avoids this, since the graphics card itself takes care of doing it without the CPU being overloaded. The more features that are implemented by hardware rather than software, the more performance can be squeezed out of a machine.

In the case of AMD, their GPUs have not supported this AV1 codec in the past. However, given its importance, for the new RDNA3 GPU architecture, it seems that the company will implement it to support said codec. In other words, the new Radeon 7000 Series graphics cards would have to have it incorporated as do the GeForce 3000 Series and 4000 Series from NVIDIA.

Now you know a little more about what the AV1 codec is and why NVIDIA is working with it and pays special attention to it so that its products work quickly and efficiently with this type of encoding and decoding


by Abdullah Sam
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