According to the sources, The advent of a new video compression standard, or video codec, to provide greater video quality and reduced bandwidth costs is timely given the increasing popularity of 4K and 8K ultra-high-definition material. The High-Efficiency Video Codec (HEVC) and AOMedia Video 1 (AV1) specifications are currently the two most effective codecs.
What distinctions exist between AV1 and HEVC? In particular, the video codec that will focus on compression effectiveness, computational performance, and compatibility will prevail. If you’re interested in getting into the codec war, we’re getting ready to compare AV1 and HEVC in terms of functionality, file size, quality, and compatibility.
Here are the Factors comparing AV1 and HEVC/H.265 mentioned below:
AV1 and HEVC: HEVC is not free, but AV1 is.
The Alliance for Open Media, a grouping of the biggest tech firms like Intel, Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Mozilla, and Netflix, has created AOMedia Video 1 (AV1), the replacement for VP9. AOMedia decided to develop a royalty-free standard that is capable of offering superior performance than HEVC due to the ambiguous and pricey HEVC licensing structure.
The Video Coding Experts Group (VCEG) and Moving Picture Experts Group (MPEG) created the HEVC codec as the replacement for AVC in order to more effectively and inexpensively encode and decode video streams. An extremely intricate and pricey royalties structure exists for HEVC. As a result, the joint shareholders of MPEG LA, HEVC Advance, and Velos Media, which also include Ericsson, Panasonic, Qualcomm, Sharp, and Sony, each have a distinct HEVC licensing charge, are not all the same.
AV1 and HEVC: Compared to H.265 codec, AV1 is 30% more efficient.
Moscow State University testing shows that AV1 can encode and decode data more efficiently than HEVC by roughly 28%. The best HEVC encoder (x265 in three-pass Placebo mode), according to the performance graph from the Graphics & Media Lab Video Group, MSU below, operates at 67% of the bitrate whereas AV1 can deliver the same quality as X264 at 55% of the average bitrate.
That is to say, with AV1, distributors can distribute streams more quickly and affordably, and we can all watch higher-definition content with the same bandwidth. Because of the performance improvements in AV1 over HEVC, streaming HDR 4K content with wide color gamuts is now much more practical. Up to 8K at 120 frames per second and 800 Mbps is possible. AV1 can be used to deliver 360-degree video, which has comparable high data requirements.
AV1 and HEVC: Compared to H.265/HEVC, the AV1 codec provides greater image quality.
Both the AV1 and HEVC 4K video formats have high quality. But there are still slight variations. As per the quality comparison chart of four codecs (AV1, X265, LibVPx, and X264) based on VMAF ratings created by renowned streaming and production expert Jan Ozer, AV1 can deliver higher quality even at low bit rates than X265. Overall, AV1 is capable of maintaining high quality at all data rates. Another online PSNR testing has supported this as well.
AV1 and HEVC: AV1 codec needs three times as long to encode as HEVC/H.265 does.
According to past tests, AV1 takes three times as long to encode as HEVC x265 and LibVPx. The MSU findings also state that X265 encoding is around 10-15 times slower than competitors while AV1 encoding is about 2500-3000 times slower. Because HEVC is already supported by AMD, Nvidia, Intel, Qualcomm, and the majority of hardware manufacturers, a hardware-accelerated HEVC encoder can accelerate HEVC encoding by around 5 times while using less CPU and battery power than software processing.
AOM-AV1 3.5, the most recent version, features substantially more effective CPU encoding. A new API, improvements to increase speed, and memory optimizations are also included. On a 16-thread CPU, testing revealed a 34% encoding time reduction for 1080p films at best and an 18–20% reduction for 2160/4K HD on a 32-thread CPU. As a result, AV1 can provide a better experience than HEVC when used with streaming software.
Compared to HEVC, AV1 has less hardware support. There is still much work to be done before AV1 is widely used for streaming.
The AV1 playback and encoding will take longer than HEVC due to the AV1 technology’s poor hardware support. Don’t be concerned about AV1 decoding; it is already supported by leading silicon manufacturers such as AMD RDNA 2 GPUs, NVIDIA GeForce 30- and 40-Series GPUs, Intel Xe, and Arc GPUs, as well as mobile chips such as the Samsung Exynos 2100 and 2200, various MediaTek Dimensity SoCs, and Google’s Tensor processor.
HEVC’s hardware encoding is more efficient than AV1’s. By far the first graphics cards featuring GPU AV1 encoders on the market are Intel’s new Arc Alchemist A Series graphics cards.
The 8th-generation Nvidia video encoder, NVENC, is included in the most recent generation of NVIDIA graphics cards, the GeForce RTX 40 Series GPUs, which also enable AV1 encoding. The new AV1 encoder can now give a 40% increase in efficiency with improved resolutions and quality, according to testing conducted by Nvidia.
AV1 and HEVC: The AV1 codec still does not have as good hardware and software support as HEVC.
All smartphones from Samsung, LG, HTC, Ximao, and Sony, as well as TVs from LG, Samsung, and others, can decode HEVC built-in. The HEVC codec is now supported by several top hardware companies, including Qualcomm, Intel, Nvidia, Microsoft, Apple, Broadcom, and Ambarella.
The majority of modern cameras, including GoPro, DJI drones, Canon, and certain DSLRs, capture films using the HEVC codec. Numerous software applications, including web browsers, FCP X, Premiere Pro, and DaVinci Resolve, also support HEVC. However, errors like VLC being unable to play HEVC files or HVC1 codec not being supported occasionally happen.
Currently, Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox are the two most popular web browsers. Microsoft Edge, Safari, and Opera are incompatible. If you install the AV1 video extension first, Windows 10 will enable AV1 video playback. Even VLC struggles to play AV1 accurately.
AV1 and HEVC: Comparing the Usage
Although AV1 is less popular than HEVC, its future is looking more promising. The AV1 codec is receiving more hardware support. All Android smartphones and tablets must support AV1 to run Android 14.
AV1 broadcasts are already distributed through the Netflix mobile app for Android and iOS. In the OBS 28.0 version, which included support for HEVC/H.265 to enhance the video compression rates by 15% across a wide variety of NVIDIA GPUs, NVIDIA collaborated with OBS Studio to offer AV1 support. For the first time, AV1 end-to-end is enabled in Discord.
The Bottom Line
Which codec is more advantageous for the future, AV1 or HEVC? When comparing AV1 and HEVC, which codec is better? H.264 didn’t go out of style when H.265 came out, which is 50% more efficient. Even if AV1 performs 30% better, it is still in its early stages. That indicates that HEVC is now the only format supported by the majority of devices. Therefore, we can conclude that when comparing AV1 and HEVC, we think AV1 is more promising, particularly for streaming high-definition content online.