The team at Intel that created the SVT-HEVC encoder in September last year have now released SVT-AV1. It is an open source CPU encoder for the AV1 video format.

As it comes under Intel’s Scalable Video Technology (SVT) project, the encoder is optimized for Intel Xeon processors. It requires an Intel Xeon Skylake or newer processor with 112 threads and 48GB RAM to encode videos in 4K resolutions or 16GB RAM to encode videos in 1080p resolutions.

The requirements of the processor are in line with the goals of Intel’s SVT project which is mainly to provide flexible high-performance software encoders for developers. It is focused on server use-cases, such as platforms that are providing streaming media.

Intel aims for its SVT-AV1 encoder to provide a good CPU option for encoding AV1 videos until other robust and dedicated AV1 encoders are available. Its target is for the encoder to run efficiently and fast enough that it can cater to both video-on-demand encoding as well as live encoding applications.

The SVT-AV1 encoder joins the dav1d decoder developed and released by the VideoLAN and FFmpeg community. Between the two, developers will have a solution they can use to both encode and decode AV1 videos.

Since its release SVT-AV1 has already undergone several performance improvements. As it matures more improvements are expected, but it is already far faster than the AOMedia AV1 video encoder that was originally released.

The availability of a solid encoder is a big step in the AV1 adoption roadmap. Prior to this several decoders have been made available, and support has been added to major browsers such as Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Opera, and Microsoft Edge (via an extension).

Support for AV1 video is also available on Windows 10, and is present in the Android Q beta as well. Few options were available for encoding AV1 video however, and the SVT-AV1 encoder has neatly addressed that gap.

Despite the availability of both encoders and decoders, widespread use of AV1 is not expected to start until hardware support for the format begins to roll out in consumer devices. That is scheduled for 2020, though the chipsets that support AV1 may be released late this year.

Consumer software and applications for AV1 will likely on start to be released at around the same time. For now it is technically possible for consumers with a powerful enough PC to convert videos to AV1. Besides that converting AVI to MP4 is easy to do for them with the help of Movavi Video Converter.

As a royalty-free format, AV1 has attracted substantial attention. Early tests have shown it to be capable of compressing videos even more effectively than HEVC, allowing it to save significant bandwidth.

Although it has shown lots of positive signs and is being rapidly adopted, AV1 still has significant hurdles left to clear. In the next year or so legal challenges to its royalty-free status may start to be made as well that could impact the video format.