Chrome 89 Preparing To Ship With AV1 Encoder For WebRTC Usage

Written by Michael Larabel in Google on 22 January 2021 at 06:14 AM EST. 38 Comments
Now that Chrome 88 released, attention is turning to Chrome 89 of which an interesting technical change is the enabling of AV1 encode support within the web browser.

Going back to 2018 there's been AV1 decode support within the browser when wanting to enjoy content encoded in this royalty-free, modern codec. But now for Chrome 89 is coming AV1 encode support.

AV1 encode support is being added for the WebRTC use-case for real-time conferencing. Web applications like WebEx, Meet, and Duo (among others) already support using AV1 for better compression efficiency, improved low-bandwidth handling, and greater screen sharing efficiency. While hardware-based AV1 encoding isn't yet common, Chrome Linux/macOS/Windows desktop builds are adding the ability to use CPU-based AV1 encoding.

The AV1 encoding flag is being flipped on for Chrome 89 and is making use of the reference AOMedia libaom encoder. The AOMedia AV1 encoder performance can vary wildly depending upon your processor but at least for lower resolution scenarios or pulling back the quality by a lot should work out fine for most users.

Details on the Chrome AV1 encode plans for milestone 89 can be found here.

Mozilla has similarly been working to enable AV1 encode support in Firefox. On the Firefox AV1 encode front their plan is to make use of the Rust-written rav1e encoder for which its performance is still improving.

Aside from AV1 encode, Chrome 89 is also working on supporting a number of new CSS properties, the Streams API for creating/composing/consuming arbitrary streams of data, the await keyword will be supported within top-level JavaScript modules, WebNFC support for browser-based NFC tags support, new Web Share API support, enabling of WebHID, and other new web interfaces being worked on.
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