Intel To Ring In 2022 With New, Faster AV1 Encoder Release

Written by Michael Larabel in Software on 31 December 2021 at 02:00 PM EST. Page 1 of 2. 12 Comments.

Intel in cooperation with the Alliance for Open Media continues developing SVT-AV1 as the flagship CPU-based AV1 video encoder. With the next SVT-AV1 update there are performance optimizations as well as several new preset levels allowing for even greater performance. Here are some early benchmarks of that updated SVT-AV1.

Intel will be starting off a new year with some very nice AV1 encode performance improvements...

It's been over a half-year already since SVT-AV1 0.8.7 shipped while v0.8.8 is now being prepared for release. Currently 0.8.8-rc2 is available for testing while Intel engineers are working on having the official update out in January.

While SVT-AV1 0.8.8 from a conventional versioning perspective may not sound very exciting, it actually is a hefty update with more performance optimizations and new preset levels -- 9 through 12. These new presets allow for even higher levels of performance and the ability to handle more AV1 encodes concurrently on servers. These presets are good enough quality that they already have the interest of Intel customers and achieving more than just delivering fast encode times for benchmark purposes.

Using the near-final 0.8.8-rc2 state of SVT-AV1, on a Xeon Platinum 8380 2P reference server running Ubuntu Linux I ran some comparison benchmarks looking at the performance:

At preset levels of 5 through 8, SVT-AV1 0.8.8-rc2 was already yielding better performance than SVT-AV1 0.8.7... But now with the new preset levels, it's possible to encode much faster. At preset level 8, the Xeon Platinum 8380 2P server could encode a 4K stream at 95 FPS. But with preset 9 that bumped up to 112 FPS, preset 10 at 163 FPS, preset 11 at 189 FPS, and preset 12 at 206 FPS.

Similarly, even for 1080p AV1 encoding the SVT-AV1 0.8.8 release was outperforming v0.8.7 at all levels of preset 3 and above. Preset 1/2 were slightly slower due to known trade-offs between quality and performance. The Xeon Scalable Ice Lake server for the 1080p content was encoding at 204 FPS at preset level 8 compared to 165 FPS with v0.8.7. Or when jumping from the previous top of preset 8 to now the possible preset 12, that was more than tripled from 204 to 669 FPS!

Even ignoring the preset 9-12 levels, the improvements made by SVT-AV1 0.8.8 on existing presets are great without sacrificing quality.

On average across both 1080p and 4K and the presets 1 through 8, the SVT-AV1 0.8.8 release is looking to be about 21% faster than the prior release.

In addition to the Xeon Platinum 8380 2P server testing, I also carried out some benchmarks on an Intel Core i9 12900K "Alder Lake" desktop going back further with more SVT-AV1 versions.

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