Enabling AV1 Hardware Video Decoding in Windows 10

AOMedia AV1 royalty-free video codec delivers up to 50% better compression than H.264 and up to 20% better than VP9 for the same video content, so streaming companies like Netflix and YouTube enabled the codec a while ago.

When I play a YouTube video in Chrome in Ubuntu 20.04 and check the stats for nerds info, it will usually show the video is played with “av01.0” codec which refers to AV1, but it’s played with software video decoding using libraries like Dav1d leveraging SIMD instructions. But ideally, you’d want hardware video decoding for lower power consumption for increased battery life, and potentially smoother videos.

Windows 10 AV1 Hardware Video DecodingOne good news is that Microsoft has recently announced support for AV1 GPU-accelerated hardware video decoding in Windows 10. The less good news is that support will be limited to recent and fairly powerful GPUs. So for instance, if you own mini PCs with older Intel SoC featuring integrated Intel HD/UHD graphics, AV1 hardware decoding won’t be supported.

Here are the requirements listed by Microsoft so far:

  • One of these new GPUs or CPUs with the latest drivers:
  • Windows 10 build 1909 (aka November 2019 update) or later
  • Microsoft AV1 Video Extension
  • A web browser or other application with hardware acceleration support for AV1

Once everything is installed and setup, you should get AV1 hardware-accelerated video decoding in Windows 10. If that works, CPU usage should be fairly low even for 4K or 8K videos.

NVIDIA provides more details about Windows 10 AV1 support for their RTX 30 GPUs, including the ability to handle 8K AV1 streams, AV1 hardware video decoding is enabled in Google Chrome and VLC, and NVIDIA is working with Twitch to support 1440p120 video game streaming at 8 Mbps.

Thanks to “NewsTip” for the tip.

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