‘Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 will support AV1 video codec’

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Qualcomm is reportedly planning to support the AV1 video codec in its upcoming Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 soc. Using this codec can reduce data and power consumption when streaming content from YouTube and Netflix.

So say Protocol sources, who have seen the spec sheets for the chip. That chip is the SM8550, which would be the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2, since previous high-end socs were named SM8450, SM8350 and so on. However, smartphones or tablets with that chipset have not yet been announced. The source reports that the chips will come into the hands of manufacturers by the end of this year at the earliest, so that devices with the soc can be expected in 2023. Nor is it completely certain that support will actually come; plans can still change.

AV1 was developed by the Alliance for Open Media. This organization was founded in 2015 by Microsoft, Google, Intel, Mozilla, Amazon, Netflix and Nvidia with the goal of developing a better video compression method more suitable for delivering content over networks. AV1 generally achieves higher quality at low bitrates and the codec is royalty free. The efficiency advantage of the codec could also be used to achieve better quality with the same amount of data, but Netflix does not seem to intend to do that, for example.

While AV1 appears to be well suited for use in streaming over the Internet, the codec’s adoption has been delayed due to a “chicken and the egg” story in support. Qualcomm has never supported it with its popular socs, and Android media players like the Nvidia Shield and the Chromecast with Google TV can’t decode it hardware either. However, that seems to be mandatory for future Android TV devices. MediaTek socs have been supporting it since 2020 and the just released Samsung Galaxy S22, with its own Exynos soc, too. Recent smart TVs also support the codec.

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