Smaller videos are here with AV1, so why is Qualcomm waiting for VVC?

Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 SoC up close


  • A Qualcomm representative suggested that the company would skip AV1 encoding.
  • The representative suggested that Qualcomm could move to VVC encoding instead.
  • This will allow for much smaller file sizes when recording video on mobile.

Qualcomm launched the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chipset in November 2022, and it powers the most advanced smartphones from various brands. One notable multimedia-related addition is AV1 decode/playback support.

Why AV1 playback matters

The AV1 codec is a free, open-source video codec that offers better video quality and up to 30% smaller file sizes than the High Efficiency Video Codec (HEVC) used by many companies and content services today. More specifically, you should expect either the same quality with the smaller file size or better quality for the same file size.

These advantages have resulted in mobile chipsets from Samsung, Google, MediaTek, and now Qualcomm all offering AV1 decoding/playback support. In addition, Netflix and YouTube offered AV1 video streams to supported Android phones as of 2020, using this codec to save bandwidth for users.

The Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 and chipsets from other brands still rely on the older HEVC codec to record video on phones though, but will we actually see AV1 encoding (eg recording) capabilities coming to mobile chips? Unfortunately, it looks like you shouldn’t be able to resist Qualcomm implementing this feature.

Qualcomm skip AV1 encoding?

Qualcomm’s vice president of product management for cameras suggested Judd Heape Android Authority that the company will skip AV1 encoding in favor of a future video codec.

“I don’t see AV1 codec getting much traction in mobile, let me put it this way,” Heape noted in an interview, adding that the company thought VVC (Versatile Video Codec) would be better than AV1 in terms of encoding. . efficiency

There is not that much demand for it (AV1). And in mobile, I think our next codec that we will probably implement will not be AV1 encoding. There will be something else like VVC, yes. I can’t tell you when, I can’t tell you the products, but I think overall, Qualcomm is very interested in VVC going forward.

Heape also explained that the AV1 encoder is “quite complicated” and that the “cost versus return” for it is probably not that attractive for mobile compared to the existing HEVC encoding support.

The Qualcomm representative noted that it will offer AV1 encoding support in other product segments, but that the legacy H.264 and HEVC encoding capabilities “will take us a few more years” in mobile.

It seems odd that Qualcomm and other chipmakers would avoid AV1 encoding now, given its free and open-source nature. However, HEVC still seems to be doing a pretty good job at the moment. In addition, Heape’s performance comments suggest that your phone’s battery life could be affected by recording video with AV1 encoding.

What is the deal with VVC?

There is indeed a new codec in the works called VVC or H.266. This promises to deliver the same video quality as HEVC at half the file size. In addition, VVC is claimed to enable the delivery of 4K video content at file sizes currently used for HD content. Having said that, VVC is not a free and open source codec (unlike AV1), so companies will have to pay to use it.

However, we wish to see smartphones and SoCs adopting this codec in the future, as it should enable much smaller file sizes when recording video. This codec is especially important in light of smartphone video developments such as 8K recording, 4K/120fps video and other advanced video options.

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