Intel is the first GPU manufacturer to offer AV1 encoding capabilities within its Arc graphics lineup. Thanks to YouTuber EposVox, who tested the technology on an Arc A380 graphics card, we were lucky to see the encoding in action. The YouTuber discovered that AV1 is highly efficient for video streams that produce a low bit rate. It outperformed all H.264 hardware encoders, such as the NVENC encoder from rival NVIDIA.
Intel AV1 Encoder outperforms rival NVIDIA’s NVENC H.264 video codec
Many videos on YouTube that are watched daily have adopted the new AV1 encoding, especially over the last few years of development. Intel’s AV1 video encoding was initially developed by the Alliance for Open Media as a royalty-free open-source video coding format in 2015. The format is revolutionary in theory and free, allowing it to be more accessible for users to utilize via the Internet. AV1 produces fewer file sizes than the H.264 format, offering a vastly larger compression capability.
In the last several years, AV1 was increasingly adopted in video streaming platforms and has seen more extensive use in graphics card architectures, such as the NVIDIA RTX 30 series, AMD’s RDNA 2 architecture, and recently in Intel’s iGPUs. Sony also integrated the technology in the PlayStation 4 Pro console gaming system.
In content creation, especially in streaming, AV1 has not seen full utilization, even with the video encoding available. Current graphics engines do not offer support for AV1 encoder engines. With software assistance, a system’s processor can utilize the AV1 codec. However, hardware that can accelerate AV1 encoding properly has never been developed, except for Intel’s recent Arc graphics cards.
In the above video, EposVox placed Intel’s AV1 encoder and tested the technology against several H.264 encoders. Included in the testing were AMD’s AMF, Intel’s Quick Sync, NVIDIA NVENC, and software options available in streaming packages, such as the streaming software OBS.
The YouTuber used Netflix’s VMAF benchmark tool that allows the user to analyze video quality with a scoring of 0 (which would be considered impossible to watch) to 100 (the best quality of video imaginable). The benchmark tool compares the video quality to uncompressed video and is tested at 3.5MBps, 6MBps, and 8MBps.
The video used was footage from the game Battlefield 2042. At 3.5MBps, Intel’s AV1 video encoder scored 83 points, while at 6MBps, it reached 90 out of 100 points available. On the other hand, NVIDIA NVENC scored 71 at 3.5MBps, but 8MBps achieved 85 points. AMD and its AMF encoder were similar to NVIDIA, and Intel’s Quick Sync encoder reached 76 and 87, respectively. Intel utilizes the Quick Sync encoder in the Alder Lake platform currently.
The benchmark test produced by EposVox shows that the Intel AV1 video codec has an increase of sixteen percent better performance than NVIDIA and AMD.
OBS offered surprising results with its H.264 software-based encoder preset, x264 VerySlow. The integrated software offered 78 points at 3.5 MBps and 88 at 6MBps. However, for streaming, it is not a usable format, so streamers would better avoid the setting altogether.
As EposVox has educated users on streaming in general, it is notable that 3.5 MBps is more accessible to viewers and the sweet setting when using Intel and the AV1 encoding. It produces a more available stream quality while utilizing fewer resources than rival companies.
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