Intel will ring in 2022 with the new, faster version of the AV1 encoder

Intel, in cooperation with the Alliance for Open Media, continues to develop the SVT-AV1 as an AV1 video encoder based on a flagship processor. With the upcoming SVT-AV1 update there are performance optimizations as well as several new preset levels for even better performance. Here are some early benchmarks of this updated SVT-AV1.

Intel will start a new year with some great improvements in AV1 encoding performance …

It has been over six months since SVT-AV1 0.8.7 was released while version 0.8.8 is being prepared for release. Currently 0.8.8-rc2 is available for testing while Intel engineers work on releasing the official update in January.

While SVT-AV1 0.8.8 from a conventional versioning point of view might not sound very exciting, it’s actually a heavy update with more performance optimizations and new preset levels. – 9 to 12. These new presets allow even higher levels of performance and the ability to handle more AV1 encodings simultaneously on the servers. These presets are of good enough quality that they are already of interest to Intel customers and not just provide fast encoding times for reference.

Using SVT-AV1 near-final 0.8.8-rc2, on a Xeon Platinum 8380 2P benchmark server running Ubuntu Linux, I ran some benchmark tests looking at performance:

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

Likewise, even for AV1 1080p encoding, SVT-AV1 0.8.8 version outperformed v0.8.7 at all levels of preset 3 and above. The 1/2 preset was slightly slower due to known tradeoffs between quality and performance. The Xeon Scalable Ice Lake server for 1080p content was encoded at 204 FPS at preset level 8 compared to 165 FPS with v0.8.7. Or jumping from the previous high of preset 8 to now possible preset 12, this has more than tripled from 204 to 669 FPS!

Even ignoring preset levels 9-12, SVT-AV1 0.8.8’s improvements over existing presets are excellent without sacrificing quality.

Average over 1080p and 4K and presets 1-8, the SVT-AV1 0.8.8 version appears to be around 21% faster than the previous version.

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


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Steven L. Nielsen