VideoLAN community develops own open-source royalty free AV1 codec

Posted 02 October 2018 18:12 CEST by Jan Willem Aldershoff

The VideoLAN, VLC and FFmpeg communities have created their own cross-platform, royalty free and open source AV1 codec, called Dav1d. Their implementation is reportedly better than the reference implementation that was developed for research, together with writing the AV1 specification. AV1 should be 20% better than HEVC.

It took the developers almost half a year before the AV1 video codec was officially completed. Work will continue to also create an AV1 encoder and decoder.

Dav1d was announced by VLC lead developer Jean Baptiste Kempf, who explains that Dav1d is a recursive acronym for Dav1d is an AV1 decoder. The goal of the project is a decoder that is small, as fast as possible, cross-platform, correctly threaded, free and, as Kempf writes, “libre and (actually) Open Source”.

The latter refers to the reference decoder for AV1, that is developed by the Alliance for Media consortium. Their decoder is also open source, but not developed by a large community. Compared to the reference codec, Dav1d is significantly smaller, both in the number of lines of code and binary size. It also consumes less memory and Dav1d might be just as fast or faster than the reference implementation.

Dav1d could be much faster, according to Kempf, because it doesn’t contain many speed optimizations yet. Speed optimizations are usually developed in the low-level Assembler computer language and currently the code is written in the higher-level  C programming language.  The code already works on 32-bit and 64-bit systems and on both the x86 and ARM architecture. It also runs on several operating systems, such as Windows, Android, iOS, macOS and Linux.

Dav1d has a BSD license which means there are minimal restrictions on the use and redistribution of the software.

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