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Last week, Mozilla announced the release of Firefox 67, with many performance enhancing features to make Firefox “faster than ever”. On Thursday, Nathan Egge and Christopher Montgomery wrote a blogpost explaining the importance of high performance, royalty free AV1 video decoder, called ‘dav1d’. This feature is now enabled by default on all desktop platforms of Mozilla (Windows, OSX and Linux) for both 32-bit and 64-bit systems.

AV1 allows high-quality video experience with very less network usage. It’s files are 30% smaller than today’s most popular web codec VP9. AV1 is also 50% smaller than its widely deployed predecessor H.264. AV1 has the potential to transform how and where we watch videos on the internet. ‘Dav1d’ allows developers to rewrite critical sections in highly-parallelized SIMD assembly allowing higher performance and greater efficiency. This enables smooth playback of AV1 video in the browser with significantly less CPU utilization.

In 2018, Matt Frost, head of strategy and partnerships for Chrome Media at Google had predicted that it would take another two years for AV1 to adopt wide scale. He had said, “Hardware support will likely come in 2020, as chip development typically takes two to three years”. However statistics prove that ‘dav1d’ can turn this prediction upside down.

In the last few months, Firefox Beta has seen a remarkable growth in video playback after implementing AV1. Firefox Beta latest figures show 11.8% of playback proportion in April 2019, up from 3% in March and 0.85% in February. Looking at this growth, more websites are expected to take advantage of this next-generation video codec AV1.

Image Source: Mozilla Hacks

With its immense advantages, Mozilla has decided to invest in the future of AV1. Mozilla and Xiph.Org are jointly developing a clean-room encoder named rav1e (the Rust AV1 Encoder). This will help in increasing encoding gains, i.e., reducing the signal-to-noise ratio which in turn will allow software encoding fast enough for real-time applications like WebRTC. Rav1e will develop methods to make AV1 encoding tools 1000x faster by finding new algorithms, rather than simply optimizing existing code.

A user on Hacker News comments, “AV1’s been making good progress in Firefox. A 1080p60 video has gone from being essentially unplayable in AV1 to now being almost perfect on my 5-year old, AVX2 enabled laptop in Firefox 68 beta

Visit the Mozilla Blog to know more about dav1d and rav1e.

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