RDNA3 AV1 support: everything we know

AMD's RDNA3 GPUs could host a slew of necessary upgrades, main among them being AV1 support for enhanced video streaming

RDNA3 AV1 support

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The release of AMD’s RDNA3 GPU is closing in, and there’s still a myriad of questions left up in the air. Earlier this year it was believed that RDNA3 AV1 support would not be possible. However, according to Linux drivers patches discovered by the Twitter account @Kepler_L2, AMD’s RDNA3-based GPUs with VCN 4x engines will support the hardware AV1 encoding.

It was already suspicious that rumors were claiming AV1, the newest and greatest open-source video encoding, would not be supported by RDNA3 GPUs. As weird as it looked, however, it’s a relief to hear from a believable source that this video codec is supported by the GPU.

What is AV1 support?

AV1 is a video encoding design for video streaming. One of the greatest advantages over some other more classic encoders, like AVC and HEVC, is that AV1 is open-source and royalty-free. It was created with the specific purpose of being an open alternative. Big-name firms, like Amazon, Cisco, Intel, Microsoft, Mozilla, and Netflix, are among those listed as founders. 

Besides being open source, AV1 coding offers a more powerful solution to coding and decoding video. It does this by using “block-based frequency transformations” that basically divide frames into small blocks of pixel groups to then store the data so it can be easily reconstructed.

The way AV1 performs this process is by adding superblocks of 128×128 or 64×64 pixels, which makes its encoding process way more efficient and requires far less bandwidth from the system for even better-looking image quality. 

Is AV1 better than HEVC?

Although the AV1 encoding process is more efficient and gives better-looking results, its functionality can be quite difficult. It can only be obtained by forcing it on a CPU by software, making it more computationally intensive than even H.265 HEVC, which ends up in more battery life drainage.

However, the fact that the vast majority of GPU manufacturers, both for desktop and mobile platforms, have adopted and supported AV1 encoding is a clear-cut reason to consider it as better overall than HEVC.

On the other hand, the difficulty and high demand behind its functionality are what have created several doubts about RDNA3 supporting AV1. After all, it could be within reason for AMD to depart paths from Intel’s guise and pave its own way as it did by dropping DDR4 support on Ryzen CPUs.