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Apple finally embraces the AV1 video format

13 Sep 2023 | Rasmus Larsen |

Five years after joining the Alliance for Open Media, Apple has finally added hardware-accelerated support for the AV1 video format with the A17 Pro chip in iPhone 15 Pro.

In 2018, Apple joined the Alliance for Open Media (AOM) that is responsible for the open, royalty-free AV1 video format – an alternative to the royalty-based HEVC video format. Amazon, ARM, Cisco, Facebook, Google, IBM, Intel, Microsoft, Mozilla, Netflix, and Nvidia are also members of the alliance.

In 2022, Apple added support for AV1 in its AVFoundation framework across tvOS, iOS, iPadOS and macOS, and AV1 videos can already be decoded in software on Apple TV 4K with limitations, as documented in FlatpanelsHD's review of Apple TV 4K (2022).

AV1 hardware support

At yesterday's event, Apple finally announced hardware-accelerated support for AV1 as part of an upgraded video engine in the A17 Pro chip for iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max. - "A17 Pro includes a dedicated AV1 decoder, enabling more efficient, high-quality video experiences for streaming services," announced Apple.

A17 Pro AV1

From Apple's presentation of iPhone 15 Pro with the A17 Pro chip

Apple TV later

Since Apple's A-series chips are also used in the Apple TV boxes, we can expect hardware-accelerated AV1 video decoding to arrive on Apple TV at some point in the future. For example, the latest Apple TV 4K (2022) features the A15 chip from 2021. Apple said that the addition of USB-C in combination with A17 Pro also enables support for 4K60 HDR video output from iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max to a monitor with DisplayPort. - "Additionally, a new USB controller enables USB 3 speeds on iPhone for the first time, now supporting much higher transfer speeds and video output up to 4K at 60 fps HDR."

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