Qualcomm recently unveiled its new Snapdragon 888 SoC. Unfortunately, it won’t support hardware video decoding in the latest AV1 format developed by Google, Netflix, and other tech giants. Next-generation smartphones will not be able to take advantage of more efficient video streaming or improved quality.

Qualcomm’s vice president of product management, Judd Heape, said the company was unable to incorporate AV1 technology into the new chip due to a desire to bring the new product to market and cost considerations. Qualcomm’s chips will eventually support AV1, he said, but the company hasn’t said when. “AV1 support was not included in this crystal”– he noted in an interview about the new photo and video functions of the Snapdragon 888.

The lack of AV1 in the Snapdragon 888 is a noticeable limiting factor in the new technology spread. Qualcomm’s flagship chip will power millions of smartphones from Samsung, LG, Motorola, OnePlus, Oppo, and Xiaomi. Interestingly, Taiwanese MediaTek has added hardware support for AV1 to its Dimensity 1000 chip, and it is also present in the latest Apple chips.

AV1 technology is designed to improve the efficiency of data compression, especially in high definition. YouTube, Facebook, and Netflix support AV1 for online video. It is promoted by an alliance that includes Microsoft, Amazon, Mozilla, Intel, ARM, AMD, NVIDIA, and Cisco. The advantage of AV1, in contrast to HEVC, is that there is no need to pay licenses.


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