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MediaTek's Pentonic 2000 is World's first TV SoC with H.266 support

With ever increasing computational needs from TV SoCs, as we're moving towards higher resolutions and refresh rates, MediaTek is getting ready for the next generation of 8K TVs with its new Pentonic 2000 SoC. This is the world's first TV SoC to support the new H.266 video codec standard, which is an evolution of the H.265 intended for 8K content.

The Pentonic 2000 is fabbed using TSMC's N7 node and it's the first commercial TV SoC to be made on this manufacturing process according to MediaTek. The SoC supports 8K resolution content at up to 120 Hz with MEMC (Motion Estimation, Motion Compensation) and has an integrated AI engine to help improve scaling from lower resolutions. MediaTek also claims that the Pentonic 2000 features the "industry's most powerful CPU and GPU" in a smart TV SoC, without giving away any actual details, although it the SoC does support UFS 3.1 storage, which suggests that we're looking at a recent Arm Cortex-A7x based SoC at the very least.

First AMD Radeon Vega M Drivers for Intel NUC8i7HNK and NUC8i7HVK in Over 16 Months Released

Intel and AMD released the first Radeon Software drivers for the exotic Radeon Vega M graphics found in Intel NUC8i7HNK and NUC8i7HVK, in over 16 months. The Intel Download Center just added version 21.10.03.11 of Radeon Software for the graphics solution, dated 09/09/2021. The previous drivers dated all the way back to February 2020, and were based on Adrenalin 20.2.

The drivers are based on a release candidate of Adrenalin 21.10, which is 21.10RC1, but does not include the security updates AMD could be bundling with the upcoming 21.10 drivers (October 2021). "Radeon RX Vega M Graphics Driver version 21.10.03.11, which is based on 21.10RC1, does not include the latest functional and security updates. An update is targeted to be released in March of 2022 and will include additional functional and security updates. Customers should update to the latest version as it becomes available," says Intel in the release notes of the drivers. The drivers do include optimization for the latest games, including "Metro Exodus" (DX12), and "Resident Evil Village," besides adding support for Microsoft PlayReady AV1 decode.

DOWNLOAD: AMD Radeon Vega M drivers for Intel NUC8i7HNK and NUC8i7HVK from Intel

AMD Releases Radeon Software Adrenalin 21.4.1 WHQL with Dozens of New Features

AMD today released the Radeon Software Adrenalin 21.4.1 drivers, which introduce major updates to the soft-product that completes your AMD Radeon graphics cards. The drivers come with updates to the Radeon Software interface, and the AMD Link remote-gameplay utility. Radeon Software now comes with an improved installer with installation presets that let you choose between a Full (typical) installation, with all software features installed; a Minimal installation with an interface that only has basic settings related to the display and GPU; and "driver-only" that only installs the display driver, and no additional software.

There are several new features introduced within Radeon Software. Vivid Gaming Display Color Enhancement is a new monitor color profile that enables a more "vivid" color palette that lets you liven up "color deficient" scenes. The interface lets you take control of protanopia, deuteranopia, and tritanopia components of the color. The search bar that lets you dig through the hundreds of features, has been improved. There are many other minor UI improvements, such as stats in the Games tab, a toggle for the in-built web-browser, and global controls for the hotkeys.

DOWNLOAD: AMD Radeon Software Adrenalin 21.4.1

NVIDIA Updates Video Encode and Decode Matrix with Reference to Ampere GPUs

NVIDIA has today updated its video encode and decode matrix with references to the latest Ampere GPU family. The video encode/decode matrix represents a table of supported video encoding and decoding standards on different NVIDIA GPUs. The matrix has a reference dating back to the Maxwell generation of NVIDIA graphics cards, showing what video codecs are supported by each generation. That is a useful tool for reference purposes, as customers can check if their existing or upcoming GPUs support a specific codec standard if they need any for video reproduction purposes. The update to the matrix comes in a form of Ampere GPUs, which are now present there.

For example, the table shows that, while supporting all of the previous generations of encoding standards, the Ampere based GPUs feature support for HEVC B Frame standard. For decoding purposes, the Ampere lineup now includes support for AV1 8-bit and 10-bit formats, while also supporting all of the previous generation formats. For a more detailed look at the table please go toNVIDIA's website here.
NVIDIA Encoding and Decoding Standards

AMD RDNA2 Graphics Architecture Features AV1 Decode Hardware-Acceleration

AMD's RDNA2 graphics architecture features hardware-accelerated decoding of the AV1 video format, according to a Microsoft blog announcing the format's integration with Windows 10. The blog mentions the three latest graphics architectures among those that support accelerated decoding of the format—Intel Gen12 Iris Xe, NVIDIA RTX 30-series "Ampere," and AMD RX 6000-series "RDNA2." The AV1 format is being actively promoted by major hardware vendors to online streaming content providers, as it offers 50% better compression than the prevalent H.264 (translating into that much bandwidth savings), and 20% better compression than VP9. You don't need these GPUs to use AV1, anyone can use it with Windows 10 (version 1909 or later), by installing the AV1 Video Extension from the Microsoft Store. The codec will use software (CPU) decode in the absence of hardware acceleration.

Intel Launches World's Best Processor for Thin-and-Light Laptops: 11th Gen Intel Core

Intel today unleashed a new era of laptop performance with the launch of its next-generation mobile PC processors and the evolution of its broad ecosystem partnerships that are propelling the mobile PC industry forward. New 11th Gen Intel Core processors with Intel Iris Xe graphics (code-named "Tiger Lake") are the world's best processors for thin-and-light laptops with unmatched capabilities for real-world productivity, collaboration, creation, gaming and entertainment across Windows and ChromeOS-based laptops.

Leveraging Intel's new SuperFin process technology, 11th Gen Intel Core processors optimize power efficiency with leading performance and responsiveness while running at significantly higher frequencies versus prior generations. More than 150 designs based on 11th Gen Intel Core processors are expected from partners including Acer, ASUS, Dell, Dynabook, HP, Lenovo, LG, MSI, Razer, Samsung and others.

Intel "Willow Cove" Core, Xe LP iGPU, and "Tiger Lake" SoC Detailed

A lot is riding for Intel on its 11th Gen Core "Tiger Lake" system-on-chip (SoC), which will launch exclusively on mobile platforms, hoping to dominate the 7 W thru 15 W ultraportable form-factors in 2020, while eventually scaling up to the 25 W thru 45 W H-segment form-factors in 2021, with a variant that is rumored to double core-counts. The chip is built on Intel's new 10 nm SuperFin silicon fabrication node that enables a double digit percentage energy efficiency growth over 10 nm, allowing Intel to significantly dial up clock speeds without impacting the power envelope. The CPU and iGPU make up the two key components of the "Tiger Lake" SoC.

The CPU component on the "Tiger Lake" processors that launch in a few weeks from now features four "Willow Cove" CPU cores. Coupled with HyperThreading, this ends up being a 4-core/8-thread setup, although much of Intel's innovation is in giving these cores significant IPC increases over the "Skylake" core powering "Comet Lake" processors, and compared to the "Sunny Cove" cores powering "Ice Lake" a minor IPC (although major net performance increase from clock speeds). The "Willow Cove" CPU core appears to be a derivative of the "Sunny Cove" core, designed to take advantage of the 10 nm SuperFin node, along with three key innovations.

MediaTek Announces First SoC with AV1 Hardware Acceleration

MediaTek has announced it will enable YouTube video streams using the cutting-edge AV1 video codec on the MediaTek Dimensity 1000 5G SoC. The MediaTek Dimensity 1000 is the world's first smartphone SoC to integrate an AV1 hardware video decoder, enabling it to play back AV1 video streams up to 4K resolution at 60 fps. With its improved compression efficiency, AV1 gives users incredible visual quality and smoother video experiences, while using less data.

Video streaming is the number one activity in smartphone use, so by using the Dimensity 1000's more power efficient hardware-based AV1 video decoder, users can enjoy longer battery life while still streaming at the best quality settings. Combined with its ultra-fast 5G connectivity in a single chip, the Dimensity 1000 leads the industry in design and capability.

YouTube and Netflix Begin Rationing Their Bandwidth as Lockdowns Surge Online Traffic

Popular video streaming sites YouTube and Netflix have reportedly started rationing their bandwidth by limiting video quality, as online traffic to their services surge to record levels. With COVID-19 lockdowns forcing people to take to online entertainment, the sites are reporting an unprecedented strain on their finite Internet bandwidth. In Europe, the two sites have capped their video quality to 480p, or slightly worse than DVD quality.

Despite the mighty backing of AWS, the world's largest CDN, Amazon's Prime Video is also finding itself having to cap quality based on regional bandwidth constraints. Google is already engaging with governments and ISPs to minimize strain on available Internet bandwidth. Streaming video remains the number one bandwidth consumer. Governments would want to prioritize bandwidth for companies operating remote- or virtual desktops for their employees working from home. Perhaps there's no better time to upgrade online video codecs to newer bandwidth-efficient ones like AV1.

Intel Rocket Lake-S Platform Detailed, Features PCIe 4.0 and Xe Graphics

Intel's upcoming Rocket Lake-S desktop platform is expected to arrive sometime later this year, however, we didn't have any concrete details on what will it bring. Thanks to the exclusive information obtained by VideoCardz'es sources at Intel, there are some more details regarding the RKL-S platform. To start, the RKL-S platform is based on a 500-series chipset. This is an iteration of the upcoming 400-series chipset, and it features many platform improvements. The 500-series chipset based motherboards will supposedly have an LGA 1200 socket, which is an improvement in pin count compared to LGA 1151 socket found on 300 series chipset.

The main improvement is the CPU core itself, which is supposedly a 14 nm adaptation of Tiger Lake-U based on Willow Cove core. This design is representing a backport of IP to an older manufacturing node, which results in bigger die space due to larger node used. When it comes to the platform improvements, it will support the long-awaited PCIe 4.0 connection already present on competing platforms from AMD. It will enable much faster SSD speeds as there are already PCIe 4.0 NVMe devices that run at 7 GB/s speeds. With RKL-S, there will be 20 PCIe 4.0 lanes present, where four would go to the NVMe SSD and 16 would go to the PCIe slots from GPUs. Another interesting feature of the RKL-S is the addition of Xe graphics found on the CPU die, meant as iGPU. Supposedly based on Gen12 graphics, it will bring support for HDMI 2.0b and DisplayPort 1.4a connectors.
Intel Rocket Lake-S Platform

Intel Partners with Netflix to Deploy AV1 CODEC as its 4K Backbone

At The National Association of Broadcasters Show (NAB Show) today, Intel and Netflix announced a new high-performance video codec that is available as open source and royalty-free to content creators, developers and service providers. Scalable Video Technology for AV1 (SVT-AV1) offers performance and scalability in video processing.

"The SVT-AV1 codec offers both high performance and efficiency. And compared to today's most popular codec (H.264 AVC), SVT-AV1 can help service providers save up to half their bandwidth, delivering leading-edge user experiences that can be quickly and cost-effectively delivered at a global scale. This codec makes it possible for services ranging from video on demand to live broadcast of 4Kp60/10-bit content on Intel Xeon Scalable processors, including the recently launched 2nd-Generation Intel Xeon Scalable processor," said Lynn Comp, Intel vice president of the Network Platforms Group and general manager of the Visual Cloud Division.

AVIF an AV1-based Compressed Still Image Format that Challenges HEIF, Goes v1.0.0

AVIF is a derivative of the AV1 compressed video format for still images that offer image-quality rivaling the HEVC-derived HEIF, while demonstrating superior compression. Earlier this month on February 19, the format was formally published on GitHub as version 1.0.0, collaboratively edited by engineers employed by Netflix and Microsoft, even as development of the AV1 format itself was largely led by Google. AV1 is sought after by on-demand video service companies for its royalty-free nature compared to HEVC. Netflix eyes AV1 as its key to ramp up to 4K and HDR content. YouTube, too, is looking to phase out H.264 in favor of AV1. AVIF, on the other hand, could challenge HEIC, which is the default image format used by Apple in its iOS devices. Google could propagate AVIF though its Android ecosystem, letting consumers capture photos in the format that saves storage space and data bandwidth.

Intel Posts Open-Source AV1 Encoder for Online Streaming Servers

Intel posted an open-source video encoder for the new AV1 video format, targeted at online streaming servers that process large amounts of online videos for streaming. The new SVT-AV1 (Scalable Video Technology-AV1), is an BSD-2-Clause-Patent licensed video encoder that supports Linux, Windows, and MacOS operating systems, optimized for Intel Xeon Scalable processors based on the "Skylake" microarchitecture and older, as it probably leverages the AVX-512 instruction-set. It has some pretty steep hardware requirements from a client viewpoint, but nothing big video stream service providers can't afford: 48 GB of minimum RAM for a 10 bpc 4K stream, or 16 GB for a Full-HD stream. The encoder can scale up to 112 logical processors. Intel earlier offered a similar encoder for the proprietary H.265/HEVC format, with SVT-HEVC. You can inspect and grab SVT-AV1 from Intel's Git.

YouTube Begins Beta-testing AV1 CODEC on Beta Web-browsers

YouTube began posting its first test videos that implement the AV1 video CODEC, which aims to significantly reduce video stream bandwidths without sacrificing quality, exceeding the compression standards set by even HEVC. AV1 provides an architecture for both moving and still images, and Google, which is partly funding its development, foresees a future in which it replaces entrenched standards such as JPEG and H.264. Besides better compression, its key USP is its royalty-free license, which could translate to tangible operating-cost savings for YouTube and other video streaming services.

YouTube developers posted this playlist with a selection of videos that are encoded in AV1. You may not notice a reduction in your data consumption just yet, because the first batch of videos have been encoded at a very high bitrate to test performance. Future playlists (which will pop up on YouTube Developers channel), could test the CODEC's other more important aspects, such as data savings. To watch them, and test YouTube's AV1 player for them, you'll either need Chrome 70 beta or the latest nightly-build of Firefox (64.0a1), which pack AV1 support.

Alliance for Open Media Announces the AV1 Royalty-free Video Format

Consumers' video expectations are being shaped by the brilliant images promised by 4K Ultra High Definition (UHD) video and beyond. However, the technical-based hurdles and data demands of higher quality video mean that the majority of users only have access to full HD or lower video technology. For nearly three years, the Alliance for Open Media (AOMedia) has been working in lock-step with its members, the world's best-known leaders in video, to develop a better quality internet video technology that benefits all consumers. Today, the Alliance is proud to announce the public release of the AOMedia Video Codec 1.0 (AV1) specification, which delivers cross-platform, 4K UHD or higher online video, royalty-free - all while lowering data usage.

Whether watching live sports, video chatting with loved ones, or binging on a favorite show, online video is becoming a bigger part of consumers' daily lives. In fact, video is so important to users that by 2021, 82 percent of all the world's internet traffic will be video, according to the Cisco Visual Networking Index , 2016-2021. To remove many of the hurdles required by older, optical disc-era, video technologies, AOMedia developed AV1 specifically for the internet video-era, paving the way for companies to make more of the royalty-free, 4K UHD and higher video devices, products, and services that consumers love.

Google and Mozilla Push for AV1 Image Format Adoption, Beats JPEG and HEIC

Google and Mozilla, the companies behind the Chrome and Firefox cross-platform web-browsers; are pushing for the adoption of a new web image format to replace the ageing and inefficient JPEG, and the license-ridden HEIC. The two companies are leading a consortium of Internet businesses, called the Alliance for Open Media, to push for the proliferation and standardization of the new AV1 image file format. Early testing shows AV1 files to be 15 percent smaller than HEIC for comparable quality, which in turn promises half the file-size of JPEG for comparable quality. Apple uses HEIC as the default image file format for iOS and MacOS, while JPEG, PNG, and GIF continue to be the dominant web image formats, and have been prevalent for over two decades now.

"It seems downright silly that we're still relying on compression tech from 20 years ago," said Kelly Thompson, general manager at 500px, a photo sharing and sales site. "The equipment we're using to capture and display images is now exceeding JPEG's upper limits." JPEG is not just inefficient, but also has severe color palette limitations, and lack of support for transparency. Adoption of newer image file formats could significantly reduce Internet bandwidth usage benefiting both end-users running on slower/metered connections; and for infrastructure providers, such as ISPs.
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