, Volume 73, Issue 3, pp 931-944
Date: 19 Aug 2012

Hardware design focusing in the tradeoff cost versus quality for the H.264/AVC fractional motion estimation targeting high definition videos

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This article presents an architecture for the fractional motion estimation (FME) of the H.264/AVC video coding standard focusing in a good tradeoff between the hardware cost and the video quality. The support to FME guarantees a high quality in the motion estimation process. The applied algorithmic simplifications together with the multiplierless implementation and with a well balanced pipeline allow a low cost and a high throughput solution. The architecture was also designed to avoid redundant external memory accesses when computing the FME. The design was divided in two main modules: integer motion estimation (with diamond search algorithm) and fractional refinement (half-pixel and quarter-pixel interpolation and search). The designed architecture was described in VHDL and synthesized to an Altera Stratix III FPGA. The architecture is able to reach 260 MHz when running in the target FPGA. In worst case scenario, this operation frequency allows a processing rate of 43 HD 1080p (1,920 × 1,080 pixels) frames per second, surpassing the requirements for real time processing. In comparison to related works, the developed architecture was able to achieve a good tradeoff among hardware costs, video quality and processing rate.