Amongst the video compression standards, the latest one is the H.264/AVC. This standard reaches the highest compression rates when compared to the previous standards. On the other hand, it has a high computational complexity. This high computational complexity makes it difficult the development of software applications running in a current processor when high definitions videos are considered. Thus, hardware implementations become essential. Addressing the hardware architectures, this work presents the architectural design for the variable block size motion estimation (VBSME) defined in the H.264/AVC standard. This architecture is based on full search motion estimation algorithm and SAD calculation. This architecture is able to produce the 41 motion vectors within a macroblock as specified in the standard. The implementation of this architecture was based on standard cell methodology in 0.18 mum CMOS technology. The architecture reached a throughput of 34 1080HD frames per second.