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H.264/AVC significantly outperforms previous video coding standards with many new coding tools. However, the better performance comes at the price of the extraordinarily huge computational complexity and memory access requirement, which makes it difficult to design a hardwired encoder for real-time applications. In addition, due to the complex, sequential, and highly data-dependent characteristics of the essential algorithms in H.264/AVC, both the pipelining and the parallel processing techniques are constrained to be employed. The hardware utilization and throughput are also decreased because of the block/MB/frame-level reconstruction loops. In this paper, we describe our techniques to design the H.264/AVC video encoder for HDTV applications. On the system design level, in consideration of the characteristics of the key components and the reconstruction loops, the four-stage macroblock pipelined system architecture is first proposed with an efficient scheduling and memory hierarchy. On the module design level, the design considerations of the significant modules are addressed followed by the hardware architectures, including low-bandwidth integer motion estimation, parallel fractional motion estimation, reconfigurable intrapredictor generator, dual-buffer block-pipelined entropy coder, and deblocking filter. With these techniques, the prototype chip of the efficient H.264/AVC encoder is implemented with 922.8 K logic gates and 34.72-KB SRAM at 108-MHz operation frequency.