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Variable-block-size motion estimation (VBSME) is one of the contributors to H.264/Advanced Video Coding (AVC)'s excellent coding efficiency. Due to its high computational complexity, however, VBSME needs acceleration for real-time high-resolution applications. We propose a high-performance hardware architecture for H.264/AVC fractional motion estimation. Our architecture consists of three parallel processing engines, one for 4 ?? 4 and 8 ?? 8 blocks, one for 8 ?? 4 and 4 ?? 8 blocks, and another for the remaining type of blocks. In addition, we propose a resource-sharing scheme which saves 33% of hardware cost for the computation of the sum of absolute transformed difference. Synthesized into a Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) 180-nm CMOS cell library, our 321-K gate design only needs to run at 154 MHz when encoding a 1920 ??1088 video at 30 frames per second. Compared with a most comparable previous work that consumes 311 K gates and runs at 200 MHz, our proposed architecture is more efficient.