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Multicore Processing and Efficient On-Chip Caching for H.264 and Future Video Decoders

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3 Author(s)
Daniel F. Finchelstein ; Nvidia Corp., Santa Clara, CA, USA ; Vivienne Sze ; Anantha P. Chandrakasan

Performance requirements for video decoding will continue to rise in the future due to the adoption of higher resolutions and faster frame rates. Multicore processing is an effective way to handle the resulting increase in computation. For power-constrained applications such as mobile devices, extra performance can be traded-off for lower power consumption via voltage scaling. As memory power is a significant part of system power, it is also important to reduce unnecessary on-chip and off-chip memory accesses. This paper proposes several techniques that enable multiple parallel decoders to process a single video sequence; the paper also demonstrates several on-chip caching schemes. First, we describe techniques that can be applied to the existing H.264 standard, such as multiframe processing. Second, with an eye toward future video standards, we propose replacing the traditional raster-scan processing with an interleaved macroblock ordering; this can increase parallelism with minimal impact on coding efficiency and latency. The proposed architectures allow N parallel hardware decoders to achieve a speedup of up to a factor of N. For example, if N=3, the proposed multiple frame and interleaved entropy slice multicore processing techniques can achieve performance improvements of 2.64times and 2.91times, respectively. This extra hardware performance can be used to decode higher definition videos. Alternatively, it can be traded-off for dynamic power savings of 60% relative to a single nominal-voltage decoder. Finally, on-chip caching methods are presented that significantly reduce off-chip memory bandwidth, leading to a further increase in performance and energy efficiency. Data-forwarding caches can reduce off-chip memory reads by 53%, while using a last-frame cache can eliminate 80% of the off-chip reads. The proposed techniques were validated and benchmarked using full-system Verilog hardware simulations based on an existing decoder; they should- - also be applicable to most other decoder architectures. The metrics used to evaluate the ideas in this paper are performance, power, area, memory efficiency, coding efficiency, and input latency.

Published in:

IEEE Transactions on Circuits and Systems for Video Technology  (Volume:19 ,  Issue: 11 )