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In this paper, we propose a fast, simple and efficient image codec applicable for embedded processing systems. Among the existing image coding methods, wavelet quad-tree is a foundation leading to an efficient structure to encode images. By searching significant coefficients along quadtrees, an embedded efficient code can be obtained. In this work, we exploit hierarchical relations of the quad-tree structure in terms of searching entropy and present a quadtree searching model that is very close to the searching entropy. By applying this model, our codec surpasses SPIHT  by 0.2-0.4 db over wide code rates, and its performance is comparable to SPIHT with arithmetic coding and JPEG2000 . With no additional overhead of arithmetic coding, our code is much faster and simpler than SPIHT with adaptive arithmetic coding and the more complicated JPEG2000 algorithms. This is a critical factor sought in embedded processing in communication systems where energy consumption and speed are priority concerns. Our simulation results demonstrate that the proposed codec is about twice as fast with very low computational overheads and comparable coding performances than existing algorithms.