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In this paper, we present a fast mode decision algorithm and design its VLSI architecture for H.264 intra-prediction. A regular spatial domain filtering technique is proposed to compute the dominant edge strength (DES) to reduce the possible predictive modes. Experimental results revealed that the proposed fast intra-algorithm reduces 40% computation with slight peak signal-to-noise ratio (PSNR) degradation. The designed DES VLSI engine comprises a zigzag converter, a DES finite-state machine (FSM), and a DES core. The former two units handle memory allocation and control flow while the last performs pseudoblock computation, edge filtering, and dominant edge strength extraction. With semicustom design fabricated by 0.18 mum CMOS single-poly-six-metal technology, the realized die size is roughly 0.15 times 0.15 mm2 and can be operated at 66 MHz.