IMEC Improves Scalable Video Decoder by 20x

IMEC has further improved its source-code for standard-compliant Scalable Video Decoding (SVC = H.264 extension), now performing 20 times faster and using only a tenth of the memory footprint compared to the SVC standard reference code. These groundbreaking results were obtained by further optimizing the code mainly through the removal of redundant code and function calls as well as through the improved memory use of IMEC’s earlier (mid-2007) SVC source code. This code was already two times faster than the reference code.

The first optimization was based on (re)structuring the SVC code into more concise functional blocks. This facilitated extra optimizations, including removing redundant code and function calls. The application of DTSE (Data Transfer and Storage Exploration) transformations enabled intelligent (re)use of the memory footprint. As a result of the increased data locality, the total memory footprint was significantly reduced to one tenth, leading to much better cache behavior and higher performance. This will also contribute to reducing the silicon cost area when using SVC functions for ASIC (application-specific integrated circuit) implementations.

The optimized decoder has been benchmarked against the reference decoder on a normal end-user PC platform. Compliancy to the SVC standard was also verified. The configurations that were tested included the three scalability types of SVC, being spatial, temporal and quality scalability.

The preliminary performance evaluation shows that IMEC’s decoder is up to 20 times faster than the reference software, while consuming only a tenth of the memory.

The optimized source code is available as starting point for product development by industry via a licensing program and can be delivered as source code. The code is of typical interest for system integrators of mobile devices or telecommunication applications and fabless IC makers to help them extend their multimedia reference platforms to comply with the SVC standard.

About IMEC
IMEC is a world-leading independent research center in nanoelectronics and nanotechnology. Its research focuses on the next generations of chips and systems, and on the enabling technologies for ambient intelligence. IMEC’s research bridges the gap between fundamental research at universities and technology development in industry. Its unique balance of processing and system know-how, intellectual property portfolio, state-of-the-art infrastructure and its strong network of companies, universities and research institutes worldwide position IMEC as a key partner for shaping technologies for future systems. IMEC vzw is headquartered in Leuven, Belgium. Its sister company in the Netherlands, IMEC-NL, concentrates on wireless autonomous transducer solutions. IMEC has representatives in the USA, China and Japan. Its staff of more than 1600 people includes more than 500 industrial residents and guest researchers. Its 2007 revenue (P&L) is estimated at about EUR 235 million.