Fast Motion Estimation on Graphics Hardware for H.264 Video Encoding

Martin Schwalb, Ralph Ewerth, Bernd Freisleben
Department of Mathematics and Computer Science, University of Marburg, Marburg, Germany
IEEE Transactions on Multimedia, 2009


   title={Fast motion estimation on graphics hardware for h. 264 video encoding},

   author={Schwalb, M. and Ewerth, R. and Freisleben, B.},

   journal={Multimedia, IEEE Transactions on},








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The video coding standard H.264 supports video compression with a higher coding efficiency than previous standards. However, this comes at the expense of an increased encoding complexity, in particular for motion estimation which becomes a very time consuming task even for today’s central processing units (CPU). On the other hand, modern graphics hardware includes a powerful graphics processing unit (GPU) whose computing power remains idle most of the time. In this paper, we present a GPU based approach to motion estimation for the purpose of H.264 video encoding. A small diamond search is adapted to the programming model of modern GPUs to exploit their available parallel computing power and memory bandwidth. Experimental results demonstrate a significant reduction of computation time and a competitive encoding quality compared to a CPU UMHexagonS implementation while enabling the CPU to process other encoding tasks in parallel.
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