Video is perhaps the biggest of the ‘big data’ being collected and transmitted. Today, over 500 million hours of video surveillance are collected every day, over 300 million hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every hour, and over 70% of the today’s Internet traffic is used to transport video. The exponential growth of video places a significant burden on global communication networks. Next generation video compression systems must deliver not only higher coding efficiency, but also high throughput to support increasing resolutions, and low energy consumption as most video is captured on battery operated devices. We used joint design of algorithms and hardware in the development of the latest video coding standard, High Efficiency Video Coding (H.265/HEVC), which delivers 50% higher coding efficiency relative to its predecessor H.264/AVC, while at the same time increasing throughput and reducing energy consumption.
CABAC entropy coding was a well-known throughput bottleneck in H.264/AVC due to its highly serial nature with many feedback loops. We redesigned CABAC entropy coding for the H.265/HEVC standard to both increase coding efficiency, and to deliver higher throughput by reordering syntax elements and restructuring the context modeling to minimize feedback loops. We then designed hardware that exploited these features such that our H.265/HEVC CABAC accelerator achieves 4x higher throughput than the fastest existing H.264/AVC CABAC accelerators, enough for Ultra-HD 8K at 120 fps. Another advance is the use of large transforms in H.265/HEVC for higher coding efficiency. Larger transforms traditionally result in more computation and thus larger energy cost. We designed hardware that exploits the sparsity of the coefficients, such that the same energy is consumed per pixel regardless of the transform size. This approach may enable future video coding systems to use larger transforms for higher coding efficiency without impacting energy cost.
Finally, there is also a strong need for video coding tools beyond H.265/HEVC. In this project, we developed a new technique called Rotate Intra Block Copy, which utilizes the rotation invariant similarity between the patches in the same frame to improve intra block prediction, such that it provides coding gain to not only screen content, but all forms of video content. Combined with the existing predictor from HEVC, this technique gives an average of 20% reduction in residual energy. With a novel method to encode the intra motion vector, it achieves a coding gain in BD-rate of 3.4%. In practice, this technique can reduce the transmission bandwidth of the ultra-high-resolution video content.