Parallel scalability of video decoders
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An important question is whether emerging and future applications exhibit sufficient parallelism, in particular thread-level parallelism, to exploit the large numbers of cores future chip multiprocessors (CMPs) are expected to contain. As a case study we investigate the parallelism available in video decoders, an important application domain now and in the future. Specifically, we analyze the parallel scalability of the H.264 decoding process. First we discuss the data structures and dependencies of H.264 and show what types of parallelism it allows to be exploited. We also show that previously proposed parallelization strategies such as slice-level, frame-level, and intra-frame macroblock (MB) level parallelism, are not sufficiently scalable. Based on the observation that inter-frame dependencies have a limited spatial range we propose a new parallelization strategy, called Dynamic 3D-Wave. It allows certain MBs of consecutive frames to be decoded in parallel. Using this new strategy we analyze the limits to the available MB-level parallelism in H.264. Using real movie sequences we find a maximum MB parallelism ranging from 4000 to 7000. We also perform a case study to assess the practical value and possibilities of a highly parallelized H.264 application. The results show that H.264 exhibits sufficient parallelism to efficiently exploit the capabilities of future manycore CMPs.
CitationMeenderinck, C. [et al.]. Parallel scalability of video decoders. "Journal of Signal Processing Systems", Novembre 2009, vol. 57, núm. 2, p. 173-194.