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Parallelizing MPEG-2 Video Decoding For Improved Load Balance On Multicore Systems

Category: Masters thesis
Author(s)Pitt Poeker
SourceTechnische Universität Kaiserslautern.
Date Feb 2009


The goal of this diploma thesis is to analyze how MPEG-2 video decoding can be parallelized. There has already been made research in this area several years ago. We will see that the previous work is mostly still valid, but some points need to be adapted for today’s hardware characteristics. MPEG-2 is still widely used, and due to the current spreading of multicore processors this has become an active issue. An overview on today’s parallel hardware architectures is given to un- derstand the functioning of multicore systems and the behavior of the Linux scheduler is analyzed with regard to multiple processors. The problems that occur when parallelizing a program are presented as well as the available synchronization techniques. Eventhough the first part of this thesis focuses on Linux, the rest of the thesis is independent from the operating system. To determine the best parallelization option, the MPEG-2 standard is analyzed. MPEG-2 is organized in layers, which are sequences, groups of pictures, pictures, slices, macroblocks and blocks. Parallelization is possi- ble on all the layers, but we will see that parallelizing at slice layer is a suitable choice. A problem that occurs when parallelizing a program is the synchronization of concurrent threads or processes, and the synchronization of shared data. We will see that the layered hierarchy of MPEG-2 offers the possibility to determine a set of rules for the synchronization problem. Since the performance bottleneck in today’s computer systems is the memory bus, some mechanisms based on the MPEG-2 standard are intro- duced to improve the memory bus utilization. To test the results of the analysis, an existing sequential MPEG-2 soft- ware decoder has been modified to decode slices in parallel. The measuring results have shown that a speedup of almost 400% can be achieved for high resolutions on a system with eight CPU cores.


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