In this paper, a novel and area-efficient variable length decoder (VLD) for MPEG-1/2/4 is presented. Instead of carrying out every variable length coding table with one dedicated lookup table (LUT) directly, we employ an efficient clustering-merging technique to reduce both the size of a single LUT and the total number of LUTs required for MPEG-1/2/4. Synthesis results show that our VLD occupies 10666 gate counts and operates at 125 MHz by using the standard cell from Artisan TSMC's 0.18 μm process. As demonstrated, the proposed design outperforms other VLDs with less hardware cost. It can decode a symbol of different standards in every cycle and support video resolution of HD1080 at 30 frames/s for MPEG-1/2/4 real-time decoding.
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