Parallel implementation of fractal image compression
Fractal image compression exploits the piecewise self-similarity present in real images as a form of information redundancy that can be eliminated to achieve compression. This theory based on Partitioned Iterated Function Systems is presented. As an alternative to the established JPEG, it provides a similar compression-ratio to fidelity trade-off. Fractal techniques promise faster decoding and potentially higher fidelity, but the computationally intensive compression process has prevented commercial acceptance. This thesis presents an algorithm mapping the problem onto a parallel processor architecture, with the goal of reducing the encoding time. The experimental work involved implementation of this approach on the Texas Instruments TMS320C80 parallel processor system. Results indicate that the fractal compression process is unusually well suited to parallelism with speed gains approximately linearly related to the number of processors used. Parallel processing issues such as coherency, management and interfacing are discussed. The code designed incorporates pipelining and parallelism on all conceptual and practical levels ensuring that all resources are fully utilised, achieving close to optimal efficiency. The computational intensity was reduced by several means, including conventional classification of image sub-blocks by content with comparisons across class boundaries prohibited. A faster approach adopted was to perform estimate comparisons between blocks based on pixel value variance, identifying candidates for more time-consuming, accurate RMS inter-block comparisons. These techniques, combined with the parallelism, allow compression of 512x512 pixel x 8 bit images in under 20 seconds, while maintaining a 30dB PSNR. This is up to an order of magnitude faster than reported for conventional sequential processor implementations. Fractal based compression of colour images and video sequences is also considered. The work confirms the potential of fractal compression techniques, and demonstrates that a parallel implementation is appropriate for addressing the compression time problem. The processor system used in these investigations is faster than currently available PC platforms, but the relevance lies in the anticipation that future generations of affordable processors will exceed its performance. The advantages of fractal image compression may then be accessible to the average computer user, leading to commercial acceptance.