Update: Tandberg claims they came up with the algorithm independently: to be fair, I can actually believe this to some extent, as I think the algorithm is way too obvious to be patented. Of course, they also claim that the algorithm isn’t actually identical, since they don’t want to lose their patent application.
I still don’t trust them, but it’s possible it’s merely bad research (and thus being unaware of prior art) as opposed to anything malicious. Furthermore, word from within their office suggests they’re quite possibly being honest: supposedly the development team does not read x264 code at all. So this might just all be very bad luck.
Regardless, the patent is still complete tripe, and should never have been filed.
Most importantly, stop harassing the guy whose name is on the patent (Lars): he’s just a programmer, not the management or lawyers responsible for filing the patent. This is stupid and unnecessary. I’ve removed the original post because of this; it can be found here for those who want to read it.
Appendix: the details of the patent:
I figure I’ll go over the exact correspondence between the patent and my code here.
1. A method for calculating run and level representations of quantized transform coefficients representing pixel values included in a block of a video picture, the method comprising:
Translation: It’s a run-level coder.
packing, at a video processing apparatus, each quantized transform coefficients in a value interval [Max, Min] by setting all quantized transform coefficients greater than Max equal to Max, and all quantized transform coefficients less than Min equal to Min
The quantized coefficients are clipped to a certain valid range to allow them to be packed into bytes (they start as 16-bit values).
reordering, at the video processing apparatus, the quantized transform ID coefficients according to a predefined order depending on respective positions in the block resulting in an array C of reordered quantized transform coefficients
This is the zigzag pattern used in H.264 (and most formats) for reordering DCT coefficients. In x264, this is done before the run-level coder ste.
masking, at the video processing apparatus, C by generating an array M containing ones in positions corresponding to positions of C having non-zero values, and zeros in positions corresponding to positions of C having zero values
This is creating a bitmask based on the coefficient values, the pmovmskb step.
is generating, at the video processing apparatus, for each position containing a one in M, a run and a level representation by setting the level value equal to an occurring value in a corresponding position of C; and setting, at the video processing apparatus, for each position containing a one in M5 the run value equal to the number of proceeding positions relative to a current position in M since a previous occurrence of one in M.
This is the process of creating run/level values from the bitmask.
Now into the detailed claims:
2. The method according to Claim 1, wherein the masking further includes, creating an array C from C where positions corresponding to positions of nonzero values in C are filled with ones, and positions corresponding to positions of zero values in C are filled with zeros, and creating M from C by extracting the most significant bit from values in respective position of C and inserting the bits in corresponding positions in M.
They’re extracting the most significant bit of the values to create a bitmask. This is exactly what the pmovmskb in my algorithm does.
3. The method according to Claim 2, wherein the creating of the array C is executed by a C++ function PCMPGTB, and the creating of M from C is executed by a C++ function PMOVMSKB.
And here they use pcmpgtb (they call it a C++ function for some reason, but it’s a SSE instruction) to do the clipping of the input values. This is exactly the same method I used in decimate_score. They also use pmovmskb as mentioned.
4. The method according to Claim 1 , wherein the generating of the run and level representation further includes determining positions containing non-zero values in C by corresponding positions containing ones in M.
5. The method according to Claim 4, wherein the determining of positions containing non-zero values in C is executed by a C++ function BSF.
Here they iterate over the bitmask of transform coefficients using a “BSF” function to find runs, which is exactly what I did. Of course, BSF isn’t a function, it’s an x86 instruction.
6. The method according to Claim 1 , wherein Max is 256 and Min is 0.
This is almost surely a typo or mistake of some sort. They mean the Max should be 255, not 256: 256 doesn’t fit in a uint8_t.
7. The method according to Claim 1 , wherein the predefined order follows a zigzag path of transform coefficient positions in the block starting in an upper left corner heading towards a lower right corner.
This is a description of the typical DCT zigzag pattern (like in H.264, MPEG-2, Theora, etc).
Everything after this part is just repeating itself with the phrase “an apparatus” added in order to make the USPTO listen to them.