RLE Compress

LVGL provides a custom RLE compression method. It can be used to reduce binary image size. The RLE compression is a lossless compression method.

The LVGL's built-in binary image decoder supports RLE compressed images. The decoder supports both variable and file as image sources. The original binary data is directly decoded to RAM


Based on test result from a watch project. Most of the images can be compressed to save more than 70% space as show in below statistic. It shows the file count of every compress level. For rare conditions, RLE compress may increase the file size if there's no large repetition in data.

RLE compress statistics from a watch project


The RLE algorithm is a simple compression algorithm that is based on the fact that the for many pixels, the color is the same. The algorithm simply counts how many repeated data are there and store the count value and the color value. If the coming pixels are not repeated, it stores the non-repeat count value and original color value. For more details, the script used to compress the image can be found from lvgl/script/LVGLImage.py.

def rle_compress(self, data: bytearray, blksize: int, threshold=16):
    index = 0
    data_len = len(data)
    compressed_data = []
    while index < data_len:
        memview = memoryview(data)
        repeat_cnt = self.get_repeat_count(
            memview[index:], blksize)
        if repeat_cnt == 0:
            # done
        elif repeat_cnt < threshold:
            nonrepeat_cnt = self.get_nonrepeat_count(
                memview[index:], blksize, threshold)
            ctrl_byte = uint8_t(nonrepeat_cnt | 0x80)
                memview[index: index + nonrepeat_cnt*blksize])
            index += nonrepeat_cnt * blksize
            ctrl_byte = uint8_t(repeat_cnt)
            compressed_data.append(memview[index: index + blksize])
            index += repeat_cnt * blksize

    return b"".join(compressed_data)


To use the RLE Decoder, enable it in lv_conf.h configuration file by setting LV_USE_RLE to 1. The RLE image can be used same as other images.

lv_image_set_src(img, "path/to/image.rle");

Generate RLE compressed binary images

The image can be directly generated using script lvgl/script/LVGLImage.py

./script/LVGLImage.py --ofmt BIN --cf I8 --compress RLE cogwheel.png