Dissecting Arbitrary-scale Super-resolution Capability from Pre-trained Diffusion Generative Models


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Diffusion-based Generative Models (DGMs) have achieved unparalleled performance in synthesizing high-quality visual content, opening up the opportunity to improve image super-resolution (SR) tasks. Recent solutions for these tasks often train architecture-specific DGMs from scratch, or require iterative fine-tuning and distillation on pre-trained DGMs, both of which take considerable time and hardware investments. More seriously, since the DGMs are established with a discrete pre-defined upsampling scale, they cannot well match the emerging requirements of arbitrary-scale super-resolution (ASSR), where a unified model adapts to arbitrary upsampling scales, instead of preparing a series of distinct models for each case. These limitations beg an intriguing question: can we identify the ASSR capability of existing pre-trained DGMs without the need for distillation or fine-tuning? In this paper, we take a step towards resolving this matter by proposing Diff-SR, a first ASSR attempt based solely on pre-trained DGMs, without additional training efforts. It is motivated by an exciting finding that a simple methodology, which first injects a specific amount of noise into the low-resolution images before invoking a DGM's backward diffusion process, outperforms current leading solutions. The key insight is determining a suitable amount of noise to inject, i.e., small amounts lead to poor low-level fidelity, while over-large amounts degrade the high-level signature. Through a finely-grained theoretical analysis, we propose the Perceptual Recoverable Field (PRF), a metric that achieves the optimal trade-off between these two factors. Extensive experiments verify the effectiveness, flexibility, and adaptability of Diff-SR, demonstrating superior performance to state-of-the-art solutions under diverse ASSR environments.
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