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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
With Anandtech's preview of the All In Wonder 8500DV, it seems that a release of ATI MMC 7.5 is "just around thr corner". While much has been said about the DVD 5.0 player which is part of MMC, not much attention has been given to the TV application. As a heavy user of the TV application I have a couple of questions for those in the "know" (this means you Stephen :p )


1) Will ATI MMC 7.5 support the complete Rage128 and Radeon AIW line?

2) Is there an updated version of the Gemstar GUIDE+ software? For instance one oft requested feature is the ability to specify automated updates to the listings as opposed to the manual updates now required

3) Can MMC wake up to computer to complete a scheduled recording and then shut it off afterwards? If not, can it at least wake up the computer for the recording?

4) Is the transparency feature supported on all the AIWs or just the 8500DV?

5) Does the remote control DLL provided for MMC 7.1 still work with 7.5 (important for us Girder users)?

6) Can scheduled recordings happen in the background (i.e without enabling the overlay)? This is important for those times where the computer is being used for something else and the user doesn't want the TV application popping up in the middle of another activity (mp3 playback for instance)



A lot of questions I know but hopefully Stephen Orr or someone else will be able to answer some of them.


Cheers

Lester
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
No takers?
 

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Responses to all -


1) Will ATI MMC 7.5 support the complete Rage128 and Radeon AIW line?


MMC 7.0 supported only the AIW Radeon. MMC 7.1 supported "all". A similar approach will be taken here. No dates (sorry).


2) Is there an updated version of the Gemstar GUIDE+ software? For instance one oft requested feature is the ability to specify automated updates to the listings as opposed to the manual updates now required


There is an updated guide however it does not address this issue.


3) Can MMC wake up to computer to complete a scheduled recording and then shut it off afterwards? If not, can it at least wake up the computer for the recording?


The wake up part has been implemented. Waking up a PC is tough so your results may vary.


4) Is the transparency feature supported on all the AIWs or just the 8500DV?


This release is for the 8500DV. In terms of "what hardware can do this" - it is supported by Radeon class hardware only.


5) Does the remote control DLL provided for MMC 7.1 still work with 7.5 (important for us Girder users)?


It should.


6) Can scheduled recordings happen in the background (i.e without enabling the overlay)? This is important for those times where the computer is being used for something else and the user doesn't want the TV application popping up in the middle of another activity (mp3 playback for instance)


No. This has not been included in this release.

Honest answers. Your opinions / requests have been heard. No promises.


Does anyone understand SHS's comment? I don't.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Stephen,


Thanks for your prompt and helpful reply. I must give credit where credit is due and say that you (ATI) have been quite responsive and forthright in all of the comments and answers that you have provided to me and this forum. This is very refreshing to see in a manufacturer for what must be but a small niche of users in your overall market. Kudos!!


As for SHS' comment. I was confused as well. Why would hardware MPEG support be required or even desired in ATI MMC assuming that the included software MPEG encoder works well? I imagine it is much easier to upgrade/improve a software encoder than one on a chip.


Cheers

Lester
 

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Maybe this well help you Stephen Orr "what so good about it being it still has no MPEG hardware support" I mean the card it self.

Lester Jacobs let see you try doing MPEG2 720x480 8MB VBR capture with software codec.

I have WinTV-PVR I can sat here and record MPEG2 12MB VBR oh that MAX OUT and still only have CPU usage 3% to 5% at most.
 

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Sorry SHS, what confused us was (and continues to be) your grammer.


"what so good about it being it still has no MPEG hardware support"

This sentence is meaningless as written. Perhaps you meant to say


"I think it needs HW MPEG encode support", or possibly "It's no good unless it has HW encode support". To give you the benefit of the doubt, I asked for clarification as to what you intended.


Actually it is possible to do 8MB 720x480 VBR encode in SW. You need a very fast CPU but it is possible, and no you will not have >95% CPU free.


There is a place for HW based encoders, but to mean the "sweet spot" for price / features, adding a HW MPEG chip is not the way to go (at least in ATI's opinion).
 

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Doing full MPEG2 on a chip, is probably not profitable.


But partial encoding on a chip (akin to iDCT and Motion compensation for decoding) might be enough to offset the CPU usage so other things can be done while encoding.


Frankly, with disk sizes the way they are today, you can create an MJPEG style codec which employs some delta compression between frames and probably get a GREAT (near-lossless) image quality at about 3-5gb/hour.


Another method to improve quality would be to implement an IVTC mode (user selectable) for recording, which would make the encoder attempt to reconstruct 24fps film sources (as a lot of shows are shot on 24fps film these days).


Using a system such as the GreedyHMA AVISynth filter (which was designed to work in real-time) may do the trick.
 

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No argument with "doing a full encoder would not be profittable". Certainly embedding the full encoder into the graphics chip just for AIW users would be a huge cost in terms of gates. Now to the other bits..


1) MJPEG has been tried before (Matrox). It failed because the disk size was still too large and the format was to proprietary. People like MPEG2, espeically DVD compliant MPEG2 now that DVD burners are showing up. That limits you to 9.8Mbits/sec at 720x480. So you had better be able to capture in MPEG2 or at least export to MPEG2 quickly & easily.


2) Windows ME (or more specifically FAT-32) still has a 4 Gig file size limit, so 3-5 Gb/hour is too much. We need to get down as close to 1 G/hour as possible.


3) Inverse Tele (or 3:2 pull down) doesn't save you much. For NTSC it is 20% fewer frames, but the fields are near perfect copies of a previous field and MPEG-2 delta encodes, so the "extra" frames are VERY small. Some gain in compression but not a lot. The big gain is in playback quality. Note this is also true in Europe 2:2 pull down gains you nothing in compression but a lot in quality becuase you make sure the fields are combined corretctly on the progressive PC display.


Doing a partial encode solution might make sense, it would come down to how many gates were needed and what that did to the overall cost adder given that the chip is most often used on non-AIW type applications.


Putting that in would certainly show a commitment to Multimedia though!


=====

As always, none of my comments describe any planned or unplanned future ATI products. I do not confirm or deny unannounced products.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Aside from the profitability aspect, upgradeability and flexibility are a couple of more reasons why I prefer software encoders over hardware encoders any day. One of the reasons often touted for getting an HTPC is the fact that it can usually be easily upgraded using a software patch, you lose some of that with a hardware encoder. Witness the fact that ATI has changed their MPEG encoder at least once (they used to use Ligos but now package their own homegrown encoder instead). If there had been an MPEG encoder on the video card itself, a change like this might have left some users stuck with the older encoder with no way to upgrade.


The flexibility aspect is also of importance. Because ATI uses software encoders I can choose MPEG, Divx, windows media encoders and others depending on my preference. With a hardware encoder I'm stuck with MPEG or whatever was implemented.


As for CPU usage, it seems that people assign way too much importance to how much their CPU is used. I can do 720x480x12mb VBR with no frames dropped on my P4 1.5Ghz. The fact that it takes 80% of the CPU to accomplish this is irrelevant to me. Hey, I paid for 100% of my CPU so why not use 100% of it? :p For most people though, you don't have to capture at anything near this rate. For recording TV shows I use 480x480x2.33mb VBR which is plenty good enough for capturing cable. This leaves enough horsepower on my P4 for web surfing and mp3 playback.


Cheers

Lester
 

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Hi Steven a little suggestion. I´ve been a critic of ATI once in a thread regarding ATI in the AVS forum. But I have to say what you promised back then has been achieved ATI has improved greatly driverwise. So thanks for all the efforts-and today I bought a second Radeon which will go into my HTPC. Anyway back to the topic. I have a little request. I live in Europe and for us Europeans region code switching is an important feature. I know that the DVD consortium prohibits direct region code switching, but the newer versions of the ATI player are very user unfriendly in this regard, cause they rely on both the windows region code and the internal region code. Therefore I still try to avoid the ATI DVD player (and newer WinDVD players in this regard) cause I would have to reboot for every region switch. Here is my request, make it a little bit less messy to switch the region codes in the ATI player so that we Europeans finally can use this thing.
 

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Well that's a little off topic, however I will comment.


ATI's current products do not handle region code switching AT ALL. We use the Microsoft Navigator, and MS handles all region code setting (i.e. it is outside of my control).


Some other DVD vendors have written and maintain their own Navigator. In those cases they may offer additional features around region codes.


Unfortunatly there is little else I can say on the subject.
 

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I'm going to agree with Stephen and the others with regards to software/hardware encoding. Software is by far the most appropriate for our needs. Whilst it may not satisfy the occasional person, it does not mean that they cannot achieve what they intend.


Stephen, I wonder if you or your colleagues might be able to help with a problem I've got with my Radeon VIVO (blatant 'whilst I've got your attention...' routine :)). I live in England, which meant that the card came with PAL output. Now I use a monitor which whilst it claims to run at 50hz refresh, does not in reality do so. My TV, however can happily accept NTSC signals. What I'm trying to achieve is a 60Hz NTSC output, not PAL. Is this possible? Tech support didn't give much of a clue apart from to say 'No'. No reasons at all (eg. different on board hardware etc.). I wonder if you could shed some light on the matter?


Thanks in advance!


Richard Cooper
 

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Sorry Stephen Orr my grammer not worlds best being I'am part deaf so in world I wirte it as I say it but some time I forget a to word or two as I type it.

Stephen Orr the next chip that come from ATI know as R300 will have Hardware MPEG1/2/4 support which is coming out next yrs so why buy this one win we can the best of both world in the long run being DVD-RW are come down in cost.

I hope by that time they have BURN Proof DVD-RW drives being I don't like make $15 coster and need to dbl or more on the wirte speed.

Lester Jacobs point this of keep CPU usage down so they can do other thing beside wait on one to get done with it getting mess up.
 

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Two answers...


1) To the question of the PAL VIVO card.


The Radeon cards had the PAL / NTSC stuff in the BIOS (I believe). It may be possible to modify the BIOS to make the card NTSC (I don't know for sure) but in general they are sold as PAL in Europe and sold as NTSC in Canada, US and Japan.


2) To the "supposition" about the R300.


ATI has made no announcements about what will or will not be in its next generation ASICs. Anything you read on the Web (i.e. leaks) should be taken with a large dose of cynicism, as the feature set of chips changes regularly, sometimes up to the day we actually ship them. I have never commented on un-announced products and as such will not comment on our next ASIC. What is an R300 by the way :-?
 

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Certainly my employer (a large processor manufacturer) likes software encoding. Got to have a reason for people to upgrade.


That aside, I think that software encoding is much more flexible, allows you to do multiple passes if you want, and many other options. Also it allows you to scale. If you have a DP machine it's that much faster, but you won't be able to add a 2nd video capture card to increase performance (although...one could encode every other frame....too complicated probably, easier to just have software encoding)


re: waiting for some future product. At some point you have to say this meets my needs and buy it, and begin using/enjoying it, or else you fall in to the trap of waiting forever. I know, I've been there.


One of the reason companies don't announce future products is so that you don't end up deciding it's better and waiting. Otherwise, they cannabilize their current revenue stream, with potential future revenue (key word there is potential).
 

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Thanks Stephen, the answer I was hoping for. I don;t suppose there is anywhere you could point me to for obtaining info on flashing the BIOS on my card? Sorry If I'm asking too much :)


(And sorry for hijacking this thread :))
 
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