DVD accelerators compared

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DVD accelerators compared

Postby elianda » 2012-12-23 @ 15:57

Hello Vogons,

I just did a session to compare various DVD accelerator solutions (may be extended later).
I recorded a brief footage from the 5th element movie that shows some slow moving scenes in the beginning with fine structures on the book and in the end some faster scenes with higher brightness dynamic.
You will see also the interface of the players briefly. They are specific for the used DVD accelerator solution. Some allow to playback also mpeg2 files.

The system I used was a P2 233MHz on a 440LX chipset (MSI-6117 board) with Win98SE.

1)
i740 AGP 8 MB SDRAM with Sigma Designs Malibu daughterboard with Realmagic EM8220 2MB, SB16
graphics mode 1024x768 24bit color depth
Richard already posted photos of it here:
http://homepage.ntlworld.com/p.birch73/ ... s/card.jpg
http://homepage.ntlworld.com/p.birch73/ ... emoved.jpg

Comparison Video footage: ftp://78.46.141.148/videos/dvd_decoders ... em8220.mkv

my notes:
The decoder seems to have problems with the format of PAL 4:3 resolution.
If the movie is 16:9 with less vertical lines it seems to work.

Audio sounds as if capped with a low frequency.
Conversion Quality Setting in Windows was set to high though.

The daughterboard is mapped through the i740 resources.

2)
Creative PC-DVD-Encore Dxr2
Matrox G200, SB16
graphics mode 1024x768

The card: http://mail.lipsia.de/~enigma/neu/pics/ ... ct7120.jpg

Comparison Video footage: ftp://78.46.141.148/videos/dvd_decoders ... e_dxr2.mkv

The Dxr2 uses a VGA Loop Through cable and uses analog chroma keying.
This also reduces the normal vga signal quality
I didn't recorded audio, but you get german subtitles instead.

The average dynamic of the video playback is rather bad.
The decoder chip has problems with PAL resolution that have more vertical scanlines.
It is not as corrupted as the Malibu daughterboard but the lower part will be cut off, including subtitles.
The card uses I/O and an IRQ.

The Dxr2 has SPDIF out, so I didn't record audio from it. As it is digital no quality loss is expected.

3)
Quadrant CineMaster C3.0

Voodoo3 3000 AGP, SB16
graphics mode 1024x768x32 bit

the card: http://mail.lipsia.de/~enigma/neu/pics/ ... ter_c3.jpg

Comparison Video footage: ftp://78.46.141.148/videos/dvd_decoders ... er_c30.mkv

The CineMaster card uses a VESA feature connector cable for rendering to the graphics cards framebuffer.
It didn't seem to work on a Matrox G200A (crashed in 24 Bit and reported unuseable mode for 16 and 32 bit color depth)
Audio was routed from the CineMasters analog Audio-Out to SB16s Line-In.
Still you will hear a difference compared to the Malibu daughterboard f.e.

DVD Menu seems to be slightly corrupted on top. Crackling of Audio in the Menu is gone if the movie starts.

Tried also "Serenity" DVD, where Menu is also corrupted and showing just a few scanlines of it in the upper area.
Audio does not crackle in menu.

If it works the video quality is better than with the other solutions.
The card uses I/O and an IRQ.


Overall: It was quite a hassle to get the cards running. Sometimes it simply doesn't work, i.e. system freezes when starting playback. DVD player crashing, no video just sound or no sound just video or the graphics card does not work together with the accelerator card...
The system was tested before for stability and everything else worked fine. Most of the player applications seem to have been never updated. The accelerator card support was probably dropped as soon as the average PC could play DVDs by software.

4)
ATI Rage 128

Ati Rage128 AGP 90 MHz (powerstrip), SB16
graphics mode 1024x768x32 Bit

the card: http://mail.lipsia.de/~enigma/neu/pics/ ... e128gl.jpg

comparison video footage: ftp://78.46.141.148/videos/dvd_decoders/ati_rage128.mkv

Ati DVD Player 3.2.0.1
Rage128 driver 6.01-CD68-1C

The Rage128 added IDCT acceleration support (inverse discrete cosine transformation)
(the Rage II had just Motion Compensation)

While the official requirement check at the installation of the DVD player warns that it recommends a P2 300 MHz
the DVD playback runs pretty well on the P2 233 MHz. Quality is also good.
There is a stutter near the end, but the dvd was mounted over network using a rather cpu hungry realtek network card.
I tried from HDD and the system kept being responsive, so with a real DVD drive in DMA mode it should run even better.
Maybe even a lower end CPU is able to play DVD with a Rage128.

The latest driver for the Rage128 did not work, so I had to install an older one.

DVD Menu worked, no problems with PAL resolutions.
DVD player supports playback of mpeg2 files.

I was quite a bit surprised that it runs so well.

5)
ATI Rage Pro Turbo AGP

Ati Rage Pro Turbo AGP, SB16
graphics mode 1024x768x32 Bit

the card: http://mail.lipsia.de/~enigma/neu/pics/ ... o_agp2.jpg
(image similar, I used one with memory expansion and of course enable int jumpered)

comparison video footage: ftp://78.46.141.148/videos/dvd_decoders ... _turbo.mkv

Ati DVD Player 3.2.0.1

Quality is good. There is rarely a stutter in sound playback but overall ok.
I used the same driver package as for the Rage 128.
DVD Menu worked, no problems with PAL resolutions.
Not much to say here, it just plays on the P2 233 MHz.

6)
ATI RageII+DVD PCI

Ati RageII+DVD PCI 4 MB EDO 60 MHz, SB16
graphics mode 1024x768x24 Bit

comparison video footage: ftp://78.46.141.148/videos/dvd_decoders ... ge2dvd.mkv

Ati DVD Player 3.2.0.1

I used the same driver package as for the Rage 128 from ATI driver CD 6.01.
DVD Menu worked, no problems with PAL resolutions as with the other ATIs.
I had to lower the color depth to 24 bit at least, since it stutters at 32 bits.
This seems to be a bug as it appears also with faster CPU clocking.
The quality is average, no postprocessing at all, you can nearly see the decoded pixels.
Note also f.e. the red line when the starship is first shown.
After seeking it needs some seconds until audio and video is in sync again.
Overall it seems already very CPU limited at 233 MHz and frame rate of the playback looks reduced.

Something else I noticed is that in 16 and 32 bit color depth 2D-GUI acceleration works, but not in 24 bit, as you see
when I move the window.

With an ATI RageIIC AGP (without +DVD) the ATI player refuses playback.

7)
Matrox Marvel G200-TV with DVD Upgrade Module

the card: http://mail.lipsia.de/~enigma/neu/pics/ ... module.jpg

comparison video footage: ftp://78.46.141.148/videos/dvd_decoders ... module.mkv

Matrox G200 AGP + DVD Upgrade Module (G2+/MVA/8I GS/DVDMOD/I), SB16
graphics mode 1024x768x32 Bit

Matrox DVD Player (internal Ravisent 2.0) (Found thanks to a lost disk from NJRoadfan)

Quality is good. No issues. Not even driver/crash issues.
I wonder if a Realmagic Hollywood Plus tops this quality.



If I get a VGA Loop Through for the Creative dxr3 done I can add it too.
Last edited by elianda on 2012-12-24 @ 00:26, edited 5 times in total.
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Re: DVD accelerators compared

Postby Mau1wurf1977 » 2012-12-23 @ 16:13

Wow fantastic effort! I'll digest it all tomorrow :)

One thing I notices ages ago, it also depends what DVD playback software you use. In general, the older, the less demanding. A really old version played fine on a Pentium 3, but when I downloaded the latest trial version (latest version of that time) it would just lag.
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Re: DVD accelerators compared

Postby swaaye » 2012-12-23 @ 16:26

I remember these cards being troublesome indeed. I never used any myself but I knew people who tried them. They really had a small window of opportunity too since PII 400 can play a DVD on its own.

I'd like to hear about the capabilities of the early ATI cards with MPEG2 hardware. Rage II, I think. Maybe one of those Chromatic Research MPACT cards too.
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Re: DVD accelerators compared

Postby elianda » 2012-12-23 @ 17:29

Well yes, this would be the next best option to an accelerator card. The main problem I had with the ATI cards is to find the correct DVD Player that supports the acceleration capabilities.
On the Rage 5.30 and 5.24 CD there is Ati Play which seems to support VCR1, VCR2 and Mpeg1 only.
On the CD for Rage Fury Maxx seems to be DVD Player 6.2.0.0-CD17.
I could try if this works with a normal Rage128 as I don't own a FuryMaxx.
But maybe someone has mor eexperience with the Ati DVD Player versions and the required hardware combinations?

Then it is always difficult to proof if the acceleration is really used...
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Re: DVD accelerators compared

Postby Standard Def Steve » 2012-12-23 @ 19:05

I use a Radeon 7000 PCI for MPEG2 acceleration on my old Deskpro 4000.
Specs are P2-300, 440FX, 192MB EDO, WinME.

With PowerDVD XP (4.0), the Radeon 7000 handles most DVDs just fine. Fast motion doesn't appear to be a problem, but slow-moving scenes with lots of fine detail sometimes lag just a bit. Picture quality is good, though nowhere near as crisp as it is on a modern (Win7, PCI-E, madVR) system.

The Radeon 7000 seems to be a much better MPEG2 accelerator than the GeForce2 MX. With the GF2 PCI, most DVDs play at around 15fps. I blame the system's use of EDO memory.
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Re: DVD accelerators compared

Postby NJRoadfan » 2012-12-23 @ 20:03

Those Cinemaster cards were a real PITA to get working as I had to support many a Dell that came with them (usually paired with a Riva 128 AGP card). The fact that the company changed so many hands didn't help matters at all. Finding the right drivers was a big part of the battle. I wasn't very impressed with the output either. It did a halfhearted job at de-interlacing the video. Many rank the Creative Dxr3, which is a rebranded Sigma Designs Hollywood+, as one of the best hardware MPEG2 decoders out there. Software solutions have since surpassed it though.

My Matrox Marvel G400TV advertised partial MPEG hardware decoding support (I think it was motion compensation), but I never actually used it since I had a Dxr3 card. I don't believe my Rage II+ ATI All-in-Wonder supported any MPEG2 acceleration. I do have a circa 1998 Lombard Powerbook G3 with the C-Cube MPEG2 decoder here. If I recall, the output on that was pretty lousy too.
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Re: DVD accelerators compared

Postby swaaye » 2012-12-23 @ 20:32

Standard Def Steve wrote:The Radeon 7000 seems to be a much better MPEG2 accelerator than the GeForce2 MX. With the GF2 PCI, most DVDs play at around 15fps. I blame the system's use of EDO memory.


ATI was at the forefront of integrating video acceleration. Radeon 7000 was something like ATI's 4th generation of full MPEG2 acceleration.

GeForce 2 does not have iDCT hardware and that is why it's vastly slower.

NJRoadfan wrote:My Matrox Marvel G400TV advertised partial MPEG hardware decoding support (I think it was motion compensation), but I never actually used it since I had a Dxr3 card.

Matrox G400, NVIDIA TNT2 and 3dfx Voodoo3 were all offering partial MPEG2 acceleration. Matrox advertised something called DVDMax too which was a special overlay mode on the second VGA output. But G400 doesn't do MPEG2 motion compensation or iDCT so it's barely an accelerator. They probably cite the color space conversion and bilinear scaling as "acceleration".
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Re: DVD accelerators compared

Postby elianda » 2012-12-23 @ 20:45

Update: Added ATI Rage 128.

Yes a lot of chips had support, but the problem is also to find a player that utilizes the chips features. As for Matrox, I have the Marvel G400 even with the DVD decoder module, but couldn't find a source for the DVD player utilizing it yet. The name could have been something like Zoran SoftDVD.

@Standard Def Steve: RAM speed is probably a brake in this scenario. And there is also the driver+player combination that has to fit.
f.e. I tried on a Dual Pentium 233 MMX in NT4, with PowerDVD, WinDVD etc. but couldn't see any additional acceleration with a ATI Rage Pro. Most of this older acceleration features seem to be available just in Win9x with the right driver+player.
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Re: DVD accelerators compared

Postby NJRoadfan » 2012-12-23 @ 20:46

swaaye wrote:Matrox G400, NVIDIA TNT2 and 3dfx Voodoo3 were all offering partial MPEG2 acceleration. Matrox advertised something called DVDMax too which was a special overlay mode on the second VGA output. But G400 doesn't do mocomp or idct so it's barely an accelerator.


DVDMax allowed any video in a window on a primary display be output full screen on the secondary display. It was primarily used to output NLE projects to tape (screen #2 on the Marvel was the Composite/S-Video out unless you got the DVI output card, which I happen to have).

I liked it because it properly sized the video with overscan, something only dedicated professional NLE capture cards at the time could do. I never did get the ATI Theater function on my HD3870 to do that properly.
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Re: DVD accelerators compared

Postby swaaye » 2012-12-23 @ 20:54

NJRoadfan wrote:DVDMax allowed any video in a window on a primary display be output full screen on the secondary display.

I liked it because it properly sized the video with overscan, something only dedicated professional NLE capture cards at the time could do. I never did get the ATI Theater function on my HD3870 to do that properly.

I had a G400 myself and I did experiment with DVDMax but I was not using my computer for video much back then.

I have used many a ATI card on SDTVs via SVideo. Cards like Radeon 7200, 7500, 8500 and 9600. They tend to work much better than NVIDIA cards of the same vintage for TV output, with better overscan adjustment and picture quality. Many of these cards use the same ATI Rage Theater TV encoder chip which spanned I think from the original Radeon to X850. But I haven't tried more recent ATI cards with SVideo. I wouldn't be surprised if old analog SD TV has been deprioritized.
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Re: DVD accelerators compared

Postby NJRoadfan » 2012-12-23 @ 21:01

elianda wrote: As for Matrox, I have the Marvel G400 even with the DVD decoder module, but couldn't find a source for the DVD player utilizing it yet. The name could have been something like Zoran SoftDVD.
.


I have the original CD here. Its..... Software Cinemaster branded as "Matrox DVD Player". About 9MB per language. Point me to a place to upload it and its yours.
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Re: DVD accelerators compared

Postby NJRoadfan » 2012-12-23 @ 21:08

swaaye wrote:I have used many a ATI card on SDTVs via SVideo. Cards like Radeon 7200, 7500, 8500 and 9600. They tend to work much better than NVIDIA cards of the same vintage for TV output, with better overscan adjustment and picture quality. Many of these cards use the same ATI Rage Theater TV encoder chip which spanned I think from the original Radeon to X850. But I haven't tried more recent ATI cards with SVideo. I wouldn't be surprised if old analog SD TV has been deprioritized.


I have an AIW 9600XT in my AGP video capture rig. I never did think to try its video out since it has the Theater 200 chip on it. I also have an original AIW here with ATI's ImpacTV chip. I don't recall it being all that flexible though.

None of my work really involves outputting to a VHS deck anymore. I really wanted to use the HD3870 as a NTSC test pattern generator, but I have since gotten a Video Toaster to do that duty.
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Re: DVD accelerators compared

Postby elianda » 2012-12-23 @ 21:48

Well, I stepped the ladder down and installed a Ati Rage IIC AGP and the DVD Player refuses playback (i.e. crashes).
Then I tried a ATI Rage II+DVD PCI and it played. The P2 233 MHz is obviously too slow for this now. So I have to upgrade the CPU slightly. Let's see if I can find a 266 MHz.
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Re: DVD accelerators compared

Postby swaaye » 2012-12-23 @ 22:20

I did some reading and it seems that prior to Rage 128, ATI did not have iDCT processing onboard. Rage II+DVD does have motion compensation though. For the competition you need GeForce 256 / Voodoo3 / Parhelia to get that.
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Re: DVD accelerators compared

Postby Mau1wurf1977 » 2012-12-24 @ 13:30

Thoroughly enjoyed watching your videos elinda! A lot of work went into this well done :)
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Re: DVD accelerators compared

Postby Davros » 2012-12-25 @ 16:41

I have an ati xpert@play and also the original dvd player software if its of any use to anyone version 127
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Re: DVD accelerators compared

Postby Putas » 2012-12-28 @ 19:18

I would like to see 6326DVD beat those big brand bullies and finish the whole field with nuke called Mpact. Is there a dvd player that would provide neutral hardware acceleration ground?
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Re: DVD accelerators compared

Postby Filosofia » 2012-12-28 @ 22:31

Back in the day when DVD players were too expensive I bought a cheaper DVD-ROM drive to install on my PII 350MHz, at first I was afraid it wouldn't play DVD movies because my graphic card had only 8MB (somehow in my head these things were connected lol ) but that wouldn't be a problem since I could still use the drive for software DVDs that also started to came with PC magazines...

I was amazed to watch movies full screen on my 15" Trinitron without any lag!
The card was, and still is, a 1998 Matrox Millenium G200 AGP. True story ;-)
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Re: DVD accelerators compared

Postby feipoa » 2013-1-08 @ 11:24

7)
Matrox Marvel G200-TV with DVD Upgrade Module

the card: http://mail.lipsia.de/~enigma/neu/pics/...module.jpg

comparison video footage: ftp://78.46.141.148/videos/dvd_decoders...module.mkv

Matrox G200 AGP + DVD Upgrade Module (G2+/MVA/8I GS/DVDMOD/I), SB16
graphics mode 1024x768x32 Bit

Matrox DVD Player (internal Ravisent 2.0) (Found thanks to a lost disk from NJRoadfan)

Where did you eventually find the G200 DVD decoder module?
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Re: DVD accelerators compared

Postby elianda » 2013-1-08 @ 12:19

I bought the G200 incl. the DVD Module from a collector.

As for the test of the SIS6326DVD and mPact, I don't own those so I can't test it. Maybe someone else could test those?
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