VOGONS


First post, by 386SX

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Hello,

I was trying an old but mostly never used classic old 90's hw mpeg dvd decoder card based on the C-Cube ZiVA chip and it uses the internal feature connector to write the output into the vga frame buffer if I'm correct. As much as I read about this it looks like this solution was just as problematic as the others cause much depending on the main video card drivers, resolutions, color depth, and who knows what and at the end many tests seems to choose and agree that old 3dfx cards were barely compatible with this card and often tested on it. Now I'd like to understand what's the problem because I don't think this card was released just for a single brand products and I suppose something might be wrong in setting or the vga or the decoder card. For example most well known time correct cards like the S3 Virge DX, the Riva 128, the Mystique 220 notice the video mode used is not suitable to play DVDs. I tried different resolutions, frequencies, colors, nothing. I know if I'd use one of the Voodoo cards I have it would sort of work but I can't believe this is the only workaround. Every drivers are the latest even the o.s. patches, Directx and anything. I'm even using a i430VX, K6-233 config to make it more time correct as possible.
I suppose they did test this card with some more products than a single one, it doesn't seems to make sense.
Thanks for any opinions. 😀

Last edited by 386SX on 2022-01-23, 10:03. Edited 5 times in total.

Reply 1 of 31, by Babasha

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DVD-decoder brand and model? Creative PC-DVD Inlay PCI card driver support ATI, S3, RIVA, 3DFX Banshee, some Trident and Cirrus cards.
I test it with ATI RageII and ATI Rage Pro - works, Matrox Mystique - no (as I understand Matrox has overlay compatibility issues and compatible with Matrox products only)

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Reply 2 of 31, by 386SX

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It's a Cinemaster C 3.0 card with latest 2000 drivers, W98 updated to 2004 patches and Directx9. I don't have PCI ATi card to try but I think to remember having tried on some AGP one in the past and same result. The dvd decoder worked on a Voodoo3 card even if not as good as a Dxr3 or similar card, not reall a smooth decoding but at least worked.
Lately I was reading about the Creative card mentioned above and I'd like to test it if it solved something. If the feature connector was such a problem I understand now why Dxr2/3 Creative cards went for the pass-through cable to overcome these problems where it seems any card act in a different matter as long as they had this connector on board.

Reply 3 of 31, by Babasha

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386SX wrote on 2022-01-19, 14:51:

It's a Cinemaster C 3.0 card with latest 2000 drivers. I don't have PCI ATi card to try but I think to remember having tried on some AGP one in the past and same result. The dvd decoder worked on a Voodoo3 card even if not as good as a Dxr3 or similar card, not reall a smooth decoding but at least worked.
Lately I was reading about the Creative card mentioned above and I'd like to test it if it solved something. If the feature connector was such a problem I understand now why Dxr2/3 Creative cards went for the pass-through cable to overcome these problems where it seems any card act in a different matter as long as they had this connector on board.

Sorry I don't own Cinemaster (just read about it)
My Creative PC-DVD Inlay works with much better quality using feature connector than Creative Dxr2 or Dxr3 with pass-thru cables

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Reply 4 of 31, by 386SX

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I suppose that was the main target to use the feature connector. The above Creative card seems to be based on a different chip than the Cinemaster and I didn't know about it and it'd be interesting to know how much better and also compared to the time correct ATi DVD player with Rage Pro or 128/Pro acceleration. The Dxr3/Hollywood+ pass cable was quite a problem not only for its concept but also the cable quality itself, imho too thin and not with the best wires shield. Also for some reasons any different Rev. of the same card had different output quality more visible on a LCD compared to the CRT that mitigated that problem. But as a positive side it was compatible theorically with any video card even if the best results were imho with the late Matrox cards as known. But at that point any sw dvd player with ATi cards resulted in better quality, ramdac, filters, 70% of the MPEG2 decoding offloaded and at that point hw decoders had no sense.

Reply 5 of 31, by Babasha

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I think so - pass-thru cables wass less-quality but more compatible than feature connector.
My Inlay’s perfectly works with ATI Rage’s and slowest P1-90MHz to 200MHz systems and its best for me.

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Reply 6 of 31, by 386SX

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Also interesting from older archived official homepage it said:

Video card compatibility
C-3.x is known to work with:
ATI (Rage chipset w/ 5.22B32Q driver or later)
nVidia (Riva128 w/ any VGA driver; TNT or TNT2 w/ 1.07 VGA driver or later OR Detonator driver)
Diamond (voodoo3 w/ our driver)

So at least the Riva 128 I've with 3.37 drivers should work! And of course the Voodoo3 is specified. Probably the only cards that might work but it looks like it was an OEM solution and that might explain the specific requirements. I might buy some Rage PCI I don't have right now.

Reply 7 of 31, by 386SX

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I tried the Diamond original latest drivers but it's the same thing, same wrong video mode message. Now I try some Dell OEM drivers of this decoder with latest 3.37 Riva128 drivers. It's a bit difficult cause it's easy to break the installation card, many files, multiple hw installation for a single card, the sw player that must be the same version etc...
Also I was thinking about that specifications for the Riva card.. "with VGA drive" ? Do they mean the standard vga default Win98 driver before eventually the latest drivers? And about Diamond that line "Voodoo3 w/ our driver".. their drivers?

Reply 8 of 31, by 386SX

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Maybe a positive update.. with the (old) but Dell branded driver/players (the same gui with the brand logo cause the card was installed on OEM system too) and changing the monitor driver to a default SuperVGA one I got at least the 640x480 32bit resolution to work with a test MPEG2 DVD but quite badly, with good colors but unstable frames and speed; but it (finally) works and sound too with the Riva128 feature connector! Now I found a sw update for the dvd player of this OEM version but looks not much optimized. I begin to think it has something to do with the monitor resolutions settings. I'm going to try some tweaks with PowerStrip software.

Last edited by 386SX on 2022-01-20, 08:57. Edited 3 times in total.

Reply 9 of 31, by Babasha

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386SX wrote on 2022-01-19, 21:09:

I tried the Diamond original latest drivers but it's the same thing, same wrong video mode message. Now I try some Dell OEM drivers of this decoder with latest 3.37 Riva128 drivers. It's a bit difficult cause it's easy to break the installation card, many files, multiple hw installation for a single card, the sw player that must be the same version etc...
Also I was thinking about that specifications for the Riva card.. "with VGA drive" ? Do they mean the standard vga default Win98 driver before eventually the latest drivers? And about Diamond that line "Voodoo3 w/ our driver".. their drivers?

All my future connector decoders correctly works only in Win98 with VXD Win95 drivers. Get an errors with WDM Win98 drivers)))
Same time pass-thru cable Drx2, Drx3 decoders works with VXD Win95 drivers and with WDM Win98 drivers. Sorry, I dont have any WinNT or Win2K installation for test.

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Reply 10 of 31, by 386SX

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For this card I think driver support ended in summer late 2000 and drivers seems having WIN NT, WIN 9X and WIN 2000 drivers (all WDM). But I think it's more about the video card and monitor combination the problem, beside the decoding quality might not be as good as I hoped, like it wasn't with the Voodoo3 too. But that's another problem I'll think later. 😀
It's a good sign that the card is working and the feature connector(s) too.

Last edited by 386SX on 2022-01-20, 00:24. Edited 2 times in total.

Reply 11 of 31, by Babasha

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386SX wrote on 2022-01-19, 21:46:

For this card I think driver support ended in summer 2000 and drivers seems having WIN NT, WIN 9X and WIN 2000 drivers. In the readme they talk avout WDM drivers. But I think it's more about the video card and monitor combination the problem, beside the decoding quality might not be as good as I hoped, like it wasn't with the Voodoo3 too. But that's another problem I'll think later. 😀
It's a good sign that the card is working and the feature connector(s) too.

If you have any success write it here! If sometime you want to sell/drop you Cinemaster - write me too 😉

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Reply 12 of 31, by 386SX

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It looks like it's more than the video card and resolutions settings problems but also the combination of drivers, dvd decoder files, dvd player sw version. WIth the latest official 2000 package there's no way to make it work with the Riva 128 at least on my monitor (15" 1024x768 LCD old style) even at lower resolutions. But it did worked with a Dell driver package (1999) and an updated dvd sw player always by the same brand. Frames are unstable both in quality (pixel quality is not sharp, upscaling seems not complex and also sound seems to have some random problem on this Opti ISA soundcard. I suppose the test will be to find not easy early drivers and required version of sw mostly lost online in the past. But also I might find a Rage PCI card to see if something get better having maybe better drivers at least for the Pro version.

Update: also interesting, when it works it looks like cpu usage on a Pentium MMX 233Mhz stays around 5% even with the dvd running so is not obviously as expected a cpu problem the unstable frame buffer beside it gets better decreasing the window size of the player. Maximun resolution I can get now is 800x600 16bit 75Hz after above that it notice the "video mode error". I suspect the latest drivers/sw probably increased the requirements (in fact the latest sw player felt slower even without video working) and the older one still sort of supported the Riva 128 while the latest might have left it behind to take benefit of better hardware probably video memory. Cpu here isn't the problem and I begin to think probably the video memory is a big factor. In fact I don't have any 16MB PCI card not-3dfx so I can't test if the 4MB SGRAM of the Riva 128 might be or not the problem just like the Virge/DX or the Mystique 220.

Last edited by 386SX on 2022-01-20, 00:26. Edited 1 time in total.

Reply 13 of 31, by 386SX

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Update 2: another interesting find; it looks like the instability of the frame buffer depends also on the MPEG2 DVD bitrate/encoding. I was testing a very high bitrate/s stream before and now that I'm testing a bit lower bitrate/s one (8Mbit/s I think for the video) the instability is gone (not totally anyway). I need to search for the chip specifications to understand how heavy the MPEG2 codec can be decoded in real time because I think the instability might be before the frame buffer get the data. Another positive thing is that with another movie test the pixel quality improved. Of course partially it depends on the video card quality/ramdac and how the card/driver actually I suppose "process" its feature connector input data. Maybe some vga works better than this. The Vodooo cards while worked had same video quality problems; I suppose I will need an ATi card more multimedia oriented than a 3dfx one possibily a Rage Pro / 128 PCI if I want to stay on the 430VX.
Maybe with a better card the resolution/colors problem can get better but I suspect the upscaling quality maybe not. It seems like it does or results in a fast upscaling not quality oriented. That's why it might be interesting to test latest drivers to see if something improved there. While pixel sharpness and stability are lower than a Rage Pro decoding the same movie, at least colors seems to be good for an hw decoder of the late 90's.

Last edited by 386SX on 2022-01-20, 09:03. Edited 1 time in total.

Reply 14 of 31, by 386SX

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I think I've read something interesting about this card (I imagine not many are interested in MPEG2 decoding old solutions but it might be useful info for some users that tested these in an old thread). In a User Manual of the previous generation card (having an older chip model), there's a video card example of... the Riva 128 ( 😀 ) and it says it can go up to 1600x1200 with color depth and monitor freqs listed. Considering they specified the Riva 128 and not the 8MB ZX version, the listed resolutions are the common ones even higher than the one I'm using so video memory may NOT be a problem. At the end the desktop resolutions are probably the limits and it should work on a 4MB card easily. Why it doesn't I'm not sure. The resolutions listed for the Riva 128 are nothing strange, the usual 60, 75 and 85Hz. Color depth 8/16/32 bits depending on the video memory like old 2D desktop limits.
But 800x600@16bit&75Hz is the highest I can run a movie with it even with the monitor disabled Plug&Play to force any resolutions theorically. Also another problem is the driver/sw versions: they can't be mixed and it seems the past companies behind this PCI card changed, who designed it, another who built it as a product, another who took later the project, another who renamed it later and updated its firmware while drivers should anyway work. As usual it's not easy to find all the drivers and sw versions and I might start from this. Anyway the point that it didn't work with anything but the 3dfx card is now explained not really true but depending on multiple factors more on the card drivers/sw version and after that on the video card configuration and time correct drivers.

Update: meanwhile I'm reading the few still complex informations on this card in its lifetime, I think this was interesting. In the last company selling and supporting this card I found this line about the driver/sw installation in its last update:
"For version C3.x [purchased from us on or after 08/Jun/1999] Win98/ME/2000/XP software [will not work on Win95/NT] CineMaster". So I did read somewhere than last cards had a different firmware but it was supposed to be compatible with any drivers. I suppose my own card might be the previous Rev. by Ravisent and not the last updated and renamed while identically built. So if that's true it could mean that latest driver might not always work with all the decoders even with they are identical on the PCB but might differ on the firmware side. Also cause the "feature connector" I never cared reading about as a tech, seems like it can be configured to work in different modes on the vga card. So I don't know if latest video cards having this connectors were configured for a different setting and this might (just a theory) be somehow updated on the decoder (even if it'd sound strange, considering the couple years technology lifetime of these cards).

Reply 15 of 31, by 386SX

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Some details of the video output "feature connector" standards found on the old specs: "Video PortSupport VMI 1.4, VIP 1.1, AMC 2.0, LPB".
and Minimum System Requirements: 90 MHz or faster Pentium®-based IBM®-compatible PC (133 MHz or faster recommended), 16MB RAM, Direct Draw 5.0 support, PCI 2.1 bus.

Today tests seems like to confirm time correct high quality DVD movies runs ok, even if the best result in video quality is at full screen mode. Still there's sort of upscaling/downscaling quality problems even if quite good at the end. I found that on this i430VX mainboard (a usual cheap model) the frame rate at least with few movies I tried, example Matrix (1999), don't have any of the slowdowns I think to remember with the Voodoo3 AGP setup I tried last time. So I suppose maybe also the mainboard chipset might have something to do with the decoder speed compatibility. The CPU (P-MMX 233) is almost totally free from any task like even less than 5% cpu usage, only the GUI and the sw player seems a bit slow on response but when running even the hard disk go in standby mode. As said the movie in window mode suffer in dowscaling while in full screen mode much less in upscaling but still there're horizontal and vertical aliasing sort of edges lines. I don't know if it's a problem of the feature connector limitations (it's an old standard at the end) or the Riva 128 feature connector processing (I'll try others vga) or simply the usual hw decoders quality before the Dxr3/Hollywood+ success that had their problems too on the analog side of the cables/overlay concept. On the driver side I think only the Dell or maybe the Ravisent drivers might work with these cards but it might have a combination of drivers, dvd player sw/dll modules combinations and vga choice/drivers problem.. many variables to make it work ok but I'm trying to choose time correct PCI components for this reason. The Voodoo3 result while worked and supported imho had more problems that I'm seeing with the Riva128 now like slowdowns /micro pauses during playback.

Reply 16 of 31, by 386SX

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Oh my.. last minute update.. during playback I tried changing the desktop resolution with correct monitor INF file to 256 colors but 1024x768 and expecting to be unsupported video mode and instead using the "default refresh rate video card setting" not Optimal or specified.. it works at 1024x768 256 colors (monitor freqs H: 47Khz V:59Hz). Believe it or not the dvd playback didn't change any colors but video quality improved A LOT in upscaling, pixel details/sharpness, smooth.. I can't understand how is possible if the desktop is set to 256 colors how can the frame buffer colors remains the original ones... I can't explain how it works but it does. It seems totally changed. 😀
I know the native resolution is a factor anyway. Downscaling in window mode still not great but a bit better. In full screen anyway even if 8bit palette colors is not acceptable for the Desktop, the result is impressive and similar to a perfectly configured (not easy) Dxr3/H+ card. Now the next test is to find a video card that works with at least 16bit colors for the desktop and trying to update as much as possible all the drivers/modules/player version.

Last edited by 386SX on 2022-01-20, 15:21. Edited 1 time in total.

Reply 17 of 31, by Babasha

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386SX wrote on 2022-01-20, 15:06:

Oh my.. last minute update.. during playback I tried changing the desktop resolution with correct monitor INF file to 256 colors but 1024x768 and expecting to be unsupported video mode and instead using the "default refresh rate video card setting" not Optimal or specified.. it works at 1024x768 256 colors (monitor freqs H: 47Khz V:59Hz). Believe it or not the dvd playback didn't change any colors but video quality improved A LOT in upscaling, pixel details/sharpness, smooth.. I can't understand how is possible if the desktop is set to 256 colors how can the frame buffer colors remains the original ones... I can't explain how it works but it does. It seems totally changed. 😀

Ha-ha!)))

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Reply 18 of 31, by 386SX

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How could I know to look for a different mpeg decoder card manual to have some idea on this.. 😁 that would have saved me a lot of ancient specifications/support pages reading time that didn't say anything about that (beside that Creative card should have a totally different decoder chip while it work on the same concept, anyway which is the Creative model of that card, example CT...?). But to think again on this, the line I said above "Riva128 w/ VGA drivers" might have been something to do with VGA palette. But I'm sure I did try every settings, 256 colors included.. something probably depends on the monitor-video card settings because I suppose if I change the vertical refresh rate it will notice again the unsupported video mode.

Last edited by 386SX on 2022-01-21, 12:13. Edited 1 time in total.

Reply 19 of 31, by Babasha

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Creative model is CT7160
Do you read here about compatibility only with macrovision certified videocard drivers?
https://web.archive.org/web/20020217103310/ht … ers_details.htm

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