VOGONS


First post, by SolidSonicTH

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Is there like a cutoff for that (maybe around 2000-ish)?

Reply 1 of 7, by The Serpent Rider

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Eh, depends. ATi had DVD decoding since Rage II+ chip, allbeit not perfect. But starting from original Rage 128, ATi cards were solid solution to watch DVD.

Last edited by The Serpent Rider on 2022-06-05, 12:21. Edited 1 time in total.

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Reply 2 of 7, by Zup

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I did software decoding with Geexbox on a Pentium II @ 333MHz. I guess that a 450MHz computer should do it even with Windows.

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Reply 4 of 7, by 386SX

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If we talk about "CPU + video card processing", the Celeron 333Mhz (better a Pentium II 350 and more) processors may be the minimum requirement that start benefit from its clock / FPU and eventually from the video chip of that period depending also on the not much considered software player engines as a variable on final speed or quality depending on what is needed (lighter playback or higher image quality and/or multitasking).

About video cards, ATi had imho the best offer, Motion Compensation hw acceleration was available since the Rage "DVD" variants and Rage Pro chips (while it should be only considered the AGP versions for some reasons) and later since the Rage Mobility-P, the Rage 128 and above also the IDCT acceleration added to the earlier older stages of the generic video decoding process which most video chips offloaded already. A later ATi video card should even help a K6-2/3/+ cpu to decode a MPEG2 DVD in real time with the quite weak FPU of these cpu, 3DNow! enabled included. Other video cards anyway had DVD acceleration like SiS or Trident or S3 with variable results and support.

About hardware decoders, they are another story with good and bad sides to consider. They can even work in real time on some old Pentium 133Mhz (for example) but introducing other problems depending on which decoder card, drivers, resolution, connection to the vga, chipset compatibility, oem or retail, video cards compatibility etc.. the most common and compatible ones like the Creative/Sigma Design cards usually need a CRT monitor to compensate the analog overlay chip bandwidth/thin cable quality, instead the other less common hardware cards introduced more problems to find a config where they work or often do not. If they work anyway the cpu is mostly unused and permit a multitasking usage that with a video card decoding choice would be possible with much higher end configs.

Instead without the above video acceleration options, I would go for a Pentium III to have a cpu sw decoding and some free cpu space left for multitasking. Later DVD players engine offered higher final video quality but were heavier and benefit from more CPU speed (SSE enabled too) and in that case I'd go instead for a Matrox video card to let most of the MPEG2 decoding to the CPU and benefit from the great VGA output of their cards.

Reply 5 of 7, by Babasha

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386SX wrote on 2022-06-05, 13:35:
If we talk about "CPU + video card processing", the Celeron 333Mhz (better a Pentium II 350 and more) processors may be the mini […]
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If we talk about "CPU + video card processing", the Celeron 333Mhz (better a Pentium II 350 and more) processors may be the minimum requirement that start benefit from its clock / FPU and eventually from the video chip of that period depending also on the not much considered software player engines as a variable on final speed or quality depending on what is needed (lighter playback or higher image quality and/or multitasking).

About video cards, ATi had imho the best offer, Motion Compensation hw acceleration was available since the Rage "DVD" variants and Rage Pro chips (while it should be only considered the AGP versions for some reasons) and later since the Rage Mobility-P, the Rage 128 and above also the IDCT acceleration added to the earlier older stages of the generic video decoding process which most video chips offloaded already. A later ATi video card should even help a K6-2/3/+ cpu to decode a MPEG2 DVD in real time with the quite weak FPU of these cpu, 3DNow! enabled included. Other video cards anyway had DVD acceleration like SiS or Trident or S3 with variable results and support.

About hardware decoders, they are another story with good and bad sides to consider. They can even work in real time on some old Pentium 133Mhz (for example) but introducing other problems depending on which decoder card, drivers, resolution, connection to the vga, chipset compatibility, oem or retail, video cards compatibility etc.. the most common and compatible ones like the Creative/Sigma Design cards usually need a CRT monitor to compensate the analog overlay chip bandwidth/thin cable quality, instead the other less common hardware cards introduced more problems to find a config where they work or often do not. If they work anyway the cpu is mostly unused and permit a multitasking usage that with a video card decoding choice would be possible with much higher end configs.

Instead without the above video acceleration options, I would go for a Pentium III to have a cpu sw decoding and some free cpu space left for multitasking. Later DVD players engine offered higher final video quality but were heavier and benefit from more CPU speed (SSE enabled too) and in that case I'd go instead for a Matrox video card to let most of the MPEG2 decoding to the CPU and benefit from the great VGA output of their cards.

+++ best

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Reply 6 of 7, by Standard Def Steve

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In 2000 I added a DVD drive to my brand new 600MHz PIII so that I could watch DVDs in my dorm room. For the most part, it worked beautifully without a decoder board. Under Windows 98, it would occasionally get a little choppy if I tried launching Netscape whilst playing a DVD. Under Win2k (I dual-booted), it never skipped a beat. Better multitasking and memory management under NT, I suppose. Or maybe I just forgot to tick the DMA box in Win98. Who the hell knows, right? 😜

By the way, I have a PII-300 Presario that surprisingly shipped without an MPEG-2 board...back in 1997! Under Windows 95, with the exact combination of video driver and playback software that Compaq provided, it can play most DVDs smoothly. Upgrade to Win98 and PowerDVD, and it all falls apart.

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Reply 7 of 7, by 386SX

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Babasha wrote on 2022-06-05, 14:42:

+++ best

Thanks; just an opinion of my tests and memories with those old multimedia different configs. 😉

Standard Def Steve wrote on 2022-06-05, 15:54:

In 2000 I added a DVD drive to my brand new 600MHz PIII so that I could watch DVDs in my dorm room. For the most part, it worked beautifully without a decoder board. Under Windows 98, it would occasionally get a little choppy if I tried launching Netscape whilst playing a DVD. Under Win2k (I dual-booted), it never skipped a beat. Better multitasking and memory management under NT, I suppose. Or maybe I just forgot to tick the DMA box in Win98. Who the hell knows, right? 😜

By the way, I have a PII-300 Presario that surprisingly shipped without an MPEG-2 board...back in 1997! Under Windows 95, with the exact combination of video driver and playback software that Compaq provided, it can play most DVDs smoothly. Upgrade to Win98 and PowerDVD, and it all falls apart.

The PentiumII @ 300 Mhz should be "ok" for a single-task decoding but still much depending on which video chip/driver and video sw player engine were choosen (which may be interesting to know which video card and sw player were); I imagine on that cpu, without MC/IDCT accelerating, the CPU usage might be around 90%. Lately I tested some older sw players and resulted in a lighter dvd decoding but lower image quality. So as said, the sw player engine change or upgrade usually increased final dvd decoding quality resulting a bit heavier even supporting new hw features (3DNow!, SSE..). 😉

I tried to make a Pentium-MMX 233Mhz to get a stable decoding frame rate but was not possible like confirmed by any sw installation requirements, while with tweaks can mantain a 20-25fps decoding, 99% CPU usage, no multitasking even using but not helping the Rage Pro PCI hw.
But I always liked those old softwares like the old PowerDVD versions, cause felt light and compatible with the cpu features and video chips (S3/Trident for example). Once those sw players/engine became more modern also became a bit heavy even on more powerful configs. I suppose there's a point where video quality improved a bit while at a speed cost like in the 2001-2004 sw dvd players period.