VOGONS


First post, by Babasha

User metadata
Rank Member
Rank
Member

My quest with Brooktree multimedia videocards from 1995/96

I want to share a "detective" story with the search for information, drivers and revival of videocard (media accelerator) based on the Brooktree Mediastreamer BtV2115 chip.

As it turned out, this is a whole separate branch of "videocard building" from Brooktree company, a well-known manufacturer of DAC / ADC chips.Probably the most popular solutions of which were Bt878 chips for single-chip TV tuners.

A series of videocards based on Brooktree chips consisted of several variants from different manufacturers, including famous Number Nine, STB, Samsung. The whole line was based on several chips with now mysterious names: BtV2115, BtV2120, BtV2125 and the late BtV2164. All these chips and videocards saw the light in 1995-96, almost before the WEB era. Information about them is pitifully small, almost crumbs. I will try to fix this "histoty bug"

Attachments

Need help? Begin with photo and model of your hardware 😉

Reply 2 of 18, by PC Hoarder Patrol

User metadata
Rank Oldbie
Rank
Oldbie
Babasha wrote on 2022-06-17, 19:11:
My quest with Brooktree multimedia videocards from 1995/96 […]
Show full quote

My quest with Brooktree multimedia videocards from 1995/96

I want to share a "detective" story with the search for information, drivers and revival of videocard (media accelerator) based on the Brooktree Mediastreamer BtV2115 chip.

As it turned out, this is a whole separate branch of "videocard building" from Brooktree company, a well-known manufacturer of DAC / ADC chips.Probably the most popular solutions of which were Bt878 chips for single-chip TV tuners.

A series of videocards based on Brooktree chips consisted of several variants from different manufacturers, including famous Number Nine, STB, Samsung. The whole line was based on several chips with now mysterious names: BtV2115, BtV2120, BtV2125 and the late BtV2164. All these chips and videocards saw the light in 1995-96, almost before the WEB era. Information about them is pitifully small, almost crumbs. I will try to fix this "histoty bug"

Have you seen this 1995 MediaStream family product guide from their Wayback archive - https://web.archive.org/web/19961030205403/ht … /pdf/BtVPSG.pdf

Reply 3 of 18, by Babasha

User metadata
Rank Member
Rank
Member
PC Hoarder Patrol wrote on 2022-06-18, 10:09:
Babasha wrote on 2022-06-17, 19:11:
My quest with Brooktree multimedia videocards from 1995/96 […]
Show full quote

My quest with Brooktree multimedia videocards from 1995/96

I want to share a "detective" story with the search for information, drivers and revival of videocard (media accelerator) based on the Brooktree Mediastreamer BtV2115 chip.

As it turned out, this is a whole separate branch of "videocard building" from Brooktree company, a well-known manufacturer of DAC / ADC chips.Probably the most popular solutions of which were Bt878 chips for single-chip TV tuners.

A series of videocards based on Brooktree chips consisted of several variants from different manufacturers, including famous Number Nine, STB, Samsung. The whole line was based on several chips with now mysterious names: BtV2115, BtV2120, BtV2125 and the late BtV2164. All these chips and videocards saw the light in 1995-96, almost before the WEB era. Information about them is pitifully small, almost crumbs. I will try to fix this "histoty bug"

Have you seen this 1995 MediaStream family product guide from their Wayback archive - https://web.archive.org/web/19961030205403/ht … /pdf/BtVPSG.pdf

Yep! Its in my next posts 😉

This story began as a search for PCI card FUJITSU SCENIC MEDIA EXTENSION BOARD D971 for one of my "projects". This is a rare computer card, even pictures of it on the web turned out to be extremely small. By the way, I'm still looking for it 😉

Looking for full-sized FUJITSU PCI card, it is clear from parts of the text on the web that there are TV tuner and 3D sound "expander". I found the Brooktree card at one of the local auctions in Ukraine.

This card had a TV tuner and a large number of chips, obviously redundant for simple TV viewing. Carefully examining it, I began to collect information about what kind of card it is and whether it is an analogue of the one I'm looking.

Original photo from auction attached.

Attachments

Need help? Begin with photo and model of your hardware 😉

Reply 5 of 18, by rasz_pl

User metadata
Rank Oldbie
Rank
Oldbie

Reading linked pdf looks like this design was very adhoc engineering driven with no one with a wider vision managing the herd (reminds me of pointless C128).
Brooktree made a big whoop about their custom packetized scaling DAC, really proud of themselves. The only reason it was needed in the first place is they couldnt fit it all in the main chip 😀 All this talk about bandwidth savings between two chips is smoke screen. An external DAC manufacturing company couldnt conceive a way of integrating DAC into video controller chip <surprised pikachu face> 😀

The biggest innovation "MediaStream Family" offers is native support for independent component color space video buffers with key mask support.
- YCrCb support, no need for component-rgb color conversion
- free arbitrary hardware scaling of two independent 320x240 YCrCb buffers
- Key-mask can be used to do crude cutout video sprites like in 7th Guest, except even 7th Guest ghosts were semi transparent and you couldnt do that with this hardware so still useless. Image suggest the key-mask buffer is one byte per pixel and they only use one bit for alpha, such a waste.

They claim

The MediaStream Controller provides multiple virtual frame buffer views into the same physical memory,
allowing transparent bit, byte, and word order flipping, as well as video color component access.

but if you look carefully at BtV2487 (page 31) this is misleading, you cant access component buffer and get it automagically translated to RGB. Its the DAC that can ingest up to two raw 320x240 YCrCb buffers and bilinearly scale them to arbitrary window sizes.
Furthermore Video Keying had potential to be used as a crude compression method by storing only actually used YCrCb data, but looking again at page 31 Keying is the last step before data output meaning video stream will include discarded/transparent pixels, another missed opportunity.

Native SPDIF was a nice touch tho.

This design (controller + BtV2811) seems to be a predecessor to Bt848/Bt849/Bt878/Bt879?

Reply 7 of 18, by Babasha

User metadata
Rank Member
Rank
Member

Brooktree is an American company founded in 1983 by Henry Katzenstein that manufactures digital-to-analog converters that are three to eight times faster than the converters on the market.

Brooktree's best-known products include the Bt8x8 family of chipsets. They were often used in TV tuner boards for computers.

The company was bought out by Rockwell Semiconductor in 1996, which became Conexant in 1998. In turn, one of the latest Brooktree multimedia projects in 1994-96 was the BtV®21XX chipset for video cards (or rather multimedia combines).

Here is the announcement of the key-points of this architecture.

BtV® MediaStream(TM)
In 1994, Brooktree launched its BtV® MediaStream family of highly integrated multimedia components, representing the first complete solution offered by a single supplier for the latest generation of media-enabled applications. The BtV® family is the first in a new category of multimedia subsystems that accelerate sound, graphics, and video, all in a single, fully integrated solution for mainstream personal computers. This contrasts with competitive solutions that simply bolt video and sound circuitry onto existing GUI acceleration engines, accelerate each data type independently, and generally consist of a hard-to-manage collection of chips, boards, and software from separate vendors.
The BtV® MediaStream family brings together Brooktree's mixed signal technologies in graphics, video, audio, and DSP to provide unprecedented performance and efficiency in a single unified architecture. By integrating this powerful hardware technology with a comprehensive software support library of utilities, drivers, and BIOS (including Microsoft Plug and Play compliance), BtV® allows OEMs to quickly bring comprehensive multimedia capability to the market.
Defined from the ground up, BtV® achieves the most efficient use of silicon, memory, and CPU cycles for multimedia functions. This resulted in the patented MediaPacket Architecture that provides the most efficient multimedia accelerator system in an extensible architecture.

MediaPacket(TM) Architecture
Traditionally, graphics, video, and audio subsystems utilized separate memory spaces and bus connections because of independent controllers with incompatible data types. Wasted memory space and memory bandwidth, duplicated bus interface logic, and wasted CPU cycles to manage independent subsystems resulted. Consequently, the cost of providing these capabilities has been an expensive proposition.
Brooktree's MediaPacket Architecture, made for the mainstream PC market, solves this problem by integrating the disparate data types of graphics, audio, and video. At the heart of this architecture is a single media controller that works with a common buffer capable of caching the various multimedia data types.

WaveStream(TM)
In 1995, Brooktree introduced WaveStream, a software-only, high-quality synthesizer, designed specifically for the PC multimedia environment. This product offers a high-performance, next-generation PC sound solution for OEMs, content developers, and end-users who want the PC industry's highest standard of sound quality without requiring expensive sound hardware, and without losing the ability to play General MIDI-compatible games and software in DOS. By providing this software module, Brooktree has given multimedia systems a significant quality improvement without the need for an expensive, dedicated DSP hardware and memory subsystem.

Click the links below to download a complete description of the BtV® MediaStream(TM) architecture, as well as a description of the individual chips included in it.

Attachments

  • Filename
    BTV chips 02.zip
    File size
    2.34 MiB
    Downloads
    6 downloads
    File license
    Public domain
  • Filename
    BTV chips 01.zip
    File size
    4.47 MiB
    Downloads
    9 downloads
    File license
    Public domain
  • Filename
    BtVPSG.pdf
    File size
    1.16 MiB
    Downloads
    11 downloads
    File license
    Public domain

Need help? Begin with photo and model of your hardware 😉

Reply 8 of 18, by Babasha

User metadata
Rank Member
Rank
Member

Photo of several video cards on Brooktree BtV21XX chips - Brooktree Durian (developer board?), Number Nine 9FX MEDIA 574, STB VIDEO RAGE, Samsung SCM-1000

Attachments

Need help? Begin with photo and model of your hardware 😉

Reply 9 of 18, by root42

User metadata
Rank l33t
Rank
l33t
rasz_pl wrote on 2022-06-23, 23:27:

Reading linked pdf looks like this design was very adhoc engineering driven with no one with a wider vision managing the herd (reminds me of pointless C128).

Oh boy, lucky we are not on a Commodore forum. 😁 Also, your choice of words is funny, as Bil Herd was the main architect of the C128!

YouTube and Bonus
80486DX@33 MHz, 16 MiB RAM, Tseng ET4000 1 MiB, SnarkBarker & GUSar Lite, PC MIDI Card+X2+SC55+MT32, OSSC

Reply 10 of 18, by Babasha

User metadata
Rank Member
Rank
Member

First "power on" and compatibility with TFT monitors.

1) LG IPS226 - no image, no signal found
2) NEC 18880SX - the image in text and graphics modes "flicks" at least once or twice per second, the image brightness is normal in all modes. After installing the video card driver in Win9X, the SVGA graphics modes work fine.
3) SAMSUNG 510T – the image in text and graphics 320x240 modes is excellent, the image brightness is normal in these modes. When you try to set the graphics mode to 640x480x16 colors (standard VGA), the image brightness drops by 99% (it seems that the monitor simply turns off the matrix backlight). After updating the video card BIOS to version 5.8.9 and installing the video card driver in Win9X, text and graphics modes work fine!
4) JVC LM-15 - an old but professional reference monitor with a VGA input and two analog composite TV inputs - works perfectly in all modes without restrictions and additional settings.

Need help? Begin with photo and model of your hardware 😉

Reply 11 of 18, by rasz_pl

User metadata
Rank Oldbie
Rank
Oldbie

My first thought would be 15KHz output, but 1880SX only accepts "31.0 kHz to 82 kHz". But it also supports not so standard composite sync.

Horizontal sync. Positive/Negative
Vertical sync. Positive/Negative
Composite sync. Positive/Negative

Reply 12 of 18, by Babasha

User metadata
Rank Member
Rank
Member
rasz_pl wrote on 2022-07-06, 11:22:
My first thought would be 15KHz output, but 1880SX only accepts "31.0 kHz to 82 kHz". But it also supports not so standard compo […]
Show full quote

My first thought would be 15KHz output, but 1880SX only accepts "31.0 kHz to 82 kHz". But it also supports not so standard composite sync.

Horizontal sync. Positive/Negative
Vertical sync. Positive/Negative
Composite sync. Positive/Negative

Yep! Signal (sync) or levels incompatibility.

Need help? Begin with photo and model of your hardware 😉

Reply 13 of 18, by Babasha

User metadata
Rank Member
Rank
Member

Some screenshots during drivers hunt and adaptation:

1) Installed drivers and their properties
Btv0003.1658757517.jpgBtv0002.1658757472.jpg

2) Sound driver preferences (yes, its a PCI card with original OPL3 chip)
Btv0001.1658757696.jpg

3) Videocapture (up to 320x240 at 25fps and CD-quality sound on my Pentium 100MHz)
Btv0004.1658757777.jpg

4) Onboard TV-tuner application
Btv0005.1658757942.jpg

5) Software wavetable and its monitor/editor
Btv0006.1658757999.jpgBtv0007.1658758025.jpg

Need help? Begin with photo and model of your hardware 😉

Reply 14 of 18, by Babasha

User metadata
Rank Member
Rank
Member

BIOS'es attached - ROM image with BIOS ver. 5.5.2 and updaters to ver. 5.8.7 and 5.8.9

Attachments

  • Filename
    BTV-BIOS.zip
    File size
    64.06 KiB
    Downloads
    4 downloads
    File license
    Public domain

Need help? Begin with photo and model of your hardware 😉

Reply 15 of 18, by acl

User metadata
Rank Newbie
Rank
Newbie

The half-English/half-Russian panels looks painful to use...

There was definitely a hype in the 90' around such multimedia cards. But i still can't see the point of watching tv on a computer of that era.
I did bought a tv stick for my laptop in the 2000's but back in the 90's ? No. Too many drawbacks.
Screens were small, you could not really record tv-shows because of the compression being computationally expensive and HDD small.
You needed a PC remote control device or wireless mouse (or very long cables).
Computers were expensive compared to a tv.
You could also use instead a VCR that generally had a tuner and have it output on you computer monitor.

The only use case i found a computer "superior" is to pirate premium channels who needed a subscription.
This was quite popular in France, where the channel "Canal+" was scrambled and quite easy to unscramble with software (and was the only channel to offer XXX movies)

signature.png
My collection (not up to date) | My builds (not up to date)

Reply 16 of 18, by Babasha

User metadata
Rank Member
Rank
Member
acl wrote on 2022-08-11, 14:06:
The half-English/half-Russian panels looks painful to use... […]
Show full quote

The half-English/half-Russian panels looks painful to use...

There was definitely a hype in the 90' around such multimedia cards. But i still can't see the point of watching tv on a computer of that era.
I did bought a tv stick for my laptop in the 2000's but back in the 90's ? No. Too many drawbacks.
Screens were small, you could not really record tv-shows because of the compression being computationally expensive and HDD small.
You needed a PC remote control device or wireless mouse (or very long cables).
Computers were expensive compared to a tv.
You could also use instead a VCR that generally had a tuner and have it output on you computer monitor.

The only use case i found a computer "superior" is to pirate premium channels who needed a subscription.
This was quite popular in France, where the channel "Canal+" was scrambled and quite easy to unscramble with software (and was the only channel to offer XXX movies)

Its my hobby-project - no practical usage in 2022 (there no analog TV in Ukraine, DVB-T only).
Its interested as unusual combine with the first PCI soundcard realization, as a PCI soundcard with original Yamaha OPL3 discrete chip, one of the first software wavetable card. Videocapture not bad for old-times. If i own this card in 1996/7… I can get some money producing short clips for a local TV provider.

Need help? Begin with photo and model of your hardware 😉

Reply 17 of 18, by Babasha

User metadata
Rank Member
Rank
Member

Handmade variant od DOS/WIN95 drivers and utilities (English version wit step by step structure).
1. Copy and install 01... first portion (DOS utulities, BIOS update in TSR mode, Win95 apps)
2. Usual Win95 drivers installation from 02... folder
3. Additional WAVESTREAMER 3 installation in 03... folder for software wavetable in Win95

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1CNrWP01Sd1MJ … iew?usp=sharing

Need help? Begin with photo and model of your hardware 😉

Reply 18 of 18, by Babasha

User metadata
Rank Member
Rank
Member

OH YES!

I found the sound output and I can hear it!
Currently PC-Speaker with the right channel only, need some connectors and soldering)))

Its a SB Pro with hardware original Yamaha OPL3 under DOS and SB Pro/OPL3 with software 8MB wavetable under Windows.

PS. Bonus - Gateway 2000 produce series of DESTINATION computers based on Brooktree BtV2114/2164 videocards. Its a STB VideoRage 1 and 2 card (video and capture parts only)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s4WTJGBAfGA
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xhILvG3p-Go
https://www.reddit.com/r/retrobattlestations/ … r_gateway_2000/

Attachments

Need help? Begin with photo and model of your hardware 😉