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Help! DVD playback at 1080i with ATI Radeon 7200?

Discussion in 'ATI' started by Isaac Kuo, Dec 8, 2003.

  1. Isaac Kuo

    Isaac Kuo Guest

    The short version:

    Does anyone know a DVD player program much faster than PowerDVD?
    I'm suffering choppy 4-8fps playback with PowerDVD.


    Isaac Kuo

    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

    The long version:

    I'm using an PIII550 Win98 box with ATI Radeon 7200 and
    Powerstrip feeding a 4:3 Mistubishi HD set. It took me several
    days of frustrating trial and error and internet reading, but I
    finally have gotten multiple resolutions to work:

    640x480p with 540p timings -- good for 640x480 videos
    1280x960i with 1080i timings -- good for viewing pictures
    720x480p with 540p timings -- good for 4:3 DVDs
    720x720i with 1080i timings -- will be good for anamorphic DVDs

    I use the following programs for videos:

    Windows Media Player -- .avi and .wmv videos
    mplayer (a linux port) -- .avi and .ogm videos
    PowerDVD -- DVDs

    My problem is with video playback on the interlaced resolutions.
    With video hardware acceleration set to the 3rd or 4th notches,
    all video playback is stretched vertically by a factor of 2x so
    that only the top half of the video shows. This is obviously

    With hardware acceleration set to the 1st or 2nd notches, then
    video playback is correct for mplayer and PowerDVD, but extremely
    sluggish. Video playback for Windows Media Player is always 100%
    scale, in the lower left corner.

    I'm really only concerned with getting DVD playback to work with
    interlaced resolutions. With my particular TV, the unusual
    letterboxed 720x720i resolution will provide me with
    the best anamorphic movie playback. However, without hardware
    acceleration it's too choppy. Thus, my options are:

    1. Get hardware acceleration to work - Is there a way to do this?
    I've tried fiddling with various switches on OpenGL and Direct3D
    settings and none of these seem to have any effect. There are
    a number of settings in Powerstrip which I don't understand. I
    tried switching some of them but so far nothing seems to work.

    I'm guessing that whatever hardware function is being used to
    scale the video is some sort of "overlay" function. Thus, the
    program decodes the video to a piece of video memory at the
    original resolution and the video card scales this image to
    the desired size on the fly while displaying it. Is that right?
    I guess that whatever the video card is doing it's incrementing
    by only half as much as it's supposed to on each scanline,
    because it's interlaced. Is there some sort of hack to get it
    to work properly on interlaced resolutions?

    2. Get a more efficient DVD playing program - I use PowerDVD simply
    because that's what came with my DVD drive. Any suggestions
    for better DVD playback software?

    3. Tweak PowerDVD - is this even possible? I've probably overlooked
    options which could make it play back faster. However, I
    somehow doubt minor tweaks could get it up to speed. Playback
    without hardware acceleration is very choppy, varying between
    around 4 to 8 frames per second. A tweak which increased speed
    by 25% would still be too slow.

    4. Get a faster processor - but no one has PIII's any more and
    upgrading to a PIV motherboard along with new memory is too
    expensive. Also, my motherboard might not support PIII's
    faster than 600mhz anyway.

    I thank you for your time reading the long version, and would
    appreciate any suggestions.


    Isaac Kuo
    Isaac Kuo, Dec 8, 2003
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  2. Isaac Kuo

    Klaus Guest

    Sounds like you have a slow computer. What speed is your CPU?
    Klaus, Dec 8, 2003
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  3. Isaac Kuo

    Jason Guest

    He has a PIII 550, sounds like that may be the culprit...
    more RAM and/or a better video card can help. Also what about a seperate
    MPEG decoder card?
    Jason, Dec 8, 2003
  4. Isaac Kuo

    Klaus Guest

    He has a PIII 550, sounds like that may be the culprit...

    HaHa thanks - I saw the part under his name and automatically thought it
    was a signature....

    Yeah your CPU is too slow...
    1) Upgrade CPU or
    2) Get a $40 hollywood plus decoder card.
    Klaus, Dec 8, 2003
  5. Isaac Kuo

    sheer Guest

    sheer, Dec 8, 2003
  6. Isaac Kuo

    Isaac Kuo Guest

    Thanks for the link! It seems that it actually doesn't
    include a DVD player at all--it's just a front end for
    PowerDVD or any other compatible DVD playing software.

    Nevertheless, I may experiment with the freeware version
    for playing other videos. It suffers from the same
    vertical 2x stretching/cropping that all of the other
    media players suffer from in interlaced modes, but there
    might be options to get around that (nothing I've fiddled
    with in it has fixed it yet).

    As with all of the other media players, playback is
    smooth and flawless in non-interlaced modes (with
    hardware acceleration turned on).

    Isaac Kuo
    Isaac Kuo, Dec 9, 2003
  7. Isaac Kuo

    Isaac Kuo Guest

    Well, it's not "the" culprit--with hardware acceleration
    turned on, playback is smooth with rare dropped frames.
    It looks very nice on the non-interlaced resolutions.
    The playback is just as smooth at interlaced resolutions,
    but there's some bug/flaw somewhere which makes only
    the top half of the image visible and stretches this
    top half 2x vertically.

    When I disable hardware acceleration, this bug/flaw is
    not encountered. However, the additional strain of
    doing the image stretching entirely in software makes
    PowerDVD very very choppy. Other media types like
    DivX .avi files aren't as severely affected, but there
    are a lot of dropped frames.
    Thanks--upgrading the CPU is a very expensive option;
    I might as well get a whole new computer. PIII's are
    not easy to find, and even if I did find one my
    motherboard probably can't take one faster than 600.
    That leaves me with a motherboard/CPU upgrade, which
    would practically be a PIV upgrade. At that point,
    I need all new RAM...

    That Hollywood Plus decoder card option sounds more
    like it, although I still hope to find a solution
    which fixes the bug/flaw rather than adding more

    Thanks again!

    Isaac Kuo
    Isaac Kuo, Dec 9, 2003
  8. Isaac Kuo

    Jason Guest

    Isaac, are you running DX 8 or 9? Try upgrading/downgrading and see if that
    helps. It may be a DX problem. Hardware acceleration determines if
    DirectDraw is on or off. Worth a shot and its free.
    Jason, Dec 9, 2003
  9. Isaac Kuo

    chrisv Guest

    How are you connecting them?
    chrisv, Dec 10, 2003
  10. Isaac Kuo

    Isaac Kuo Guest

    Thanks, it helped a lot!

    I couldn't figure out how to check which version of DX was
    installed. It certainly wasn't the latest DirectX 9.
    After I downloaded/installed DX9, I was able to successfully
    use a DX9 only filter option in Zoom Player. It worked!
    Now, Zoom Player successfully streches to any resolution
    including the interlaced resolutions I had problems with.
    Playback at 1280x960i is smooth and very nice--a distinct
    improvement for videos that aren't 640x480 in resolution.

    Obviously, the 640x480 videos played about as well as they
    possibly could at 640x480 resolutions. Even so, playback
    to 1280x960i looks better because the interlacing eliminates
    visible scanlines, making it look "fuller".

    I haven't purchased Zoom Player Professional yet to play
    DVDs, because I'm still hoping to get PowerDVD or some other
    DVD player working by fiddling around. A few nights of
    experimenting is worth saving $20, IMO, especially since
    I'm having fun and learning stuff while I'm at it.

    Either way, my next priority is actually to get .ogm files
    to play, and get all of the DivX files to play correctly.
    Currently I use mplayer to play these files--it uses its
    own internal codecs and ignores Windows codecs. With hardware
    acceleration turned on, it still suffers from the vertical
    stretching even with DX9. It's not surprising that it
    wouldn't take advantage of DX9 since it's a linux port.
    Messing with codecs should hopefully get Zoom Player up to
    speed with these files it currently can't play.

    Again, I thank you all for the help! Your suggestions have
    been invaluble.

    Isaac Kuo
    Isaac Kuo, Dec 10, 2003
  11. Isaac Kuo

    Isaac Kuo Guest

    A breakout cable from 15 pin VGA to RGBHV (5 RCA connectors).
    My Mitsubishi set supports RGB and RGBHV input, so I don't
    need a transcoder. It looks great!

    Isaac Kuo
    Isaac Kuo, Dec 10, 2003
  12. Isaac Kuo

    Klaus Guest

    Where did you get it?

    Klaus, Dec 10, 2003
  13. Isaac Kuo

    mcheu Guest

    Try these:

    1. Enable DMA in both the BIOS and the OS for your DVD drive. Power
    DVD should have done this by default for the OS part of it if the BIOS
    was already properly configured (This is one of the settings that's
    properly set from the factory).

    2. I was going to suggest you update the motherboard drivers, but as
    it's a P3 550, I'm guessing that means you're probably running an
    Intel chipset so you're probably already using the right bus mastering
    drivers. Of course, if there's a newer one, installing that won't

    3. Checking off "hardware acceleration" in PowerDVD's configuration
    settings will sometimes help if the card does any sort of Discrete
    Cosine acceleration -- Which the Radeon does...

    4. I know I said to check off "hardware acceleration", but with some
    driver versions, this will cause PowerDVD to act weird. Sometimes
    giving you choppy performance or just crashing outright. Try it with
    and without this option. See if it helps any. Going with a different
    video driver might help too.

    5. Finally, try playing the DVD with less crap running in the
    background. A 550Mhz P3 should be fast enough even running without
    hardware acceleration for a constant 30-60fps playback on a DVD movie.
    However, you can't expect it to do so if it's juggling other stuff as
    mcheu, Dec 10, 2003
  14. Isaac Kuo

    Isaac Kuo Guest

    First off, thanks for all the suggestions! I didn't have time
    to experiment around last night, so I don't know how well it
    will work yet...

    Right now, I've gotten Zoomplayer to work with hardware
    acceleration turned on, and I now understand why there aren't
    any (legitimate) freeware DVD player programs.

    Thus, I'm going to try to get PowerDVD working with hardware
    acceleration rather than try to find a faster DVD player program.
    Yes, as far as I can tell DMA is working--at least when
    hardware acceleration is turned on.
    I don't think it's a motherboard issue. There's something
    funny with the Windows default "filter" for scaling the video
    output when the display is interlaced. With Zoomplayer and
    DirectX9, the scaling is done correctly--when set to specifically
    use DX9 for the final filter. Otherwise, the final output
    gets stretched 2x vertically (cropping to the top half of the
    original video), just like all of the other media players.
    Strangely, turning off "hardware acceleration" in PowerDVD's
    configuration didn't seem to have any noticeable effect. I'm
    guessing it's because this setting only affects the actual
    MPEG-2 decoding, and I don't have any MPEG-2 decoding hardware.
    Or perhaps it simply means that the actual MPEG-2 decoding side
    of things isn't the bottleneck.

    Either way, the only thing which had a dramatic effect on the
    frame rate was turning down "hardware acceleration" in
    Window's advanced display settings. This caused the final display
    scaling filter to be done entirely in software--and this reduced
    PowerDVD playback frame rates to unacceptable levels. Neither
    Windows Media Player nor Zoomplayer work properly--the videos
    end up at 100% scale aligned to the bottom left no matter what
    the scale the software thinks it's at. Only mplayer had acceptable
    performance, scaling properly at all resolutions--but suffering
    from noticably choppier playback with a lot of dropped frames.
    With hardware acceleration turned off, PowerDVD acts quite
    normally--just with unacceptably choppy performance.
    I don't have anything running in the background (other than the
    basic Windows stuff--which isn't a whole lot with Win98).
    This computer is a dedicated home theatre PC.

    I guess that it's fast enough that the actual MPEG-2 decoding
    is not an issue. However, the software rescaling filter is just
    too slow. I think perhaps mplayer intelligently only applies
    the filter with each new frame (e.g. 24 times per second), whereas
    maybe PowerDVD tries to apply it constantly (e.g. 60 times per
    second). Either way, I'm going to concentrate my efforts on
    getting hardware acceleration to work--it's now working
    wonderfully with Zoom Player at 1280x960i resolution.


    Isaac Kuo
    Isaac Kuo, Dec 11, 2003
  15. Isaac Kuo

    Isaac Kuo Guest

    A local store ordered it for me from Triangle Cable. It's at


    or something like that. Anyway, a Google search for Triangle
    Cable, VGA, and RGBHV should find it easily.

    Isaac Kuo
    Isaac Kuo, Dec 11, 2003
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