Watch TV on your IyonixBy Chris Williams. Published: 6th Jul 2003, 23:28:11 | Permalink | Printable
Castle's machine gets further PCI headstartIyonix user Simon Wilson has this weekend revealed details of his PCI TV Card project for the Castle Iyonix. Simon hopes to freely release a driver for TV cards that employ either of the Conexant BT848/849/879 chips and he suggests the Pinnacle PCTV Rave as a suitable card.
TV Cards, funnily enough, allow you to tune in and pick up TV stations and watch them on your computer and record the broadcast onto your harddisc. You can also hook up your camcorder or VCR as an alternative signal source.
Simon's TV card project is interesting for a few reasons, which is why it's getting an article to itself despite not being complete (although we'd rather avoid having another Cineroma case on our hands).
First, the TV card works by solely communicating with the Iyonix video system so it can plot received images directly to the screen. All this occurs with little intevention by the main XScale processor, leaving it free to do other tasks like run desktop applications. This isn't to say that this sort of hardware based activity is a first for RISC OS, it's just that the TV card's overlay system is a good demonstration of using dedicated hardware to do specific and intensive processing.
Secondly, it's nice to see a third party developer turning out a driver for some PCI based hardware. It's all well and good finally having a PCI enabled RISC OS computer but now's the time to start getting available cards supported.
Simon's driver is a port of the bttv linux driver.
Now this could be us being typically cynical but it's just occured to us that the Castle PCI software interface is most probably going to be different to the PCI software interface that MicroDigital will employ in their Omega. This means we'll hit a driver split like we faced with USB. Just like drivers for the Simtec USB solution won't work with the Castle USB solutions and vice versa, we expect PCI drivers for the Iyonix to be incompatible with the Omega and vice versa.
Will such a driver split be a big factor in helping people decide which machine to purchase? If so, the Iyonix already has an immediate headstart with Simon's PCI TV card work and the PCI cards supported by Castle.
Finally, Simon's work means we can watch and record TV on our RISC OS machines, which is ace. Simon's driver is in testing at the moment, so stay tuned for more details when the software is released.
Iyonix PCI TV Card project
Also, Simon's Iyonix vs. RiscPC speed tests and Netlights app.
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