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Re: Anyone here made a "TV computer"?

On Mon, Apr 11, 2011 at 10:34 AM, Wookey <wookey@wookware.org> wrote:

>> If I look at packages.debian.org I can see that lots of things like vlc, mplayer
>> etc. are available for arm* - but there's a difference between having built
>> successfully and actually working on real hardware at real data rates.  So do
>> those packages know about e.g. video hardware features in any of the available
>> ARM hardware?
> I've been thinking about this too - and was kind of waiting for some
> suitable hardware to turn up too.
> As I run a very old via ITX box for TV I know all about hardware
> that's not quite fast enough - and that has hardware MPEG2 decoding,
> but still requires plenty of tweaking to work nicely.
> I'd expect that to make this work at useful framerates you'll need a
> big fight with proprietary drivers and some hardware with the right
> sort of video decoding assist. I know that, for example iMX51 hardware
> can do 720p OK (with the proprietary drivers), but it simply can't
> manage HD video.

 i've been studying and tracking HD-capable ARM processors for quite
some time now, and it's a very short list.  1080p60 (which is the
upcoming DVB2 / IDSB-T standard) you can flat-out forget (irony...).
you have to get _really_ specialist TV-capable MIPS processors which
have absolutely rubbish general-purpose performance to get full

 so let's assume you're happy with 1080p30 (when all the DVB2 and
ISDB-T broadcasts will be 1080p50 or 1080p60... *sigh*...)

 the list is something like: Samsung's S5PV210 (and S5PC110); NXP's
PNX8491 (bought out by tridentmicro recently); TI's OMAP4440; Ziilab's
ZMS-08 (watch out for this one: creativelabs are GPL violators, see
latest list.gpl-violations.org post), Telechips TCC8902 (ARM11,
massive GPL violations going on with this one)

that's it.  in fifteen months of searching, there exist really only
*five* "available" ARM processors, two of which are from companies
that are riddled with GPL violations problems, one of which is
specialist and not really targetted at general-purpose computing, one
of which is only available in volumes of 10k+ and one of which is only
available in volumes of 100k+.

 the smart bunnies amongst you will have noticed that that equals... five :)

 [ oh wait - there's that marvell armada 610, but who wants to sign
marvell's NDAs to get at the required info?? ]

 regarding the OMAP44xx series: phytec are the only people authorised
by TI to sell OMAP44xx processors in volumes less than 100k.  they
have a "module" and a corresponding motherboard that's about the same
size as a pandaboard.  the module has an option of 1gb of RAM.

 but at least there do exist, now, a few systems at affordable prices,
with that S5PV210 (or S5PC110) processor.  take a look at
http://hardkernel.com for example - the ODroid-T or ODroid-S or even
the original ODroid has been converted to a 1ghz S5PC110 now.

 regarding DVB hardware: use a USB dongle, for goodness sake.  freecom
or hauppaug, they're all happily supported (although they're known for
getting, um... a bit warm shall we say).

 i installed the linux pvr project several years ago, got on with it
quite well, but now am quite happy with the command-line tool, scantv,
to find the stations, and then just use "xine dvb://{program name}"
and it works really well.  ...but i'm a luddite, and that was on x86
hardware :)

 yeahhh, bottom line: i'd pick a pandaboard and use DVB dongles and
USB-to-SATA converters.  the OMAP44xx has a 4-port hub built-in so you
will *not* be overloading one single USB channel with SATA data.
remember to get a decent 2-head SATA drive, otherwise playback+record
will spang the drive heads back and forth, eventually breaking


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