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Macintosh PowerBook DVD-Video PC Card?

valejacobo

Active member
Are there any hardware acceleration PC Cards available that I haven't heard of? All G4 PB came with a Radeon, and CorePlayer was optimized to use the AltiVec instructions, so I don't think there's a point into that. I'll go to the software route first.
 

DracheMitch

Well-known member
Are there any hardware acceleration PC Cards available that I haven't heard of? All G4 PB came with a Radeon, and CorePlayer was optimized to use the AltiVec instructions, so I don't think there's a point into that. I'll go to the software route first.
I don't use Mac OS X on PowerPC machines: pointless. There's VERY little PPC-only Mac OS X software.

I have a Gigabit G4 Titanium on 9.2.2 and the DVD video stutters if I do anything else besides watch a video, as well as the fan going full-blast after playing videos for a while, so the Radeon isn't doing anything as far as I can tell.

The DVD-Video PC Card is what came with the G3 series PowerBooks to enable DVD playback using Zoomed Video.
 

valejacobo

Active member
I don't use Mac OS X on PowerPC machines: pointless. There's VERY little PPC-only Mac OS X software.

I have a Gigabit G4 Titanium on 9.2.2 and the DVD video stutters if I do anything else besides watch a video, as well as the fan going full-blast after playing videos for a while, so the Radeon isn't doing anything as far as I can tell.

The DVD-Video PC Card is what came with the G3 series PowerBooks to enable DVD playback using Zoomed Video.
Well colour me surprised, I haven't seen that one before. If it works for G3s, I'll just assume it will do just fine on G4s, since even you can upgrade some G3 CPUs to the later. But as I said, the AltiVec is a PowerPC cpu instruction, so it works separatedly from the Radeons, wich only serve me for Warcraft and Sims. CorePlayer was a must back then and still is today for all PowerPC machines, because it was the only player who could play videos smoothly since it was developed specifically for the platform and optimized for it. I use it on my 1.5Ghz Aluminium G4 and it works flawlessly.
 

chelseayr

Well-known member
I may be wrong but I somewhat recall that 'zoomed video' was only present in the lower slot of twin-pcmcia powerbooks so for a single-pcmcia one like the titaniums' it didn't even have the circuit for that

even then like valejacobo was saying I indeed don't see anything on the garden to refute that the G4 couldn't play dvds smoothly with just internal hardwares alone (interestingly enough one of the apple dvd player apps page also suggests that the late G3 imac had no problem too so I wonder if maybe drache's issue could be from the cpu being throttled by some kind of powerbook-specific energysaving extension)
 

Franklinstein

Well-known member
So the DVD Decoder card was basically a hardware CardBus MPEG-2 decoder that used ZV to send the finished video stream directly to the screen. I think C-Cube built the chip and was the supplier for all of Apple's hardware MPEG-2 decoders (also used in some configurations of the beige G3, B&W G3, and PB G3 Lombard). There were also third party suppliers of the PC card (such as Taxan) but again I think they all used the same C-Cube decoder chip. Maybe you could find a PC version that would work? It would likely be cheaper than the Apple version.
Apple DVD Player was the only program that ever supported the hardware MPEG-2 decoder in any form, but only in certain versions, and only under Mac OS Classic. It's possible, though I have nothing to suspect other than it being a very Apple thing to do, that DVD Player checks gestalt IDs and refuses to support certain features if it's on the wrong computer (such as hardware MPEG-2 decoder on a G4).
Would the PC Card decoder work in a PBG4? Maybe. I mean it should since it has CardBus with ZV support and can run Mac OS Classic. Is it worth the effort and expense to find one? Probably not. It's unlikely that you'd get enough of a boost to do multitasking or realize cooler running using it compared to just doing software decode. The only times I've ever had my PB G3's fan turn on was when watching DVDs with that card, which was nearly untouchable when ejected because it was so hot.
 

Cory5412

Daring Pioneer of the Future
Staff member
Whoops -- missed this when it was new/current:

It's been years and years since I did this but I ran DVDs on a G3/Pismo back in the day, on those and newer the Rage128 could/should have helped with DVD decoding if i remember right. In addition, I don't remember my Pismo being stuttery with DVD playback, in either OS X or OS 9. (Though: I almost never multi-tasked DVD watching at that time, so maybe I don't remember it happening because I didn't create a scenario where it would. Classic Mac OS is bad at multi-tasking, if this is exclusively a multi-tasking thing, that may well just be the answer.)

It surprises me a bit to hear that a G4 is having problems with DVD playback and I'm tempted to say it might be something other than the DVD software itself -- e.g. 20-year-old thermal interface material is worn out and the CPU is clocking down, or these machines actually relied a fair bit on their batteries and the CPU is clocking down, or the optical drive or disk has something wrong, etc etc.

Alternately: I wonder if there's some extension that's missing. (But again if the symptom happens only when multi-tasking...)

In theory, AltiVec or the Rage/Radeon should accelerate DVD playback enough in similar enough ways to the PC card decoder, I don't know that I think it'd make a difference in multi-tasking. I suppose the worst you can do is spend lots of money separating something meant exclusively for one generation of PowerBook from a machine it'd work with only to find out it doesn't do what you hoped it would.
 

Byrd

Well-known member
I don't use Mac OS X on PowerPC machines: pointless. There's VERY little PPC-only Mac OS X software.

I have a Gigabit G4 Titanium on 9.2.2 and the DVD video stutters if I do anything else besides watch a video, as well as the fan going full-blast after playing videos for a while, so the Radeon isn't doing anything as far as I can tell.

Try installing some of the ATI retail drivers of the era, which do support additional DVD acceleration. And your issue could also be solved by running OS X for DVD playback, yes there isn't as much PPC software but the quality is there.
 

Cory5412

Daring Pioneer of the Future
Staff member
The OSX/PPC software issue is.... exaggerated significantly. Almost all major commercial software from the OS 9 era was ported to OS X or replaced by something new. That movement was done a couple years before the switch to Intel. There was very little left on OS 9 exclusively by the time Intel Macs shipped. Heck, most software was already beyond its Carbon dual-platform stage by then, sometimes by more than one major version. (e.g. Photoshop 7 -> CS1 -> CS2.)

Whether or not you'd want to bother is a separate issue. 10.4/5/6 on an Intel Mac should run most OSX/PPC software as fast (very earliest machines) or faster (slightly later models) than it runs on OSX/PPC Macs. The OS X software transition was even faster than to 9->

So, in a vintage context it's really about what experience you want, and you can 100% argue that the 2001-2006 OSX/PPC experience isn't worth having since you can either go for OS 9 and get something that feels faster on the same hardware, but makes poorer use of system resources and is bad at multi-tasking, or go for OSX/Intel and get meaningfully faster performance even on emulated PPC software.
 
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