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Should I use software playback on an EPIA board, or use a full featured (FF) card?

From the vdr mailing list.

> I have an EPIA M motherboard and a Nexus-s FF DVB-s card. What kind of VDR/plugins implementation do you recommend to me? I have planned to use the svga out from the nexus and the onboard EPIA RCA to the 6 channel audio output.

You will either use the HW MPEG2 decoder of the FF-card, or the one on the EPIA, or a software decoder:

  • FF HW decoder: use the TV-out connector of the DVB card, you will get video quality (interlaced, s-video signal or RGB signal if you have the connector). No required plugin (plain VDR is aimed at this configuration: no surprise)
  • CLE266 HW decoder or software decoder: you will need a plugin (softdevice or vdr-xine or xineliboutput), video output through the VGA connector (high quality, suitable for LCD TVs) or the s-video-out of the mobo (bad to acceptable quality, depending on details: I can comment more on this, or search the ML archive). You could have bought a budget card if you plan to use this setup.

vdr-xine or xineliboutput will use the hardware decoder if you use the right X, XvMC, etc. Aim at really recent version or CVS for all that stuff. I can provide links for Debian repositories if you use that distro (or search the list archive : it's a FAQ). softdevice won't use the CLE266 for now, but this might be on the TODO. If you have a Nehemiah 1Ghz, software decoding is not an issue (30% to 70% CPU, depending on the stream).


  • FF HW decoder: I don't really know, but the FF card can output SPDIF with the right connector, or you can use the bitstreamout plugin to use the mobo's sound card/connector.
  • softdevice: AC/3 output is on the TODO, might be out soon
  • vdr-xine / xineliboutput: might work as-is (depends on Xine and it's config, didn't test)

> What mpeg2 hardware decoder you recommend to use? The nexus mpeg2 decoder included in the dvb-s pci card or the mpeg2 decoder included in the CLE266 chipset?

I'd definitely recommend CLE266 / software decoding. The details depend on your hardware setup : use Xine if you have or need X (either vdr-xine or xineliboutput), which nearly requires a keyboard/mouse. Use softdevice if you want a real set-top-box (no keyboard or mouse, just the remote). Using the VGA-out of the mobo will give you full resolutions on LCD TV, even s-video out could be perfect in the next months.

> In the last option I have to use the softdevice plugin? Can I turn the FF card and use a cheaper budget card with the CLE266 hw mpeg decoder with the same quality? Witch combination do you think is better?

I personnaly use lastest VDR + softdevice, which requires compiling/packaging skills. This is definately rewarding. The simplest way is to use the FF HW decoder. If you want to use the most hardware of you mobo, without compiling, go for vdr-xine or xineliboutput.

  • vdr-xine: the plugin provides a socket through which a regular Xine conn connect and get the VDR output. There is recent network support (VDR on the server, Xine on a remote client). Problems can arise because you have two processes to manage (client + server), not counting the whole X)
  • xineliboutput: the author didn't announce it on this ML (lastest version is quite recent). Directly link libxine in the VDR binary, thus no client/server problem, but still the whole Xine functionnality, and requires X.
  • softdevice with CLE266 DirectFrameBuffer (DirectFB) driver: Softdevice developers have fine-tuned softdevice+DirectFB integration. See softdevice mailing list [1] and following HOW-TO web page [2] about how to configure it. [Update 2006-08-14]

Please update as status of mentioned plugins change and improve.

From a posting of Nicolas Huillard. Link to thread.