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qmacpoint
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MPEG-2 Decoders for IBM ThinkPads

Fri May 03, 2019 10:41 am

Hey guys, I'm currently working on restoring an IBM ThinkPad 770, and one interesting optional feature that caught my eye was the fact that it could have an optional "MPEG-2 / IBM MPEGCD1M / 2MB SDRAM; 100MHz" Decoder thingy. I have no idea what that could be, as the only reference I found is a chip on eBay: https://www.ebay.com/itm/183435534894?ul_noapp=true but it does not have the right name (MPEGCD1V rather than MPEGCD1M)

Would you happen to know what this would be? perhaps an internal add-in card? or is it a soldered chip to the board? or what it could be?
 
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Re: MPEG-2 Decoders for IBM ThinkPads

Fri May 03, 2019 10:46 am

Does the system have a DVD drive? I had a dedicated "DVD decoder card" (MPEG2 decode) in a PC that had a DVD drive, back in the late 90s.
 
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Re: MPEG-2 Decoders for IBM ThinkPads

Fri May 03, 2019 10:51 am

techguy wrote:
Does the system have a DVD drive? I had a dedicated "DVD decoder card" (MPEG2 decode) in a PC that had a DVD drive, back in the late 90s.

It did not, I got a DVD drive separately, but I only have the drive itself. I've seen the PCI decoder card, but in a laptop... not sure about it.
 
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Re: MPEG-2 Decoders for IBM ThinkPads

Fri May 03, 2019 10:52 am

qmacpoint wrote:
techguy wrote:
Does the system have a DVD drive? I had a dedicated "DVD decoder card" (MPEG2 decode) in a PC that had a DVD drive, back in the late 90s.

It did not, I got a DVD drive separately, but I only have the drive itself. I've seen the PCI decoder card, but in a laptop... not sure about it.


It was a valid option on that model though, so that likely means IBM just decided to integrate this accelerator chip into their system board design so that any model 770 could be equipped with a DVD drive, either from the factory or as a later add-on.
 
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Re: MPEG-2 Decoders for IBM ThinkPads

Fri May 03, 2019 11:00 am

It well may have been a PCMCIA card, there are DVD decoders from Dell on eBay: https://www.ebay.com/p/Dell-margi-Dvd-t ... 1619706931
And this manual references to Type-III and Type-II add-ons, which pretty much sound like PCMCIA cards: https://thinkpads.com/support/hmm/hmm_pdf/37l5152.pdf
 
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Re: MPEG-2 Decoders for IBM ThinkPads

Fri May 03, 2019 11:32 am

I'm also going with a decoder add-on for either DVD use (or video encoding, the Internet was just starting to get into video and streaming at that point). DVD was only a couple years old when the 770 came out and real-time software decoding wasn't really a thing until the Pentium III and the Athlon came to market.

IBM/Lenovo have produced a lot of multi-feature docking stations for the ThinkPad, so even if the 770 didn't or couldn't have an internal DVD drive, there was probably an available dock with a 5.25" bay.
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The Egg
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Re: MPEG-2 Decoders for IBM ThinkPads

Fri May 03, 2019 2:09 pm

Yeah.... I never personally used one, but dedicated MPEG-2 hardware decoders used to be a thing.
 
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Re: MPEG-2 Decoders for IBM ThinkPads

Fri May 03, 2019 2:17 pm

The Egg wrote:
Yeah.... I never personally used one, but dedicated MPEG-2 hardware decoders used to be a thing.


I saw one or two inside Pentium II-era desktop computers. I suppose not long after that was when the decoder logic was built into video cards.
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Re: MPEG-2 Decoders for IBM ThinkPads

Fri May 03, 2019 2:50 pm

I had one on my p3-733. The dvd drive was the bomb back then. Not that I owned any dvd’s. :lol:
 
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Re: MPEG-2 Decoders for IBM ThinkPads

Fri May 03, 2019 3:44 pm

bthylafh wrote:
The Egg wrote:
Yeah.... I never personally used one, but dedicated MPEG-2 hardware decoders used to be a thing.


I saw one or two inside Pentium II-era desktop computers. I suppose not long after that was when the decoder logic was built into video cards.

Yeah, it was mostly a Pentium II / III / Socket A era thing. After DVDs hit mainstream (~1997), but before CPUs were powerful enough to comfortably decode in software.
 
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Re: MPEG-2 Decoders for IBM ThinkPads

Fri May 03, 2019 4:05 pm

I specifically remember my Toshiba Portege 7020 CT having an MPEG-2 decoder. It kinda worked? I didn't know much about VFW / DXVA at the time so I remember that it worked with some media players but not all that claimed to support hardware acceleration. The chip was either soldered on the mainboard or it lived in the dock?
 
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Re: MPEG-2 Decoders for IBM ThinkPads

Fri May 03, 2019 4:42 pm

Weren't those more for Pentium MMX era machines? My Pentium II 450MHz came with a DVD drive, but didn't include a hardware decoder. And the video card was a TNT, which had no MPEG acceleration at all. It handled DVDs just fine. Just couldn't multitask worth a damn with the DVD running, but I think that was more of a Win98 thing. :P It was much, much better at that after upgrading to Windows 2000,
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Re: MPEG-2 Decoders for IBM ThinkPads

Fri May 03, 2019 5:03 pm

jackbomb wrote:
It handled DVDs just fine. Just couldn't multitask worth a damn with the DVD running, but I think that was more of a Win98 thing,

Many older machines couldn’t multitask while decoding mp3’s For that matter. For awhile I just ripped them to .wav’s because Storage was more readily accessible than cpu
 
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Re: MPEG-2 Decoders for IBM ThinkPads

Fri May 03, 2019 5:43 pm

jackbomb wrote:
Weren't those more for Pentium MMX era machines? My Pentium II 450MHz came with a DVD drive, but didn't include a hardware decoder. And the video card was a TNT, which had no MPEG acceleration at all. It handled DVDs just fine. Just couldn't multitask worth a damn with the DVD running, but I think that was more of a Win98 thing. :P It was much, much better at that after upgrading to Windows 2000,

That was the fastest Pentium II made and it didn't launch until fall 1998; by the following spring, PIIIs starting at 450MHz hit the market. Even then the machine could bog down and hiccup if anything else happened during DVD playback, but we all just accepted it because of the novelty of playing full-screen, high-resolution video on a PC. (How times change.) Up until the early 00s there were still a lot of people running Hollywood-Plus cards and other forms of add-on decoder ASICs to get around that problem.
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Re: MPEG-2 Decoders for IBM ThinkPads

Fri May 03, 2019 5:49 pm

Usacomp2k3 wrote:
Many older machines couldn’t multitask while decoding mp3’s For that matter. For awhile I just ripped them to .wav’s because Storage was more readily accessible than cpu


Anything less than a 100mhz Pentium is "going to have a bad time" doing 128 kbps stereo Mp3
 
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Re: MPEG-2 Decoders for IBM ThinkPads

Fri May 03, 2019 10:55 pm

Welp, after a bit of digging found that there was a non-standard card that would connect at the base of a ThinkPad laptop that would have an MPEG2 decoder, but also would work as a video capture card! So now I need to hunt this guy! https://www.amazon.ca/IBM-Thinkpad-Enha ... B0009MASW4
 
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Re: MPEG-2 Decoders for IBM ThinkPads

Sun May 05, 2019 8:03 am

Glorious wrote:
Usacomp2k3 wrote:
Many older machines couldn’t multitask while decoding mp3’s For that matter. For awhile I just ripped them to .wav’s because Storage was more readily accessible than cpu

Anything less than a 100mhz Pentium is "going to have a bad time" doing 128 kbps stereo Mp3

I remember playing back MP3s on my K6. It worked, but it chewed up something like 20% of the CPU doing it.
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Re: MPEG-2 Decoders for IBM ThinkPads

Sun May 05, 2019 11:17 am

just brew it! wrote:
Glorious wrote:
Usacomp2k3 wrote:
Many older machines couldn’t multitask while decoding mp3’s For that matter. For awhile I just ripped them to .wav’s because Storage was more readily accessible than cpu

Anything less than a 100mhz Pentium is "going to have a bad time" doing 128 kbps stereo Mp3

I remember playing back MP3s on my K6. It worked, but it chewed up something like 20% of the CPU doing it.


On the 83 MHz Pentium Overdrive machine I had ages ago, Winamp would just barely play MP3s and I'd get static because the CPU couldn't always keep up. Solution: boot to Linux and play them in FreeAmp (later renamed to Zinf) on the console instead, which worked perfectly.
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Re: MPEG-2 Decoders for IBM ThinkPads

Sun May 05, 2019 3:23 pm

ludi wrote:
jackbomb wrote:
Weren't those more for Pentium MMX era machines? My Pentium II 450MHz came with a DVD drive, but didn't include a hardware decoder. And the video card was a TNT, which had no MPEG acceleration at all. It handled DVDs just fine. Just couldn't multitask worth a damn with the DVD running, but I think that was more of a Win98 thing. :P It was much, much better at that after upgrading to Windows 2000,

That was the fastest Pentium II made and it didn't launch until fall 1998; by the following spring, PIIIs starting at 450MHz hit the market. Even then the machine could bog down and hiccup if anything else happened during DVD playback, but we all just accepted it because of the novelty of playing full-screen, high-resolution video on a PC. (How times change.) Up until the early 00s there were still a lot of people running Hollywood-Plus cards and other forms of add-on decoder ASICs to get around that problem.

I still think that Win98 was holding it back. It would drop frames & the audio would stutter if you tried something as simple as opening Explorer while a DVD was playing. After the upgrade to Win2000, you could actually perform simple tasks without causing the audio to go haywire. It still dropped frames if you tried opening Explorer, but it definitely wasn't as jarring an experience as it was under 98.
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Re: MPEG-2 Decoders for IBM ThinkPads

Sun May 12, 2019 9:21 pm

While I can't be sure, from that era, I'm guessing daughtercard or PCMCIA card. It has been awhile since I played with ThinkPads of that era, though they were fun machines.

Sigma Designs provided a number of hardware MPEG-2 decoder ICs and even hardware at the time; it is likely IBM sourced them or a similar competitor for something like this for systems with a DVD drive to ensure decoding had no stutter and perhaps to free up CPU load for other simultaneous work.
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