[mythtv-users] Interesting Cringely article on possible Apple PVRs

Brian Wood beww at beww.org
Sat Mar 10 00:41:47 UTC 2007

On Mar 9, 2007, at 4:52 PM, matthew.garman at gmail.com wrote:

> That would be *awesome*, assuming it had good drivers for Linux.  On
> my dual-core Athlon64 3800+ (overclocked 10%), it takes about 10
> hours to encode a typical movie (from DVD) with x264 (open source
> H.264 implementation).  Granted, that's with very high quality
> options---but it's 10 hours!
> Even now I'm considering spending upwards of $1k to build a new Core
> 2 Duo machine for what I expect to be only a 33% performance
> increase.  I'd pay $50 without blinking an eye for realtime!

Prices will certainly come down dramatically, just look at what it  
cost to encode MPEG-2 15 years ago. Quibbling about when and how much  
the cost will drop is pretty much futile.

MPEG-2  encoder and decoder chips are cheap partly because they are  
manufactured in huge quantities, something that can be done because  
MPEG-2 is an accepted "standard", there is no risk in winding up with  
large quantities of orphaned chips using an abandoned proto-standard.

The problem with anything "better" than MPEG-2 is that there is no  
such total agreement. Granted H264-10 looks like a good bet at this  
point, but the DiVX folks haven't given up yet, and even Microsoft,  
which was denied participation in the "standard" by their VC-1  
product, has almost certainly not given up. There are also many other  
very marginal candidates, but as usual the decision will not be made  
on technical merit, remember Beta vs. VHS?

Producing chips in consumer mass-market quantities means that  
somebody "won" the war, which means that everybody else "lost". It's  
a pity but that's how the manufacturers look at it, and the last  
folks anyone wants to "win" are the consumers.

As long as everyone's using software decoding, and even encoding,  
there is hope for the horses who are running now in the middle and  
back of the field. Start making chips in quantity and those horses  
lose, and they still have plenty of money to hire lawyers, lobbyists  
and ad agencies to prevent that.

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