Building the PVR system with two Dvico Fusion HDTV5 LITE/GOLD DUAL TUNERS: There were some problems.
The Dvico Fusion HDTV5 LITE and GOLD cards had a good reputation and so
I purchased one of them to try out. I built up a system using the
Fusion HDTV5 LITE card and used BeyondTV software and it worked
beautifully. This using an ASUS P4S800D-X MB, with two SATA 300GB
drives in RAID configuration and a Sapphire GeForce 6200A AGP VGA/DVI
card for display. I was very pleased with the result and ordered
a second HDTV5 LITE tuner card. I installed the second card but
due to IRQ and other resource conflicts, the system failed to function
properly and multiple consults with ASUS and Dvico tech support could
not solve the problems. Dvico told me that I should buy two FUSION
GOLD cards to fix the problem. I did buy the GOLD cards and while
I no longer had address conflicts, the IRQ conflicts could not be
resolved. Dvico then said if I would buy a MB with a "genuine
INTEL" chipset, my problem would resolve. I then bought an INTEL
D865PERL MB. To make a long story short, this new MB did NOT
resolve all the conflicts and I still was not able to get a DUAL TUNER
system operational with this second MB.
I then started visiting a multitude of multimedia related Internet
forums. I found a LOT of users who were having similar problems
to mine and I also found a number of people who said they were successful in
systems working. I decided to ask people to tell me their system
configurations where they had been "immediately successful" in getting
a Dvico Fusion HDTV5 system with two (or more) tuners working.
I found three people who had built essentially the system listed
below with variants of the ASUS A8N motherboard system. The
consensus was that "most any" CPU with speed above 2.5Ghz would work.
But I had occasional "video stuttering" when operating with a
2.5Ghz chip WITH JUST ONE TUNER and so think that speed is a little too
low for satisfactory operation in a high quality multimedia system. I
believe you are more likely to achieve trouble free performance with a
CPU in the range of 4Ghz and the price of those has come down to half
what it was a year ago. I suggest that users be very skeptical of
people who say that TWO of the Dvico PCI cards can be operated
successfully in a single motherboard with currently available drivers!
My latest configuration with AMD Athlon 64 (4200+ MHz CPU) demonstrates
no stuttering on playback even when both tuners are recording HDTV
HDTV playback. But, I sometimes had stuttering when two analog
channels were recording and I was watching a HDTV program. This
was the most successful configuration I managed to assemble. For
me, ANY routine video or audio stuttering is unacceptable.
This final configuration I chose to build up
consisted of the following
At last I got dual turners to work in my system in HDTV mode. I
Dvico Fusion HDTV5 PLUS tuner card and got it working fine. Then
I installed a ATI HDTV WONDER card as my #2 tuner card and it went in,
Beyond TV recoginized it properly and I went through the BTV setup
wizard without a single hitch. My system is now working properly
with these two HDTV tuners. UNfortunately, if recording two
analog channels and watching one HDTV channel, I get stuttering video
on playback. This performance is not acceptable.
If I had not already purchased the
HDTV5 GOLD card and the ATI HDTV WONDER tuner cards, I would
select the new ATI Theater 650 chipset based tuners
. These MIGHT operate recording two analog TV channels and playback HDTV without stuttering.
there been a FANLESS PCIe video card with VGA+HDMI outputs, I would
have chosen that instead of the 7600GS model above. In
fact, In a
multimedia computer, you want to have the power supply and chassis fans
as quiet as possible. I chose one of the black Antec Sonata
0761345-15138-2 cases which has a 380 watt PSU and very quiet fans.
the DVI output, you have to use a separate audio cable to your HDTV set
whereas with HDMI the audio and video can travel the same cable to a
HDMI input on your HDTV. I suggest you check to see if you can
find a video card with VGA+hdmi+fanless design+PCIe and when available,
buy that model for the above system configuration. I am next
going to try a PCIe version of an ATI dual display and fanless video
card and see if I can get dual display to operate properly on one of
As I have "played" with Beyond TV and SAGE TV, I have found that users
experience MANY problems that I have not (yet) seen. I am
thinking that a great many of these problems result because of a)
driver incompatability with certain MBs, b) IRQ conflict
problems, c) Inadequate CPU processing power for the job.
In addition, many motherboards that can perform very nicely with a
SINGLE TV TUNER simply fail to perform when confrunted with multiple TV
tuners. These tuners cards are very complex devices with multiple
software drivers. The Dvico HDTV5 and ATI HDTV cards have a total of FIVE
different drivers required for EACH tuner card. These drivers
must be compatible with the motherboard and bios AND with Beyond TV or Sage TV. The drivers
themselves must either support reentrant multiuse of the driver or
multiple copies running in the same computer to support multiple
boards. Such software structures cry out for rigorous
motherboard and CPU compatibility testing which, at this time, is not possible considering
the resources of the (mostly) small companies doing the tuner cards and software
This compatibility problem seems to be even more acute when multiple
Dvico brand TV tuner cards are used. Much of this is easy
to understand if you consider that a) this multiple TV Tuner technology
is in its early stages and b) the tuner designs are being done in many
cases by engineers and software designers in very small companies.
Such groups do not have the resources to collect hundreds of
different computer motherboard types and CPU types and qualify each one
to run with their tuner hardware. THEREFORE, I cannot
emphasize too much that a new experimenter would be well advised to
pick a KNOWN TO WORK motherboard+CPU+TV Tuner combination before
purchasing hardware. This is especially desirable if the intent
is to move up to multiple TV Tuners in the future. Buying a MB
with inadequate CPU power, or one not previouly tested (by someone!) to
work with a particular multiple tuner multimedia setup and
running Beyond TV or SAGE TV has a very high probability of
failing to perform as in my own case! I am now on my third MB in
an effort to find a workable combination. This last time, I opted
for a "known to work together" hardware combination and... I
still have problems with dual Dvico Fusion tuner configurations
as noted above. The existing drivers simply are not
able to keep the cards functions separated when more than ONE card is
used. This in all three of the motherboards I have tested.
I notice that a lot of Beyond TV and Sage TV users Opt for the
Client/Server approach. There ONE computer does all of the
recording and ANOTHER computer does the display task using data
transferred via the ethernet link between the two machines.
Not to scare anyone, but BeyondTV has an extensive knowledge base
of miscellaneous problems and potential solutions and a documentation help file
which are very useful when you go and set up one of these systems.
And almost none of the problems listed involve CPU/Motherboard
related problems. SnapStream (BeyondTV) does not even list ONE
"reference configuration" that they know works. They appear to
assume that the system builders are knowledgable enough to "just know"
what motherboards will work and which ones won't. But the below
list is a start in the direction of what motherboards will and will not
work in making up a Personal Video Recorder. Good Luck!
Remember: A motherboard that will work with ONE tuner card
type MIGHT or MIGHT NOT work well with some other tuner card model.
Let the buyer be aware!
Motherboards KNOWN TO WORK without problems with MULTIPLE PCI TUNER CARDS.
Motherboards KNOWN NOT TO WORK
with MULTIPLE DVICO PCI TUNER CARDS.
These MB ARE known to work OK with just ONE Dvico Fusion PCI tuner card. (*)
*1) This is the BEST of the three I tried. However, I
have not been totally successful with the above listed ASUS
PREMIUM MB using one ATI HDTV WONDER tuner and one Dvico Fusion
HDTV5 GOLD tuner. This because of video stuttering when
analog programs while watching a HDTV program. I was
with any pairing of
Dvico PCI LITE/GOLD tuners in a single system. It appears that
while SOME people claim to
have make this Dvico combination work but I have tried these on the
THREE different MBs below and ONE Dvico Fusion tuner card works fine,
but I have been
UNsuccessful in getting TWO or THREE cards to work with either
Dvico's own software OR with Beyond TV's software. Neither Dvico
Tech Support nor Beyond TV can provide me with ANY benchmark
configuration that they KNOW works with a pair of the Dvico cards.
My advice? Do NOT try to use Dvico Fusion cards for more
of the tuners in your system.
*2) ASUS P4S800D-X with P4-3Ghz with multiple Dvico HDTV5 GOLD or LITE tuner cards
*3) INTEL D865PERL with P4-3Ghz with multiple Dvico HDTV5 GOLD
or LITE tuner cards. This Intel board had to have updates from the
Intel Website before I could get Windows XP SP2 to install on it using
the RAID system. The shipped MB drivers on the kit CD were dated
2003. Maybe that is why I like ASUS and GigaByte MBs.
Comments? Errors? More Information? Email Joe