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Why no FLAC support on recent Blu-Ray devices?
krafty
post Jan 13 2012, 16:11
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I've been watching recent releases of Blu-Ray players and most of them just ignore lossless formats like FLAC, WavPack and so on.
They ship with MP3 and some are shipping with AAC support, but FLAC is a dream...

Any logic reason besides contractual ties with proprietary formats?
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polemon
post Jan 13 2012, 16:27
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Usually, they use decoder chips which are basically mass produced SOCs. You can find those chips on stand-alone media players as well, those little boxes that have a few USB ports, probably eSATA, and one or more HDMI outputs. Sometimes, the same chips are also in modern TV sets, and those are usually build into DVD players as well. There, the DVD is accessed like a mass-storage device, but the decoding part is one of those SOCs.

Now, the cheapest SOCs are those that are also used in mobile media players (we used to call them "MP3 players"). Those media players can decode only a couple of files and codecs, and that's because of cheap decoder chips. Since one of those cheapie decoders are used in most DVD/BR players, they also can decode only just a few file formats and codecs.

The "better" decoder chips, like the Sigma Designs SMP8647, are used on more expensive media boxes and some higher class DVD/BR players.

Edit:
The Popcorn Hour A-300 is one of such "better" media boxes with said chip. Check the specification page, they decode a large plethora of formats and codecs.

This post has been edited by polemon: Jan 13 2012, 16:31


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saratoga
post Jan 13 2012, 17:34
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QUOTE (polemon @ Jan 13 2012, 10:27) *
Usually, they use decoder chips which are basically mass produced SOCs. You can find those chips on stand-alone media players as well, those little boxes that have a few USB ports, probably eSATA, and one or more HDMI outputs. Sometimes, the same chips are also in modern TV sets, and those are usually build into DVD players as well. There, the DVD is accessed like a mass-storage device, but the decoding part is one of those SOCs.

Now, the cheapest SOCs are those that are also used in mobile media players (we used to call them "MP3 players"). Those media players can decode only a couple of files and codecs, and that's because of cheap decoder chips. Since one of those cheapie decoders are used in most DVD/BR players, they also can decode only just a few file formats and codecs.


The SOCs used in these devices contain ordinary CPUs running software decoders. If they don't support a given audio format, its because no decoder software for it was provided by the vendor.
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polemon
post Jan 15 2012, 03:58
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QUOTE (saratoga @ Jan 13 2012, 17:34) *
The SOCs used in these devices contain ordinary CPUs running software decoders. If they don't support a given audio format, its because no decoder software for it was provided by the vendor.

Erm, I can assure you, that my i.Beat Organix from TrekStor uses a SOC, with integrated DSP that directly interfaces with the headphone amp. So there's not much software decoding going on. iPods, however, use software decoders, that's one reason, why Rockbox works so well on older iPods. I've seen some of those SOCs in DVRs by Panasonic. The SOCs made by Sigma (SMP8640 Series) have very nice fully integrated decoders, actually aimed at BluRay players, among others. However, those are quite expensive. Take a look at the info sheet of the SMP8640 devices, and there's even a reference design for BluRay players based on the SMP8642.

It's just that many BluRay player manufacturers don't use them or similar devices.

I believe, to cut cost, they use cheap stuff with hardly any decoding capabilities other than VOB and the contained codecs. I know for a fact, that there are BluRay SOCs. that do basically only decode BluRay and DVD decoding work, with nothing else. It's a very cost effective solution for very cheap china DVD/BD players.

As a side note, BR practically failed as storage medium for arbitrary computer data. It's basically still DVDs, acceptance of BR discs is way slower than it was for DVDs. I've talked to someone from a renovated computer magazine, and he confirmed that, saying that very low BR recorder sales are practically keeping BD at a high price range. He also told me, that even BD video isn't catching up that easily. And to cope with that, there's BD9, which uses inexpensive 8.5 red laser media, but with Blu-ray media structure and codecs. I't a step backwards, but that should have been done first, before the move to blue laser technology. Now, to make the high prices attractive for arbitrary computer storage, they made BDXL, which is a triple-layer BD, with 100GB and 128GB capacity, respectively. If you ask me, BD as a whole is poo, and it seems it's getting nowhere, by going in three directions at once.

krafty, in case you're looking for a good media player, don't buy a BD player, just get yourself a media box, like the one from WD, or Popcorn Hour.

Please excuse me for using various kinds of spelling "Blu-ray", which is the correct spelling I used just now. Blu-ray is a pain to type, and even more such to remember which letter is capitalized and which isn't. It's easy to refer to the disc by using "BD", but "BR" as abbreviation for Blu-ray is incorrect and actually doesn't exist. Makes no sense, I know, I don't care myself too much, just wanted to have this clarified.


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saratoga
post Jan 15 2012, 21:39
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QUOTE (polemon @ Jan 14 2012, 21:58) *
QUOTE (saratoga @ Jan 13 2012, 17:34) *
The SOCs used in these devices contain ordinary CPUs running software decoders. If they don't support a given audio format, its because no decoder software for it was provided by the vendor.


Erm, I can assure you, that my i.Beat Organix from TrekStor uses a SOC, with integrated DSP that directly interfaces with the headphone amp. So there's not much software decoding going on.


A DSP is a type of CPU optimized for running signal processing software, so if something has a DSP, it is running software wink.gif

Another good rule of thumb is that since hardware decoder devices for audio don't really exist, if a device can decode audio, its got a software decoder.

QUOTE (polemon @ Jan 14 2012, 21:58) *
I believe, to cut cost, they use cheap stuff with hardly any decoding capabilities other than VOB and the contained codecs. I know for a fact, that there are BluRay SOCs. that do basically only decode BluRay and DVD decoding work, with nothing else. It's a very cost effective solution for very cheap china DVD/BD players.


Not sure if you realize this, but a SOC is a device with a CPU, memory, and software. Basically SOC == computer on a chip. By definition, SOCs are re-programmable.

The difference between expensive and budget SOCs is how much memory, processing power and peripherals are included.
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knutinh
post Jan 18 2012, 17:24
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QUOTE (saratoga @ Jan 15 2012, 22:39) *
Not sure if you realize this, but a SOC is a device with a CPU, memory, and software. Basically SOC == computer on a chip. By definition, SOCs are re-programmable.

Perhaps, but a SOC with dedicated camera-processing would still be a SOC. So SOC does not mean that all resources are highly re-programmable.

The line between "programmable" and "fixed function" can be blurry. A dsp is perhaps more specialized than an Intel chip - depending on your definition of generality. If a chip contains a low-power general-purpose cpu + fixed-function fft/transforms, it still may not be flexible enough to be software reconfigured to do flac, even though it may be able to decode a given (complex) lossy format.

-k
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saratoga
post Jan 18 2012, 19:10
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QUOTE (knutinh @ Jan 18 2012, 11:24) *
The line between "programmable" and "fixed function" can be blurry. A dsp is perhaps more specialized than an Intel chip - depending on your definition of generality.


Not really. A DSP is still generally going to be Turing complete, a fixed function device is not. Thats a pretty well defined line. You will of course have fixed function devices too; at very least any audio device must have a DAC, but that doesn't somehow make the CPU less flexible.

QUOTE (knutinh @ Jan 18 2012, 11:24) *
If a chip contains a low-power general-purpose cpu + fixed-function fft/transforms, it still may not be flexible enough to be software reconfigured to do flac, even though it may be able to decode a given (complex) lossy format.


No, such a device would still be able to decode FLAC quite easily. FLAC is extremely fast, and FFTs occupy only a small portion of decode time for MP3, so the main CPU would have to be plenty fast.

Never mind that no actual SOC works like that smile.gif
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knutinh
post Jan 18 2012, 21:54
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QUOTE (saratoga @ Jan 18 2012, 20:10) *
Not really. A DSP is still generally going to be Turing complete, a fixed function device is not. Thats a pretty well defined line. You will of course have fixed function devices too; at very least any audio device must have a DAC, but that doesn't somehow make the CPU less flexible.

It is still possible to integrate a highly flexible but extreme low-powered core to a less flexible but high-powered core. This SOC will seem to have very high flexibility and very high computation power, but not both at the same time.

Having a pentium4 system with the latest Nvidia Cuda-capable GPU might serve as an example. The complete system can run any application, and will have a massive theoretical flop performance. It may still be sluggish running Photoshop or anything else that is not able to take full advantage of that GPU (either due to lack of programmer resources, or because the task maps poorly to the specialized design of GPUs).
QUOTE
QUOTE (knutinh @ Jan 18 2012, 11:24) *
If a chip contains a low-power general-purpose cpu + fixed-function fft/transforms, it still may not be flexible enough to be software reconfigured to do flac, even though it may be able to decode a given (complex) lossy format.


No, such a device would still be able to decode FLAC quite easily. FLAC is extremely fast, and FFTs occupy only a small portion of decode time for MP3, so the main CPU would have to be plenty fast.

Never mind that no actual SOC works like that smile.gif

Google returned this:

http://www.dsprelated.com/showmessage/86052/1.php
QUOTE
>> How difficult do you guys think it would be to recode FLAC to run on a
>> microcontroller like an AVR?
>
> Completely unrealistic. May be, the mono @ 8kHz decoder will fit
> although I doubt about it.


QUOTE
"There is an ever demanding need to develop low power audio devices using MP3 technology. From the profiled results of MP3 algorithm on ARM processors, it has been observed that the synthesis filter bank in the audio decoder consumes maximum power. "

http://www.inderscience.com/search/index.p...mp;rec_id=26438

Silicon Ocean MP3 decoder ASIC core (MP3-SO1E)
http://www.siliconocean.com/id56.html

-k

This post has been edited by knutinh: Jan 18 2012, 22:02
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Posts in this topic
- krafty   Why no FLAC support on recent Blu-Ray devices?   Jan 13 2012, 16:11
- - polemon   Usually, they use decoder chips which are basicall...   Jan 13 2012, 16:27
|- - saratoga   QUOTE (polemon @ Jan 13 2012, 10:27) Usua...   Jan 13 2012, 17:34
|- - polemon   QUOTE (saratoga @ Jan 13 2012, 17:34) The...   Jan 15 2012, 03:58
|- - saratoga   QUOTE (polemon @ Jan 14 2012, 21:58) QUOT...   Jan 15 2012, 21:39
||- - knutinh   QUOTE (saratoga @ Jan 15 2012, 22:39) Not...   Jan 18 2012, 17:24
||- - saratoga   QUOTE (knutinh @ Jan 18 2012, 11:24) The ...   Jan 18 2012, 19:10
||- - knutinh   QUOTE (saratoga @ Jan 18 2012, 20:10) Not...   Jan 18 2012, 21:54
||- - saratoga   QUOTE (knutinh @ Jan 18 2012, 15:54) Havi...   Jan 18 2012, 22:21
|- - probedb   QUOTE (polemon @ Jan 15 2012, 02:58) kraf...   Jan 16 2012, 09:21
- - Brand   I'd say the most likely explanation is that th...   Jan 13 2012, 17:07
|- - JJZolx   QUOTE (Brand @ Jan 13 2012, 09:07) I...   Jan 15 2012, 21:05
|- - eahm   QUOTE (JJZolx @ Jan 15 2012, 13:05) QUOTE...   Oct 23 2012, 17:24
- - krafty   polemon, what you wrote makes sense. I also see th...   Jan 15 2012, 19:42
- - kornchild2002   I think there was a time when the chips used in DA...   Jan 16 2012, 15:34
|- - Soap   I'm not sure it's crystal that SoC = Syste...   Jan 16 2012, 15:45
- - kornchild2002   I was trying to show that the SoC the iPad uses do...   Jan 16 2012, 17:05
- - saratoga   QUOTE I remember back in the day the company that ...   Jan 16 2012, 17:55
- - kornchild2002   OK. I wasn't sure if those were hardware driv...   Jan 17 2012, 00:10
- - saratoga   No these devices generally do not have hardware as...   Jan 17 2012, 03:28
- - saratoga   Incidentally, the reason so many of these devices ...   Jan 17 2012, 03:41
|- - Brand   QUOTE (saratoga @ Jan 17 2012, 03:41) Inc...   Jan 17 2012, 12:06
|- - saratoga   QUOTE (Brand @ Jan 17 2012, 06:06) QUOTE ...   Jan 17 2012, 18:45
- - Vinyl   QUOTE (krafty @ Jan 13 2012, 16:11) I...   Oct 23 2012, 13:54
- - krafty   As of 2012 this has changed. All current Panasonic...   Oct 23 2012, 20:02


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