Monthly Archives: May 2006

First Linux-Based HD DVD Player

Remember my musing about assorted goals involved in developing HD DVD support for Linux? Several people have written me to point out that Toshiba has already beaten us to it– in the flagship HD DVD device. In case you get all your geek and/or multimedia news from this blog, this article at CDFreaks has a number of juicy details. It is reportedly a high-end PC board that runs a Red Hat-based Linux distribution on an M-Systems Disk-On-Chip (essentially a flash memory component that looks like an IDE drive in from the PC’s perspective). Of course, the most important component is the ATAPI HD DVD drive that can be removed and connected to your desktop PC, as the pioneer in this story demonstrates in a video.

See? What did I tell you in Ever-Emerging Digital Theater Technology? It’s just a PC; everything is.

This raises some interesting questions. I have yet to hear whether the launch discs actually used anything more advanced than stock MPEG-2 for video coding. There was some speculation that the discs were not using VC-1 yet. A player like this is trivally upgradeable in the field. So the software support for VC-1 may or may not be there. I still have to wonder if this was some kind of a “Plan B” device in order to beat Sony’s Blu Ray to market. This strikes me as rather unorthodox, not to mention costly. Maybe Toshiba could not get all of the custom ASICs (ideally lower cost than a off-the-shelf, general PC components) done in time but had a separate team working on this in parallel “just in case”.

Everything You Want To Know About Digital Theaters

After reading my post last week regarding emerging digital theater technology, Baptiste Coudurier did some legwork and located the — quite public — v1 specs for the Digital Cinema System. You can download the exhaustively-detailed PDF here. The 2 general supported video resolutions are dubbed 2K and 4K which refer to 2048×1080 and 4096×2160, respectively. Section 7.5.3 specifies exactly how much storage a compliant unit is expected to have ready (a lot), and why. Video in fact is compressed, with JPEG 2000 and uses a 36 bit/pixel XYZ colorspace. Audio is uncompressed and subtitles are PNG. How did all of these open formats make it into the mix? Strange. Also, the container format is specified as MXF. Encryption is, of course, handled by AES (that thing sure caught on in a hurry).

Ever-Emerging Digital Theater Technology

IMDb Studio Briefing has another in a long line of articles detailing how all movie theaters are about to go digital anytime now. Paramount Going Digital with ‘M:I 3’. I remember about the time that Star Wars Episode 1 was coming out in 1999, George Lucas was promising that by Episode 2’s release in 2002, everything would be digital.

Has anyone thought about what this means to unauthorized distribution (colloquially referred to as piracy)? If the studios think it’s bad with the current 0-day distribution, wow…

Seriously, does anyone give any thought to how this would work, the technologies driving it all, and weaknesses in the chain? I just want to think out loud here for a moment.

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