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EPIA-M Preview - Video Playback
Posted on October 24, 2002

Introduction

Aren't we the lucky ones - a genuine pre-production EPIA-M arrived on our desk today, complete with a CLE266 to give it a graphics power-up. We couldn't help ourselves, and ran a few video playback tests using the most commonly available file-formats to see just how much work the improved chipset is doing. Over the next few days we'll look at other things, but we'll start with the most talked about aspect of the EPIA-M. It must be stressed that this is a pre-production EPIA-M, not to be confused with the production EPIA-Ms that will be available in 3 or 4 weeks time - results from production models may vary.

Our EPIA-M came with a 733Mhz C3 processor - unlike the production C3 models which will be 200Mhz faster. We compared playback with a standard EPIA 800 (800Mhz C3), and with the same EPIA 800 fitted with a Sigma Designs XCard. The EPIA-M had 128MB RAM and a tired 20GB Quantum Drive, the EPIA 800 had 256MB RAM and a speedy 80GB Seagate Barracuda IV. We used the same DVD drive for both units. Who said life was fair? This is only a rough test to get an idea of ballpark figures...

There's also a Mini-Gallery at the end as a little bonus for anyone who manages to click all the way to the end of this Preview (not difficult, there's only two pages)

VCD Playback

We took a standard MPEG1 standard VCD and checked the CPU usage with all machines. As expected, all fared perfectly - no skipped frames here. The XCard took nearly all of the work away from the CPU on the EPIA 800 - as you would expect from an Nth generation hardware decoder.

EPIA 800 - VCD Playback

Pre-Production EPIA-M - VCD Playback

EPIA 800 and XCard - VCD Playback


SVCD Playback

SVCD files are an excellent way to encode to high quality, without placing too much strain on lower powered processors. All systems played these perfectly, straight from CD or from the hard disk.

EPIA 800 - SVCD Playback

Pre-Production EPIA-M - SVCD Playback

EPIA 800 and XCard - SVCD Playback


Onwards, to DVD Playback


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