Fusion HDTV II

HDTV HTPC Notes - DVICO FusionHDTVII HDTV tuner card

Disclaimer - under construction...

For those of you interested in HDTV and Home Theater PC (HTPC) - beware of opening the fortune cookie containing the curse, "May you live in interesting times."  If you haven't yet experienced HDTV, you'll probably discover the phenomenon that you can't live without it once you have lived with it for a while.  But now that you can view HDTV, you may also want to have recording, organizing, and editing capability.  If so, you'll be interested in HTPC. There are other HDTV recorders like D-VHS decks, HDTV Personal Video Recorders (PVRs), and Firewire/1394 sources/tuners, but they are also expensive and limited in capability.

There's a lot of activity in Home Theater PC, but it is still an immature and rapidly changing market - definitely bleeding edge.

Don't expect:

Do expect:
While you will experience some labor and possibly some frustration, I think that the results are worthwhile.

Shuttle HTPC Notes

These notes are based on an HTPC based on a Shuttle SN41G2.  Initially, the ATI All-In-Wonder (AIW) Pro was the tuner card of choice, but this is only for Standard Definition (SD) TV, not for HDTV.  So the addition of the DVICO FusionHDTV II puts two tuners in one box, which is overkill especially since they have separate software.  However it was the box in hand.


Shuttle SN41G2, FN41 1.4 mainboard, FN41S019 BIOS, Achme power supply
AMD Athlon XP 2700+ @ 2163MHz 333MHz FSB
2x512 MB PC3200 V-Data 333MHz CAS-2.5-7-2-2
ATI All-In-Wonder 9800 Pro
DVICO FusionHDTVII HDTV tuner PCI card
Sony DVD writer DRU-510A
Maxtor MaxLine Plus II 7Y250P0 250GB 7200RPM 8MB


Q: What's the most important consideration when shopping for HTPC?
A: In my experience, noise is the top issue.  Most of us don't have the luxury of purpose-built home theater, so we can't build an easily accessible closet to isolate the noise and yet provide easy access.  The Shuttle SN41G2 is noisy enough that it is turned off whenever possible.  It's possible to tune the fan speeds for various temperatures and loads, but I haven't yet been able to take the time to do this.  In previous experience a year ago with a fan-less home theater appliance based on the Sigma Hollywood line of PCI MPEG2 decoders, the disk was still loud enough to be an issue.  Current disk drives are quieter.  So you should carefully choose the quietest hardware that you can find for your purpose.  Here are links to the latest quiet Shuttle XPC:

Shuttle ST61G4 XPC - http://us.shuttle.com/specs2.asp?pro_id=408
Shuttle ST61G4 XPC Review - http://www.sudhian.com/showdocs.cfm?aid=466
Note that the new Shuttle Zen ST61G4 is even quieter, but it doesn't have an AGP slot.

Q: How do I connect the HTPC to my TV?
A: I'd recommend DVI first -- note that both your graphics card and TV must support DVI.   After this, YPrPb component video is the most likely candidate -- note that both your graphics card and TV must support component video.   The current 9800/9700/9600/9500-series ATI products support component video via a DVI-I to YPrPb adapter.   You can also try a VGA to component HD adapter such as the RCA VHDC300 or Audio Authority 9A60.   VGA (RGB) is a less likely candidate -- note that all graphics cards support VGA, but relatively few TVs have VGA inputs.   If your TV has only S-Video and/or composite video, it cannot display HDTV, so it is time to start shopping for a new HD-capable TV with carefull attention to inputs.   Here's a link to my shopping notes circa Fall 2003.  

Q: Where can I find more information on HTPC?
A: I recommend the AVS forums:
Video Processors and HTPC - AVS Forum - http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/forumdisplay.php?forumid=11

Q: Where can I find more information on (Shuttle) XPCs?
A: I recommend the following:
SFF TECH - http://www.sfftech.com/index.cfm
SFF TECH forums - http://forums.sudhian.com/index.cfm?FTVAR_SUBCAT=68&nocookies=y&subcatname=SFF%20TECH

Q: Can I have more than one (HDTV) tuner in the same system?
A: Yes, but with several caveats.  Most of the current HDTV tuner products seem to be intended for single-tuner configurations.  Typically, you can't add another identical tuner because of one reason or the other.  Hardware reasons include: lack of PCI slots, e.g., there's only one PCI slot in most Shuttle XPCs.   Note that for two tuners, you need to route audio for each card.  Software support is usually lacking for multiple tuners.  Two different tuner products from different manufacturers have a possibility of coexisting if there aren't any hardware conflicts, but the software will typically be separate as well, so PIP/POP is cumbersome.  An exception may or may not be ATI, as they do advertize two (SD) tuner support integrated into their apps, i.e., and All-In-Wonder plus a TV-Wonder.

Q: Can I use my HTPC for both HDTV and games?
A: Yes, but screen aspect ratio is an issue.   HDTV aspect ratio is 16:9, while most games expect an aspect ratio of 4:3.   So you probably have to switch display settings.   I currently have the ATI AIW 9800 Pro set in dual monitor mode for games on VGA 4:3 and HDTV on component 16:9 outputs.   Unfortunately, both games and HDTV apps start up on the default monitor, so you have to change this video display setting.   Fortunately, you can set up hot keys in PowerStrip to change display settings.  

FusionHDTV II Notes

DVICO - http://www.dvico.com/index.html

DVICO FusionHDTV II is a PCI tuner card that tunes Over-The-Air (OTA) HDTV broadcasts as well as Standard Definition (SD) TV broadcast from antenna or cable.

Current software:
    Date 2003-12-30
    Version 2.12
Fusion HDTV 2.12 Software - http://www.dvico.com/hdtv/productdownload.asp

TitanTV - http://www.titantv.com/ttv/Home/Home.aspx


    HDTV and SD TV viewing works, with input selectable between ANT(AIR) and CABLE.
    DIGITAL and ANALOG recording works - recording works on demand and also through Reservation, follow ETP - Manual REC.
    You can view the program that is being recorded.
Not (yet) working:
    TitanTV schedule sets the wrong channel because of wrong PSIP information for both WatchNow and Scheduled recording.
    TitanTV doesn't set the channel for ANALOG, CABLE, and DIGITAL CABLE - missing PSIP information.
    Manual REC CH list shows only one input, e.g., ANT/AIR and not CABLE
    Input selection is not saved or restored, effectively forcing only one input for Reserved recording.
To test/verify:
    Reserved recording with the application off - this is not expected to work.


Q: Will the integrated 9100 on the Shuttle ST61G4 work with the FusionHDTV II for DxVA?
A: Most likely it will work, but I haven't tried it as I don't (yet) have an ST61G4 for experiments.  Be forwarned that Integrated Graphics Processors (IGPs) share memory the system memory.  I had stability problems with the NVidia GeForce4 IGP in the Shuttle SN41G2.  It is known to be sensitive to memory speed and settings -- 2D applications worked fine for me, but crashes increased with 3D GPU load.   Note that the video built into the Shuttle ST61G4 is VGA, which is fine only if your TV supports VGA.   To get DVI or YPrPb component video, you will need to add a graphics card anyway.   Also note that only one AGP device is active -- adding an AGP graphics card disables the built-in on-chip/on-board graphics. 

Bug Reports

To: CS <CS@DVICO.com>
Date: 12/24/2003 02:35
  1. In the Reservation List, digital channels are displayed confusingly.  For example, Channel D56 shows up as "D5561", not as "D5-56-1", nor "D56-1" -- there appears to be an extra "5".  If this is significant, it should probably be delimited somehow.
  2. For Manual REC in the Reserve Recording dialog , the CH list seems to be the ANT/AIR list. How do you change to another input, ex., CABLE, and its associated CH list?
  3. Reservations seem to lack the input (ANT/AIR or CABLE) . So when the reservation is run, it tries to use the current input, it doesn't switch to the input that I want.
  4. Reservations from TitanTV seem to get saved in the reservation list only where there are PSIP numbers in the listing, e.g. for DIGITAL Broadcast, but not for CABLE where no PSIP info is shown.
  5. The PSIP from TitanTV doesn't switch to the proper channel for WatchNow or Reservation. For example, (5-1) switches to digital on channel 5-1, not to D44 which is what I want. Note that when I manually select D44(-1), the onscreen display shows: "CH D44", then it quickly changes to "D5-1" "WNYW-DT", and then it quickly disappears. This is the correct local analog channel number equivalent and call sign, but the input display still shows AIR DIGITAL 44-1. So the PSIP map appears to be wrong, at least it doesn't work correctly, end-to-end.
In my humble opinion, the reservations should be able to specify input (ANT or CABLE) and then have the appropriate CH list to select the channel. And of course I hope that fixes will come soon so that TitanTV reservations will work correctly for both DIGITAL Broadcast and cable.


With combination of the Shuttle SN41G2, ATI AIW 9800 Pro, and DVICO FusionHDTV II, I ran into resource problems when installing OS, display card, then tuner card software.  For real-time processing, the FusionHDTV card should be on it's own hardware IRQ, otherwise the video will stutter.  Here's the order of installation that worked for me:
  1. OS base
  2. Mainboard drivers, from CD, then upgrade BIOS and drivers from web
  3. FusionHDTV, either from CD or web
  4. change to Standard PC - FusionHDTV should get a hardware IRQ
  5. change to back to Advanced PC - other hardware additions can use cascaded IRQs
  6. ATI AIW 9800 Pro, from installation CD since this is required for all of the components, especially certain driver parts and DVD player copy protection
  7. upgrade WinXP/DirectX 9, ATI/Catalyst, etc. from web
(more detail pending)

HDTV Reception

My home gets poor Over-The-Air (OTA) HDTV reception since the Watchung Mountains block line of sight to HDTV transmitters in New York City.  At present, I can receive only the following HDTV stations:
(more pending)

Antenna and amplifier

    4248 Diamond Yagi UHF Antenna
    Titan 2 Model 7777 Mast Mounted Preamplifier

(more pending)


related Digital TV (DTV) Notes
HDTV Aspect HDTV versus SDTV(NTSC) Screen Size - includes diagram of aspect ratios, scale factors, conversion graph, advocacy for HDTV
Digital TV Selected DTV/HDTV Products and Notes - includes 2003 survey of selected Digital TVs with RGBHV

related PC/XPC Notes
Video Aspect Video Display Resolutions and Aspect Ratios versus Wallpaper - includes survey, trends, graph, and wallpaper notes
sn41g2 thumbnail Small Form Factor PC - Shuttle SN41G2 XPC with ATI AIW 9800 Pro

NoBell Home - gjm - last update 4/21/2004 - created 12/22/2003