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 Post subject: ECS 945GCT-M & HD-3000
PostPosted: Sun Jan 06, 2008 9:15 am 
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Joined: Sun Dec 30, 2007 5:20 pm
Posts: 19
I wasn't thrilled with my last ECS mainboard purchase, but I stumbled on a sale where I got an E6750 and the ECS 945GCT-M/1333 in a bundle for cheaper than the E6750 alone. It's an Intel chipset, so it should have good open source drivers.

It took me a lot of tinkering to make it work, but it finally does work.

(I am recording off-air ATSC HDTV only. My display is a Samsung 1280x720 DLP with several inputs; I'm using the VGA connection with this motherboard.)

Video: The motherboard has integrated Intel video. KnoppMyth auto-installed the VESA driver which worked but only in 800x600 or a stretched 1024x768. I had to take some steps to make the video output 720p:
  • Use the i810 Xorg driver (included w/KnoppMyth)
  • Use the 915resolution hack to replace a BIOS video mode with 1280x720 (see /usr/share/doc915resolution)
  • Add modelines for 1280x720p 60Hz (taken from the internet)
  • Use Option LinearAlloc to set aside enough video memory to handle HDTV. The man page says to set LinearAlloc to 6144, but that didn't work. Saw on the web it should be 8160, but I set it to 10240 to make sure I had enough room. The display would be plain blue or the system would crash without the LinearAlloc setting. (see man i810 , included with KnoppMyth)


If I understand correctly, the Xorg drivers don't currently support the built-in MPEG2 decoding in this chipset. Sure enough there seems to be no difference in CPU usage betwen the mythfrontend "Standard" decode and "Standard XvMC". But the E6750 (at 1333 FSB with 800 MHz RAM) is decoding 1080i with kernel deinterlacing at about 45% cpu load.

This motherboard has a 16x PCI-x slot if I want a better video card, but for the moment the cpu can handle the load.

Audio: The motherboard has snd-intel-hda integrated audio. KnoppMyth detected it and thought it was playing, but there was no sound. I compiled a new kernel (2.6.23.12) and now it works. There may be an option you can pass to KnoppMyth's snd-intel-hda kernel module, but the couple of options I tried didn't help. There may also be an add-on ALSA driver, but I wasn't clear on where to get it or how to install it.

Network: Surprisingly it's only 10/100 speed and is a Realtek NIC. It worked at first then later stopped working and would flash the link light slowly. It's working now on the new kernel I made for the audio. I'm not sure if there is a driver issue or if I have faulty hardware. Knoppix 5.1 couldn't use the NIC when it was acting up, either. (Update: Six months later I have had no more network issues, so my early problems must have been the kernel driver version.)

Miscellaneous: The chipset seems pretty common among laptops and even Macs (minis?), so I saw a lot of people tinkering with the audio and video drivers. But the drivers are all open source and are maturing. The resolution hack is going to be integrated into the driver, so in a couple of KnoppMyth revisions I expect an auto install will work well on this board. Meanwhile it takes some decently documented tinkering.

Oh, my capture card is an HD-3000 that I bought a couple of years ago but didn't try to use until a couple of weeks ago. KnoppMyth had no problems with it and only use it for ATSC capturing even though it can capture analog signals, too.


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