Frequently Asked Questions about Multiple Tuner Support in Beyond TV
Posted by - NA - on 28 December 2005 07:52 AM
Beyond TV now supports multiple hardware encode tuners, giving the ability to record multiple shows at the same time or to record one (or more) shows while watching another. This article encompasses the most frequently asked questions regarding multiple tuner support in Beyond TV 3.5 and later.
SnapStream has tested and certified many of the most popular hardware encode
In addition, HDTV cards can be mixed with hardware-encoding tuner cards in a multiple tuner setup. To make your card work in a multiple tuner configuration, it may be necessary to update to the latest drivers.
Note regarding Hauppauge PVR-250 and PVR-350 cards: These devices can have 2 distinct chipsets: the Encoder-15 and Encoder-16 series. Using Encoder-15 and Encoder-16 chipset cards in the same system requires using the drivers available here.
How Far Can You Go?
We have built and tested multiple tuner systems in house running: 1 PVR250 + 1 USB2, 1 PVR250 + 1 PVR-250BTV, 2 PVR 250s, 2 PVR-250BTV's, and 5 500MCE's.
To see the extent to which multiple tuner support can be taken, please see out Medusa PVR, our 6-tuner Beyond TV system, the Hydra, a ten tuner system, and finally the famous Godzilla PVR, with sports six SD tuners and four HD tuners!
FAQ -- Putting it All Together
Ready to build your own Beyond TV 3.5 multiple tuner system? Here are answers to some of the most common questions to help you get started:
Q: Can HDTV tuners be used with hardware encoders in a multiple tuner setup?
Yes; as a matter of fact, at the time of this writing, the SnapStream Media Lounge PC is running Beyond TV 4 with three analog hardware encoding cards, and two HDTV cards.
Q: Are the hardware requirements for a Beyond TV machine with multiple tuners greater than with a single tuner?
A: In-house testing and user feedback on the subject has shown that any Intel P4 2.0+ GHz class machine or equivalent with 256 MB RAM or greater, GeForce FX 5200-class video card, 40 GB or higher hard disk space, and an AC'97 compatible or better sound card will be more than adequate with a single or multiple tuner configuration. It's worth noting that the more memory, hard disk space, and CPU processing power you have, the better your experience will be.
Q: Do I have to use two of the same hardware tuner card?
A: No. The tuner cards can be different models from the same manufacturer or even from different manufacturers. If using two cards based on the same basic design or chipset, the drivers for the cards need to be multiple-tuner compliant (basically, the drivers need to support a way for applications like Beyond TV to tell them apart).
Q: Should I install both cards and configure Beyond TV at once or install each card separately and run the Beyond TV Setup Wizard for each?
A: You should be able to install both cards' drivers according to their manufacturer's instructions and configure Beyond TV once to use them both without issue. There may be instances where this might not be possible, such as in adding additional tuners after you've already been using the product. At that point you would run the Setup Wizard again to add the new tuner.
Q: Which PCI slots should I use and in what order?
A: Generally, you should avoid putting cards next to sources of interference or in slots that could cause resource bottlenecks. Here are a few simple guidelines to follow:
1. Try not to put a capture card in the slot next to a video card, as it may end up sharing resources that the video card uses, or cause interference in your picture.
2. Try not to put a capture card next to a network card for the same reasons.
3. Sometimes you have to insert certain cards in a particular order to properly assign resources. You may have to experiment with this to get it right with your system.
Q: Can I use a USB2-based hardware encode tuner card with a PCI-based hardware encode tuner card in the same machine with Beyond TV?
A: Yes, you can. Additionally, you can also use multiple USB-2 based hardware encode tuner cards. So you do not even have to open up your box to get multiple tuner support.
Q: What is the limit on the number of tuners you can use with Beyond TV 4?
A: Beyond TV 4 supports an unlimited number of tuners for free.
You also have to have enough PCI slots or USB ports to add the additional tuners, as well as the system resources to support them. Systems with more than 3 cards recording simultaneously require a very fast hard disk subsystem to work effectively.
Q: How does Beyond TV know which tuner to use?
A: By default, Beyond TV will use the first configured tuner device that is capable of tuning the channel on which the show appears. For example, imagine that you have a PVR-150 (on Basic Cable) and a PVR-250 (on Digital Cable) and you configure the PVR-250 first and PVR-150 second in the Setup Wizard. If you schedule one recording, it will be performed on the PVR-250, as the first configured tuner source, even if the Basic (analog) cable lineup has the same channel available to it. A good rule of thumb is to configure last the tuner you want used least; in the above example, this means configuring the Basic Cable tuner first, and the Digital Cable tuner second.