What Is the Future of OS/2 Multimedia?

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by Brad Noe

MMPM/2 is at the heart of OS/2 multimedia. It provides an application programming interface for multimedia device management and an interface for multimedia I/O manipulation. It also uses a data streaming and synchronization subsystem to provide continuous audio and video streaming and synchronization. Couple this with the truly preemptive multitasking, 32-bit, flat-addressing OS/2 2.x operating system, and you have a winning combination. In addition, the recently-released Video IN/2 product for real time, software-only video capture makes the OS/2 multimedia advantages clear.

But, What About the Future?

MMPM/2 is and will be the multimedia application platform for OS/2 follow-on releases and in the OS/2 personality of Workplace. To ensure compatibility, program your applications to the media control interface and the Multimedia Input/Output (MMIO) APIs. These interfaces provide a consistent device and data-independent way of controlling and accessing multimedia devices and data. The following figure shows the MMPM/2 system structure:


Figure 1. MMPM/2 System Structure

Media control device drivers control the functions of multimedia devices, whether they are physical devices (audio adapter) or logical devices (software motion video) Stream handlers perform the data transportation from the source to the destination. I/O Procedures (IOProcs) handle data manipulation, such as reading to and writing from files, respectively. These components shield applications from the ever-growing list of multimedia devices, file formats, and data.

Making a Good Thing Better -- The Enhancement of MMPM/2

MMPM/2 is being enhanced to add industry-standard support for file formats, data, and devices. In addition, MMPM/2 will be providing additional function such as video conferencing and telephony.

First, we will enhance image support by adding additional IOProcs to handle various image formats. Some of the industry-standard image formats under consideration are Tiff, Targa, PCX, GIF, JPEG, PICT, and CGM. With the Multimedia I/O (MMIO) architecture, these new IOProcs will plug right into any OS/2 2.1 system with MMPM/2 installed. In addition to the above IOProcs, we are developing an animation (FLI/FLC) IOProc for FLC/FLI animation file format. This will let applications use animation files created by products like AutoDesk Animator. See Darren Dobkin's article on page 1 for the details of this technology.

The next big enhancement to MMPM/2 will be additional Software Motion Video capture device drivers. Video IN/2 supports a wide range of video capture cards, including: IBM Video Capture Adapter/A (MC); Jovian Logic SuperVia, and QuickVia (MC and ISA); Sigma Designs WinMovie (ISA); Creative Labs Video Blaster (ISA); New Media Graphics Super Video Windows (MC and ISA); and Samsung Electronics Ltd. Video Magic (ISA).

The following video capture adapters are being considered: Videologic Tiger, Supermac Video Spigot, Media Vision Pro Movie Studio, Intel Smart Video Recorder, Creative Labs Video Blaster 2, and IBM Action Media II. The addition of these video capture adapters will round out the video capture support on OS/2.

An enhancement of MMPM/2 would not be complete without additional audio device support. IBM and other audio adapter companies are working on additional audio device support for not only audio cards, but audio chip sets. By providing a common device driver template for some standard audio chip sets, adapter manufacturers can tailor this device driver template for their particular adapter design. This means quicker turnaround for MMPM/2 audio device drivers. Some of the common chip sets include the Crystal semiconductor chip (CS4231) and Analogue Devices chip (AD1848). We are also looking at audio support for the parallel port audio devices.

Finally, we currently are working on providing MMPM/2 support for the MWAVE adapter and chip set. Support for additional audio devices may not come directly from IBM, but from the adapter manufacturers directly. This support will be provided not only in future release of OS/2, but also with audio adapters, bulletin boards, and other delivery methods To continue with the audio support, we are considering providing additional audio file support in the form of new audio IOProcs such as AIFF (Apple), IFF (Amiga), SND (UNIX) and MOD (Amiga). This lets sounds created on other systems be played back on OS/2.

Audio Device Sharing

MMPM/2 is improving on the audio device sharing between OS/2 and WIN-OS2. This will allow OS/2 MMPM/2 audio applications and WIN-OS2 audio application to coexist better. WIN-OS2 sessions will now be able to be suspended or saved, based on its DOS properties to be exclusive or not.

One of MMPM's major functions is ability to do software motion video playback. Currently MMPM/2 supports both Ultimotion and Intel's Indeo compression/decompression (CODEC) algorithm. But, our goal is to provide as many industry-standard CODECs as possible. MMPM/2's I/O Proc and CODEC architecture allows pluggable pieces. The data streaming and synchronization are common to the base MMPM/2 system. This means that is easy to add support for additional CODECs (such as MPEG1, Cinepac, MJPEG, and Capt Crunch) and additional file formats such as MPEG. Included in this effort is providing and architecturing hardware-assisted CODECs. We will publish the architecture and provide support for selected hardware-assisted adapters.

And Workplace?

Where does multimedia fit in with Workplace OS? In the OS/2 personality of Workplace, MMPM/2 will exist just as it exists in OS/2 2.x, with the addition of new device drivers. (A new device driver model is being developed to work in the WP-OS/2 environment.) Applications written to the media control interface and MMIO interface of MMPM/2 will continue to work in the Workplace environment. We will maintain a functional equivalence between MMPM/2 in OS/2 2.x and MMPM/2 in the OS/2 personality of Workplace.


Figure 2. MMPM/2 and Workplace

So, write your multimedia applications to the media control interface and MMIO interface of MMPM/2 and ensure that they will work in both OS/2 2.x today and Workplace in the future!

Reprint Courtesy of International Business Machines Corporation, © International Business Machines Corporation