Release Notes for XVideo Xtra Final Version

Read Me!

These Release Notes include important information about your new video hardware, software, and documentation from Parallax Graphics. This information supersedes the README file on your CD. The Release Notes include:

Bugs, Anomalies, or Restrictions
Hardware Installation

Moving or Adding Cards

Software Installation




MovieTool and VideoTool


Video Development Environment

UNIX Utility and Demo Programs

Tested Hardware

Fixes and Enhancements

How to Reach Us

For system requirements (supported workstations, framebuffers, etc.), see here and Appendix A of your Hardware Installation Guide.

A symbol !! precedes bugs that may cause serious problems. If you have any questions, please contact Parallax Graphics technical support at 703-450-7718 (Virginia, USA), or e-mail

Bugs, Anomalies, or Restrictions

We have identified the following bugs, anomalies or restrictions:

Hardware Installation

!! 1. Parallax Graphics Framebuffer Cards Not Supported
Hardware Installation: The current release of server/driver software for SBus framebuffer cards does not support using a Parallax Graphics overlay card with a Parallax Graphics framebuffer card (for instance, VideoTool does not work correctly).

!! 2. SBus Cards: Do Not Install in the Top Slot of Ultra 2
Hardware Installation: Do not install XVideo Xtra in the top slot of an Ultra 2 workstation, because the video overlay cable (SUNO-C-DISP) will not fit. Please install XVideo Xtra in another slot.

!! 3. PCI Bus Cards: Do Not Install in Slot 1 in the Ultra 30
Hardware Installation: XVideo Xtra does not fit or operate correctly in PCI slot 1 of the Ultra 30 (the slot closest to the center of the machine). Please install XVideo Xtra in another slot.

Moving or Adding Cards

!! 3a. PCI Bus Cards: Do Not Install with 2 graphics cards.
Hardware Installation: Please do not install XVideo-Xtra-P in a system with more than one graphics card.

!! 4. SBus Cards: Moving from One Slot to Another

a. Moving or Adding Cards: If you have previously installed and used your video overlay card in a different SBus slot in your workstation, you must follow these steps when you move the card to a new slot:
b. Move the XVideo Xtra card to a new slot.
c. Execute the command "boot -r" to configure the video overlay card into the kernel.
d. Log in as root, and change directories to /kernel/drv. Execute the command "./addtv3". Now you can use the video card in its new SBus slot.

!! 5. PCI Bus Cards: Moving or Adding XVideo Xtra Cards

Moving or Adding Cards: To move or add XVideo Xtra cards to the system, follow these steps:
a. At the console prompt, become super user.
b. Remove the driver from the system as follows: "rem_drv tvfour"
c. Edit /etc/path_to_inst and remove all instances of the parallax device name "tvfour"
(ex: "/pci@1f,4000/video@2" 0 "tvfour")
d. Halt the system.
e. Power down the system and move or add XVideo Xtra cards.
f. Power up the system and enter "boot -r" at the prompt.
g. Login as root.
h. Change directories to /kernel/drv.
i. Enter "./addtv4" to re-install the device driver.
j. Check install by listing nodes "ls -l /dev/plxv*"
A device node should exist for each board in the system as follows:
/dev/plxv0 -> /devices/pci@1,4000/video@2:tvfour0
/dev/plxv2 -> /devices/pci@1,4000/video@4:tvfour1
/dev/plxv4 -> /devices/pci@1,4000/video@5:tvfour2
k. Be sure to add entries to /etc/xvconfig for each new board.

Software Installation

!! 6. Parallax Software Must Stay in /opt/parallax

Installation: Please leave the Parallax Graphics software in the location (/opt/parallax) where it is automatically placed during installation.


!! 7. Calibrate Quickly

Calibrate: When you first attempt to calibrate, you must select the proper resolution and refresh rate within 30 seconds, otherwise, the system may panic. Use File/Default to select proper settings.

!! 8. Limited Support for Monitor Resolutions
Calibrate: Support for screen resolutions is very limited. 1280 x 1024 @ 76 Hz. is best. The system may panic if you select other resolutions.

!! 8a. Default Creator refresh rate not supported on PCI
The Sun Creator graphics cards are provided with a default resolution/refresh rate of 1280x1024@67Hz. This is not supported by the standard hardware configuration of the XVideo-Xtra-P card. Therefore, you must use "ffbconfig" to reset the refresh rate to reflect the supported 1280x1024@76Hz prior to installing the XVideo-Xtra-P card. If this is not done, the system will panic when starting OpenWindows/CDE.

9. PCI bus: Remove Files Prior to Re-Calibrating
Calibrate/PCI Bus: Before re-calibrating to any monitor resolution, be sure to remove any plxv* files in /opt/parallax/etc or equivalent path.


cd /opt/parallax/etc
rm plxv*

After the above is completed, follow the calibrate procedure in the documentation.


!! 10. Do Not Run Powersave
On systems with the powersaving monitor settings, you may not allow the powersave to occur. The system may panic or you will lose synchronization between the graphics adapter and the Parallax Graphics video card. From the windowing system, you can set "xset s off" to prevent this.

11. Only Run One Video Application at a Time
General: Do not run more than one Parallax video application at a time. If you run more than one simultaneously (VideoTool plus MovieTool, two VideoTool sessions, etc.) then the applications will conflict and the video windows in one application will freeze. If this happens, quit one application.

12. Loss of Sync
General: With certain composite devices (VCRs, TV cable boxes), scene changes may result in sync being momentarily lost.

13. Black Rectangles in Video Window
General: Creator and Creator 3D (FFB) with a 1280x1024 pixel @ 76 Hz display: If you have calibrated your overlay to "ffb 1280x1024x76" then you may get black rectangles in your video window when you manipulate the window. To correct this problem, re-launch OpenWindows with the -bs (backing store) command line option turned on ("openwin -bs").

14. PCI Bus with Multiple Video Cards: More Live Video Windows
General (not documented in MultiMedia User's Guide): If your video application can open a limited number of live video windows at once, the same restrictions apply with multiple video cards in one workstation. But you can open multiple copies of the application in order to display more live video windows.
For instance, VideoTool supports up to 2 live video windows. With 3 XVideo Xtra for PCI Bus cards in one workstation, you could have up to 6 live video inputs. So you can open 3 copies of VideoTool, each displaying 2 live video windows, for a total of 6 live video windows at once. For the second and third VideoTool sessions, you must use the Input cascading menu to select and display video from sources that are not already being displayed, or video will freeze. Each MovieTool session supports 1 live video window with compression/decompression for video capture and playback.

15. 10-Key Not Properly Mapped
General: In Motif applications such as VideoTool, MovieTool, and MovieCat, the 10-Key pad keys are not properly mapped. The 10-Key pad keys do not all function correctly with Num Lock turned on. 0, 3, 5, 9, *, /, =, ?, +, and Enter work fine with Num Lock. The other keys perform as if Num Lock is turned off.


16. Window Deselect Causes Playback Hesitation
MovieTool: When the movie playback window is deselected (focus is changed to another window), the playback will hesitate for a few seconds. (Solaris 2.6 with Creator Graphics)

17. Memory Requirements: 48 MB for Full-Size Recordings
MovieTool: If you record a MovieTool movie at full size (640x480 pixels for NTSC, 768x576 pixels for PAL or SECAM) and more than 24 frames/second, then you will usually need at least 48 MB of memory for good performance. If you have less memory, we recommend recording movies at quarter size or smaller and/or with fewer frames/second. Otherwise you may drop frames.

18. Recording and Playing Back a Movie: Don't Use Output In Between
MovieTool: If you plan to record and play back a MovieTool movie in one session of MovieTool, do not use video output between recording and playing back. If you record the movie, and turn on output before playing it back, then it will not play back correctly. It will stop and start, and drop most of the frames. If you have this problem, you can exit and re-start MovieTool and then play back the movie correctly.

19. Avoid Low Audio Sample Rate (Such as 8000)
MovieTool: If you use the -sampleRate command line option to start MovieTool with the audio sample rate set low (8000) and try to record a movie, you will get an error message, "Recording was stopped due to a problem recording audio for frame 0. Please try recording again." To avoid this problem, use an audio sample rate of 9600 or higher (start MovieTool with a higher -sampleRate), or do not specify the audio sample rate. (For more information, see your Multimedia User's Guide, Appendix B: UNIX Command Line Options.)

20. Image_Quality and Movie Window Interference
MovieTool: If you place the Image_Quality window over the MovieTool movie window, and then select the movie window, the movie window will come to the foreground except where the Image_Quality window overlaps it. This problem occurs with the OpenLook window manager, but not with Motif. If you are using OpenLook, you can use the -bs (backing store) command line option to avoid this problem ("openwin -bs").

21. Resizing Live Video Larger Than Full Size
MovieTool: If you expand a live video window to larger than full size (640x480 pixels for NTSC, 768x576 pixels for PAL or SECAM) the window is supposed to automatically return to full size, but does not. If you record a movie while the window is larger than full size, the movie will still record correctly at full size. To return the live window to full size, click on the "Full Size" button.

22. Audio Problems with "AutoRepeat"
MovieTool: If you select "AutoRepeat" for a Movie containing audio, you may encounter audio problems after a large number of repeats. Halt the playback and restart the movie and the problem will go away. (Solaris 2.6 on Ultra 30)

MovieTool and VideoTool

23. Squeezed Video: Extra Line at Bottom of Video Window
MovieTool and VideoTool: When live video is squeezed, the video window may have an extra line at the base of the video area. This extra line will either look black or will show previously displayed video, which may be less noticeable. To show previously displayed video, move the video window so that the extra line is over an area that previously had live video in it.


24. "-help" Command Line Out of Date
VideoTool: The "-help" command line option is out of date; "-board 0" and "-board 1" are no longer valid options.

25. Video Output: Do Not Crop
VideoTool: If you are sending video out to an external device such as a VCR, do not crop the output window. If you do crop the output window, the video received will not match the cropped area; it will be squeezed instead and will look different on output.

26. Displaying Still Images: Off Top/Left Edge of Screen
VideoTool: If you are using VideoTool to display a JFIF or JPEG still image and you place the still image window so that part of the it runs off the top and/or left edge of the display (x and y coordinates are negative), the still image won’t display correctly. It will appear to show parts of different images. Move the window so that all of it appears on the display.

27. Documentation: No Save_Current_Settings_To
Documentation for VideoTool: The SBus and PCIbus overlay cards do not have a Save_Current_Settings_To option in the Input_Settings panel (Multimedia User's Guide, page 2-6).

28. Displaying JFIF Still: Do Not Overlap Live Video
VideoTool: If you display a previously captured JFIF still image on top of or overlapping a live video window, then sometimes a black rectangle will appear where the two windows overlap. Please do not overlap JFIFs and live video.

Video Development Environment

!! 29. Do Not Use XPlxVideoValueLoad, *Save, *Query, and *Recall
Video Development Environment: Do not use XPlxVideoValueLoad, XPlxVideoValueSave, XPlxVideoValueQuery, or XPlxVideoValueRecall because these calls refer to NVRAM (not available on overlay cards such as XVideo Xtra) and will cause the machine to crash.

30. Design Video Applications to Run One at a Time (per Video Card)
Video Development Environment: If your Parallax video applications use compression, decompression, getImage, and/or putImage, please design your applications to run one at a time per video card.

The Parallax video overlay cards (XVideo Xtra and HP cards) use the xv protocol to do video and compression, because the xv protocol is the only video standard on Unix. Since we had a video API before xv was created, we chose to continue supporting our own API by mapping each of our functions to a set of xv functions.

The xv protocol works by using xvports. An xvport is used much like a graphics context in that it saves the video state in the window server. Each video input/display, video output, compression, decompression, getImage, and putImage operation needs its own xvport. There are a limited number of xvports that can be used (128 per XVideo Xtra card), so the Parallax library carefully manages the xvports.

This library management solution is not perfect. It keeps a separate list of the xvports in use for each application. When a new video operation (input, output, compression, etc.) is started, the library checks the list of xvports in use by the application, picks an xvport not in use by that application, and queries the server to see if that xvport is available.

The problem is that this query returns true only if the xvport is currently being used for live video input/display or output. This query will return false if the xvport is being used for compression, decompression, getImage, or putImage. So an xvport already in use for compression by one application may also be assigned for live video display by another. Since the xvport is already busy with compression, the video display will keep freezing.

So if two video applications are started and one or more uses compression, decompression, getImage, or putImage, the applications will compete for the xvports. The result is usually that live video and/or output freezes until one application is turned off. You also have to keep in mind that there are limited video resources (2 video paths for video input/display, output, compression, and decompression), and multiple applications competing for the same resources usually do not get along well.

Note:With XVideo Xtra Final Version, it is possible to have multiple video cards in one workstation, each supporting a separate full-featured video application (or both cards supporting one application with additional video paths).

31. XPlxGetImage: Do Not Use as First Call
Video Development Environment: XPlxGetImage does not correctly set up internal structures if it's the first Parallax call made. To avoid this problem, make sure you use another call first before using XPlxGetImage.

32. XPlxGetImage Only Supports Images with Origins at (0,0)
Video Development Environment: XPlxGetImage supports only images with origins at (0,0) in the upper left corner of the source image. So it is not possible to get an image that's cropped to exclude the upper left corner of the source image with this call.

33. XPlxPutImage Only Supports Images with Destination at (0,0)
Video Development Environment: XPlxPutImage will write images only into video windows starting at (0,0) in the upper left corner. So it is not possible to put an image in any other quadrant of the window.

34. Old Video Data Stays in Memory: Initialize Window Before Data Capture
Video Development Environment: If your application opens a new overlay window, please initialize the window (paint the window contents black, display live video, or put an image that fills the entire window) before you try to capture information from the window (XPlxGetImage, XPlxGetCImage, or Output). If you do not initialize the window, then you will see the last overlay images displayed in that part of the overlay: bits of video and still images (until the area is covered by new overlay video/images).

35. Manual: MovieTool File Header Description
Video Development Environment Manual (revisions F and G): At the bottom of the descriptions of the MovieTool movie file headers there is a typo (rev. F page C-3, rev. G pages C-4 and C-5). The final line of the descriptions says "} jp_header" when it should really say "} jpheader" instead.

36. Manual: Multiple Video Operations in a Window Now Works
Manual for Video Development Environment (revision F): With release 1.1 or greater, developers can now run more than one video operation from a window/xv port/xid at one time. For example, you can display live video in a window and simultaneously send video out from the same window. Revision F of the Video Development Environment Reference Guide reflects the previous release where each video operation required a separate window/xv port/xid. The pages that need correction are:

page 1-9 (chart: add "Yes" to "Multiple Video Operations in a Window" under "Sun Overlay"),

page 1-23 (multiple video operations now work for Sun overlay/XVideo Xtra; XVideo Xtra now falls in the same category as HP version 9.3 and higher), and

page 1-25 (porting between Sun overlay and HP version 9.3 or higher: multiple video operations is no longer an issue, and also ImageMagick convert and display utilities are now included in the Sun overlay release).

UNIX Utility and Demo Programs

37. xvOutTest: Do Not Use
Utilities: Do not use xvOutTest. xvOutTest does not work in a useful way (it shows the upper left corner of the root window, with whatever overlay content was last shown in that region).

Please see for a working version.

38. xlib_test: Do Not Use
Utilities: Do not use xlib_test. It does not work.

Please see for a working version.

39. why_no_xv: Do Not Use
Utilities: Do not use why_no_xv with PCIbus cards. This diagnostic tool has not been updated.

40. jpegPlaybackTest: Do Not Use
Demo Programs: Plays back MovieTool movies with bad contrast. Use MovieTool to playback movies.

41. tcomp: Do Not Use Loopback
Demo programs: Does not work in loopback mode. The first frame is the only one transmitted.

Tested Hardware

We have tested XVideo Xtra hardware and software with the following systems:

XVideo Xtra for SBus

UltraSPARC 1 (Model 170, 170E)
SPARC 20 (Model 51, 61, 150)
SPARC 10 (Model 40)
SPARC 5 (Model 70, 85)

Note: Please use a SPARC 5 or above with your XVideo Xtra card. SPARC 2 or earlier machines (4C architectures) are not supported.

Framebuffer Cards:
Creator or Creator 3D

Display Resolutions and Refresh Rates:
1280x1024 pixels @ 76 Hz
1280x1024 pixels @ 66 Hz
1152x900 pixels @ 76 Hz
1152x900 pixels @ 66 Hz
1024x768 pixels @ 76 Hz
1024x768 pixels @ 66 Hz

XVideo Xtra for PCI Bus


Framebuffer Cards:
Creator or Creator 3D, Series 2

Display Resolutions and Refresh Rates:
1280 x 1024 pixels @ 76 Hz
1280 x 1024 pixels @ 67 Hz
1152 x 900 pixels @ 76 Hz
1152 x 900 pixels @ 66 Hz
1024 x 768 pixels @ 76 Hz

Note: If you have questions about using your XVideo Xtra card with another hardware configuration, please contact our technical support engineers (see contact information below).

Note: See your Hardware Installation Guide for a list of system requirements (disk space, system RAM, swap space, etc.).

Fixes and Enhancements

We have incorporated the following improvements over previous releases: Final Version for SBus

We have incorporated the following improvements over Release 1.1:

1. Fixed Seven Bugs

We fixed the following bugs from (numbers of Release 1.1 Release Notes):

1. SBus Cards: More Than One XVideo Xtra Card Per System
8. Do Not Compress Video at End of VCR Tape
11. SBus Cards: If You Overlap Two Live Video Windows, One May Freeze
19. SBus Cards: Video Freezes with SX Framebuffer
21. Zoom_2X: Re-Select S-VHS Input
22. Zoom_2X: Confusion Between Composite and S-VHS
24. Creator 3D and OpenWindows: 8-bit Versus 24-bit Video Freeze

Final Version for PCI Bus

We have incorporated the following improvements over Release 1.2:

1. PCI Bus Workstation Support
We have updated the server and driver software to support our new XVideo Xtra card on additional Sun PCI Bus workstations

2. Solaris 2.6 Support is "Backward Compatible"
Final Version also supports Solaris 2.5.1 as well as Solaris 2.6.

3. Support for Multiple XVideo Xtra Cards in One System
We have added full support for multiple XVideo Xtra cards for PCI Bus in one workstation (up to three cards).

How to Reach Us

Parallax Graphics World Headquarters 2500 Walsh Avenue Santa Clara, CA 95051 USA Phone: 408-727-2220, Fax: 408-727-2367

Technical Support: Phone: 703-450-7718, Fax: 703-450-7719 E-mail:, World Wide Web: