by Maria Ingold
This chapter describes multimedia technology in general and discusses the specifics of the OS/2 multimedia architecture. Multimedia technology refers to the integration of audio, image, and video with the traditional computing environment.
Achieving television and stereo quality on personal computers has required advances in hardware and software. Faster processors and multimedia hardware technologies such as CD ROM, sound cards, high resolution graphics and true color displays, and video capture and playback adapters now provide the capabilities required for multimedia.
Since degradations in the quality and performance of speech or film are easily apparent, a multimedia operating system has to avoid the processing delays that cause audio and video breakup. The operating system must also ensure that the application immediately responds to any user interaction such as the adjusting of audio volume, or the resizing of a movie. The multitasking capabilities, multi-threaded support, and 32-bit addressing of OS/2 2.X and OS/2 Warp make OS/2 the ideal operating environment for multimedia applications.
Multimedia technology requires device-independent management of audio and video devices, reliable movement of multimedia data through the system, real-time synchronization of data (like audio and video), and transparent handling of multimedia file and data formats. The OS/2 Multimedia architecture has several extensible layers that provide these functions.
Before discussing the features of the OS/2 multimedia architecture, it is useful to examine the building blocks of multimedia technology in general. These building blocks are audio, image, and video.