When I got a new PC nearly 3.5 years ago, DVD-Roms were the rage, and it was a matter of consideration at the time to get a DVD-Rom controller card when you bought your DVD drive... I got the card, and besides the notion that it improves DVD-movie playback, I have no idea what this card did ...or does!
Does anyone know what this card does?
Now, in present day, I find myself once again buying a DVD drive for a new computer -- so, the question is still valid? First of all, do these controller cards even exist anymore? Do newer 16x dvd drives play dvd videos just fine without it? Can I watch my dvds in high quality sound throuhg my Audigy2?
Also, does anyone have any idea when 8X external dvd writers will be coming out?
The only 'controller card' I can think of is actually a MPeg2 decoder card. At the time a lot of PC's were too slow to decode MPeg2; you needed at least an 800MHz system. What the card does: it takes the MPeg2 stream from the DVD, decodes it and overlays the resulting video on the VGA signal from the graphics card.
The advantage: with relatively little CPU usage and a simple VGA card a very good DVD movie playback.
The disadvantage: the VGA signal from the graphics card gets noticeable degraded (the screen is less sharp). Also the DVD signal may get confused if your screen contains black areas.
If you're buying a new computer with a modern graphics card the system is powerful enough to use software MPeg decoding.