CD-i FAQ 2020 | Back to Index
Section 9. CD-i on other platforms
9.1 Can I run an interactive CD-i title on my PC?
Not without complete emulation of CD-i's hardware and software components.
Unlike other CD-formats (like CD-Audio and Video-CD), DVD-Video and BD-ROM (the video disc format for Blu-ray Disc), not only the way of encoding the audiovisual material on the disc has been described in the CD-i standard, but also the entire playback environment. This includes the operating system, the CPU, the audio and video decoding chips, etcetera. You should think of CD-i as a completely designed computer system instead of just a disc format.
Emulation software is available, however, and you can access the contents of a CD-i disc on a PC using specific software. Refer to Can CD-i be emulated on other platforms like a PC? and Can I access the contents of a CD-i disc on my PC? for more information.
Of course you can use CD-i Bridge discs (like Video-CDs or Photo-CDs) on a PC without using an emulator or extra hardware, but then you still need a seperate PC application to access the audio and video data on the disc. A PC does not run the CD-i application that is contained on the disc.
9.2 Can CD-i be emulated on other platforms like a PC?
Various CD-i emulator projects consist, including limited CD-i support in MAME, however the CD-i Emulator from 'CD-i Fan' turned out to be the most complete emulator.
CD-i Emulator aims to emulate a complete CD-i system on a Windows PC, including the Digital Video extension. It requires ROM files from an actual CD-i player to run, which are not included with the distribution for legal reasons. A simple tool to extract the ROM from a CD-i player is available from the emulator's web site.
Limited run-time trial versions of the emulator are available from the CD-i Emulator web site. As of 2020, the emulator is still in active development, with increased compatibility and extended features coming in each release.
9.3 What was the PC/CD-i card used for?
A CD-i interface board for both Macintosh and PCs existed, which allowed for full CD-i functionality on a computer system. The card was manufactured by International Interactive Media (I2M) from Israel, and sold by Philips and I2M itself. It contained all of the components that are also available in a dedicated CD-i player, and it did not rely on hardware of the PC itself (like RAM, mouse, etc.). It did not integrate at all with the normal operating system running on the PC. A special version was made that allowed for the shared usage of a harddrive by the CD-i system and the computer, so this one was ideal for CD-i developers. They could for example create assets (audio and video) using their PC tools, and then integrate it into a CD-i application using for example MediaMogul in CD-i mode.
The PC/CD-i board was very rare, only a very small quantity of these boards were manufactured. It was more expensive than a stand-alone CD-i player.
9.4 Can I access the contents of a CD-i disc on my PC?
A CD-i disc is based on a different file system than the ones used for PC systems. Iin personal computing the ISO-9660 format and its Joliet (Windows) and HFS (Mac) variants are the most well known and widely used systems, CD-i discs use the file system format that is based on CD-i's operating systems OS-9. The OS-9 file system allows for file names up to 28 characters in length, for the mixed usage of upper and lowercase letters and it provides options to indicate OS-9's Unix-style execution or read permission parameters.
Because of this different file system, the files on a CD-i disc can not be accessed in a regular way on a PC equipped with a CD-ROM drive. This was not a problem, since a CD-i program could after all not be used on a PC due to its different operating system, CPU and audio and video codecs. However, in some circumstances it can be useful to check the contents of a CD-i disc and extract data..
Using ISO Buster (available for Windows), you can view the file structure of a CD-i disc and extract (audio and video) data, using a variety of options and sector formats, with the ability to automatically eliminate non-media information from the data stream. The latest version of ISO Buster and information about its CD-i specific functionality is available from the ISO Buster web site.
The creator of the CD-i Emulator, 'CD-i Fan', also provides a tool to extract data from a CD-i disc, called CD-i File. This program can read sectors from a CD-i disc containing media information. It can also be used to create disc image files from CD-i discs to be used with the emulator. As of 2020, the program is in development to support the extraction of individual media files and the conversion of data to common media file formats. The latest version of CD-i File is available from the CD-i Emulator web site.
In the past, a tool was available for 16-bit Windows versions to add native CD-i file system support to the system. However, this tool is not compatible with NT-based versions of Windows (Windows XP and later) and is no longer supported. It can still be downloaded from the PC downloads for CD-i development page at this site.
9.5 What is an IFF file?
Usually, all media information on a CD-i disc is stored in one large Real Time File. But sometimes, individual audio and video files are stored on the disc in CD-i's IFF (Interchangeable File Format) format. This is the format that is used in CD-i authoring packages and studios. You can usually recognize these files from the following extensions: .d .cl3 .cl4 .cl7 .cl8 .rl3 .rl7 for video (where d stands for DYUV, cl for CLUT and rl for Run Length Encoding), and .aas .asm .abm .abs .acm .acs for audio (where the second letter indicates the level of ADPCM used, and the latter one indicates m for mono and s for stereo).
9.6 How can I watch pictures of a CD-i disc on my PC?
When an IFF image file has been extracted from a CD-i disc using one of the tools described in Can I access the contents of a CD-i disc on my PC? above, it can be used as a regular file on a computer system. However, in order to view the contents of the file, it needs to be converted into a common media format or opened in a program that was specifically designed for CD-i IFF image files.
For 16-bit Windows systems, the CDi-View application can be used to open the files directly, or the conversion utilities or MediaStockRoom application from OptImage can be used to convert the files to common media formats. Compatibility with current NT-based Windows systems (Windows XP and later) is limited. These tools are available for download from the PC/Windows Downloads - Assets conversion and management page on this web site.
A future version of the CD-i File program from 'CD-i Fan' will likely be able to open IFF files as well. See Can I access the contents of a CD-i disc on my PC? above.
9.7 How can I listen to audio of a CD-i disc on my PC?
When an IFF audio file containing ADPCM audio data has been extracted from a CD-i disc using one of the tools described in Can I access the contents of a CD-i disc on my PC? above, it can be used as a regular file on a computer system. However, in order to hear the contents of the file, it needs to be converted into a common media format.
For 16-bit Windows systems, the conversion utilities or MediaStockRoom application from OptImage can be used to convert the files to common media formats. Compatibility with current NT-based Windows systems (Windows XP and later) is limited. These tools are available for download from the PC/Windows Downloads - Assets conversion and management page on this web site.
A future version of the CD-i File program from 'CD-i Fan' will likely be able to open IFF files as well. See Can I access the contents of a CD-i disc on my PC? Above.
If audio is stored on the disc in MPEG format (usually accompanying MPEG video, but this is not mandatory), you can play it back or convert it into other formats using a wide variety of media playback tools. Make sure that the tool supports MPEG 1 Audio Layer 2 (“MP2” audio - not to be confused with MPEG 2 video). Most MP3 (MPEG 1 Audio Layer 3) capable tools will support this.
9.8 How can I view Digital Video sequences of a CD-i disc on my PC?
You can view the MPEG full motion video clips that are stored on a CD-i disc using a wide variety of media playback tools.
Note that because CD-i allows for a much broader variety in combining audio and video rates, and hence audio and video quality levels, than for example Video-CD where the audio and video bitrates are fixed. Some tools that are specifically designed to play certain media formats or disc types (like Video-CD or DVD) might not play these files.
You can often recognize an MPEG sequence based on the directory in which it is placed, for example FMV or VIDEOS. Also, look for the extension .rtf, which stands for Real Time File (and not Rich Text Format!). .rtf-files might be MPEG-video sequences, but might also contain other, non-playable files. Note that it is possible in this way to view movies that were released in the pre-Video-CD CD-i format, but also video sequences from other titles like games.