MediaPortal on ITX

Discussion in 'General' started by Tinyputers, May 16, 2009.

  1. Tinyputers

    Tinyputers Portal Member

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    Hi,

    I am currently planning to build a tv-server, and two media clients. The biggest goal out of this is to create a setup that does not increase the opex costs of running our house. I have changed all the light bulbs in the house from 60w -> 8w, so I now have some power I can make use of! This power works out at roughly 270 watts... so not a massive amount, but hopefully enough! As the light bulbs where never always on, the solution also can not be always on.

    My requirements are:

    - Clients must consume less than 60w
    - One of the clients must include a standard dvd player
    - Clients must be able to handle the smooth running of MediaPortal
    - Clients must be able to come out of sleep mode/boot from cold in <60secs
    - Server must be able act as TV-Server and NAS
    - Server must consume less than 150w
    - Server must be able to handle up to four tv streams simultaneously
    - Server must be able to record up to four tv streams simultaneously
    - Server must be able to record up to two HD streams simultaneously
    - Server must be able to serve up to two HD streams simultaneously
    - Solution must be able to timeshift one HD tv stream

    There are no requirements around being able to anything beyond the above.

    Questions:



    1) Does the server decode any of the streams, or will it dump the digitial outputs from the cards straight to disk, and then out to the clients? If so, can I assume the Server does not need much more power than the clients?

    2) For the clients I am considering the ION platform the dual core 330 Atom (1.6mhz) for the clients, meaning HD decoding will be smooth, but will Media Portal (the actual interface) run smoothly on this, or will it feel slow and clunky?

    3) Can the TV-Server be run without a GUI? I am considering running it on Windows Server 2008, which has a core option running without a GUI.

    4) What is the thinnest OS I can run the clients on? Are we thinkin XP or Windows 7?

    5) How much RAM is required (actually used), for the TV-Server, and also for the Client? And which would benefit from more?

    6) Do SDD make any difference to MP clients? I know they can faster, but is it noticable (especially in low powered rigs), and do they hang?

    7) Has anyone attempted to create the TV-Server on an ITX platform? I was considering a blackgold 3540 card in a socket itx board (with a pcie slot), with a core 2 duo (the lowest powered model that would work).
     
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  3. etheesdad
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    etheesdad Retired Team Member

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    It will be fine on that. I ran it on a single core p4 2.4mhz and it was zippy. I dont think you'll have any interface-speed issues on the 330 Atom.

    more here
    https://www.team-mediaportal.com/manual/GeneralRequirements#HardwareRequirements

    I was curious about the RAM question so fired up MP on my single seat installation (XpSP3)

    with TVserver recording one show in HD *and* a 1080 video playing simutaneously, I had 1.24GB free on my machine with 2GB physical ram. (x2 5200)

    Just to spice things up, I added an H.264 encode of a 5gb TS file using MCEBuddy top the above equation, which made no impact on the amount of ram useage (interesting, eh!) [MCEBuddy was running idle in original test]

    when I was running it on the P4 I ran single-seat with 1GB and it was perfectly OK. (I no longer have that machine so cant give you the figures, but I can tell you the machine was fine and dandy for any SD task)

    Personally, I think that 1GB is ample as a starting point for either Server or Client if they are dedicated machines (ie you dont need them to run anything on them thats more ram-hungry than MP).

    There is an issue at present with running MP on windows 7. A bug fix is being worked on but right now its not straightforward to install it and have it run reliably. Ive used XP and Vista for my HTPC and prefer XP.

    "Cut-down" copies of XP are not recommended (ie, mini-xp, micro-xp and ad-hoc n-lited editions, as it can cause issues that are difficult to resolve - ie "unique" problems that fixes on full-installs would otherwise address)

    What do you plan to use as a low-power video card in the clients? Seems to me this will be a tricky aspect in terms of keeping power consumption down....?

    The low-power HTPC setup is an interesting project. Please post details and photos when youre done - Im sure other members (including me!) would be interested to see how this is done! :) :) :)
     
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  4. Tinyputers

    Tinyputers Portal Member

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    Response to Client Video Cards

    Thank you for you comments, they are very helpful.

    In response to the client video cards, as I was considering the ION platform, then it would be the nvidia 9400 chip on them with its 16 stream processsors doing all the work, and output via HDMI. As soon as you put an additional video card in the client you would start exceeding the power requirements of the project. As far as the Server, I would consider socket ITX boards limited video output (as it will be remotely controlled and never see the light of day).

    Thanks for the RAM advise. I will place 2GB in both my server and the clients, but will not bother going larger than this. In fact, post testing, I may decrease this to 1GB if possible. As the clients will be using dual DDR2 slots, I assume that it is advisable to have these as matching pairs, ie two 512mb, or two 1gb, rather than say, one 1gb, and one 512mb in the slots.

    On the processor side, you say it was nippy on the P4 2.4mhz, but on my client, it will be running on 1.6mhz (although having the advantage of dual cores). Are you able to underclock your system to experience what the client would be like at 2mhz? Again, I am not worried about the video, but just navigating between screens in MP, and circling through large lists of videos.
     
  5. etheesdad
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    etheesdad Retired Team Member

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    You may find the HD component of this article interesting
    Nvidia ION Platform: GeForce 9400 + Intel Atom - X-bit labs

    I think you will find 1080i will not be possible. I hope your HDTV signal isnt in 1080i - tends to be very CPU intensive with lower-end video chipsets (see the 780g posts on this forum)

    [edit]

    re single cs dual channel, yes, theoretically dual channel has better data flow, but in terms of a better performing HTPC, I dont think its a huge concern. There have been a number of tests run (google) and the results are not as impressive as the theory suggests. Im not saying dual channel isnt better, just that theres a difference between perceived and actual benefit.

    I have a laptop with a 1.4ghz single core in it. I will install MP on it and get back to you with the results. Will have to see if the GPU is opengl2.0 compatible though...
     
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  6. Tinyputers

    Tinyputers Portal Member

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    Atom processors

    Thanks for the help here. An article I found stated that the ION performance watching 1080p was fine, but when using VMC media browser it was painfully slow navigating through lists:

    AnandTech: Zotac's Ion: The World's First mini-ITX Ion Board

    On the following page they have a comparsion against a P4 2.66 which is rather interesting.

    AnandTech: Zotac's Ion: The World's First mini-ITX Ion Board

    At the moment I think there are only two contenters for the Client MB, both produced by Zotac. The first, which as long as MP is not going to be painfully slow when navigating, is the preferred.

    - Zotac 9400 ION ITX (Atom 330)
    - Zotac 9300 ITX (775 Socket board)
    - Intel DG45FC (775 Socket board)

    The second one utilitises a very similar setup to the ION as far as off loading x264 decoding onto stream processors (and off the cpu), with the advantage of being able to install as Core2Duo as the cpu. My concern is that this will mean far higher power consumption, up from ~35W to ~90W. The Intel board, although it does not have the CUDA technology, can handle the work through the processor, with the same power issues are the 9300.

    If I have to compromise, it would be usability over watts, but hopefully your tests will show that the Atom would be able to handle this.

    Any ideas on what the server load is when recording (and also when streaming)?

    If I am forced to go over the power limitations on the client (60Ws) then I am considering creating one of the clients running the tv/media server as well. That way I can allow the Server/Client to consume up to 170W with a beefy quad core running in a Zotac 9300 ITX (with a blackgold 3540 in the pci slot), leaving the other client 100W to .

    Thoughts?

    In support of the ION platform, I did discover this:

    YouTube - NVIDIA Ion Complex Loading

    It shows two videos playing at the same time, both running smoothly on the ION platform running a single core Atom 230. I am swaying towards this platform.
     
  7. Owlsroost
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    Owlsroost Development Group

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    Show System Specs
    The bottom end of the Core2Duo line - E5200/5300/5400 - should be quite low power in real world use. They are built on 45nm technology and come with quite a small (fanned) heatsink - about 30mm tall - so I wouldn't rule them out on power grounds. I suspect one of these could probably handle the server load too.

    To give you an idea, I measured the power consumption of my HTPC a while ago (basically as my current system specs, but with only 2GB ram and 500GB disk) - 2W sleeping/hibernate, 60W at idle, 80W when playing 1440 x 1080i MPEG-2 movie file in MP. The older (65nm) E4500 in my system runs most of the time at the minimum 1.2GHz clock rate (and less than 40 degrees C) even when playing HD MPEG-2 content.

    By the way, BlackGold products seem to have disappeared (there have been a few posts about it recently) - you might want to look for another tuner card.

    Tony
     
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  8. etheesdad
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    etheesdad Retired Team Member

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    The reference above I was making was to 1080i, not 1080p. 1080i is a lot more cpu intensive and I wanted to flag that with you. If the HDTV where you are is in this format and you are using 9300/9400 nvidia you will need a *much* more powerful CPU to do HDTV. (on amd 780g users here reference a Phenom to get the job done)

    In regard to the menu navigation its prickly because the only way to do the testing would be on a machine with the same gpu as the one you're using and with two CPU options, to discern the extent to which the navigation is determined by CPU over GPU. I did run MP on my lappie, but it has 64meg GPU, (and was hopelessly sluggish) - I have no way to try a different GPU in it so cant isolate whether it was the processor causing the menu lag.

    The Wiki hardware requirements are pretty specific about HD content and MP - according to them you need 2ghz dual core or higher. I can tell you the p4 I had was hopeless for HDTV, but I never ran it with a higher end GPU so there, again, impossible to isolate the issue. The Cyberlink site suggests 3.0 single core or higher, so this does question the viability of the Atom platform. I know you want to keep power req's down but I think the 775 option may be the way to go.
     
  9. Tinyputers

    Tinyputers Portal Member

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    Granted, by the sounds of things, i am going to have to go for the 775. It will probably be a E5200 as it will only have one client, and a maximum demand of displaying one 720p (my 50" is old!) recording, recording 4 live streams, and serving one HD stream to the other client. The usual demand will merely be one or two streams, recording one and watching the other.

    Cheers for the help with this. I will get back with some photos once the parts arrive.

    Oh, any thoughts on HDD capacities? I was considering pluging in a 1TB into my router, now are TV recordings recorded to local disk and then transfered to the NAS or does it write directly to the NAS? If the latter, does anyone know of any issues with setup.
     
  10. bezedache
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    bezedache MP Donator

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    Hello,
    I want to make a pc with an intel D945CLF2 motherboard to play and recording tv with a dvb-t tuner card, listen music, play DVD
    It's not for HD use
    I connect the tv with the s-video on the motherboard
    Does the atom 330 can do this with mediaportal without problem???

    Excuse me for the mistakes(if there is) and thanks for your help
     
  11. Tinyputers

    Tinyputers Portal Member

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    From everything that has been written above, and the reviews that I have read, the Atom 330 should able to do this. If you were to consider the ION platform, the atom will be far less stressed whilst playback.
     
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