Ongoing Whole house technology solution (1 Viewer)

iancalderban

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December 12, 2008
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I was looking at setting up a box to run ESXi 4.0 headless, and then TV server in a VM on top of that. So it would need access to the tv cards, which are PCI.

just tried it on one of my systems, AMD Asus m2n-sli-deluxe (nvidia nforce 570 chipset), latest bios, Athlon X2 5400 processor.
"virtualisation support" is turned on the in BIOS. however I think this is VT-x not VT-d / IOMMU.
in ESX, I cannot even start to try to PCI cards to a VM, I get "Host does not support passthrough configuration". So I think my mobo doesn't have what it takes.

what motherboards have people used? What lists have you consulted to be sure you have VT-d / IOMMU support?

thanks
Ian
 
D

dm15644

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AW: Whole house technology solution

I actually didn't get it to work as well, with similar problems, and gave up after a couple of weeks.
 

BKCH

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    Hey - I did a fair bit of exploration on this concept as well.

    The point I've gotten to is I gave up on VMware and Xen (much as I love it) and settled for some trade-offs to run Hyper-V - Not perfect but it gives me TV Server installed in the host Server 2008 system then I use Hyper-V to deliver the VMs I wanted.
     

    drealit

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    March 15, 2008
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    I would looove to combine both of my servers (Server 2008 and unRaid) using ESXi but I don't think it's possible to do so (currently) with my unRaid server due to it booting from a USB drive. I'm not about to give up unRaid either so I've basically painted myself into a corner lol.

    Sounds like a great project and would be very beneficial for you in the end. I would love to go there but just can't due to hardware limitations etc.

    Edit: Although I just noticed there has been some experimentation with the idea recently - AVS Forum - View Single Post - For those running unraid . There was nothing last I checked back in October or so.

    I know I posted this a while back... it looks like the time has finally come!

    UnRAID on VMWare ESXi with Raw Device Mapping
     

    Tesla

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    January 30, 2009
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    Cool thread. Is anyone still working on this?

    Right now, my main LivingRoom MePo box is also the media server and the other computers connect to it for content (either running MePo themselves or just using Windows Explorer or even Windows Media Center). I let it sleep some, and wake it with the USB-IR remote or MagicPacket.

    I have put some thought into this myself. I will likely use 2 machines. One for MediaPortal, one for Home Automation. This will allow me to pick the best OS for both applications, and run both natively. Also, it spreads the load across 2 boxes. Either can be the "Media Server" (hold the terabytes of data) but it will likely be the HA Server box (since it has to be on 24/7 anyway). All Cat5e and Cat6 gigabit 1000 ethernet networking.

    What Home Automation software are you guys looking at? I kinda like HomeSeer. I was waiting for ZigBee to mature, but I'm not sure that is going to happen ... might have to go with something else. I was thinking about using cheap WiFi enabled Android tablets or phones for Remote Control/Control Pads.
     

    MikeKulls

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    December 26, 2011
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    I am working on a similar solution with ESXI 5.0 and the HP N40L home server. The problem I have, as many other's have had, is getting the video to not stutter. This appears to be an issue in a VM. In my case I can't use a PCI-e card because I don't have VT-d and I found USB passthrough to be flaky so am now trying to use the HDHomeRun network tuner. I only got it last night and it worked straight off but the video was stuttering. I have a number of options to fix this including running a separate network card for the HDHomeRun, going to hardware with VT-d or switching to Server 2008R2 with hyper-V so that the TV server is not virtualized.

    I know this thread is almost a couple of years old but in response to the OP, ESXI does not support software raid but passing the disks through to an OS that does is entirely possible. That would have eliminated all your issues with the raid card. Software raid solves the issue that your disks are locked to a particular card.

    In relation to running a linux router in a VM I have this running with pfSense under ESXI and it works very well. The only issue I encountered was that I had to set ESXI to a static IP because it couldn't get an IP from the router because it obviously boots up second.

    With regards to vga passthrough and running the client as a virtual machine I would suggest going with a separate low power machine. The reason is that using a VM is not really scalable to multiple TVs, it's not very portable if you move the TV and the hardware to send HDMI, USB, IR + multiple network cables is going to not be too much cheaper than a cheap PC (a $100 PC would work as a client). The power isn't that big an issue because the PC can go to sleep.

    Has anyone got media portal server to work reasonably well under ESXI?
     

    ltb76

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    December 17, 2008
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    Hi,

    I have my TV server running just fine under ESXi 5 with no stutter.

    My hardware is as follows:

    Motherboard: Asrock Fatal1ty Z68 Professional Gen3
    16GB RAM
    CPU Intel i7-2600
    LSI 9265-8i MegaRaid
    8x Western Digital 7200rpm 2TB disks for VMs (7 running RAID 5, 1 hot-spare. connected to the LSI card)
    TV Card: 1x Digital Devices Octopus, 2x DuoFlex CT v2 (dual DVB-C), 1x DD Common Interface
    1x Kingston 128GB SSD
    2x Western Digital 7200rpm 500GB 2.5” connected directly to an onboard controller.

    My TV server VM is based on Win7 pro 32bit. I have allocated 1GB RAM and 2 CPUs to it.
    The system-drive is located on the LSI RAID, a 2GB drive dedicated for SWAP located on the SSD (Not really used though), a 8GB drive dedicated to time shifting also located on the SSD.
    1 onboard SATA controller is passed through to the TV Server VM, and the 2x 500GB disks are running RAID0, this drive is used for recordings by both dual DVB-C Tuners. And obviously the Digital Devices Octopus card is passed through to the VM.

    Initially I just did recordings to a virtual disk on the LSI RAID. But heavy load from other VMs on the LSI RAID could in rare cases give a few artifacts / lock ups in recordings.

    I’m not running the frontend as a VM. Pass-through of the video card was a bit tricky. I could not get my nVidia card to work. It worked with an old Matrox card, but that was not power full enough for 1080p
    I have read that the nVidia cards should be notorious bad for VT-d, apparently ATI cards should be better for this.

    I have tried with USB tuners (Terratec and Hauppauge) that did not work well. I had a lot of stutters, lockups and BSOD on the TV Server. However I have found the Terratec tuners to be performing poorly even on my desktop PC.

    In regards to the NIC. I have a dual Intel gigabit card teamed, this is shared between all my LAN VMs. I have not a dedicated card for the TV Server, that does not seem to be necessary.

    The trick in getting this to work is getting the right hardware. Even though manufactures claim their motherboards are VT-d compatible I have found it to be faulty on several boards. And make sure to get a CPU that supports it, stay clear of the “K” CPUs.

    I'm guessing that the HP N40L is no way near powerful enough for this. Especially the disk controller would be an issue, and that is probably why you have the stuttering.

    Cheers
     

    MikeKulls

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    December 26, 2011
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    Hi,

    I'm guessing that the HP N40L is no way near powerful enough for this. Especially the disk controller would be an issue, and that is probably why you have the stuttering.

    Cheers

    Thanks for the reply. It's interesting to know that it can work. The thing with the N40L is that it is powerful enough to act as a TV server, just not under ESXi. Your setup sounds awesome but it seams like a bit of overkill to me. I'm trying to keep power usage to a minimum. One computer running 24x7 uses up as much power as 2 full sized freezers and in your case it could be as much as 3. It will also use more power than lighting an entire house with CFLs. :) The cost would seem like an issue to me too in that I could just run 2 x N40Ls for a less dollars and less power yet still serve out TV no problems and serve out disk access at gigabit speed.

    What I think might be the solution is the HDHomeRun box. This uses 5 watts and acts as a TV server. Then the machine at the TV can wake to record TV and that machine would be the TV server.

    Hi,

    In regards to the NIC. I have a dual Intel gigabit card teamed, this is shared between all my LAN VMs. I have not a dedicated card for the TV Server, that does not seem to be necessary.

    Cheers

    Yeah I agree it's unlikely to help as the network is only running at 2.5% when streaming TV. Possibly the hard drive could be the issue, I could try a ramdisk for the buffer although I think it's just that the CPU is given to other VMs for too long and the TV server doesn't like the delays.

    I think just running the PC that is on the media centre as the TV server could be the answer as long as I can get it to go to sleep and wake when needed. I am really trying to keep the amount of hardware to a minimum, use the minimum spec hardware within reason and keep power usage to a minimum (I'm sick of $500 elec bills :))
     

    ltb76

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    December 17, 2008
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    Thanks for the reply. It's interesting to know that it can work. The thing with the N40L is that it is powerful enough to act as a TV server, just not under ESXi. Your setup sounds awesome but it seams like a bit of overkill to me. I'm trying to keep power usage to a minimum. One computer running 24x7 uses up as much power as 2 full sized freezers and in your case it could be as much as 3. It will also use more power than lighting an entire house with CFLs. :) The cost would seem like an issue to me too in that I could just run 2 x N40Ls for a less dollars and less power yet still serve out TV no problems and serve out disk access at gigabit speed.

    You are absolutely right this is not a power saver. With the RAID controller and ESXi set to maximum power saving it takes around 80watt in low / idle load scenarios. With high load on the RAID it goes up to ~140watt.

    However, I already had the ESX server running in addition to the TV Server. So moving the TV Server to my ESXi server did reduce my power consumption :D


    What I think might be the solution is the HDHomeRun box. This uses 5 watts and acts as a TV server. Then the machine at the TV can wake to record TV and that machine would be the TV server.

    That could be a good solution in your scenario. However I chose Media Portal due to the Server / frontend function. This way all PCs / media centres in the house can access it, I can access it remote on my iPAD and phone via VPN

    Yeah I agree it's unlikely to help as the network is only running at 2.5% when streaming TV. Possibly the hard drive could be the issue, I could try a ramdisk for the buffer although I think it's just that the CPU is given to other VMs for too long and the TV server doesn't like the delays.

    Have you tried shutting down all other VMs? Or you could try playing around with Resource Pools.

    I think just running the PC that is on the media centre as the TV server could be the answer as long as I can get it to go to sleep and wake when needed. I am really trying to keep the amount of hardware to a minimum, use the minimum spec hardware within reason and keep power usage to a minimum (I'm sick of $500 elec bills :))

    I completely agree. For me the ESX was a way of reducing the amount of hardware. Initially I came from a NAS, a firewall, a TV Server, a Domain Controller, a SSL VPN box and a test PC, all that is now running on the ESX. On this hardware I currently run 8 computers and I have spare capacity.
    An added bonus is the snapshot functionality. Whenever a MS Windows or Media Portal updated comes out, I can just take a snapshot before the update is applied. And should something go wrong I have an easy way back:)
     

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