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  #1  
Old 09-24-2010, 09:22 PM
dan596 dan596 is offline
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HD Performance and Setup Challenges Described

I've recently made the switch to recording HD (tryin to be in time for fall shows). I've had some hiccups and wondering if it is my setup is wrong, or its symptomatic of what I'm running for hardware, or if this is a typical experience.

The SD system I started with is:
Core 2 Duo 6420
4GB Ram
1tb sata drives (essentially full now)
Nvidia 9800GT vid card
Hauppauge WinTV PVR-500
2x MVP extenders
Sage Server v6 latest
Windows Vista 32bit

To upgrade I added:
AverMedia HD Duet PCIE x1
Firewire port on PCIE x1
Happauge HD-PVR
2x WD 1TB Green drives on internal SATA.
Comcast RNG150 cablebox(Cisco/Scientific Atlanta)

The system ran very smoothly for SD, With my extenders and 2 Placeshifter licenses I could view anywhere in house/yard fine. I don't run Sage as a service and use the server box to power display of main LCD TV.

So here are the four issues I'm having and any feedback is appreciated:

1)When recording 2 HD shows, and trying to watch a previous recording on the TV connected to the sage server the performance degrades...i.e....digital hashing, and then studder skip of video. I can stop the show, and then restart and it will go fine for a while but finally exhibit same behavior. No Comskip in play here. I checked the processors and they were running at less than 50%. Disk drive traffic via the Windows Commuter Management console was at 100% Highest Active Time. Does this mean the Green drives can't keep up? They are not raided. Would that help? Any other optimization tips? Does it have to do with the fact that one drive is half full and the other is empty...i.e...Sage is trying to write everything to the empty drive instead of distributing?

2)Channel setup : with both the analog and digital tuners in there I now have both Comcast regular schedule, and digital schedule. Given that there could be three shows on at one time I want recorded, I've left the analog in play. Unfortunately what I'm experiencing is Sage isn't reconciling what channel to record stuff on....In some instances for a show it is recording both the analog and the digital version. Do I really have to go through all my favorites and set the specific digital channel? This doesn't seem optimal....what if a rerun is on a different channel? What if I have a conflict and it needs to record it on the analog channel? Am I missing something here? (Btw...none of this is with the HDPVR in play, see #4)

3)MVP Extenders and HD content. Should I be able to watch it on these extenders? My expectation would be that Sage would transcode it down (just like it would if it sensed poor bandwidth as with Placeshifter usage). I am planning to invest in Sage's HD300, but not until i get all these kinks out.

4)HDPVR setup : I'm a real patient guy, so I've been trying to solve the above issues first before diving into this one, but I want to put it out there: Anyone get the dang Comcast/Cisco/Scientific Atlanta RNG150 box to be controlled either by IR blaster or Firewire? I haven't found an HDPVR IR setting to control it yet. Some points of note : a)I am using a Microsoft Remote/Reciever (works well with Sage) which has an IR blaster port...could this be used? b) When the system is booted up, and the cablebox is connected via firewire, Windows wants to install drivers for "Scientific-Altanta Inc. Explorer(R) 1640 AV/C Panel" which neither Windows or I can find. c)When setting up my Logitech Harmony for the new cable box, Logitech had the right codes for it (where as my online searches haven't turned up anyone finding them).

I know this is a lengthy bit, but hopefully this thread will help anyone other noobs to making the switch to HD. Again, thank you for any and all responses.

Lastly this is all in prep for a move to a new quad core raid 5 server when the new 64bit WHS comes out, and SageTV v7 is released so I can handle this plus comskip too.
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  #2  
Old 09-24-2010, 11:24 PM
Spectrum Spectrum is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dan596 View Post
1)When recording 2 HD shows, and trying to watch a previous recording on the TV connected to the sage server the performance degrades...i.e....digital hashing, and then studder skip of video. I can stop the show, and then restart and it will go fine for a while but finally exhibit same behavior. No Comskip in play here. I checked the processors and they were running at less than 50%. Disk drive traffic via the Windows Commuter Management console was at 100% Highest Active Time. Does this mean the Green drives can't keep up? They are not raided. Would that help? Any other optimization tips? Does it have to do with the fact that one drive is half full and the other is empty...i.e...Sage is trying to write everything to the empty drive instead of distributing?
Yep 10-1 odds that your abusing one drive while the other sits there idle. Recording 2 HD streams and playing another back all at once is asking a lot of the drive. V7 introduced a new option to distribute the recordings for performance to help this.

Quote:
Originally Posted by dan596 View Post
2)Channel setup : with both the analog and digital tuners in there I now have both Comcast regular schedule, and digital schedule. Given that there could be three shows on at one time I want recorded, I've left the analog in play. Unfortunately what I'm experiencing is Sage isn't reconciling what channel to record stuff on....In some instances for a show it is recording both the analog and the digital version. Do I really have to go through all my favorites and set the specific digital channel? This doesn't seem optimal....what if a rerun is on a different channel? What if I have a conflict and it needs to record it on the analog channel? Am I missing something here? (Btw...none of this is with the HDPVR in play, see #4)
What I did to get around this is set tuner merits in sage.properties and remap my digital channels logical channel number to the same channel number of my HD channels in my lineup. As long as the guide info is correct, Sage should be picking the HD version over the SD. You should NOT have to limit your favorite to a specific channel in most cases. I have had a few instances where it recorded both but it has always been bum data in the guide that caused it for me.
Quote:
Originally Posted by dan596 View Post

3)MVP Extenders and HD content. Should I be able to watch it on these extenders? My expectation would be that Sage would transcode it down (just like it would if it sensed poor bandwidth as with Placeshifter usage). I am planning to invest in Sage's HD300, but not until i get all these kinks out.
I don't have any of these so no comment
Quote:
Originally Posted by dan596 View Post
4)HDPVR setup : I'm a real patient guy, so I've been trying to solve the above issues first before diving into this one, but I want to put it out there: Anyone get the dang Comcast/Cisco/Scientific Atlanta RNG150 box to be controlled either by IR blaster or Firewire? I haven't found an HDPVR IR setting to control it yet. Some points of note : a)I am using a Microsoft Remote/Reciever (works well with Sage) which has an IR blaster port...could this be used? b) When the system is booted up, and the cablebox is connected via firewire, Windows wants to install drivers for "Scientific-Altanta Inc. Explorer(R) 1640 AV/C Panel" which neither Windows or I can find. c)When setting up my Logitech Harmony for the new cable box, Logitech had the right codes for it (where as my online searches haven't turned up anyone finding them).
I had a Pace RNG box from Comcast and had them swap it out with a Motorola. I couldn't get the Hauppauge blaster to work with it at all. This was awhile back though and there may have been a breakthrough. Take a look here for some firewire info.
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  #3  
Old 09-25-2010, 02:04 PM
paulbeers paulbeers is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dan596 View Post
3)MVP Extenders and HD content. Should I be able to watch it on these extenders? My expectation would be that Sage would transcode it down (just like it would if it sensed poor bandwidth as with Placeshifter usage). I am planning to invest in Sage's HD300, but not until i get all these kinks out.
.
Yes and I have done it just fine. With some caveats:

1. For on the fly transcoding from HD MPEG2 to SD MPEG2 (which is what the MediaMVP uses), takes about a Core2duo running at 2.4ghz to do it reliably. Anything less and I couldn't get it to work. Any Core i# or AMD Athlon II/Phenom II should be able to do it.

2. For HDPVR recordings, it only works on 720P recordings. It can not transcode anything recording in 1080i so you will need to lock your STB at 720P to get it to work. Again this is also very CPU intensive. I can't tell you what speed of a Core2duo you need as I had switched up my server before I got the HDPVR, but I know my AMD Athlon X2 running at 2.5ghz couldn't do it, but my new AMD Athlon II 630 can do it with no problems.
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Sage Server: AMD Athlon II 630, Asrock 785G motherboard, 3GB of RAM, 500GB OS HD in RAID 1 and 2 - 750GB Recording Drives, HDHomerun, Avermedia HD Duet & 2-HDPVRs, and 9.0TB storage in RAID 5 via Dell Perc 5i for DVD storage
Source: Clear QAM and OTA for locals, 2-DishNetwork VIP211's
Clients: 2 Sage HD300's, 2 Sage HD200's, 2 Sage HD100's, 1 MediaMVP, and 1 Placeshifter
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  #4  
Old 09-25-2010, 02:28 PM
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stanger89 stanger89 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Spectrum View Post
Yep 10-1 odds that your abusing one drive while the other sits there idle. Recording 2 HD streams and playing another back all at once is asking a lot of the drive.
Not as much as you might think. Worst case scenario it's 19.4Mbps*2 write and 19.4Mbps read, that amounts less than 5MB/sec write and 2.5MB/sec read. Modern drives can hit well over 60MB/sec sequential (granted throughput drops a lot with simultaneous, pseudo-random access), but even then it shouldn't be that tough... For example the Caviar Black can do over 50MB/sec writes even random. That is 512kB random writes but that should be a rough approximation of what Sage would actually write.

All that said, I don't implicitly trust drives. I had some weird such issues with my setup before I swapped my old 200/300GB Seagate drives for a pair of 1TB Caviar Blacks.

As far as the MVPs go, you'll save yourself a lot of time and trouble probably if you just get those up front rather than potentially dealing with MVPs. They should work fine, but will require transcoding of just about everything.
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  #5  
Old 09-26-2010, 03:31 PM
Spectrum Spectrum is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stanger89 View Post
Not as much as you might think. Worst case scenario it's 19.4Mbps*2 write and 19.4Mbps read, that amounts less than 5MB/sec write and 2.5MB/sec read. Modern drives can hit well over 60MB/sec sequential (granted throughput drops a lot with simultaneous, pseudo-random access), but even then it shouldn't be that tough... For example the Caviar Black can do over 50MB/sec writes even random. That is 512kB random writes but that should be a rough approximation of what Sage would actually write.
Touche. Wish I had some extenders so I could try overloading my system to see at what point it breaks down
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  #6  
Old 09-27-2010, 11:26 AM
dan596 dan596 is offline
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New Piece to the Puzzle

First, Thank you for the great replies. Very useful insight. I think this thread is going to be useful to newbies like me setting up HD so I am trying to be a detailed as possible.


To continue, I think I have new pieces to the puzzle.

First Test: I'm recording one HD show and viewing live another. The one I am watching is too choppy to watch. CPU usage is between 25-50%, Drive traffic is around 3 MB/sec....remembering I'm using Caviar Green drives but number don't add up to performance problem.

Second Test : With SageTV shut down, I am just playing a previously recorded HD show via Media Player. Still choppy with CPU and Disk traffic lower than above. I watched it with WinDVD and it played fine. Watched it again with Sage, choppy again.

Was does this mean. Here are the options I've concluded:

a)Playback configuration/codec selection. I'm not sure what to do here. I'm using ffdshow codec, but I have DivX installed as well. As far as any other configuration, I pretty much have them set to default I believe.

b)Signal Strength : When I first install the AverTVHD Duet, and was setting it up I noticed the signal strength was poor. (as indicated when previewing channels in the tuner channel setup. So I did a cable overhual. replaced all splitters with highbandwidth versions and swapped out for gold plated connections. The new splitters made a big difference. Now on checking the signal strength does appear to dip to 90% at times so i might still be getting some loss and will consider a digital ready signal amplifier.

c)Tuner Card Performance: With (b) in consideration, the cablebox tuner doesn't experience any drops. This points to the tuner card performance. I haven't dove into enough this yet. The few reviews/posts I've read have been positive. My understanding is the HD cards just pass the HD signal through....no de/encoding. So all the encode/decode setting like what audio/video codec to use don't apply. So does it make sense I have a 6.5GB mpg file for a 1 hour show(same used for Test 2)? Any config considerations I'm not thinking of? At this point some of the choppiness could be the HD not keeping up, but I think less so now.

d)Tuner Channel tuning. I've noticed that some of the HD channels (Those 'Open' channels via cable) are not getting tuned correctly. (Again, I will research this more to see if there is any fine tuning of the channel setup that is needed.) Sage it selecting the right channel, but the channel being tuned is not correct. I am wondering if the reception is suffering as a result. To detail: I go to channel 4-1, and it is actually showing 25-1. I then went to 7-1, told Sage to record 7-1 and went back to 4-1 to watch live simultaneously and now 4-1 is correct. Switched to 25-1 (7-1 still being recorded) and after 10 minutes or so things started to get choppy. Also, right now I can select any of a dozen available 2xx-1 channels and they all show the same channel(when they are supposed to be the various networks). Conclusion : I have channel selection problems and a performance problem CPU 50-75%, Disk between 5-15MB/sec.

Obviously I have a playback problem if WinDVD can handle it but Media Player and Sage can't. But also I have the channel tuning problem.

"Stay Tuned for more"
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  #7  
Old 09-27-2010, 11:36 AM
paulbeers paulbeers is offline
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Just a quick troubleshooting tip: If you are experiencing a stutter in your playback, try rewinding to before the stutter and play it again. If the stutter is in the exact same spot then it is a problem with the recording (poor signal/bad hard drive/bad tuner card). However, if the same spot does not stutter, but it stutters somewhere new then it is a playback issue (check codes/video drivers/etc).
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Sage Server: AMD Athlon II 630, Asrock 785G motherboard, 3GB of RAM, 500GB OS HD in RAID 1 and 2 - 750GB Recording Drives, HDHomerun, Avermedia HD Duet & 2-HDPVRs, and 9.0TB storage in RAID 5 via Dell Perc 5i for DVD storage
Source: Clear QAM and OTA for locals, 2-DishNetwork VIP211's
Clients: 2 Sage HD300's, 2 Sage HD200's, 2 Sage HD100's, 1 MediaMVP, and 1 Placeshifter
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  #8  
Old 10-14-2010, 11:21 AM
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sorrowstyr sorrowstyr is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Spectrum View Post
Yep 10-1 odds that your abusing one drive while the other sits there idle. Recording 2 HD streams and playing another back all at once is asking a lot of the drive. V7 introduced a new option to distribute the recordings for performance to help this.
I have a similar problem recording 2 shows and watching a 3rd show is a complete show stopper. All the recording seems to go the same drive every time.

Any way I can make V6.6 utilize both drives as well?

Dont get me wrong, I like to abuse my drives, but I want to spread that abuse to my other dedicated recording drives.

-Gary
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  #9  
Old 10-14-2010, 01:28 PM
blade blade is offline
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Originally Posted by sorrowstyr View Post
Dont get me wrong, I like to abuse my drives, but I want to spread that abuse to my other dedicated recording drives.

-Gary
That shouldn't even phase a drive unless it's an antique. I have 5 HD tuners and 2 analog, process all of the shows in real time as they record and stream to 2 clients and have no problems even when all of the activity is hitting 1-2 of the drives.
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Old 10-14-2010, 02:16 PM
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stanger89 stanger89 is offline
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Originally Posted by sorrowstyr View Post
I have a similar problem recording 2 shows and watching a 3rd show is a complete show stopper. All the recording seems to go the same drive every time.

Any way I can make V6.6 utilize both drives as well?
If you let Sage manage disk space it tends to do that pretty well on it's own, just by nature of the fact that it writes to the most empty drive. But to answer the question, no there's no "bandwidth" prioritization in 6. The only thing you could try is the recording directory association (I can't remember what it's called) where you can set a preferred recording path for each tuner.
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  #11  
Old 10-15-2010, 11:21 AM
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sorrowstyr sorrowstyr is offline
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That shouldn't even phase a drive unless it's an antique. I have 5 HD tuners and 2 analog, process all of the shows in real time as they record and stream to 2 clients and have no problems even when all of the activity is hitting 1-2 of the drives.
Hm.. ok, I will check to see if my drive is failing then. Its a 1.5TB Samsung Spinpoint drive, and it was giving heck of a stuttering problem a couple of days ago.
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Old 10-15-2010, 11:21 AM
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If you let Sage manage disk space it tends to do that pretty well on it's own, just by nature of the fact that it writes to the most empty drive. But to answer the question, no there's no "bandwidth" prioritization in 6. The only thing you could try is the recording directory association (I can't remember what it's called) where you can set a preferred recording path for each tuner.

Good to know. Thanks everyone !
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