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Hardware Support Discussions related to using various hardware setups with SageTV products. Anything relating to capture cards, remotes, infrared receivers/transmitters, system compatibility or other hardware related problems or suggestions should be posted here.

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  #1  
Old 12-22-2012, 11:35 PM
FlyingShawn FlyingShawn is offline
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Anyone using ESXi as a Living Room (non-headless) server?

Just curious about something: is anyone using ESXi for their Sage server in a non-headless setup?

I know 5.1 (and 5.0? not sure) has passthrough issues that would rule out passing a GPU to the VM, but what about 4.x?

I can't afford to rebuild my non-virtualized Sage server anytime soon (stupid Intel, why did they have to leave VT-d out of the 'k' series processors?!), but have changed my Sage OS a few times in the last year (started on Win7, then tried a couple of betas of Win8 to play with Storage Spaces (great idea, horrible implementation)) and keep thinking how nice it'd be to have everything virtualized so I could leave the "old" Sage VM running while installing/configuring the "new" one.

Not currently using clients or extenders, so any "how could I switch to virtualization on a budget?" thoughts have generally required keeping the server as a living room box.

To tell you the truth, I'm not sure which answer I'm hoping for. I'd like to hear that it's possible, but a "not a chance" would make the wallet happy by killing any hope of talking myself into a budget new-ish VM server.

Thanks!
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  #2  
Old 12-23-2012, 08:02 AM
drewg drewg is offline
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So... You say your CPU does not have VT-d, and that you cannot afford to replace it, right? I thought ESX required VT-d for passthrough. Without VT-d, there is essentially no security protecting the hypervisor & other guest OSes when a guest has passthrough access to DMA capable I/O devices. This lack of VT-d would limit you to tuners like the HDHR, which rely solely on network access (which can be virtualized without VT-d).

Assuming that you use HDHR for tuning and you really want to play with virtualization, then I'd suggest virtualizing the server with something like one of the vmware / parallels / virtualbox style products and running the client on the bare hardware. ESX would only make your life harder.

But then again, you'd probably do better with just a spare PC to play around with. I built an AMD E-350 based box for $100 for MBD/RAM/PSU + a spare case & HDD from the attic.

Drew
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Server HW: AMD Ryzen Threadripper 2990WX 32-Core
Server SW: FreeBSD-current, ZFS, linux-oracle-jdk1.8.0, sagetv-server_9.2.2_amd64
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  #3  
Old 12-23-2012, 03:03 PM
FlyingShawn FlyingShawn is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by drewg View Post
So... You say your CPU does not have VT-d, and that you cannot afford to replace it, right? I thought ESX required VT-d for passthrough. Without VT-d, there is essentially no security protecting the hypervisor & other guest OSes when a guest has passthrough access to DMA capable I/O devices. This lack of VT-d would limit you to tuners like the HDHR, which rely solely on network access (which can be virtualized without VT-d).

Assuming that you use HDHR for tuning and you really want to play with virtualization, then I'd suggest virtualizing the server with something like one of the vmware / parallels / virtualbox style products and running the client on the bare hardware. ESX would only make your life harder.

But then again, you'd probably do better with just a spare PC to play around with. I built an AMD E-350 based box for $100 for MBD/RAM/PSU + a spare case & HDD from the attic.

Drew
Drew, thanks for the reply, but I think you might have missed what I was trying to ask. You're right that ESXi requires VT-d for passthrough. My reason for mentioning that I don't have it was to explain why I'm not trying to answer my own question by testing it myself.

I know others have had success with passthrough for PCI/PCIe capture cards, but I can't recall if anyone has mentioned passing-through a GPU so that the server VM could connect to the TV directly. This was the primary question I was trying to ask: has anyone done this successfully? If not, then I'll be able to rule out simply swapping my CPU for a VT-d model as an option and know that any long-term plans to virtualize will have to include some sort of client/extender for the living room.
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Old 12-23-2012, 06:36 PM
BobPhoenix BobPhoenix is offline
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The only GPU's I've heard of working in pass through are discrete cards and ATI.
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  #5  
Old 12-23-2012, 07:37 PM
FlyingShawn FlyingShawn is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BobPhoenix View Post
The only GPU's I've heard of working in pass through are discrete cards and ATI.
Thanks Bob!

I'd be using a discrete AMD 6570 (PCIe), so that's good to hear. Have you heard if they're a pain to get working properly or is the setup/performance pretty similar to bare metal?
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Old 12-23-2012, 08:28 PM
BobPhoenix BobPhoenix is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FlyingShawn View Post
Thanks Bob!

I'd be using a discrete AMD 6570 (PCIe), so that's good to hear. Have you heard if they're a pain to get working properly or is the setup/performance pretty similar to bare metal?
What I am telling you is third/fourth/??? hand. As in I read it in a thread on the unRAID forums and was what they reportedly "heard". So I have no real idea how hard or if I even have the correct manufacturer. The only definitive statement I read was that no built it GPU's have been successfully passed through. I would check the VMWare forums for specifics on your card and pass through and GPU pass through in general.
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  #7  
Old 12-23-2012, 09:11 PM
FlyingShawn FlyingShawn is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BobPhoenix View Post
What I am telling you is third/fourth/??? hand. As in I read it in a thread on the unRAID forums and was what they reportedly "heard". So I have no real idea how hard or if I even have the correct manufacturer. The only definitive statement I read was that no built it GPU's have been successfully passed through. I would check the VMWare forums for specifics on your card and pass through and GPU pass through in general.
Did a little research based on what you said and it definitely seems to be a mixed bag. A great example is this article:
http://tinkertry.com/gpu-pass-future-test/
(the author hasn't had much luck, but if you look at the comments there's one by "Rob Perry" detailing the slight config hack that got his working stably)

In my case, it sounds like it'd be worth trying, but only if/when I'm at a point that I'm able to get an inexpensive client machine if it doesn't work out.

Thanks again!
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