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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 10-08-2010, 09:57 PM
bigRoN18 bigRoN18 is offline
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Newbie questions... hardware questions

My wish is to build a DVR that can record up to 4 HDTV over-the-air channels at a time and watch the recordings from any of three televisions in the house. I like the form-factor of the SageTV HD Theater 300, so I was thinking of 3 of those. Next, comes the server... is the SageTV Media Center software allow for 2 or more dual-tuner cards? I have not seen this in action, only hoping it would work. In order to record all this, will I need a beefier CPU and plenty of RAM? What would be the minimum hardware recommendations to accomplish what I want... if what I want is possible?
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  #2  
Old 10-08-2010, 11:30 PM
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PGPfan PGPfan is offline
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That should be easy to accomplish. Your overview is spot on - viewing with the HD-300's, and the server running Sage Media Center on it. As for tuners, for OTA I'd recommend 2 HDHomeruns. They are extremely reliable with Sage and easy to setup. CPU should be no problem - consider a mid-range (2500 Ghz+) quad core for the server or a top end (maybe i5 or i7) if using comskip.

-PGPfan
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Sage Server: Gigabyte 690AMD m-ATX, Athlon II X4 620 Propus, 3.0 GB ram, (1) VistaView dual analog PCI-e tuner, (2) Avermedia Purity 3D MCE 250's, (1) HD-Homerun, 1.5 TB of hard drives in a Windows Home Server drive pool, Western Digital 300GB 'scratch' disk outside the pool, Gigabit LAN
Sage Clients: MSI DIVA m-ATX, 5.1 channel 100w/channel amplifier card, 2 GB ram, , (1) Hauppauge MVP, (1) SageTV HD-100 Media Storage: unRAID 3.6TB server
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  #3  
Old 10-09-2010, 05:57 AM
paulbeers paulbeers is offline
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The HDHomerun is probably the best tuner, but if all you really want is OTA and you have a couple of PCIE slots, I would really recommend the Avermedia HD Duet. While I prefer my dual tuner HDHomerun, it's price tag is still a bit heavy for those looking at getting into the HTPC market and you can get two Avermedia HD Duets for the same price as one HDHomerun and not sacrifice a whole lot (actually mine is very good at capturing OTA).
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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 10-09-2010, 07:34 AM
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davephan davephan is offline
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Welcome to the SageTV forum.

I use both HDHomerun and HVR-2250 for recording 4 HD OTA TV. Both are viable choices. You have to decide how much CPU and disk you need. If you run Comskip, then you should get a quad-core, not a dual-core. A fast 3 gig quad is better, but you can do it with less. Comskip processing can also be offloaded to another computer.

Disk also needs to be considered. Do you want redundancy? If you don't have redundancy, then if a drive fails, your videos are gone. Redundancy could be using RAID or maybe copying more important videos onto secondary drives. WHS is another form of redundancy, but it is very inefficient, like RAID 1 mirroring. You cannot image WHS, therefore, there isn't a quick and easy recovery path for the operating system. I now use a secondary unRAID computer to store my video library.

Disk imaging should also be done from the start as you build up the SageTV computer. SageTV will quickly become a critical computer in your household. If a problem occurs, such as you upgrade versions, patch your computer, make some other change, or if you suddenly have problems and SageTV doesn't work properly, then you need to be able to quickly recover in 30 minutes to a working SageTV computer. Images should be taken periodicaly, and just before every version upgrade. The image files should be stored on disk, not on DVDs. The recoveries from optical disks fails sometimes. Restorations should also be tested on to a spare drive to make sure you can actually recover. There are free and paid disk imaging software. I use both Ghost and Acronis for additional imaging redundancy.

The amount of disk is up to you. There is a practical limit of a couple TB. If you don't need to keep movies you won't watch again, and you can easily decide to delete a lot of files, then a couple TB is enough. I went way past the practical limit already, and my storage is still growing. The practical limit will be if you have too much storage, you will only have enough time in each day to watch a very tiny percentage of what you have stored on disk. However, some people are video collectors.

You should start with 2 or 3 gigs memory. You don't need more than that. 1 gig memory is too low.

Again, welcome to the SageTV forum. There are many people just waiting here to answer your questions.

Dave
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SageTV: LIAN LI PC-K58, Gigabyte GA-EX580UD5, i-7 950 3.06 gig quad LGA 1366 CPU, Zalman CNPS9700 CPU cooler 1366 bracket, Memory 24 gigs GB, PNY NVIDIA GeoForce 9800 GT 1024 MB, Corsair 750w PSU, Samsung 500GB SSD boot, 3 SSD recording drives
Capture cards: 2 - HDHR Primes - Comcast Xfinity CableTV
Extenders: 1-HD-300, 2-HD-200
Software: Windows 7 Pro X64, Ghost 15, VideoReDo TVSuite 4 h.264, Playon (Netflix), OpenDCT
UnRAID File Server 4.7 Pro: Lian-Li PC-G70B, MBD-X8SIL-F-O, i3-540, 16 TB
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  #5  
Old 10-12-2010, 06:30 PM
bigRoN18 bigRoN18 is offline
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In building the server, is there any advantage to an Intel over AMD CPU? Nearly all the machines I built have been AMD-based machines. Another hardware question is the GPU? Am I going to want a graphics card instead of graphics built-in to the motherboard? Is processing of video files being saved require encoding that is passed off to the GPUs instead of CPU? If so, how much of a graphics card is good and how much is overkill for a machine recording 4 HD streams at a time? When it comes to hard drives, will I want to have the OS installed on a different drive as content? Is there issues with serving different files to different clients at the same time? If I wish to have more than one hard drive to record video content, can they be two independent drives (JBOD), or should they put in a RAID 0 or RAID 5 (if using several)? I do have a 2TB file server (with RAID 5) on my network, but I'm thinking that streaming to/from the file server will be too much activity on the file server, slowing down other computers accessing the file server while streaming video.

My home network is currently a 100Mbps switched network... will upgrading the switch to a gigabit switch improve video streaming much? My thought is that it wouldn't make much difference other than possibly the server serving multiple clients simultaneously.
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  #6  
Old 10-12-2010, 08:30 PM
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davephan davephan is offline
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I've switched back and forth between AMD and Intel over the past couple decades. For the past 6 years, most of my computers have been Intel. AMD is a good choice too. I recommend a quad core. The reason for the quad core is improved Comskip processing. Get as close to 3 gig as the budget allows for better performance. If you can't afford a quad, use a dual core. Don't bother with a single core.

I have a PNY NVIDIA GeoForce 9800 GT 1024 MB video card, which is probably overkill.

Put the OS and programs on a separate boot drive. Keep the boot/programs drive disk space to a minimum size to reduce the size of the images. Put the image files on one of the video drives. Use Ghost, Acronis, or a free disk imaging program. Take images during your OS/programs drive build and periodically after the build is done. Take images just before upgrades and patching. It's very important to have a fast and easy recovery path, since your SageTV computer will quickly become a 'critical' computer. Images will drastically reduce your downtime and recovery hassles if you have problems.

Keep the video content other drives. Don't use JBOD or RAID 0, it's too risky. Use RAID 1, 5, or 6. If you don't use RAID, copy the important video files so they are stored on two drives. Synctoy is free and can replicate directories. There are other programs that can also replicate directories.

Part of my network is 1 gig, part is 100 meg. I've never had any SageTV problems when the network was all 100 meg with network congestion. 1 gig helps me move files around my network faster.

Dave
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SageTV: LIAN LI PC-K58, Gigabyte GA-EX580UD5, i-7 950 3.06 gig quad LGA 1366 CPU, Zalman CNPS9700 CPU cooler 1366 bracket, Memory 24 gigs GB, PNY NVIDIA GeoForce 9800 GT 1024 MB, Corsair 750w PSU, Samsung 500GB SSD boot, 3 SSD recording drives
Capture cards: 2 - HDHR Primes - Comcast Xfinity CableTV
Extenders: 1-HD-300, 2-HD-200
Software: Windows 7 Pro X64, Ghost 15, VideoReDo TVSuite 4 h.264, Playon (Netflix), OpenDCT
UnRAID File Server 4.7 Pro: Lian-Li PC-G70B, MBD-X8SIL-F-O, i3-540, 16 TB
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  #7  
Old 10-13-2010, 05:26 AM
Biggen Biggen is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bigRoN18 View Post
My home network is currently a 100Mbps switched network... will upgrading the switch to a gigabit switch improve video streaming much? My thought is that it wouldn't make much difference other than possibly the server serving multiple clients simultaneously.
What your your home wired with? If it is Cat 5e or Cat 6 then upgrading the switch to Gbit Ethernet will see a dramatic improvment when copying files around. If it is Cat 5 wiring, however, you can't use Gigabit ethernet.

Just something to check before you buy a switch.
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  #8  
Old 10-13-2010, 07:40 AM
pjpjpjpj pjpjpjpj is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bigRoN18 View Post
My wish is to build a DVR that can record up to 4 HDTV over-the-air channels at a time and watch the recordings from any of three televisions in the house. I like the form-factor of the SageTV HD Theater 300, so I was thinking of 3 of those. Next, comes the server... is the SageTV Media Center software allow for 2 or more dual-tuner cards? I have not seen this in action, only hoping it would work. In order to record all this, will I need a beefier CPU and plenty of RAM? What would be the minimum hardware recommendations to accomplish what I want... if what I want is possible?
Check out my specs in my sig. Same thing you are looking to do.

Note that my server is overkill (call it "future-proofing?). As mentioned above, if you run comskip (commercial skipping plugin), you'll need more server - specifically extra cores. But if not, your server can be waaaaay less. My previous server (no comskip) was a spare computer I had gotten my mom-in-law to use for email... a P4 2.8 GHz, with 2 GB RAM, and all external USB drives for storage, and it worked just fine. As long as you're not trying to watch TV on the server, the extenders do the "heavy lifting" of video encoding.

Advantage of the HDHomerun tuners - you can locate them closer to your antenna and save lossy coax cable runs. Then just run the network cable back to your switch/router. I put both of mine on a shelf in a second-floor linen closet, just below the attic where the antennas are located. Also, since the HDHRs are networked, they don't require slots in the server. They also have no driver/codec issues - just install the HDHR software and SageTV recognizes it.

I honestly believe that using HDHRs with OTA, and only watching on extenders (not on the server), allows probably the absolute simplest possible SageTV server setup there is.
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Server: AMD Athlon II x4 635 2.9GHz, 8 Gb RAM, Win 10 x64, Java 8, Gigabit network
Drives: Several TB of internal SATA and external USB drives, no NAS or RAID or such...
Software: SageTV v9x64, stock STV with ADM.
Tuners: 4 tuners via (2) HDHomeruns (100% OTA, DIY antennas in the attic).
Clients: Several HD300s, HD200s, even an old HD100, all on wired LAN. Latest firmware for each.
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  #9  
Old 10-13-2010, 01:58 PM
Taddeusz Taddeusz is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Biggen View Post
What your your home wired with? If it is Cat 5e or Cat 6 then upgrading the switch to Gbit Ethernet will see a dramatic improvment when copying files around. If it is Cat 5 wiring, however, you can't use Gigabit ethernet.

Just something to check before you buy a switch.
That's absolutely not true. Gigabit over copper, 1000baseT, was designed specifically to work with CAT5. CAT5e was devised specifically to slightly tighten the specifications to better work with gigabit speeds. CAT6 is yet a further tightening of the specifications. Any one will work with 1000baseT although at using regular CAT5 cable you may see a slight performance penalty depending on the length of the run.
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Server: i5 8400, ASUS Prime H370M-Plus/CSM, 16GB RAM, 15TB drive array + 500GB cache, 2 HDHR's, SageTV 9, unRAID 6.6.3
Client 1: HD300 (latest FW), HDMI to an Insignia 65" 1080p LCD and optical SPDIF to a Sony Receiver
Client 2: HD200 (latest FW), HDMI to an Insignia NS-LCD42HD-09 1080p LCD
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  #10  
Old 10-13-2010, 02:50 PM
paulbeers paulbeers is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Taddeusz View Post
That's absolutely not true. Gigabit over copper, 1000baseT, was designed specifically to work with CAT5. CAT5e was devised specifically to slightly tighten the specifications to better work with gigabit speeds. CAT6 is yet a further tightening of the specifications. Any one will work with 1000baseT although at using regular CAT5 cable you may see a slight performance penalty depending on the length of the run.
Correct! My network (mostly installed by the previous homeowner) actually is all Cat5 (with the exception of the drops I have added which are 5e) and I have no problem running a gb speeds except at a few drops that are the farthest from the switch. At those locations I can only reliably do 100mb.
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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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