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  #1  
Old 04-07-2010, 10:57 AM
pjpjpjpj pjpjpjpj is offline
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Processor choices?

I am going to be buying or building a new server soon and I'd love some user opinions about the current processors out there. I will definitely be running a 64-bit OS - either XP or Win7, likely. I'll have plenty of RAM (depending on which processor I choose, see below).

Here's the worst-case I can see happening on my server at any simultaneous moment:
1) Recording three HD streams from HDHomeruns (OTA, no CPU work required, just writing to hard drive),
2) Running comskip, and
3) Watching something on an HD100 or HD200 extender from PlayOn (running the PlayOn on this same server).

It's possible, though not likely, that in the future I could be watching on this machine (via HDMI out to a TV) rather than on an extender.

Questions:
1) Do I need to go quad-core? Would it help with the activities listed above?
2) How would the i3 or i5 do? It seems like the i7 is the "ultimate" out there right now, but would the others handle the above activities too?
3) How would a, say, "AMD Phenom II X4 630" compare to an i5? Or even an i7? What about an "AMD Phenom II X4 955"?
4) If the answer to #1 above is that quad-core wouldn't help any more than dual-core, where do those rank? For example, the i3 is single-core, but would it perform better than a low- to mid-speed dual core of another type/brand?

TIA.
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  #2  
Old 04-07-2010, 11:40 AM
Clift Clift is offline
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I think with simultaneous things going on, especially considering comskip, a quad core would be a sure fire future proof way to go. I personnaly don't see the advantage of a core i7 over an i5 for SageTV Server purposes. A Lynnfield i5 should be good at quad core, but doesn't have the integrated GPU that the newer Clarkdale core i5 and i3 CPU's get. However the Clarkdale core i5's are only dual core. I wouldn't really be looking at a Core i3 unless money was an issue. Bang for the buck obviously goes to AMD. And, although I am an AMD fan, they really aren't very competitive lately so I can't recomment them, personally. And I think the latest benchmarks show the Intel processors as having superior power savings for the system as a whole, but don't quote me on that.
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  #3  
Old 04-07-2010, 11:54 AM
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wrems wrems is offline
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I recently rebuilt mine with an AMD x4 620. No complaints here and for the price its probably hard to beat. Much faster than my dual core was and better on electricity too.
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  #4  
Old 04-07-2010, 02:27 PM
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Djc208 Djc208 is offline
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You can go tripple or quad core AMD for less than any quad core Intel setup and in some cases less than a dual core i-series Intel chip. The trade-off is performance per core will be lower, and power and heat will be greater. But I think they're a great way to get into a quad core system for cheap.

I don't think you need to go quad core for your setup, but it gives you more flexability and the more you try to do with the machine the more those extra cores will help prevent the computer from feeling slow.

The biggest advantage of the i5/7 series quad cores is that they give you benefits of both worlds. Over clocking when fewer cores are active but being able to bring those cores on line if they're needed.

As I've said many times I'd find yourself the perfect motherboard for your needs regardless of CPU type and then pick a CPU for it. Only comskip and transcoding need any serious HP, and even then most modern CPUs will be fine, just depends on how fast you want it done.
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  #5  
Old 04-07-2010, 02:41 PM
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stanger89 stanger89 is offline
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FWIW, I've been seriously eyeballing the Core i5 lately for a server rebuild. The big reasons are you can get it to idle with really low power usage (THW got the whole system down to 25W in a recent article), plus it supports VT-x and VT-d. That means I'd be able to run vmware ESXi on it, and inside that run unRAID for NAS duties and Sage (via USB/PCI passthrough for tuners).
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  #6  
Old 04-07-2010, 02:52 PM
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PiX64 PiX64 is offline
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I recently built a new server and chose to go with the Amd Phenom II x4 3.0GHZ model. dropped 4 GB of dual channel DDR3 in it and it is SMOKIN fast.

I have Sage running with playon server, comskip, 3 HD200, squeezebox, and the thing doesn't skip a beat. Even with EVERYTHING going on. so 3 HD recordings 2 SD, and streaming a few blurays the thing rarely gets above 25% on any of the CPU cores...

just my $.02

~Pix64
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  #7  
Old 04-07-2010, 05:19 PM
Oats Oats is offline
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I would definately get AMD because it is so much cheaper. i5 is nice but Intel is already killing off the socket this year so it will leave you with no upgrade path. I think comskip depends on CPU speed so the extra cache from the Phenom line won't improve performance. If you live near a Fry's or Microcenter you can get great CPU/MB combos.
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  #8  
Old 04-07-2010, 05:26 PM
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stanger89 stanger89 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Oats View Post
I would definately get AMD because it is so much cheaper. i5 is nice but Intel is already killing off the socket this year so it will leave you with no upgrade path.
I gave up on the idea of "upgradeability" long ago. IMO doesn't matter whether the socket stays around or not, by the time it's time for a CPU upgrade, you generally need a motherboard upgrade anyway to support the new RAM and whatnot that's required to actually make the processor upgrade worthwhile.
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  #9  
Old 04-07-2010, 05:45 PM
SWKerr SWKerr is offline
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The answer to this question depends on how much money is not a lot of money.

The cheapest Athlon X2 and ATI 785G motherboard will run $140 and will do what you want to do without any problems.

For $60 more you can get the cheapest i3 and have a better cpu and worse on-board graphics. Although the graphics suck for gaming you probably would never notice if you just watch TV.

For only $10 more than the X2 you can get an X3 and have a faster cpu then the i3 for most things. For $40 more than the X2 you can get the X4 which will kick the i3s butt on most things.

The i3 will use less power but not to the degree that it will pay for the difference any time soon.

The i7 is so you can say you have the biggest one on the block. There real world performance difference between the Quad i5 and the i7 is not worth the extra cash. both are overkill unless you plan to use this for other purposes.

Where the i5 and i7 might be worth it is in converting or compressing h.264 files. That process uses a lot of cpu. I have a X4 Phenom II that will generally convert a HD BluRay overnight. I am sure a i7 might cut that in half but it still wont finish before I go to bed so I don't really care. The X4 does a good job at video editing it just takes longer to render the final output while I am sleeping.

You still need to add the cost of Power supply, Case, Memory and BluRay to have a complete system but these will all cost the same regardless of the cpu you pick.
I would get the X3 and put my cpu savings toward a 2tb hard drive.

Also: I like being able to upgrade if I go low end. If I decide I need more power 6 months from now for something I didn't think of then I get the X6 for probably 1/2 the cost of a current i7. Three years form now you are probably better off with a new cpu and motherboard but over the next 18 months an upgrade may be a better choice.

Last edited by SWKerr; 04-07-2010 at 05:51 PM.
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  #10  
Old 04-07-2010, 06:40 PM
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Fuzzy Fuzzy is offline
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In a sage setup, at leat for sage itself, the motherboard is probably more important than the CPU. that said, you're better off getting a board that will do everything you need (for this, I'd recommend an AMD 785G based board, as the integrated graphics are MORE than capable of working for a sage client, even with the slowest CPU you can buy for the thing). Then, I'd get either a higher end x2, or even a low end x3 CPU (the price on the x3's are actually usually quite good, and for what you're looking at doing, they would have more than enough oomph to keep up with live comskipping for those 3 hd recordings.) the nice thing about the AM3 based boards, is the range of processors that work on the same board is really quite extreme. (from a Sempron 140 @ $33, to a Phenon II X4 965 @ $185)
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  #11  
Old 04-07-2010, 07:31 PM
Rico66 Rico66 is offline
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Until recently I also would have voted for an AMD solution (with 785g), which I actually have. But I'm getting more and more annoyed with ATI's drivers, as I get random crashes (blue screens showing video driver failures) when using transport controls in Sage. Yesterday it happened right at the start of a recording, but it's more typical when jumping forward a couple of times. This only happened in Sage yet (though I didn't really try a lot of video playback outside of Sage). Thereforeit could actually be an issue related to Sage...

On the processor side it's another vote for an X3. My X4 720 works great
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  #12  
Old 04-07-2010, 07:49 PM
paulbeers paulbeers is offline
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In response to your questions....


Intel - There is no reason to go i7 (and put out another $80) as the 4 cores of the i5 Lynnfield (not Clarksdale) running at 2.66ghz is more than enough.

AMD - Athlon II x4 6x0. Don't bother with the Phenom II as additional Cache isn't worth the additional cash. The X3's aren't a bad way to go, but for only $25 why not buy the extra core.

From a personal reference, I am using an AMD Athlon II X4 630 in my Sage server and have an i5 Lynnfield in my iMac. Both are amazing processors for the price. From an initial cost/performance the AMD Athlon II x4 630 is an awesome deal. However, as Stanger pointed out, the i5 does use less power so in the long run they could even out....

Those are the only processors I can recommend at this point unless you really want to spend the cash on an i7.
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  #13  
Old 04-07-2010, 08:50 PM
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mayamaniac mayamaniac is offline
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Comskip is the only CPU intensive task in your check list. Besides that, any of the current processors can handle all the other stuffs on your list. So it's a matter of figuring out what your comskip requirements are and see what processor works best with it. What are you using to run comskip? Will getting extra cores actually help comskip, does your comskip software even support multi-cores?
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  #14  
Old 04-07-2010, 08:55 PM
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mayamaniac mayamaniac is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stanger89 View Post
FWIW, I've been seriously eyeballing the Core i5 lately for a server rebuild. The big reasons are you can get it to idle with really low power usage (THW got the whole system down to 25W in a recent article), plus it supports VT-x and VT-d. That means I'd be able to run vmware ESXi on it, and inside that run unRAID for NAS duties and Sage (via USB/PCI passthrough for tuners).
Is firewire supported for PCI passthrough?

If you ever embark on this virtualize route and successfully make it work with SageTV, please make some sort of step by step guide so we can follow your footsteps.
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  #15  
Old 04-07-2010, 11:33 PM
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Fuzzy Fuzzy is offline
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I was recently thinking about virtualizing my storage.. potentially running a stripped down ubuntu in a virtualbox setup, and exposing it to the host via iSCSI. Allow me the options of the software RAID, while still keeping full NTFS capabilities (like hard linking, which I'm starting to use more and more).
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  #16  
Old 04-08-2010, 05:55 AM
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stanger89 stanger89 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mayamaniac View Post
Is firewire supported for PCI passthrough?
If it's supported (on the motherboard) via a "PCI" device then it should. I tried ESXi on my desktop (i7 which has VT-d) and I could passthrough the USB controllers.

Quote:
If you ever embark on this virtualize route and successfully make it work with SageTV, please make some sort of step by step guide so we can follow your footsteps.
Sure, but I think there's already a thread about running Sage under ESXi.
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  #17  
Old 04-08-2010, 07:28 AM
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PiX64 PiX64 is offline
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Here is what i got and am SUPER happy with....

proc:
-----------
http://www.compusa.com/applications/...717&CatId=4431

board
---------
http://www.compusa.com/applications/...096&CatId=4296
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  #18  
Old 04-08-2010, 11:58 AM
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davephan davephan is offline
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It depends on your budget, and how many years you want it to run. I recently upgrade from a E6850 dual core 3.0 gig to a i-7 950 quad core 3.06 gig. The mainboard and memory were also updated to faster and better units too. The performance is much better. If you do Comskip processing or compressing videos, go for a quad instead of a dual core.

The main board choice depends on how many drives you want to add. Built in RAID is nice. Extra USB ports are also nice.

Dave
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  #19  
Old 04-08-2010, 12:20 PM
pjpjpjpj pjpjpjpj is offline
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Thanks to everyone for the generous advice. I think I have an idea of what I am looking for.

In response to mayamaniac, I currently don't use comskip at all (my current server wouldn't handle it well, if at all). I frankly don't even know that I will, after I upgrade the server... I just wanted to make sure I covered my bases if I did. As for PlayOn, the requirements that it lists on their website are more than insignificant - I recall seeing multiple people posting in the early days of EP's plugin, wondering why they were getting skipping and other problems, only to discover that their PlayOn machine didn't meet specs...


Thanks, all, for the info and advice!!!
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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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  #20  
Old 04-08-2010, 02:30 PM
sic0048 sic0048 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pjpjpjpj View Post
In response to mayamaniac, I currently don't use comskip at all (my current server wouldn't handle it well, if at all). I frankly don't even know that I will, after I upgrade the server...
Oh you will want to use it if you try it. I was in the exact same boat as you - originally running Sage on a P4 3.0Ghz processor. Worked fine for Sage alone, but couldn't do Comskip, Playon, etc. I switched to a quad core about 6 months ago (actually right before the Playon Plugin was released). It took me a little while to try Comskip, but I love it now. I couldn't go back to not using Comskip at this point. It really does make the SageTV experience that much better!

I was glad I went with the quad core after they released the Playon plugin. SageTV isn't the only task I use the quad core for, but I also wanted to allow for future capacity. I just didn't realize how quickly I would want that extra capacity (to run Playon).
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