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  #1  
Old 01-04-2009, 02:15 AM
robogeek robogeek is offline
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To get a faster dual-core or slower quad-core? That is the question...

For anybody that has experience with dual-core and quad-core systems...is there any concensus about which would be best for a SageTV server? I'm guessing the slower quad-core would give me the best performance for my usage since there is some transcoding to MVP clients and commercial skip processing with ShowAnalyzer, but thought I'd throw this out here, just in case I'm wrong.

Some background info: I've been using my trusty old ECS K7S5A Pro v5 motherboard with an Athlon XP 2000 processor and 1GB RAM for my SageTV server since the SageTV v1.4 days. I'm currently all SD with 2 PVR-500's and a networked PVR-250 and if I go HD it would likely be in the form of the HDHomerun, but not in the foreseeable future. With 1 PC client, up to 3 MVP clients, comskip processing, and the NetFlix loopback hack, my server is starting to really show it's age and slowness. The NetFlix loopback hack on the server to watch NetFlix on the MVPs was the straw that broke my SageTV servers back. The slow processor coupled with the old ATI 7xxx series AGP graphics card isn't cutting it anymore.

So, I've found a couple of motherboards with the right combo of ports, but I'm at a loss as to what the performance difference is going to be between a faster dual-core vs. a slower quad-core with SageTV and ShowAnalyzer. The boards I'm considering are: EVGA, MSI, BIOSTAR. I'm not entirely sold on any of these yet, but a motherboard w/integrated graphics, quad-core processor, and 4GB RAM for approx $250(AMD)-$350(Intel) seems like an alright deal. The main features that I was looking for in a new motherboard are integrated VGA w/ability to hookup to s-video (DVI->SVideo for NetFlix loopback hack), 3 standard PCI slots, and at least 1 gigabit ethernet port.

I guess the question is, price being similar, given a choice between faster 3.xGHz dual core or a slower 2.xGHz quad core, which would be more valuable to a SageTV server? My next question would be, Intel or AMD?

Any comments or suggestions would be much appreciated.
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Server Hardware: GIGABYTE GA-EP45-UD3R, Intel Q9550 CPU 2.83GHz, 11GB RAM, 1xHDHR, 1xHVR1600, 1xHVR2250
29TB Server Storage: 1TB SSD (OS), 1TB (data), 2x6TB+2x10TB (22TB FlexRaid storage pool), 2x2TB (recordings), 1x750GB (VMs).
Server Software: Win10 Pro x64 OS, SageTV 64bit v9.2.0.441, Java 1.8 u241, PlayOn, Comskip (Donator) v0.82.003, WampServer v2.5.
Clients: 3xHD300s, 2xHD100, 2xPlaceshifters
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  #2  
Old 01-04-2009, 05:42 AM
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voidpt voidpt is offline
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If you go the Intel route you might wait until 18jan to see if Intel releases the rumored low-power quad cores Q8200s, Q9400s, Q9550s. Read this article for more info. The short story is that these should be reworks of existing models that have lower power consumption and thermals (65W vs 95W TDP). Just a tip.

If/when these come out I'm on my way to rebuild my dual core E6300 1.86GHz 'server' to either a Q8200s or Q9400s. In addition to SageTV I run a Apache (WAMP) web server, ReplayAV (internet radio recorder), TeamSpeak (voice chat) & sometimes a game server. Don't really have a problem today, just want to have some space to grow. I always keeep the server on 24/7, no sleep/wakeup problems. So I try not to choose the most power-hungry chips.
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  #3  
Old 01-04-2009, 09:12 AM
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gplasky gplasky is offline
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I was facing the same question that you are. I recently upgraded/rebuilt my WHS server. SO after looking at the pros and cons here's what I decided to do. I actually purchased a faster dual core. (AMD 64 x2 6000+ 3.1 GHz and 4 GB RAm (see my sig) but I made this my PC in the study. Testing, development work and a Sage client capable of playing HD from the HD-PVR and HDHR with no stutter using just the onboard video of the 9400 series (ATI3300) So my previous PC became the guts of my new WHS server (AMD 64 x 2 5600+ 2.7GHz and 2 GB RAM.) A significant boost over the previous P4 3.0 GHz and 1 GB RAM that was in the WHS. I run comskip om 2 shows at a time with 80% CPU working on h.264 HD-PVR recordings. No one can tell when that's running or not when they're watching HD on the HD100 or HD200 at the same time. So the household is happy. Would a quad core have been better for the server? Maybe-if you run it against benchmarks and compare the numbers. But in real life no one sees a difference at watching the HD recordings.

Gerry
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  #4  
Old 01-04-2009, 09:25 AM
S_M_E S_M_E is offline
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Gerry is right, depending on use you may not see a real world difference but I'd still rather have a slightly slower quad over the dual because more and more apps are becoming multi-threaded and the quad will be able to take better advantage of that. It won't play media any better but you'll be able to do more at once.
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  #5  
Old 01-04-2009, 10:02 AM
Brent Brent is offline
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I'd personally vote for the slower quad-core given the choice.
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  #6  
Old 01-04-2009, 10:07 AM
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gplasky gplasky is offline
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The other thing that swung me I picked up that AMD 64 x2 6000+ 3.1 GHz for like $67.

Gerry
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Server - WHS 2011: Sage 7.1.9 - 1 x HD Prime and 2 x HDHomeRun - Intel Atom D525 1.6 GHz, Acer Easystore, RAM 4 GB, 4 x 2TB hotswap drives, 1 x 2TB USB ext Clients: 2 x PC Clients, 1 x HD300, 2 x HD-200, 1 x HD-100 DEV Client: Win 7 Ultimate 64 bit - AMD 64 x2 6000+, Gigabyte GA-MA790GP-DS4H MB, RAM 4GB, HD OS:500GB, DATA:1 x 500GB, Pace RGN STB.
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  #7  
Old 01-04-2009, 08:34 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gplasky View Post
The other thing that swung me I picked up that AMD 64 x2 6000+ 3.1 GHz for like $67.

Gerry
An essential, but sometimes forgotten, part of the overall WAF -- A real bargain!
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MB/CPU/RAM: Asus A8N5X NF4; Athlon64 X2 4200; 3GB RAM
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Capture: 1 x HDHR (Both tuning QAM); 1 x HD-PVR C2 (Component to Moto DCH-3200 - Channel change via Firewire);
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  #8  
Old 01-04-2009, 09:54 PM
stevech stevech is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gplasky View Post
The other thing that swung me I picked up that AMD 64 x2 6000+ 3.1 GHz for like $67.

Gerry
Amazing price/performance, eh?
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  #9  
Old 01-25-2009, 10:27 AM
robogeek robogeek is offline
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I'm just following up with an update now that I have my SageTV server rebuilt and back online...

Here is what I ended up purchasing:

Gigabyte EP45-UD3R motherboard
Intel Q8300 2.5GHz Quad Core processor
2GB RAM
EVGA GeForce 9500GT PCIe video card
Windows Home Server

In the end, I went with a motherboard that had some pretty good reviews at newegg.com rather than one of the cheaper ones. It looks like it has very sturdy capacitors and the motherboard isn't as flimsy as some other cheap motherboards I've handled over the years. It has a very nice layout and lots of expansion options. 8 SATA ports, 1 PATA port, lots of USB ports, 2 firewire, gigabit ethernet, digital audio output, 3 PCI slots, 3 PCIex1 slots, and 1 PCIex16 slot. With optional cables/brackets, it also has 1 legacy serial port and 1 parallel port. My one complaint is with the SATA ports...the latch on latching SATA cables in one set of SATA ports is blocked by the cables of the other set of SATA ports, so it will be a hassle to have to remove some of the SATA cables if I need to do so in the future.

The Windows Home Server install went well. I took 4 unused 250GB SATA drives, used one for the system drive, and used the other 3 for the pool. I installed WHS, got all of the drivers installed, did all of the updates, configured the pool drives, turned off folder duplication for all but the Software share, and formatted the pool drives to 64k blocks using SME's tutorial. I configured the pool shares to be similar to the configuration I had with the shares on the old server. Then I copied the data from the old server RAID5 array to the new WHS shares which took a few hours (thank heavens for gigabit ethernet). Took the 3 1TB SATA drives out of the RAID array, put them in the new server, added them to the WHS pool, and then formatted them to 64k blocks. Then I turned on folder duplication for the important folders where I keep photos, music, archived recordings, and dvds.

So now I have 2 PATA recording drives left in the old server. I hooked the DVD drive to the onboard PATA port in the new server so I added a Promise IDE PCI card I had laying around to give me the additional PATA ports to hook up the recording drives. I added those recording drives to the new server as unmanaged and reconfigured the drive letters and share names to match the old server configuration. I'm not sure if I want to add these to the pool or not. Other than the ability to use folder duplication, which I wouldn't personally use for my recordings, I'm not seeing any other real benefit to moving these drives to the pool.

I had made a full backup of the old server SageTV directory and saved it to my workstation pc so I could restore it to the new server. I installed the WHS version of SageTV and copied the backup from the workstation pc over to the new server. One minor sticking point...I had SageTV installed to D: on my old server and I have it on C: on the new, so I went through the properties files and any other SageTV related configuration file that might reference the D: drive and made the necessary corrections. I also changed the old UNC pathnames to match up with the new WHS configuration.

I am very pleased to say that all of my recordings, music, photos, dvds, and imported videos have all survived the migration without any unexpected headaches....except for one....I had some kind of problem importing one of the recording drives due to either a bad cable or bad drive tray that caused the partition (and a little more than half of my recordings) on that drive to become unreadable. Fortunately, a program called Test Disk allowed me to recover the partition without any hassle.

Final thoughts...the Gigabyte motherboard with 1600MHz FSB, 2GB RAM, a Quad Core 2.5GHz processor, and Windows Home Server totally rocks SageTV. The MVP UI is much more responsive, I can easily do NetFlix Watch Now from the MVP and the video is nice and smooth, and WHS folder duplication gives me some security that I won't have to re-rip 300+ CD's and DVD's if a drive fails.
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Server Hardware: GIGABYTE GA-EP45-UD3R, Intel Q9550 CPU 2.83GHz, 11GB RAM, 1xHDHR, 1xHVR1600, 1xHVR2250
29TB Server Storage: 1TB SSD (OS), 1TB (data), 2x6TB+2x10TB (22TB FlexRaid storage pool), 2x2TB (recordings), 1x750GB (VMs).
Server Software: Win10 Pro x64 OS, SageTV 64bit v9.2.0.441, Java 1.8 u241, PlayOn, Comskip (Donator) v0.82.003, WampServer v2.5.
Clients: 3xHD300s, 2xHD100, 2xPlaceshifters
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  #10  
Old 01-25-2009, 05:54 PM
S_M_E S_M_E is offline
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I would use those PATA drives as external drives for backing up shares. I use this instead of external enclosures and it works on both SATA and PATA drives:
http://www.tigerdirect.com/applicati...6&Sku=V13-1113
I wouldn't use PATA drives in the pool.

Glad you like WHS+Sage, it is pretty slick...
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  #11  
Old 01-25-2009, 06:12 PM
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psklenar psklenar is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by robogeek View Post
I'm just following up with an update now that I have my SageTV server rebuilt and back online...

Here is what I ended up purchasing:

Gigabyte EP45-UD3R motherboard
Intel Q8300 2.5GHz Quad Core processor
2GB RAM
EVGA GeForce 9500GT PCIe video card
Windows Home Server

...
Nice. I went with the EP35-ED3P (full build in my .sig block) and have been up and pretty stable since New Years day (suspect I'm having some issues with some beta Hauppauge drivers for the HVR-2250), but otherwise, very stable. I'm more happy with WHS+Sage every day.

pat----
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Tuners -- 1xHDHomeRun Prime w/CC
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  #12  
Old 02-10-2009, 12:17 AM
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TorontoSage TorontoSage is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by robogeek View Post
Here is what I ended up purchasing:

Gigabyte EP45-UD3R motherboard
Intel Q8300 2.5GHz Quad Core processor
2GB RAM
EVGA GeForce 9500GT PCIe video card
Windows Home Server
Hi. I am going through the same exercise right now and putting together my first HTPC which is going to be a headless server with SageTV, 1 analog and ATSC tuner card, 1 HD-PVR driving an HD cable box, 5 HD-200's, 1 500 GB HDD for the OS and 2 1.5 TB HDD's for media storage.

I am wondering if there is any reason why you went with the UD3R as opposed to the UD3P. They are almost identical boards with the only difference being one of the card slots. They both look like great boards at a good price and have good reviews.

Also, how did you choose the Q8300 over all of the other quad Intel CPUs? I think I am going to go with a quad core CPU too, as a slower Quad core beats a faster dual core I have found from reading reviews. Also, I want to be prepared for other multi-threaded applications. Do you know if WHS or SageTV uses all four threads btw?

Also I hear more L2 cache improves performance quite a bit. The Q8300 has the smallest cache of all of the Intel Quad CPUs. How did this affect your decision, or did it?

Finally I understand that of all of the Intel Quad CPUs, the Q9450, Q9400 and Q8200 are the only ones that have the lower power consumption (65w vs 95w). It looks like this might have not been a factor in your decision, but I am wondering what your thoughts are about it, as the Q8200 is almost the same clock speed (2.33GHz) as the Q8300 but lower power consumption, while at the same time also having a 4M cache, 1333 MHz bus speed and 45nm size.

Last edited by TorontoSage; 02-10-2009 at 12:20 AM.
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  #13  
Old 02-10-2009, 01:29 AM
S_M_E S_M_E is offline
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I'm a big fan of more L2...
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  #14  
Old 02-10-2009, 02:38 AM
erik erik is offline
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Originally Posted by S_M_E View Post
I'm a big fan of more L2...
Agree,

software decoding of MPEG2 video, and even more h.264, improves greatly with more L2 cache.
My pentium mobile 1.8Gz with 2MByte cache runs comskip faster then my P4 2.54GHz with 512KByte cache.
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  #15  
Old 02-10-2009, 04:28 AM
enterpryse enterpryse is offline
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Silly question perhaps but can Sage make use of the four cores?
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  #16  
Old 02-10-2009, 06:39 AM
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Djc208 Djc208 is offline
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Originally Posted by enterpryse View Post
Silly question perhaps but can Sage make use of the four cores?
The transcoder in the newer release is supposed to be multi-threaded, though I haven't verified this.

Otherwise Sage barely makes use of one core as a headless server and playback is not really multi-threaded either. So the big advantage of multiple cores is for transcoding and comskip. Otherwise all you really get is a lower chance of one process causing a slowdown for the whole computer, but a dual core will do that too.
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  #17  
Old 02-10-2009, 11:12 AM
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Originally Posted by Djc208 View Post
The transcoder in the newer release is supposed to be multi-threaded, though I haven't verified this.

Otherwise Sage barely makes use of one core as a headless server and playback is not really multi-threaded either. So the big advantage of multiple cores is for transcoding and comskip. Otherwise all you really get is a lower chance of one process causing a slowdown for the whole computer, but a dual core will do that too.
I understanding that multi-threading means that the software takes advantage of more than one core if such is available. But some software that is multi-threaded may be limited to only taking advantage of a maximum of two cores. So, if you have a quad core chip, the software does not take advantage of the other two cores.

So does anyone know if the transcoding and comskip make use of all four cores in a quad core chip or just two of them?

Last edited by TorontoSage; 02-10-2009 at 11:19 AM.
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  #18  
Old 02-10-2009, 02:14 PM
S_M_E S_M_E is offline
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Originally Posted by TorontoSage View Post
So does anyone know if the transcoding and comskip make use of all four cores in a quad core chip or just two of them?
Like you said in your other thread, "future-proof." Don't sweat today's code, tomorrows will be here pretty quickly.
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  #19  
Old 02-10-2009, 03:24 PM
erik erik is offline
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Originally Posted by TorontoSage View Post
So does anyone know if the transcoding and comskip make use of all four cores in a quad core chip or just two of them?
Comskip is supposed to use multiple cores (upto 4) but for some unknown reason that does not always happen
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  #20  
Old 02-10-2009, 04:17 PM
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I'm a newbie, so excuse the question, but how do you tell how many cores and how much of the cores an application is using. Is there some type of monitoring application you can run?
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