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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 02-24-2011, 05:08 PM
les_bloom les_bloom is offline
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Confused about server requirements

Hello there,

I have been reading the forums and the requirements page (http://www.sagetv.com/requirements.html?sageSub=tv) and I am getting a bit confused about what I really need.


I cannibalized an older PC and have this for my server setup:
CPU: 1.8Ghz single core
RAM: 750MB
OS: WinXP Pro 32bit
Video Card: I can't remember what it is right now, but shouldn't matter right?
Gigabit ethernet
2x HDPVR
4x HD300s


I should be ok right? The requirements page says I only need a 600Mhz CPU because I am doing offline hardware encoding. And the HD300 should handle all the work for actual 1080p playback.

However a lot of what I find on the forums seem to suggest that I should be using a 3Ghz quad core.

I am planning on running the Comskip plugin, and I know that will take some more power.

Also, I don't really plan on running all of the HD300s at one time. Odds are there will only be 1 used at a time. So that shouldn't effect my requirements should it?


I realize the easies thing to do is just install everything and test it out, however I am in a situation where I must wait on my installer to finish the Cat6 wiring before I can setup. And if it turns out I need to upgrade my server, then I would like to take care of that now and prevent any additional downtime


Thank you for your time and help
Les
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  #2  
Old 02-24-2011, 05:44 PM
KeithAbbott KeithAbbott is online now
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Boy, between your HD300s, and your HDPVRs, you've got around $1K invested. Seems like you might want to invest a little more into your server, especially if you plan to comskip. You didn't say what kind of motherboard it is, but since you said it was an older PC that you cannibalized, I would suggest you replace the motherboard, CPU and memory. Get a dual or quad core, and 4gb of DDR3 memory to go along with the board. That should give you plenty of power to do what you want to do. I think you could probably accomplish this upgrade spending $200 or so.

I don't think the cat6 wiring is going to be of much benefit in this case. The HD300s are limited to fast ethernet. Assuming whatever motherboard you use supports gigabit, you'll get gigabit speeds between the motherboard and your gigabit switch, but the speed will drop down to fast ethernet between the switch and the HD300s. Although you might find, with gigabit between the motherboard and the switch, you could watch all four HD300s simultaneously without problems.
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  #3  
Old 02-24-2011, 05:57 PM
vividweb vividweb is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by les_bloom View Post
CPU: 1.8Ghz single core
RAM: 750MB
You will struggle to keep up trying to Comskip the HD-PVR files with a 1.8Ghz processor. Using SJQv4 to offload comskip to another (or multiple) PC's would help get around that. 750MB RAM might hold you back from being able to use the fanart options. To run Sage itself is not much overhead, Comskip, Fanart on the other hand are pigs. Also having a newer (more powerful) processor will allow you to use the streaming features of the mobile web browser as well. More is always better it seems with Sage.
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  #4  
Old 02-24-2011, 06:00 PM
les_bloom les_bloom is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KeithAbbott View Post
Boy, between your HD300s, and your HDPVRs, you've got around $1K invested.
That is pretty close to what I dropped, and that is also the reason I wanted to use as many old parts as possible. I already spent enough, don't want to spend more if I can get away with it

Quote:
Originally Posted by KeithAbbott View Post
Seems like you might want to invest a little more into your server, especially if you plan to comskip. You didn't say what kind of motherboard it is, but since you said it was an older PC that you cannibalized, I would suggest you replace the motherboard, CPU and memory. Get a dual or quad core, and 4gb of DDR3 memory to go along with the board. That should give you plenty of power to do what you want to do. I think you could probably accomplish this upgrade spending $200 or so.
I guess it is comments like this that have me confused. The requirements page of SageTV only talks about needing a 600Mhz CPU. But, here you talk about a quadcore setup. What is it that makes me need the quadcore? I am not trying to pick and argument or anything, I really just don't understand

Quote:
Originally Posted by KeithAbbott View Post
I don't think the cat6 wiring is going to be of much benefit in this case. The HD300s are limited to fast ethernet. Assuming whatever motherboard you use supports gigabit, you'll get gigabit speeds between the motherboard and your gigabit switch, but the speed will drop down to fast ethernet between the switch and the HD300s. Although you might find, with gigabit between the motherboard and the switch, you could watch all four HD300s simultaneously without problems.
The only reason I am doing Cat6 is because a friend of mine does installations like this for his living. So the cost is negligible (for me at least).

When I said I needed to wait on the installation, what I meant is that I currently have no way to get the signal from my server to the extender. I have no network setup at all right now, and so I am needing to wait on my buddy to help me with the install.


Thank you for the response
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  #5  
Old 02-24-2011, 06:07 PM
les_bloom les_bloom is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vividweb View Post
You will struggle to keep up trying to Comskip the HD-PVR files with a 1.8Ghz processor. Using SJQv4 to offload comskip to another (or multiple) PC's would help get around that.
Ok, so comskip really is that intensive huh? =/ I don't think SJQ is an option for me, I don't have any other computers that I would want to leave running all the time.

Quote:
Originally Posted by vividweb View Post
750MB RAM might hold you back from being able to use the fanart options.
I definitely plan on using fanart, specifically BMT. How exactly does this work with relation to the extenders? Are the extenders basically doing a remote desktop to my server? Meaning the UI is really running on the server and not the extender? If so, then I could see why you say the server needs more RAM for the fanart support. Or is this just because the Sage server needs to load the fanart into RAM before it can send it over the network?

Quote:
Originally Posted by vividweb View Post
To run Sage itself is not much overhead, Comskip, Fanart on the other hand are pigs. Also having a newer (more powerful) processor will allow you to use the streaming features of the mobile web browser as well. More is always better it seems with Sage.
I don't foresee any use of the mobile web stuff, but it sounds like comskip and BMT will require me to upgrade anyways.

Thank you for that info, it is starting to make sense
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  #6  
Old 02-24-2011, 08:06 PM
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Skybolt Skybolt is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by les_bloom View Post
...I definitely plan on using fanart, specifically BMT. How exactly does this work with relation to the extenders? Are the extenders basically doing a remote desktop to my server? Meaning the UI is really running on the server and not the extender? ... Thank you for that info, it is starting to make sense
For what it worth I have your setup now, except I also have the suggested Quad Core server. Prior to the quad core I had a P4 2.8 and that barly kept up with fanart and multiple streams running and I don't use com skip. When I upgraded my server every little bump smoothed out, no matter what. I highly recomend upgrading the server, or rest of your investment might not fair as well and you'll wonder why.

The extenders do not run like RDP, but are a thin client.

-Skybolt
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  #7  
Old 02-24-2011, 08:44 PM
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davephan davephan is offline
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I used to use a similar single core CPU years ago for my SageTV server. If you had the old MVP extenders, then you would have to upgrade, but since you don't then you might be able to get by with the slow computer. If you want to do comkip processing, then get a fast quad-core. A fast quad, system board, and memory would give you a drastic performance boost. You might also need a power supply too if your power supply uses the old 20-pin connector.

Dave
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  #8  
Old 02-24-2011, 08:46 PM
CollinR CollinR is offline
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Not enough, especially tring to run comskip on HDPVR recordings. If yours is LGA775 you might be able to just upgrade it and use the rest. I'm thinking the fastest supported CPU on that mainboard is going to be pretty cheap, so is a GB of RAM.

Don't be too shocked if the current setup can't playback the HDPVR recordings properly or at all on the local interface. Do all your playback testing on an extender.

or...

You get what several of us have which is basically a fileserver with lots of IO. The CPU and RAM is nice but the storage side has to be rock solid and fast. Otherwise you will constantly be chasing jitters/studders.
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  #9  
Old 02-25-2011, 01:30 AM
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mayamaniac mayamaniac is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by les_bloom View Post
Hello there,

I have been reading the forums and the requirements page (http://www.sagetv.com/requirements.html?sageSub=tv) and I am getting a bit confused about what I really need.
You have to realize that SageTV can be setup be simple or very complex. That system requirement is the bare minimum for a very basic setup, such as one SD tuner, one extender, and no plugins. The more complex setup needs a more powerful system.

Quote:
I cannibalized an older PC and have this for my server setup:
CPU: 1.8Ghz single core
RAM: 750MB
OS: WinXP Pro 32bit
Video Card: I can't remember what it is right now, but shouldn't matter right?
Gigabit ethernet
2x HDPVR
4x HD300s


I should be ok right? The requirements page says I only need a 600Mhz CPU because I am doing offline hardware encoding. And the HD300 should handle all the work for actual 1080p playback.
I think that system is the minimum requirement for what you have, probably need more RAM though.

Quote:
However a lot of what I find on the forums seem to suggest that I should be using a 3Ghz quad core.

I am planning on running the Comskip plugin, and I know that will take some more power.

Also, I don't really plan on running all of the HD300s at one time. Odds are there will only be 1 used at a time. So that shouldn't effect my requirements should it?
I don't think you need a quad core for comskip, but a mid level dual core is probably sufficient. But since quad cores don't cost that much more, you might as well go for the quad and have even better performance.
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  #10  
Old 02-25-2011, 06:51 AM
Savage1701 Savage1701 is offline
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You do seem a little light on the hardware. I've got a Socket 775 Wolfdale Dual Core and I'd like to go to a quad core, and I don't even do Comskip. When I went up from the original Core Duo to the Wolfdale, I did not say anything. My wife was like, "Wow - the Sage is so much more responsive!"

Also, I agree with you - if you are going to hardwire, go Cat6. Product cost is negligible vs. cost of 5e, and you are set for the next couple of decades at least. Ethernet ain't goin' nowhere, and Cat6 will handle 10Gb if you need it. Labor is the same for either, so go for overkill. Heck, if you are still running it, I'd run a second spool and leave a second line behind the plate.

I don't know what kind of switch you use, but a decent, managed Ethernet switch is way better than a $49.99 one from Staples.

Remember, there's no such thing as too much wire; there's only wire that's not yet being used. :-)

I think the above posters are right as well - the better/newer the processor, the better it keeps up with all the fan art, logos, graphics, etc. And remember, an old P4 can burn 1.5-2x the energy of a new CPU but give you about 1/8 the performance. My server burns 2.3 amps per hour it's on. Multiply that out and you are spending a substantial sum on electricity each month if you run your server all the time. At 12 cents per kWh, I figure my server costs about $12-$15 per month. So you might as well get your money's worth !
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Last edited by Savage1701; 02-25-2011 at 07:04 AM.
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  #11  
Old 02-25-2011, 08:19 AM
Bagal Bagal is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Savage1701 View Post
And remember, an old P4 can burn 1.5-2x the energy of a new CPU but give you about 1/8 the performance. My server burns 2.3 amps per hour it's on. Multiply that out and you are spending a substantial sum on electricity each month if you run your server all the time. At 12 cents per kWh, I figure my server costs about $12-$15 per month. So you might as well get your money's worth !
That's a very good point, a couple of years ago I was running a P4 3GHz CPU in my server and a 6600GT graphics card (which wasn't needed but there was no onboard gfx) and this was running 24/7, after a few months I noticed my electricity bills steadily going upwards, I had a feeling it was the server so I bought a kill-a-watt and checked the server's power usage, at idle it was using 120w, when it was doing something this was going up and over 200w!

I ended up buying a new CPU, motherboard and ram and ended up with a much more powerful server that idled around 60w and very rarely went above 100w, total cost was less than 200 GBP and I worked out that I would recoup that in electricity savings over the next couple of years, in fact it's been nearly 2 years and apart from swapping the CPU with the lounge client CPU it's pretty much the same system...

So, while you may not want to spend any more money now on a better system, long term it could end up being cheaper anyway
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  #12  
Old 02-25-2011, 11:07 AM
les_bloom les_bloom is offline
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Thanks everyone for all the responses, it has been vary helpful.

I am going to do some NewEgg searching. One I get the upgrade figured out, would you mind giving me some feedback? Maybe I can catch some mistakes before I pull the trigger

Thanks again to everyone for your help
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  #13  
Old 02-25-2011, 12:39 PM
les_bloom les_bloom is offline
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Ok, so I dug through NewEgg for a while.

I have to upgrade my mobo, because my current mobo is socket A, and that is just too damn old for any quad core This means I also have to upgrade my PSU, because my old one was a 20-pin connection and the new mobos nowadays require a 24-pin connection.

Here is what I am thinking:

Mobo: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...scrollFullInfo

CPU: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16819103871

PSU: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16817822008

RAM: I have 2 spare 1GB DDR3 chips at home. I plan to just use those.

I grabbed a mobo that has on board video. This way I can remove my current video card. It was a gaming card back in 2004, which means it is probably drawing way more wattage then my server needs. On board should be perfectly acceptable right? Since my HD300s do all the real work?

Also, I am planning on using the mobo RAID instead of the PCI host card I have right now. I should be able to have my 2 RAIDs setup on this mobo right? SATA I HDDs.

Any comments would be appreciated.

Last edited by les_bloom; 02-25-2011 at 12:43 PM.
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  #14  
Old 02-25-2011, 12:45 PM
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Pirin Pirin is offline
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If you are planning on using WinXP Pro 32-bit, I don't think it can take advantage of 4 cores. Of course, the cost of a quad core vs. a dual core is pretty negligible, so maybe a quad core is the better option for future-proofing your rig. However, if you go that route, don't expect to be able to use all 4 cores. 2 will sit idle until you upgrade your OS.
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  #15  
Old 02-25-2011, 12:57 PM
les_bloom les_bloom is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pirin View Post
If you are planning on using WinXP Pro 32-bit, I don't think it can take advantage of 4 cores. Of course, the cost of a quad core vs. a dual core is pretty negligible, so maybe a quad core is the better option for future-proofing your rig. However, if you go that route, don't expect to be able to use all 4 cores. 2 will sit idle until you upgrade your OS.
Here is what I found about that via a google search.

Quote:
(1) Windows XP SP2 or higher understands multi core processors. Whether 32 or 64 bit doesn't matter.

(2) In order to utilize multiple cores, the Application has to be written to do that. Installing a single threaded game on a multi core computer will result in only 1 core being used by the game. There is an advantage in that the OS can assign other tasks to the idle core(s). So the game can have 1 core's undivided attention. This is not a bad thing, and does result in real performance improvements. But because the game itself only "understands" 1, then it will only use 1. This is the same whether you use XP or Vista. Nearly all past and current applications for PC are only single processor/core aware. This will change over time, for sure. But in many/most cases will require developers to write completely new apps.

(3) Vista is written to be better at utilizing multi-core processors than XP is/was. Having said that: Please re-read #2.
I have a copy of Vista 64 bit that I could install on my server. I had originally chosen to stick with XP because my server specs were lower. But also I thought I remember reading about issues with Sage setups and Vista. Or maybe it was issues with the HDPVRs and Vista? Not only that but Vista is going to hog more of my resources of course ... hmm choices choices
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  #16  
Old 02-25-2011, 01:06 PM
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Pirin Pirin is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by les_bloom View Post
Here is what I found about that via a google search.
Sorry, my bad. I did some more searching myself, and what I found is that WinXP Pro is limited to 2 processors, not 2 cores. So, a single processor with 4 cores should be no problem for the OS. As you have pointed out in your Google search, as long as the application is written to take advantage of more than one core, you're all set.

Based on that finding, I see no advantage of Vista over XP. Stick with XP if that is your preference. I ran SageTV on XP for years without any issues before upgrading to Win7; I never tried Vista.

Last edited by Pirin; 02-25-2011 at 01:08 PM.
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  #17  
Old 02-25-2011, 01:10 PM
les_bloom les_bloom is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pirin View Post
Sorry, my bad. I did some more searching myself, and what I found is that WinXP Pro is limited to 2 processors, not 2 cores. So, a single processor with 4 cores should be no problem for the OS. As you have pointed out in your Google search, as long as the application is written to take advantage of more than one core, you're all set.

Based on that finding, I see no advantage of Vista over XP. Stick with XP if that is your preference. I ran SageTV on XP for years without any isseus before upgrading to Win7; I never tried Vista.
That is good to hear I have Vista installed on the 2 PCs my wife and I use for WoW. It works and all, but it is such a hog. Until I really need more then 3.5 GB of RAM, I will stick with XP.
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  #18  
Old 02-25-2011, 02:51 PM
Savage1701 Savage1701 is offline
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Just my 2-cents worth:

I am not an Athlon person, so no comment on the CPU except that AMD probably can hold its own in this arena.

Your MB choice has a lot of PCI sockets; everything is going PCI-Express. Also, and people will argue these points with me - cheaper MB's allocate PCI bandwidth to ethernet ports and USB ports. At least get a PCI or PCI Express NEC-based USB card for your HD-PVR's. I'd spend a little more on my MB. Your HD-PVR's are twitchy enough to begin with.

Generally, on-board RAID is not anywhere near the quality of a RAID card, even a "fake RAID" card that offloads parity calculations onto the CPU. This applies even up in the world of high-end SuperMicro boards with on-board LSI RAID controllers. I use dedicatted, hardware-based RAID controllers all the time, and they are hard to beat. If the secondary RAID on your MB is J-Micron or even a cheapie Marvell controller, well, good luck...

I think you are right to stay with XP Pro and yes, it will recognize 4 cores, and yes, the apps must also.

Consider an outboard video card. Anything ATI 3650, and certainly 4600 series, will consume little power and help if you need to transcode. I understand your extenders do the "heavy lifting" where that is concerned when playing back recordings; I use an HD-200.

Please spend a little more on your power supply. I use Diablotek, but not as a first choice. Take a look at OCZ, Corsair, or any other "Single Rail" +12V power supply. 9 times out of 10 "multiple rails" are a gimmick and a way of using cheaper parts.

Just my opinion. A cheap PSU can give you headaches by not handling things well, and you will get BSOD's and all sorts of weirdness that you will have an almost impossible time chasing down.

You have a lot invested in high-end digitzers (HD-PVR's) and extenders. I don't think the quality of your hardware choices does them justice, if that makes sense. That being said, you are probably $50 for a better MB and $50 for a better PS away from doing them justice. I guess if you are NEVER going to watch H.264 material on the server, you can stick with onboard video, especially since you use extenders to decode at the display.
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  #19  
Old 02-25-2011, 04:16 PM
Bagal Bagal is offline
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Here's my thoughts:

Look for a more efficient power supply (labelled as 80+%), a cheap one will end up wasting power and won't deliver as clean a signal, something like the Antec Earthwatts would do.

The motherboard you've chosen seems fine, 3 x PCI-Express and 3 x PCI I think is more than adequate. The integrated graphics on their should be fine for what you're using it for. Personally I wouldn't even consider a discreet graphics card for a headless server as it would just increase the power usage required, if you really want a gfx card to help with transcoding then you'd be better off looking at the new Sandy Bridge CPU's and Mobo's but that will end up costing you more money.

As for the CPU, I favour Intel these days as they tend to be more efficient compared to there AMD counterparts i.e. higher performance / lower power, however they're usually more expensive.

Finally, before you spend any money, I'd look on sites such as Anandtech, Tom's Hardware and Missing remote to see if there's any reviews of your chosen components and I'd especially take note of the power efficiency.

Unfortunately for you the hardest part is making a decision, when I went through a similar process a couple of years ago I probably spent about 2 months going over all the options before I finally settled on something!
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