[mythtv-users] What's the best HD frontend only hardware?
isely at isely.net
Fri Feb 29 05:23:49 UTC 2008
On Fri, 29 Feb 2008, Nicolas Will wrote:
> On Fri, 2008-02-29 at 13:57 +1300, Wade Maxfield wrote:
> > Brian Wood wrote:
> > > On Feb 28, 2008, at 5:33 PM, Richard Bronosky wrote:
> > >
> > >> I'm looking to convert my FE+BE system to a BE only since it cannot
> > >> handle HD playback in a satisfactory manner. In doing so I will be
> > >> building a dedicated FE from scratch. If you had this opportunity
> > >> with today's hardware, what would you choose?
> > >>
> > >> Here is how I'm leaning:
> > >> 1. Must be able to handle (USA) OTA HD, aka: MPEG2 TS
> > >> 2. Must have DVI or HDMI video output. (optionally via a ADD2
> > card)
> > >> 3. I would prefer it to be able to handle H.264 is in
> > >>
> > http://images.apple.com/movies/us/hd_gallery/gl1800/1080p/bbc-blue_m1080p.mov
> > >> 4. I would prefer onboard Intel video in gratitude for there
> > >> contributions to Xorg and OSS.
> > >> 5. I would prefer a low power consumption system.
> > >> 6. I would prefer a Micro-ITX or other SBC
> > >> 7. I would prefer to use a CF instead of an HDD.
> > >
> > >
> > > Other than # 4 a Mac Mini would come close, though I agree with
> > your
> > > sentiment about Intel's video.
> > Mac Mini's have onboard Intel video. The current C2D mini's use a
> > GMA950 processor...
> Keep in mind that the Intel driver still does not do any hw accelerated
> stuff for video. There is a branch for MPEG2, but still nothing for
I've just yesterday put online a new dedicated FE box that should do
everything you are describing except perhaps the H.264 part. (It's not
that it won't; I just don't know if it can.) But it has absolutely ZERO
problems handling decode of a 1080i stream. This is the barebones base
I'm using for the FE:
To that I added an Intel E6420 Core 2 Duo processor and 2GB of PC2-5300
DDR2 memory. I have an old analog tuner attached - but only for its IR
receiver not the tuner portion. The onboard GPU is an Intel GMA-950 and
I have it HDMI-connected to a 47" 1080p LCD panel with the resolution
set to 1920x1080. I just now tested it on a livetv 1080i stream, and
the system is hiccup free and using only 36% of the CPU. I'm not using
XvMC (doesn't work with Intel last time I tried) so it's just Xv. But
obviously right now I seem not to even need XvMC either.
For its system disk, there's well, no disk at all. It network boots
from the BE system and uses an NFS-mounted read-only root file system.
It runs without swap. The box has no special cooling beyond what it
came with and it is TOTALLY silent. I'm very happy with it.
Actually I have two FE systems. The other system is older (P4 2.4GHz
plus a nvidia 6200-class GPU via an AGP slot, and has only 512MB). It
is built with a circa-2004 Shuttle PC enclosure and is a slight bit
noisier. Rendering 1080i on that box chews up about 65% of the CPU.
Both machines seem to hover around 50 watts apiece.
Since the root file system is set up to be read-only, the two FEs
actually share the same physical root file system. They are
differentiated through custom configuration stanzas in the DHCP server.
In theory I can add another diskless front end just by dropping some
bits of configuration in a few key places. It's been an interesting
exercise. I only just finally put this all together in the past week;
it's what I've had in mind all along.
isely @ pobox (dot) com
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