[mythtv-users] Hardware Suggestions/Sanity Check

John Patrick Hoke john.hoke at gmail.com
Tue Apr 11 15:42:26 UTC 2006

Hash: SHA1

Thanks for the input... I have some replies/questions inline...

On Apr 10, 2006, at 4:26 PM, Jeff Simpson wrote:

>> I will be converting my current FE/BE into a dedicated Master BE:
>>         P4 3.0ghz CPU
>>         1 GB RAM
>>         1x PVR150
>>         1x PVR250
>>         4x 250gb SATA HD RAID 5 for DVD storage (/video/dvd) (New  
>> -- Adding
>> to system)
>>         2x 250gb PATA for video storage and music
>>         1x 100gb PATA HD for OS and assorted crap (web server,  
>> MySQL, mail
>> server, home dirs, etc)
>>         1x DVD-RW+/-
> For flexibility sake, I would think it would be nice to have the
> entire storage be on one volume via LVM or similar (so you could
> re-allocate space space for DVDs, how much for TV recordings, etc). I
> guess the downside of that is that you wouldn't be able to easily do
> hardware RAID5 over SATA and PATA (but I think in software you might
> be able to).
> Looks like a good amount of space, but I'd go for a larger individual
> drive, maybe a 300 or 400, maybe even 500. Since you are putting so
> many drives in, there won't be much room (physically or electrically)
> to add more drives in. It's more expensive per gig, but it's the
> equivalent of getting a 1GB stick of ram instead of two 512MB sticks -
> when you want to upgrade your 500gb-per-disc array, you can just slap
> another 500gb in there, but if you already have the case full of 250s,
> it'll be tougher to do.

Typically I would agree 100% ... but here is my reasoning. I have  
lost my video collection before and had to start over transfering to  
HD and it was NOT fun... nor helpful for WAF. I plan on placing all  
the videos I own or have made on the RAID for fault tolerance, but do  
not want to waste that space for television recordings, which are  
transient on my system. I use MythBurn to drop my daughter's shows  
onto DVD and my recordings either live on in the dvd area - each  
series under its own directory structure - or get deleted after I  
watch them. The PVR part is more for timeshifting than archiving of  
content from TV.

Based on the input about the FE below though ... I will probably look  
at moving more space into the BE server, and less in the FE server,  
pushing any HD recordings from the FE to BE storage...  This may  
allow me to take the 2x500gb drives I was going to put in the FE for  
HD and put them in the BE instead... saving some more $ :-)

>>   2) I prefer FC, and noticed that there were issues with FC5 and
>> 0.19 reported to the list. Have these started to shake themselves out
>> as both FC5 and Myth 19 "mature" (wrong term for versions so new,
>> but ... anyway). I can go either the compile myself or use ATRpms
>> route... and my current system is a hybrid (Used Axel's stuff to get
>> started, then started compiling myth myself so I can use SVN and
>> check it out...)
> Not sure about FC releases, but if you keep the recordings and
> database on a separate drive from the OS, you could wipe the OS and
> reinstall and not lose recordings (not as simple as it sounds, but it
> is possible). So even if it's not perfect, you can always keep
> changing it until it is.

I typically keep everything separate, including a /var/lib/mysql  
partition for MySQL. I have found this to be *very* helpful in the  
past when the OS bit the dust ... i was able to reinstall and salvage  
my MySQL DBs... Home Directories are mapped to another server in the  
house that contains our homes and shares via smb. Some have said I  
was insane or overly cautious... but it has saved my ass too many  
times at home and at work :-)

> I think the only thing I would change about the backend is the
> processor. Recording TV from a PVR card requires almost 0 CPU, same
> with recording HD from firewire or OTA. The only thing that requires a
> lot is the transcoding if you do much of that. Sort of a waste of a
> fast processor to not have it do a lot of heavy lifting.

The processor is what is in there now, so it's not a new purchase,  
but a salvage (read Free). I do *some* transcoding though via  
MythBurn to make DVDs so it doesn't hurt to have the horsepower when  
needed... rest can be used by the new Seti@ Home project LOL

>> I will also be creating a BE/FE system for my living room. This will
>> be for capturing (unencrypted) HD content from cable company and
>> displaying it and other content on the master BE on a Samsung 5078W
>> DLP HDTV over a gigabit ethernet connection in the house. For the
>> record, I have tried via FireWire on my 3250 and cannot get it to
>> work. Blue Ridge Cable said they do not support this (firewire) at
>> this time, and told me the FCC does not require that they do so. (I
>> still have issues with that statement).
> Pretty sure that they ARE required to do so. I don't have the document
> on hand, but it's been mentioned here before. They aren't required to
> give you every channel, and they aren't required to give you
> unencrypted, but they do need to provide firewire access.

That's what I was thinking... but IANAL so I need to find more info  
out... started googleing, but found conflicting info. Does anyone  
have a source for current information on the status of FCC Req's for  
Firewire support?
>> What I am thinking is:
>>         AMD64 3000+
>>         KN1 Extreme MoBo (http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?
>> Item=N82E16813135175)
>>         2GB RAM
>>         2x500 GB SATA Drives (via LVM)
>>         HD Capture Card:
>>                 Either an AirStar-HD5000AV (http:// 
>> www.cyberestore.com/
>> product_info.php?cPath=28&products_id=103)
>>                 or an Dvico FusionHDTV Lite w/Remote (http://
>> www.cyberestore.com/product_info.php?cPath=28&products_id=192)
>>         Sound output via SPDIF on MoBo to my home theater system
>>         Video Card: some NVIDIA 6600 card (PCI Express)
>>         1x DVD-RW
>>         Case: Silverstone LC20M ... or possibly LC16M
>>          PSU: Silverstone ST40F
> If you are buying a new MB anyway, I would suggest looking into
> something that has a lot of electrical connections for drives. Back
> before there was SATA, I bought a MB that had 4 channels of IDE (8
> total drives). I still haven't used them all up, and it's much simpler
> than trying to set up RAID device (although, without the redundancy).
> Haven't looked much into SATA, but if there is any limit to number of
> drives you can attach, look for something that can attach many!

The thing i liked about the MoBo is that it has 2 PATA connectors for  
4 potential drives, and 4 SATA connectors for additional space.
If I can send the HD capture to the BE then this box needs little to  
no storage for video.... so I will probably only use one PATA HD and  
one PATA Optical drive... leaving 6 potential drive connectors (2  
PATA and 4 SATA) available for later use ...
>> The HDTV I am using has Component In, SVGA In, HMDI In, and others.
>>         2) As I have always had combined FE/BE I am not sure about  
>> this...
>> the recordings from the HD card, do they get recorded locally on the
>> FE/BE box in the Living room, or can they be pushed over the network
>> to the BE in the basement? If I can push the recordings over the wire
>> to the BE, then I can have less HD in living room, less heat, and
>> less fan noise :)
> I think that is actually the preferred method, as there's (currently)
> no way to have multiple recording directories handled, even with
> multiple (master/slave) backends.
>  - Jeff

Thanks for all the info.

Does anyone have suggestions for
   * PCI Express Video Cards? I prefer fan-less (if possible) but a  
fan that is not extremely noisy would work as well.
   * RAID Adapter.?
   * Airstar vs Dvico HD Capture card? (I am leaning Dvico based on  
reviews I have found... but none were myth specific)

Thanks again to everyone!

John P. Hoke

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