[mythtv-users] Secrets for low powered front ends ?

Michael T. Dean mtdean at thirdcontact.com
Wed Oct 12 15:54:14 UTC 2011

On 10/12/2011 10:46 AM, Andy Burns wrote:
> On 12 October 2011 15:29, jedi wrote:
>>   I'd love to be able to take a i3/i5 mini-itx board and shove it into an
>> ultra low profile Antec case. I just don't think it's going to do the job.
> Why not?  My core2 duo 2.66GHz with intel G35 graphics can keep up*
> with 1080i  (even de-interlacing to 1080p) this is a dedicated
> frontend.
> So I'd  hope an i3 with HD2000/HD3000 grapihs could keep up, with or
> without VAAPI
> In fact I've been considering shuffling motherboards around and getting
> an ASUS P8H67-I with i3 2105 for my frontend.

Exactly.  If done right, you can get a nice Athlon II dual core or Core 
2 Duo or Core i3/Core i5 dual core system for ~$200.  And, the crazy 
part is that with proper planning, you'll have a system that idles at or 
below the same power usage as the Atom-based system (which has no 
appreciable idle-mode power savings--meaning that it's always running at 
the same power usage).  The benefit of the real processor is that you 
have headroom available for when you need it.  There is no benefit of 
Atom--other than the ability to buy off-the-shelf systems.

Intel claims Atom is power efficient.  It's not.  It's power 
constrained--it simply refuses to use more than a given power level, 
even when it needs the additional power (meaning tasks that require 
heavy processing just take much longer--which is not good in a 
time-constrained processing task).  And, because the chipsets associated 
with Atom aren't very power efficient, overall system power usage is not 
that great.  Core i3/i5 are power efficient.  The big down side of the 
real processors is that--now that nvidia is out of the chipset 
business--it's hard to find motherboards that use integrated nvidia 
GPUs.  However, since a discrete nvidia GF GT-430 is going to take just 
a couple of watts at idle (probably less than 5W), I figure that's not a 
big deal for the benefits it provides (especially if you shut down the 
system when not in use--or even shut it down on a schedule when you're 
asleep/at work).  I'm guessing that the power usage for the card isn't 
significantly higher even when decoding/displaying using VDPAU.

Again, some old articles (meaning you could likely do even better, now):

Maximum Efficiency: Build A 25W Performance PC Using Core i5

G31 And E7200: The Real Low-Power Story

Efficiency: Core 2 Nukes Atom On The Desktop


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