Green or Black Hard Drive for HTPC? - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 26 Old 01-25-2013, 12:26 PM - Thread Starter
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Back in 2008, I tried building an HTPC with Mythbuntu, but since I could not get decent OTA reception in Denver (I think it was still a few months before our area went full power HD), I abandoned the project and later pulled my drive 750 GB Western Digital (I think this was pre-green/black/blue drive days) and installed it in my main Ubuntu PC and formatted it with Windows 7 for a dual boot system.

My HTPC box (Antec NSK2480, ASUS P5E-VM HDMI LGA 775 Intel G35, Core 2 Duo E4500 2.2GHz) and Silicondust HDHomeRun - ATSC/QAM - Dual Tuner with Phillips Indoor UHF/VHF/FM Antenna PHL MANT510 has just sat unused since. With Formula One moving off SpeedTV to some NBC Sports channel that is not carried by Xfinity (Comcast) and Universal Sports (for World Cup ski racing) no longer carried by Comcast, I am thinking of dumping Comcast and the Motorola DVR which costs me $132/month and just keeping my broadband cable modem service for $50/month. So I am revisiting rebuilding my HTPC with a new hard drive. I was thinking of buying the 2 TB Western Digital Green AV drive http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16822136783, but a bunch of car geeks on my car forum suggest going with the 2TB WD black drive . My concern with the green drive for both the OS and video storage is that it may be too slow for the OS. I've since upgraded the memory in my HTPC from 2 to 6 GB and wonder if that is sufficient that the OS will not need to swap virtual memory to the disk. The black drive is on sale until the end of the month for only $30 more than the green AV drive, so now might be a good time to buy it. However, I wonder if there will be noise and heat issues with the black drive. When I built my main Unbuntu PC a year after building my HTPC, I bought a 1 TB HITACHI Deskstar 7K1000 and swapped that into the HTPC for the 750 GB WD, but it made a cyclical thumping noise that I could hear in my living room with TV and sound system off. With 2 variable 12mm fans in my HTPC, I don't think heat will be a problem.
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post #2 of 26 Old 01-25-2013, 01:46 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HDTimeShifter View Post

My concern with the green drive for both the OS and video storage is that it may be too slow for the OS. I've since upgraded the memory in my HTPC from 2 to 6 GB and wonder if that is sufficient that the OS will not need to swap virtual memory to the disk.

Too slow for what? You're not going to have any problems recording video onto the drives real-time. And I rarely find my drive being used for virtual memory now a days barring you have enough RAM installed so that shouldn't be a problem, but even then the drives are more then fast enough.
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post #3 of 26 Old 01-25-2013, 02:15 PM
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The benchmark read speeds on my 2TB WD Green are Max 120MB/s (at the fastest outer tracks) and Min 50MB/s (on the slowest inner tracks).

So it's not a blazingly fast drive by today's standards. But it beats the stink out of anything from 2008 (except maybe velociraptors). It's certainly fast enough for the OS unless you've been spoiled by running your OS on an SDD (like I have). wink.gif
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post #4 of 26 Old 01-25-2013, 07:47 PM
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I have 8 of the green drives, 4 in my FreeNAS and 4 in my Mint server. They have handled anything I've needed (up to six recordings at once) no problem.
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post #5 of 26 Old 01-26-2013, 09:42 AM
 
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post #6 of 26 Old 01-26-2013, 11:06 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bac522 View Post

Too slow for what? You're not going to have any problems recording video onto the drives real-time. And I rarely find my drive being used for virtual memory now a days barring you have enough RAM installed so that shouldn't be a problem, but even then the drives are more then fast enough.

Is one green drive going to be fast enough to handle both the OS and recording (maximum processing recording 2 HD channels while playing back an HD recording)?

I know it would be optimal to have a separate drive (SSD or smaller black drive for the OS), but I'm on a budget.
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post #7 of 26 Old 01-27-2013, 03:23 AM
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My recommendation is to put the OS on a very small SSD and buy the green drive(s) for video storage. It's quieter and uses less power than the black drive and plenty fast enough to record multiple live TV shows while streaming as well. I'd follow the MythTV wiki for formatting the green drive with XFS instead of EXT4 for video storage (due to the very large size of the files) and setup the SSD with the discard & noatime options. (I'd recommend looking at the archlinux.org wiki for a good discussion of fstab for SSD drives)

You can put this all on one green drive as once the OS is loaded, most of the disk activity aside from video writing will be logging and mysql activity. Make sure that if you do this, to use separate partitions for the OS and video storage. They really need completely different formatting options (fewer very large files vs many many small files).

Do some bargain searching. The cost of a small SSD + Green Drive shouldn't be much more than a Black Drive. For just mythtv you can get by with just a 30G SSD, but the best price point right now seems to be for 64G.
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post #8 of 26 Old 01-27-2013, 12:44 PM - Thread Starter
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I found this in the MythTV FAQ:
Quote:
While SSDs may seem ideal for quiet, low power frontends, the only advantage they will provide is a slightly faster bootup, and are simply not worth the cost.

It's hard to justify an SSD for my HTPC as I don't even have one in my main Ubuntu PC and it works fine for me. But I'll shop around some and see what prices are like - maybe I'll go with just one green drive and see how that works - I can always add an SSD in the future and rebuild it. I have about 3 months (until ski season is over) to do some research (and hope prices come down more) before I tackle this project again for the spring/summer. The other thing is all my hardware is only SATA 2, so it's also debatable how much a difference a black drive (or even SSD) makes through the slower interface.
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post #9 of 26 Old 01-27-2013, 02:38 PM
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None of us can really tell you if the Green is fast enough for you since it's a completely subjective issue, it depends on what else you are trying to do on the machine and how tolerant you are of the occasional hesitation.

But I think you're on the right track in your last post. For now, just get a single Green and partition it so the the OS is separate from all the data. If it turns out that you're impacted by the recording activities, then go out and buy another drive, blow away the OS partition on the Green, merge the free space into the data partition and install the OS on the new drive.

[Or buy a matched pair of Greens and do a RAID0 stripping and end up with a 4TB drive that is close to the performance of a 2nd Gen SSD. biggrin.gif (sorry I couldn't help myself)]

Personally, I prefer to have the OS on a totally different drive just in case something goes wrong while recording, That way if all the recording activity ends up killing the drive, it can't take the OS down with it. But I'm overly paranoid about these types of issues.
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post #10 of 26 Old 01-27-2013, 02:42 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HDTimeShifter View Post

Is one green drive going to be fast enough to handle both the OS and recording (maximum processing recording 2 HD channels while playing back an HD recording)?.

Yes, as long as you have enough RAM in the system, the drive is not going to be an issue. The OS only uses the drive when it runs out of on-board RAM...well excluding loading for apps. Recording speeds of HD video is well below the transfer speeds between the PC and the drive. Now if you're going to be using this system as main desktop as well, then there are other things to worry about and that would be around taxing the CPU. If this is going to be a purpose built HTPC, then the drives will be fine. In your case though I'd more concern with the CPU speeds if you want to record 2 HD channels while watching a recorded HD stream.
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post #11 of 26 Old 01-28-2013, 09:23 AM
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Buy a generic hard drive and mark it with a green pen- the drive will then make less noise, less heat and video will play smoother, and audio files played from it will sound better biggrin.gif
http://www.tomshardware.com/forum/49381-6-green-tweak
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post #12 of 26 Old 01-28-2013, 10:32 AM
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My current main server has 27TB of hard disk space and of the 4 green drives I have bought and used in this server over the last few years, I've sent 3 of them in for warranty replacement - the other drive was one month off warranty so it got tossed. As far as the other 3 they are now used for off-line backups. As far as speed they are ok except for one drive that mysteriously got slower and slower over a period of six months, it got to a point of slowing to about 5mb/sec transfer speeds. When these drives were in the server they had it pretty easy and mostly idle (i.e., not spinning) and were not in any raid setup. I won't buy any more.
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post #13 of 26 Old 01-28-2013, 11:20 AM
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red
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post #14 of 26 Old 01-28-2013, 01:14 PM
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Originally Posted by MichaelZ View Post

My current main server has 27TB of hard disk space and of the 4 green drives I have bought and used in this server over the last few years, I've sent 3 of them in for warranty replacement - the other drive was one month off warranty so it got tossed. As far as the other 3 they are now used for off-line backups. As far as speed they are ok except for one drive that mysteriously got slower and slower over a period of six months, it got to a point of slowing to about 5mb/sec transfer speeds. When these drives were in the server they had it pretty easy and mostly idle (i.e., not spinning) and were not in any raid setup. I won't buy any more.

So what are the other drives in your server? If you don;t use the WD Green drives which ones do you use?
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post #15 of 26 Old 01-28-2013, 01:27 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by etrin View Post

red

What is the difference between red and green/blue/black drives? All I know about red is that they are for NAS.
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post #16 of 26 Old 01-28-2013, 02:58 PM
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Quote:
While SSDs may seem ideal for quiet, low power frontends, the only advantage they will provide is a slightly faster bootup, and are simply not worth the cost.

There is one place where SSDs really help a HTPC: storing the artwork/metadata library. The faster you can load high-res movie posters and album artwork and the faster you can search through a large collection, the better the UI experience will seem. There is huge WAF potential with being able to scroll and search 5-10 times faster, This hits all of the SSD strengths (high throughput, low random access latency, no spinup delay) and none of their weaknesses (slow deletes, limited capacity, limited cycles)

The price of SSDs has plummeted since that FAQ was updated. Use a SSD for OS, artwork, and metadata and Greens for media.
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post #17 of 26 Old 01-28-2013, 09:07 PM
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I use mostly Hitachi 3tb and Seagate 3tb plus a couple of Hitachi 2tb - they've all been pretty reliable so far.
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post #18 of 26 Old 01-29-2013, 10:53 AM
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OS should only go on SSD in 2013

-

"Too much is almost enough. Anything in life worth doing is worth overdoing. Moderation is for cowards."
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post #19 of 26 Old 01-29-2013, 05:25 PM
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Originally Posted by Mfusick View Post

OS should only go on SSD in 2013

It's irrelevant where the OS sits, since everything important will be cached in ram. Even if you reboot frequently, modern disk throughput is not the bottleneck for linux htpcs. There's nothing wrong with getting a SSD for the OS...it just won't add much benefit. This isn't a Windows workstation.
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post #20 of 26 Old 01-30-2013, 02:27 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HDTimeShifter View Post

I found this in the MythTV FAQ.... The other thing is all my hardware is only SATA 2, so it's also debatable how much a difference a black drive (or even SSD) makes through the slower interface.

But even with this, a separate drive for your OS means you are using a completely different SATA channel/hardware for system tasks vs one being used to write/read video. You system won't be competing with Myth for drive access.
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post #21 of 26 Old 01-30-2013, 09:33 AM
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I agree about the OS being on a SSD. I have mine setup that way for a couple of years. It does all the busy work of taking care of mail, mysql, mythtv, etc. and uses very little energy. I leave all the big storage drive in sleep mode and they are rarely wakened unless someone wants to watch a recording and then it only wakes the drive needed.
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post #22 of 26 Old 01-30-2013, 12:48 PM - Thread Starter
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Does myth handle putting the drive and HTPC to sleep and waking it for recordings well? I would be mostly recording TV when I'm not around, then watching it later (hence the username HDTimeshifter when I signed up here back in 2003). My Comcast Motorola DVR keeps the disk spinning 24x7 even when it is off. My main Ubuntu PC handles going to sleep well and there is only a small delay (less than 1/2 minute - maybe 15 seconds) waking up. In fact, I even have my Ubuntu file server (that I mainly use for remote backup of files) go to sleep after an hour (it's more of a pain since I have to walk down to the basement to wake it up, but I figure the power savings are worth it). Btw, I don't know if I mentioned it, but my HTPC will be both front end and back end (probably obvious with a 2TB drive for media). I also have thoughts of being able to stream recordings from it (in my living room) across my wired network to my main Ubuntu PC upstairs, but that would be a more rare occurrence with a TV and free Comcast digital decoder in that room as well.
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post #23 of 26 Old 01-30-2013, 03:04 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HDTimeShifter View Post

Does myth handle putting the drive and HTPC to sleep and waking it for recordings well? I would be mostly recording TV when I'm not around, then watching it later (hence the username HDTimeshifter when I signed up here back in 2003). My Comcast Motorola DVR keeps the disk spinning 24x7 even when it is off. My main Ubuntu PC handles going to sleep well and there is only a small delay (less than 1/2 minute - maybe 15 seconds) waking up. In fact, I even have my Ubuntu file server (that I mainly use for remote backup of files) go to sleep after an hour (it's more of a pain since I have to walk down to the basement to wake it up, but I figure the power savings are worth it). Btw, I don't know if I mentioned it, but my HTPC will be both front end and back end (probably obvious with a 2TB drive for media). I also have thoughts of being able to stream recordings from it (in my living room) across my wired network to my main Ubuntu PC upstairs, but that would be a more rare occurrence with a TV and free Comcast digital decoder in that room as well.

I haven't used it (I run everything 24/7 - I know, not green but really simplifies administration for my multiple machines for me), but maybe this is what you are looking for?

http://www.mythtv.org/wiki/Mythwelcome
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post #24 of 26 Old 01-31-2013, 10:51 AM
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I have 3 green drives in my mythbackend box. It's fine.

I have ssd's in my mythfrontend's, but that's solely for noise reasons (not that hdd's are that noisy but, particularly with my bedroom htpc, i don't want to hear the faintest click when i'm dozing off).
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post #25 of 26 Old 01-31-2013, 10:53 AM
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Originally Posted by newlinux View Post

I haven't used it (I run everything 24/7 - I know, not green but really simplifies administration for my multiple machines for me), but maybe this is what you are looking for?

http://www.mythtv.org/wiki/Mythwelcome

i recall seeing the sleep/wake option inside of mythtv-setup. i don't use it since my backend machine is always running as it serves other purposes, but the option is there.
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post #26 of 26 Old 02-02-2013, 01:34 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HDTimeShifter View Post

Does myth handle putting the drive and HTPC to sleep and waking it for recordings well? ...
There are numerous setup options that would seem to do this and will wake up the BE in case a remote FE needs to be serviced. With that said, I've never used it. I find it more convenient to let it run 24/7. For example I might get an urge to access the web interface on a laptop to do some scheduling, see what's on, etc. This is why the green drives are important along with careful consideration of the processor. (ability to do transcodes/commercial flagging vs standby power)
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