I've been away from the forum quite a while (busy, travelling etc.) and I just returned for the unfortunate fact that my AV receiver just broke down
but what a nice surprise here!
To quote TNO821: This. Is. AWESOME!!!!!!! You, guys, rock!
I'm so sorry I missed the moment it happened (thank you DCTneo for providing the much sought after image!) but man, I'm so glad it finally proved TNO821's hunch about eSATA formatting was correct!
Now I guess I just have to buy a 1TB drive & try it myself, although having to watch HD programming on an old 29" CRT TV instead of the big projector screen + surround sound while my receiver is out of service is no fun
Anyway, I will try to provide some answers to some of the questions I saw while I read the last few pages of this thread.
First the Advanced Format disks topic. The worst that can happen performance-wise when you use an AF disk with any kind of read/write operation that is not aligned to the 4k sectors on the AF disk is that a read-modify-write operation will actually be used instead of just a write operation (read operations are not a problem since 2 consecutive sectors are read into the buffer in one single go). This will *significantly* slow down the write operation as the disk has to complete an extra rotation at least.
However I don't think that would affect the DCT performance. If you are interested by the real-life impact the non-aligned writes may have: I tested 2 x 2GB F4 Samsungs on an old Pentium 4 running Linux and the best write throughput I managed to get (using 4kB-aligned write operations at the very beginning of the disks) was around 135 MB/s. The *worst* write throughput I managed to get (using non-aligned writes towards the end of the discs) was 22.3 MB/s. Now I did not actually do the math for the CATV HD bitrates (plus that mixing read and write operations would probably degrade the throughput even more) but I reckon 22 MB/s should be sufficient for recording 2 HD streams while also playing a 3rd HD stream (the most intensive thing I think you could ask a Motorola HD box to do in terms of HDD throughput). So I reckon you should be fine in terms of performance if you use Advanced Format disks (BTW, the Samsungs I tested are 5400rpm disks).
I also believe wear & tear is not an issue for drive longevity as any misaligned sectors are read or written in sequence anyway (the heads don't need to move more, just the discs may have to spin more, but they spin anyway all the time in a DCT so no extra harm inflicted here either). I can't see any increase in noise either since no extra head movement is required.
Capacity should not be an issue as long as your disk has at least the same number of 512-byte sectors (real or "emulated") as the image you're trying to write on it, but I'm not so sure about the geometry thingy - the disk may or may not work in a Motorola box after imaging is complete, depending on how the STB accesses it. Bad blocks remapping can indeed eat into the number of available sectors so that may be a real problem if you end up with too few available sectors.
Right, that was all about Advanced Format disks.
Regarding the electrical power used by a Motorola DCT box. This, from my own point of view really sucks
I live in this country where 1 kWh of electricity costs just a tad more than 40 USD cents (!). I'm living alone and not using anything too power-hungry except the water heater for the washing machine and I still end up having to pay around 150 USD each month just for electricity! Now you can imagine I am looking for ways to turn greener and greener
and cut down the cost of electricity. My first "suspect" was the DCT box, which stays really hot even while in "standby". So this weekend I used a P3 Kill a Watt to measure how much electricity the DCT3412 uses. Bad news - it uses around 32 W regardless of whether you're watching TV, recording anything or even putting it in standby! Exact figures are hard to get (the consumption is not fixed, it "wobbles" around certain values) but I'd say it uses around 31 W in standby, 32 W while watching TV and 33 W while recording (all of them with a Power Factor of 0.55 for anybody who's really into this kind of stuff
). So no, no power to be saved in standby. In fact I think this makes these deviced *illegal* in the state of California (at least). A real bummer if you ask me, as I have to pay the power company around 10 USD each month just for the Motorola box alone. I would have loved to have a real power-off button to turn it off for good when not in use (no way I can access the power cable behind the furniture for this), even if that meant having to wait for the program guide data to load again after each power on. But that's life.
Now, last thing - a small request. DCTneo, could you please also include things like drive rpm, cache size, geometry & capacity info in the post where you listed the drives that are proven to work? I reckon that would make life much easier for those who are looking to buy a "compatible" drive and are worried about different "batches" of the same manufacturer & model.
Great many thanks again to TNO821 for putting so much dedication into this and to DCTneo for the image! It feels so good - more space for everybodyyyyyy!!!!