Recording requires very little. Playback requires relatively little these days too.
I can and do record up to 5 channels from 5 different tuners while playing back a show on the HTPC and feeding another show to a different client PC on the network. (Think of it as 7 total HD streams coming or going at the same time.)
This with an old AMD A64 3200+ single core proc and 7600GT gfx. All streams recorded to a single 7200 rpm HDD.
HD (digital) tuners don't have hardware mpeg2 encoders. The streams are already MPEG2 (or H.264) encoded so the tuners are really just a passthrough when recording. MPEG2 encoders were only needed for analog tuners.
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