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I just finished planning out components, none of which are purchased yet, for my media server (multi-zone audio, DVD storing, and PVR) and in that list of components is a pair of 2.4GHz Zeons. I need stream content to 1 HDTV, 1 projector, and 1 non-HDTV TV. The server will be located in the room with the projector. If I replaced the 2.4GHz Zeons with the 3.06GHz (512k cache) Zeons would I be able to use the server to play high def DVD's to the projector next to it on top of it streaming content to the two other TV's? Or would I just be better off building a seperate HTPC for the projector room?
 

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I have a shuttle SN41g2 with an Athlon XP 2500+ for my HTPC. It was my old primary system, and I just swapped a few components to dedicate it to htpc. Performance wise i can run multiple hidef streams instances. I tried it with both a dvd playing and a wmv9 version of T2, and then i tried playing two wmv9 videos. The two hidef vid streams, which should require much more processing power than the dvd used about 40% CPU each.


I believe a single P4 (I'd recommend an Athlon 64, they're my new favorite) would be adequate for you. My primary system right now is a P4 2.8ghz and it is more capable than my HTPC. If you get a 3+Ghz system you should be fine on a single processor. Even with the added cost of a higher speed processor, you could take the savings and spend it on a larger raid array (or implement one) or on other components.



Post back on what you're using to stream to all the different monitors. I can get multiple monitors to work, but then you either have a split desktop or mirror the desktop between the them.
 

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So what you're saying is that my server, equipped with dual 3.06GHz Zeons, can run a RAID 5 array, output audio to multiple zones, and serve as a PVR, on top of playing high def movies? Can anyone else comment on this? If this is so, then I have another question for you or anyone else who has an answer. I would like to use an M-Audio Delta 1010LT for multizone audio distribution and audio for DVD's played on that server, not over the LAN. The question is, can I use the S/PDIF output for digital audio and simultaneously use all the analog outputs for multizone audio using zones in JRiver Media Center 9?
 

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I don't know anything about your specific hardware/software combo. I don't have a need for all that...yet... since I am just barely in the planning stages of building a house, and just need my HTPC to output to one system. I'll break this down as well as a I can.


If you are using software raid 5, then definitely get the dual xeons. Software raid 5 will eat up processor resrouces. Instead of doing that, I'd recommend some sort of IDE raid card either PATA or SATA just because SCSI drives don't come in the sizes that you can get IDE in (for a reasonable price at least). It doesn't sound like you really care about what it will cost, and building with Dual 3.06ghz Xeons will be pricey, more than I would care to spend for a single HTPC.


As to the rest of your questions, you're going to need some sort of serious hardware/software combination (not necessarily processor wise) to output to all these different zones and perform all these different tasks.


If you wanted to record tv and play a movie stream on a single P4 3ghz you should be fine. The dual Xeons (it's spelled with an X by the way) would work very well and allow you to multitask a little easier. When you start wanting to output audio to multiple zones, it's going to rely more on what your soundcard/software combo can do. The Delta 1010 looks like it should be able to do this, but it will depend on what the software will allow you to send the output to.



Your original post asked if it would be better to build a seperate HTPC for your projector room. In this case, I think you are trying to do too much with one machine. If you really want to do everything all at once, you would probably need dual processors running at 3+Ghz. This would allow you to process two HD streams, record Tv, and output audio all day long. I read up on that MAudio card, and it looks like you can output multiple streams (ease of controlling them may be another matter), but I still don't know how you are going to select two primary monitors and output multiple HD streams to each monitor. If these systems are in different rooms you are going to run into cable length problems as well. Even with high quality DVI cable, you are going to get artifacts if you are running long lengths. If you really have a big wad of cash to spend on an HTPC, and don't have any more worthwhile components to upgrade you should do this.


1. Build a large media server. I prefer raid 5 using a LSI raid card (Dell uses them for enterprise servers, why shouldn't we?). Get the SATA version that handles 8+ drives (I think they have a 12 drive one) and buy a bunch of 250 - 300 gig drives. This will give you redundant storage for all your media. If you want your multiple audio zones, you can install the Sound card into this machine and use it to control your audio, leaving the HTPC's for movies.


2. Run gigabit ethernet (Cat 5e) to where you want your HTPC's to be. This way each HTPC can get fast access to your files.


3. Build an HTPC for each area. It doesn't have to be as fancy as the first one, which will make up for cost since a single P4 2.6ghz is about 1/3 the cost of the Xeon, plus the motherboard and powersupply requirements will be less. This way you don't run into cabling issues running video to multiple rooms. Building 3 HTPC's will allow you to have one for each monitor getting past the fact that you aren't going to be able to output video to all these different places without some product I have never seen.


Like I said before, I can't comment on actual products, my HTPC is fairly simple. I just wanted something to play files off my media server with. Please let me know what you are going to use to allow you to do the multiple video outputs. It would allow me to do some interesting things once I actually build my house.
 
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