AVS Forum banner

Status
Not open for further replies.
1 - 16 of 16 Posts

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
213 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
I've read, researched, priced, re-evaluated, and tested various ideas and designs for a Media Center System... and I'm not even close to starting to put things together because I recently moved and I have to rebuild my movie theater room again in the new house.


My criteria for my media center system is as follows:
  1. Must be able to burn DVDs (in ISO format) to a hard drive and play them.
  2. Must be able to burn CDs to a hard drive and play them
  3. Media must be backedup/redundant. While I have the originals, I don't want to re-rip everything all over again
  4. Must be able to record shows, but not necessarily HD.
  5. All destination points of the media center system must have aestetically pleasing equipment (satellite systems).

And finally, I'm a software developer and I like to re-invent the wheel over and over again when it comes to this type of stuff. It's a flaw of mine. :) Gives me a sense of accomplishment. So please try to remember that I want to try and write the UI and management system software and would prefer to not use software like MythTV. Just humor me. :)


So this is what I've come up with so far (trying to keep initial costs low, but flexibility for future upgrades high), but there are still many questions.


There will be at least 3 servers:
  1. At least 1 linux file server dedicated to storing the media. Using content from LinuxFromScratch.org, I can build my own distro with just file sharing capabilities. No X-server... No web browsing (although networking is needed)... Just base kernel, software raid (RAID-5), networking modules, and some file sharing daemon (probably Samba, but not necessary because satellites will be Linux based). Will also have DVD, CD iso generation (no burning needed).
  2. 1 linux based TV recorder. The purpose of this server is to simply record TV shows and place them on the file server. Why not include this in server 1? TV recording takes more processing power than what I want to toss into the file server initially. Also, as the file server gets full, that would limit the number of slots open for other tuner cards if I wanted to record multiple shows.
  3. Media System management server. This is a linux based server that simple keeps track of where all the media content is. Think of this as the MythTV backend minus the tuner card. It's a simple DB server with a simple network protocol that provides information from the satellites to the servers. This is the only server that should be visible to all other systems on the network.


A satellite system would be as follows:
  1. Small-form case running a mid-level processor and decent memory.
  2. DVD player for local playing.
  3. OS would be Linux based running off a CompactFlash memory card connect via the CompactFlash to IDE adapter. I do know of the life of about 100,000 write/erases on CompactFlash. Since the satellite does very little writing to file (outside of swap), CompactFlash life should not be an issue.
  4. A small 1GB or less, but quite, HD would also be in the system for swap space.
  5. 10/100/1000 ethernet adapter
  6. TV out via HDMI, DVI, or Component.
  7. Audio out via digital or coaxial
  8. 802.11 wireless b or g


The entire system is connected via hard wire over 10/100 network (or 10/100/1000 if the main switch is ever upgraded) or over wireless (satellites only). Servers (rack-mount) will be hard-wired together and located in the basement in a separate room so the noise they produce will not be an issue. I can also easily add more fileservers to the network once one has it's fill of HDs.


The software on the satellite systems will connect to the media system management server which would provide information about the media library, TV programs, etc... ie MythTV Backend. ISO files (the DVD/CD images) would be mounted on the satellite system over the network when the user was playing a movie/cd. Straight MPEGs (if by chance I did have any) would be streamed.


Now my questions:

Will this setup even work? DVDs play at about 1350 kB/s (kilobytes/second). That is too much for a 10Mb (megabit/second) network to stream over, but what about 100Mb? How about over the wireless where the theoretical 11Mb/54Mb speed is rarely obtained?


Should the satellite system have hardware MPEG decoding for playback? They (the satellite systems) do very little so I can't think that having hardware would be that useful since the CPU would then just be idle.


Anything else I missed?


Feedback/Comments are encouraged!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
845 Posts
3 servers? How many people are using this system? Typical MythTV setups do all 3 on one system with multiple tuners and room to spare. As for playing content across the network, I have had problems trying to play a DVD over a wireless connection. No problems over 100Mib. As for your clients, the VIA EPIA boards with XVMC accelleration are popular with MythTV users.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
213 Posts
Discussion Starter #3
I wanted to seperate the servers into their fundamental roles. I do realize that I can put all 3 into 1 computer, but for future growth and performance, I though keeping them all seperate would be a better idea. Also, I plan on having, in the end, at least 3 clients/satellites: Family room, theater room, bedroom.


I did look into the VIA EPIA. Thought it was a good board, but wasn't sure.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
213 Posts
Discussion Starter #4
This is the motherboard that I think I will go with for the satellite systems:
MSI K8NGM2-FID

Features:

DVI

7.1 Audio

10/100/1000 Mb ethernet

1 firewire + 4 USB


Missing:

SPDIF audio connector... although a bracket can be found/purchased


Nice! :D
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
837 Posts
The only catch is if you're doing this today, nvidia hasn't released linux drivers for those 6150 motherboards yet, but they assure us that said drivers will exist with their next driver release in a few weeks? couple months? who knows, but they are good about releasing linux driver equivalents so i'll take their word for it, due to past performance from them.


10/100 is plenty for DVD or even HDTV, really, as long as you don't have more than a couple of simulatenous clients streaming stuff at once.


I think you'll have a hard time surpassing mythtv as a SDTV recording software. It is 100% reliable, from my experience. It includes support for controlling set top boxes, whether they be satellite or cable, which is also 100% reliable. It also has excellent commercial detection and skipping. And you can build just the recording back-end, without the client, if you so choose. I used to run mine this way, with the client being an xbox.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
213 Posts
Discussion Starter #6
I've done plenty of reading regarding MythTV and am very impressed with it. I will still consider it once I get to the point of actual software implementation, but that's not for at least a few months.


As far as the nVidia drivers, I can wait. I don't have any yet so the client machines can wait until mid next year while I get the other servers up and running.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
264 Posts
Quote:
Originally Posted by DMGambone
I'm a software developer and I like to re-invent the wheel over and over again when it comes to this type of stuff. It's a flaw of mine. :) Gives me a sense of accomplishment. So please try to remember that I want to try and write the UI and management system software and would prefer to not use software like MythTV. Just humor me. :)
I'm glad I'm not the only one with this type of masochistic impulse. I'm working on a similar project, but using one server for now. My UI uses OpenGL; I'm currently working on implementing video playback within the UI instead of launching an external program. If you want to share work, let me know.


If anyone's curious what it looks like, let me know and I can edit a video of the complete boot/playback/shutdown process. It's nowhere near ready for release, but it's easy enough for everyone in the family to use.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
213 Posts
Discussion Starter #8
A video would be great! I'd also be interested in hearing/reading about how you got the audio/video streams. Haven't done a single once of research regarding the software so when I start working on it, I need to find out about all this.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
845 Posts
I have been working on an OpenGL UI like that too, but am only up to the point of having a button control. I was planning on using libvlc to do the brunt of the work.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
27 Posts
If the network is secure it's probably easiest to use NFS over CIFS. Also, and this may have changed so you should verify it yourself if you care, but I believe the performance of CIFS pretty much sucks.


I'd lose the swap drive on the satellite system, too. Put some swap space on the compact flash and enough memory in the system that it is ~never touched. The harddrive is a big source of noise that would be nice to get rid of.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
213 Posts
Discussion Starter #11
Quote:
Originally Posted by leko
If the network is secure it's probably easiest to use NFS over CIFS. Also, and this may have changed so you should verify it yourself if you care, but I believe the performance of CIFS pretty much sucks.


I'd lose the swap drive on the satellite system, too. Put some swap space on the compact flash and enough memory in the system that it is ~never touched. The harddrive is a big source of noise that would be nice to get rid of.
That was my initial plan, but I'm worried that it wouldn't have enough memory for whatever reason so I thought a laptop drive would be a nice alternative since it would be quieter than your standard 3.5". Without the HD, how much memory would be plenty/overkill? 512MB of RAM? 1GB of RAM?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
27 Posts
well, this is my media pc currently:


total used free shared buffers cached

Mem: 970580 955756 14824 0 19708 654096

Swap: 1060280 372 1059908


That computer is currently running X, mpd, mythtv, and a bunch of other random stuff since it's my router. I'd think you'd be fine with 1GB. Memory is cheap nowdays.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
213 Posts
Discussion Starter #14
Quote:
Originally Posted by leko
Oh, btw, my next media PC will be made from this:

http://www.endpcnoise.com/cgi-bin/e/TNN-500AF.html


Expensive, but damn it's slick.
I was thinking of using the SilverStone LC11 . Nice low-profile case. Not sound proof like the one you posted, but it should be quiet enough. SilverStone makes some really nice cases.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
213 Posts
Discussion Starter #15
Quote:
Originally Posted by DMGambone
This is the motherboard that I think I will go with for the satellite systems:
MSI K8NGM2-FID

Features:

DVI

7.1 Audio

10/100/1000 Mb ethernet

1 firewire + 4 USB


Missing:

SPDIF audio connector... although a bracket can be found/purchased


Nice! :D
I've been reading/tracking this AVS Forum thread and I'm going to wait for a while until the MSI board stablizes some more and more people have had a chance to really play with it. Still has potential though.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
264 Posts
Quote:
Originally Posted by DMGambone
A video would be great! I'd also be interested in hearing/reading about how you got the audio/video streams. Haven't done a single once of research regarding the software so when I start working on it, I need to find out about all this.
So far I haven't loaded a single video stream into OpenGL. I've learned how to use SGI's vsync extension, and I've done YUV-RGB color conversion for 4:4:4 images. I wrote a RIFF loader that will soon be able to dump the contents of a 4:4:4 packed YUV AVI. I'm using mplayer to dump the streams to a file, to see if reading video data with a pipe will be fast enough. I will probably end up figuring out how to use planar 4:2:0 YUV data, as I expect 4:4:4 to be too big.
 
1 - 16 of 16 Posts
Status
Not open for further replies.
Top