Just saw this one, Andy. For some reason I'm not getting notifications on this thread. Hmmmm...
That is great info, and thank you very much. I'm narrowing my options down quite a bit and I think I've settled on something like this for my core:
System76 Eland Pedestal. It ships with Ubuntu 14.04.1 Server LTS, so I'm guessing it'll be AOK for this purpose.
Intel Xeon E3-1220V2 (3.10 GHz 8MB Cache - 4 cores)
16 GB DDR3 1333 MHz ECC
2x2 TB SATA III 7200 RPM in hardware RAID-1
Hot swap drive cage
CD-RW/DVD-RW Dual layer drive
The questions that stand out for this one are:
Graphics are integrate Intel HD. Is this enough for a core? I assume the core doesn't need much graphics support.
I very much like the hardware raid setup - is this compatible with LinuxMCE?
No audio included, but there are extra bays for expansion. I'll probably pick up an audio card or two, if they are needed.
As far as structure, I plan to have the core in a utility room in the basement. I'll have Cat5e access there as well as all the house speakers will terminate there. I assume I can either connect the speakers to audio cards in the core or to amplifiers controlled by the core. (Those amplifiers would be in the utility room also.) I'll have 2 rooms with 2 speakers each in the ceilings, and all those wires terminate in the utility room.
For the media directors, I anticipate 2 rooms, maybe 3, and those will have small footprint computers in place next to the TVs. I'm thinking something like this for the media directors: https://www.thinkpenguin.com/gnu-linux/penguin-pocket-wee-gnu-linux-desktop They have Intel 1080p HD video and audio support.
That's my current plan for hardware. As always, any feedback is greatly appreciated.
Looking over your post here are some quick replies;
- we typically never configure Dianemo NC's (our term for a Core) as MD's so we don't worry about what graphics as such. In the days when we used standalone MD's we'd install enough for the number of rooms in the install.
- your chosen Core hardware should be fine as far as I can see - but I'd test it with a liveCD first to be sure. But I would also say that the Core hardware is way over spec'd for even the biggest house installation. Most of the time your Core will just be sitting there burning electricity. We would usually spec a Core with a mid-range i5 or possibly an i7 (but that would be only for bigger installations than your proposing). So test the hardware first for sure and then decide.
- audio cards can be added if you have enough slots and can be virtualised to so a single 7.1 card can drive 4x stereo zones for example.
- centralising everything is a good approach. If you plan to centralise the Amplifiers then you'll want to use low loss high quality speaker cables to each set of speakers in each room (CAT5/6 is no good for speakers except in emergencies or over very short distances). If the MD's are located in-room then you might want to locate the amplifiers with the MD's to simplify cabling/connections between them (run plenty of cat5/6 back to the rack to cover unexpected situations ). Soundcards always need an amplifier - they can't drive speakers directly.
- I'd recommend locating your media storage in a separate NAS (this could be raided of course easily) rather than in the Core itself. Hardware RAID will use proprietary drivers etc but as long as you can configure the RAID array using the provided utilities then your Core should be able to use it.
- those MD's use and i3 and look very nice. However they may not be ideal because they use Intel integrated graphics. You should check that suitable hardware accelerated graphics drivers are available and test the real video performance with some HD video streams before committing to them. Ironically those MD's are somewhat similar to some of our small Dianemo NC's that we would use in 2-3 bed apartments.
Let me know if any of the above is unclear!
All the best