Author Topic: hardware components for system builders?  (Read 3556 times)

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hardware components for system builders?
« on: March 07, 2006, 05:38:53 pm »
Reading through the forums, I have come across posts which state that this dosen't work, or that dosen't work.

As a system builder interested in building a core and a couple media directors, I'd like to know what hardware has been tested/recommended. By this, I mean system components - motherboards, chipsets, harddrives and types (S-ATA 150/300, SCSI, IDE).

Are there any issues with AMD vs. Intel?
dual core cupport, 64 bit support.

What are the typical requirements for a Media director:
PVR card,
Sound card
recommended PCI slots
suitable small form factor cases (specific models - shuttle, biostar etc)
storage (CF or harddrive)

Are there any pitfalls to be aware of?
Has anything been documented in this area?
Maybe a Sticky can be created for such a thread?

I saw similar posts here newbielink:http://plutohome.com/support/phpbb2/viewtopic.php?t=349 [nonactive]
and
newbielink:http://plutohome.com/support/phpbb2/viewtopic.php?t=661 [nonactive]
but it did not answer this question.

Thanks

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« Reply #1 on: March 08, 2006, 05:49:42 am »
Pixelator,
I am no Linux guru. But, from my little experience with it I would gleen.

Nvidia linux support = > ATI.
AMD vs Itel shouldn't matter. I am guessing Pluto is 32bit based.. Native 64 bit linux is still flaky and is lacking funtionality. (ie. 64bit Flash.)
On board sata has been a problem for me in the past. I use a 3ware escalade 8006-2lp to help linux see my two 250gb sata drives in Raid(AID) 0.
For mobos I would check the HCL (Hardware Compatability List) @www.linuxquestions.org/hcl/
Soundcard - I would check the HCL again, but I am pretty sure the Audigy cards are pretty well supported. (mine works)
PVR - I am looking at the HD-3000 from newbielink:http://www.pchdtv.com/ [nonactive].
I am not sure on the pc slots thing I have pci. I have only used pci and not pci express.
Hard drives I like western digital, but thats just a preference for me.
Cases????hmmm. I like my shuttle It will make a nice Media director. The only drawback is that it is not completely silent. My video card isn't loud, but it isn't quiet as mouse either. The shuttle lacks the space to add a zalman cooler to the card to silence it. As far I know a case is a case is a case. But, I have found you get what you pay for. You buy a cheap case you get a cheap case with cheap parts. I use mostly Antec. Cheap but not cheaply made.
I am not even thinking about the diskless option. I was looking for one for my car a year or so ago and found one @ Damn Small Linux's site. It was Via based, and booted off flash. It was on the cheap side $250.00 or so. I am not sure on the pci slots. Here is the site newbielink:http://www.damnsmalllinux.org/store/Mini_ITX_Systems [nonactive]

I don't foresee any real useful hardware input from anyone here.   I am sure they do not have the time or resources to test every setup. Plus every setup for this can be wildly different depending on your needs. And for this project to make money Pluto has to sell some boxes. I am very happy the software is out there and I will do my best to make it work for me. And if I happen to run into any bugs I will do my best to bring them to light.  I got a month or so to save up some money to buy some different hardware and I will dive into this. Until then I will keep checking for any nugget of info I can get.

Regards,
Blair
P.S If you could do me a favor. Pm me if you get a response or find a good setup. I think we are in a similar boat.

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« Reply #2 on: March 08, 2006, 11:18:50 am »
Quote from: "Deadpenguin"
Pixelator,
I am no Linux guru. But, from my little experience with it I would gleen.

....

P.S If you could do me a favor. Pm me if you get a response or find a good setup. I think we are in a similar boat.

We all are  :D , so please keep us posted on forum (afterall forum is meant for users...) ....

I have Asus mobo in Core at home, but have some funny things happening (sometimes it looses flash settings, sometimes it won't shutdown properly). I also put in Asus Pentium M adapter to reduce power consumption, but there are also limiations, I didn't yet start to deal with them...

I have 3 diskless Epias (m9000, ME6000, sp8000e) and they work with some limitations (see other threads). Major problem is lack of proper Video drivers, so currently they are only audio Mds...

I also have Asus Digimatrix MD and it also works with some limitations (tv card is not properly setup, cannot get it to PXE boot automatically - have boot CD in it all the time)... Have used some other usefull utilities to display Time, Temperature - but I see time that is 1 hour behind - old problem in Pluto that still doesn't seem to be solved...

I have one IP Phone (Grandstream bt100 - works ok) and video surveillance with 4 analog and 2 USB cameras. I also have 1 USB camera for video phone on Digimatrix...

HTH,

regards,

Rob.

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« Reply #3 on: March 09, 2006, 12:52:37 am »
This is the info I think both of us are looking for.

I am going to try to stick as closely to the core specs as I can. MD's I will use what I got and hope for the best. The tablet PC should work. I got a month or so before I can even start anyway.
I am just trying to make the wisest purchasing decisions as far as compatability goes.

Regards,


Blair

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« Reply #4 on: March 09, 2006, 08:24:09 pm »
Quote from: "Deadpenguin"

PVR - I am looking at the HD-3000 from newbielink:http://www.pchdtv.com/ [nonactive].

That looks like a promising PVR option, BUT it ships with a custom version of Xine (from the site)
"Each card is shipped with a custom HDTV version of Xine Media Player"

I'd bet that without the custom Xine player, that card will not be of much use, at least not the HD portion of it.

I searched the forums for the term "epia" to see what others were dealing with. I get the impression that for the most part, there are a lot of issues but they may have been resolved with the Nehemiah core. Can anyone confirm this? If resolved/fully supported, then is the Eden processor also supported (based on the Nehemiah core)? It looks like a great option for a small form factor MD.
newbielink:http://www.via.com.tw/en/products/mainboards/mini_itx/epia_sp/index.jsp [nonactive]

I'd love to set up a couple diskless/fanless MDs.
I think that a case should be able to at lease support 2 additional PCI cards (PVR and maybe Audio or video[depending on the capabilities of the on-board support])

Quote
I am just trying to make the wisest purchasing decisions as far as compatability goes.

That is my point as well. I can't afford to invest in hardware only to find out that it will not work. It would be nice to have a baseline for hardware support. I'm not looking for support info of every piece of hardware/component known, but just a few options for each category (sound cards, processors, Drives/types, video, PVR etc.) that are known to absolutely work in a pluto system.

Looking for cases, I also came across this MSI box.
newbielink:http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E16856101226 [nonactive]
The back panel is nearly identical to the MD displayed on the pluto web site and the dimensions are exactly the same. Does anyone know if Pluto is branding a version of the MSI Hetis boxes?

To be safe, it appears to me that it's best to stick with the "older" components and hope that the newer technology will be supported soon.

Stick with:
Athlon XP or Intel 4/celeron chips
ATX Mobos (?? manufacturer)
SB Audigy sound cards
Nvidia video cards
Hauppauge PVR-250/350
USB 2.0

Wait for:
Sata drive support
64 bit and dual processing support.
full ITX support

Please correct me if I'm wrong. I am just trying to understand what does and does not work.

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« Reply #5 on: March 09, 2006, 11:21:14 pm »
I think you are on the right track hardware wise.
But, i am not sure if sata drives are the problem or using cheap built in mobo raid is the problem. Linux supported hardware raid card such as the one I am using should make sata ok to use.

And for the MD's does the cpu matter.  If I am already running suse 10.0 64. I should only be worried if my pc can net boot.????

All the software in a core installation is run server side correct???
The mds are just dumb clients. Running apps off the core. Or am I totally missing this.???

Regards,
Blair

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« Reply #6 on: March 09, 2006, 11:33:21 pm »
I just checked the newegg link. I like the case. First time I have seen integrated dvi on the mobo video.

I am still partial to the shuttle cases. You can pick up a barebones shuttle for athlon xp or p4 for $100-$200 on Ebay.

Good Luck.

Blair

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« Reply #7 on: March 10, 2006, 11:38:59 am »
Quote from: "Deadpenguin"
I think you are on the right track hardware wise.
But, i am not sure if sata drives are the problem or using cheap built in mobo raid is the problem. Linux supported hardware raid card such as the one I am using should make sata ok to use.

And for the MD's does the cpu matter.  If I am already running suse 10.0 64. I should only be worried if my pc can net boot.????

All the software in a core installation is run server side correct???
The mds are just dumb clients. Running apps off the core. Or am I totally missing this.???

Regards,
Blair

Yeap, you're right. I have few regular windows macines, that after netboot change to Pluto MD. No problem at all, even my windows laptop is occasionally Pluto MD....

What I'd like to have is to have nondiskless MD (for instance PC in your car - it should boot locally (maybe even have local subcopy of media files) and then connect to Pluto as regular MD) - that would be interesting to have in car MD or remote MD... On faster Internet connection, having boot from flash and then use Pluto's media repository would be even cooler...

Regards,

Rob.

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« Reply #8 on: March 10, 2006, 04:40:42 pm »
Quote
And for the MD's does the cpu matter. If I am already running suse 10.0 64. I should only be worried if my pc can net boot.????

I'd tend to think that if you are booting/running Suse on an ATX board, you'd be ok. I was refering more to the ITX small form factor boards running the nehemia and eden cores. From what I was reading, there is/or was a problem with i686 support. I thought I also read that it was resolved in a newer nehemiah core. But I'm not sure where it stands now. Do problems still exist? Is the Eden chip effected?... This is really the only thing that is keeping me away from a small box. I don't want to have to spend all my time hacking and "fixing" to get things to work.

As for the SATA issue, I suppose that in a core adding an additional raid card is not much of a problem, But on the "appliance" style and small form factor enclosures, that could be a problem due to the limited PCI slots available (typically 1-2). so now I have two questions.

1. Do all MDs need a pvr card, or do they send video to the core to be recorded/played back?

2. Is onboard audio acceptable to send multi channel signals to a dolby receiver, or does the MD also need multi channel dolby support?

Quote
What I'd like to have is to have nondiskless MD (for instance PC in your car - it should boot locally (maybe even have local subcopy of media files) and then connect to Pluto as regular MD) - that would be interesting to have in car MD or remote MD... On faster Internet connection, having boot from flash and then use Pluto's media repository would be even cooler...

I had a similar thought to this idea (before I realized I was getting ahead of myself and needed to understand how pluto works first). I was thinking  about some type of "portable" MD that you can take anywhere including your car. It would need it's own storage capabilities large enough to hold some video and audio files. When connected to a Pluto system, it would use the core for all its functions normaly, BUT you could also transfer and sync media to the local storage and take it with you in the car, on vacation, etc... When disconnected from the core, it could boot into "portable mode" and act like a stand alone media center. Maybe something to think about after a stable Pluto 2 is released.

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« Reply #9 on: March 10, 2006, 06:31:39 pm »
just my 0,2 cents ...

Regarding EPIA, I can confirm that Nehemiah is working fine (no i686 CMOV bug anymore) and with latest kernel I can say that a good support for video was added. I currently have an M10000 based hybrid on it, and it's ok.

When I started playing with Pluto and EPIA video support was a nightmare. Pluto was using kernel 2.6.10 and basically cle266 was not supported. I had to use a different xfree86 properly patched with unichrome drivers to have it working with xine.

With current 2.6.15 kernel (but also with 2.6.13) a decent support for cle266 has been added. It is still not perfect, because unichrome does not support anymore XvMC (hardware acceleration) that is beeing developed in a fork project ( newbielink:http://www.openchrome.org [nonactive]).

Unfortunately openchrome project deals only with Xorg drivers, even if I've read about people that tried to compile that driver source against an xfree86 tree.

So unless beeing brave and trying some hack (or unless Pluto migrates to Xorg ... Radu, any plan on it?), no hw acceleration is forecasted for EPIA based boxes.

I never tried this box as diskless MD, but I will shortly do as soon as my new core box arrives.

By the way, my choice for new core has been:

CPU = AMD Athlon 64 3200
mobo = EPOX 9NPA+ Ultra
HD= 2 x Western Digital SATA 200GB

Will post here the results with this hardware setup as soon as I get it.

HTH
Marco

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« Reply #10 on: March 10, 2006, 08:08:46 pm »
MarcoZan, thanks for sharing this info on the epia and confirming the Nehemiah questions. Seeing that the Eden is built on the Nehemiah core, I'll assume for now that it applies to Eden as well. Need to do more research.
I came across this link after google-ing "eden i686 support"
newbielink:http://epialinux.org/files/epia_howto/index.html [nonactive] which might have some helpful info for others.

Quote
So unless beeing brave and trying some hack (or unless Pluto migrates to Xorg ... Radu, any plan on it?), no hw acceleration is forecasted for EPIA based boxes.

It's not that I can't apply a work around or hack, it's that I really don't want to have to. Lets face it, I'm a normal guy and I work in the IT industry as Director of IT and network Admin by day, so the last thing I want to do is come home after working 10-15 hours and have to hack my pluto system to watch TV or listen to some relaxing music. I want to turn it on and let Pluto do the rest (that is how it's supposed to work, isin't it?). I understand there is some effort and work required to get pluto running, but applying [unsupported] hacks also makes the long term management more difficult. You can't guarentee that a hack will not have adverse effects when it comes time to apply a pluto patch, or update, or upgrade to a newer version or just simply troubleshoot in general.

Anyway, thanks for posting that info. It is well received.
I also prefer AMD.

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« Reply #11 on: March 11, 2006, 03:02:24 am »
Quote from: "pixelator"
I'm a normal guy and I work in the IT industry as Director of IT and network Admin by day, so the last thing I want to do is come home after working 10-15 hours and have to hack my pluto system to watch TV or listen to some relaxing music. I want to turn it on and let Pluto do the rest (that is how it's supposed to work, isin't it?).


I am assuming it would work that way if you bought the system from one of their soon to be announced dealers.

Thanks for the info tinia. Wow.....the car pc is a great idea.
Is a dual core opteron overkill?
I plan on running alot of things at the same time. I need to know that two tvs a security cam network with a music stream open won't come crashing down when a x-10 light kicks on or a VOIP call comes through at the same time.

Regards,
Blair

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« Reply #12 on: March 13, 2006, 10:58:40 am »
@ pixelator

I'm not an hardware guru, but to my knowledge Sempron is an Athlon with only 1 internal memory controller and in general has a different socket.

Athlon has socket 939 while Sempron uses a different one.

A friend of mine (that actually is an hardware guru) tells me that in terms of performance Athlon is WAY better than Sempron, but I still have to put my hands on those nice toys to test by myself ...

Regards
Marco

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« Reply #13 on: March 13, 2006, 09:07:17 pm »
Quote from: "MarcoZan"
@ pixelator

I'm not an hardware guru, but to my knowledge Sempron is an Athlon with only 1 internal memory controller and in general has a different socket.

Yea, Sorry...I have no idea what I was thinking (long day)... The Athlon and Sempron are two different animals in the AMD Processor Family.

For a full blown Core, a sempron is probably not a good choice. BUT for a MD I think it would be more than enough (especially at a $70(US) price tag)

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« Reply #14 on: April 03, 2006, 12:33:10 pm »
Hi all

here's a short update about hardware I am testing these days.

I can confirm that the following configuration is working fine with Pluto:
    - mobo Epox 9NPA+ Ultra (nVidia 4 chipset)
    - AMD Athlon 64 3000+
    - 2x 200 GB SATA 2 HD
    - DVD burner Pioneer

I used .38 Kick Start ISO, but I guess that also .39 should work fine. Initially I had the known problem related to loading sata_nv module, but I cleared it by disabling RAID and APIC features on BIOS.

HTH
Marco