Author Topic: Small Form Factor MD Hardware (First Posting)  (Read 3828 times)

Tumbledown

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Re: Small Form Factor MD Hardware (First Posting)
« Reply #15 on: May 22, 2009, 02:16:20 pm »
Yes, I'm aware of the limitations on broadcast HD and also the limitations
of capturing these sources if using an external source such as the Sky+, freesat or Virgin's V+ boxes.

My setup will not be looking to capture any SD/HD content from TV sources, but will be used to distribute
my DVD collection.

These will be ripped and placed on a 1.5 TB NAS for the core to access.
As my BD collection grows, I will also rip these to the NAS in MKV format and all in H264.
(The things we do to keep the integrity of disk out of the hands of little kids).

The core will be tasked with stitching the MP3/Video content across all MD's,
and taking care of a slowly growing compliment of home automation devices (x10)

So form that point of view I think the if I'm looking to get these results now,
the system needs to be beefed up.

I can get hold of a cooler that is 25db (the sound of freathing at 1m apperently),
 so might go down the road of the Zotec and a Core2 Duo.

I just got to figure out if it will all fit inside the box :)

Tumbledown

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Re: Small Form Factor MD Hardware (First Posting)
« Reply #16 on: May 22, 2009, 07:17:12 pm »
After a bit of soul searching I find myself back at the start of my journey
(seems a popular outcome from the posts I've read :) ).

I have looked at the EEEBoxes, and the Revo, and they have their pros and cons
for my application.

So I've decided to re-evaluate my requirements, as I think I've got lost in the mire!

My MDs will be located around the house and can be put in 2 categories: -

  • Living Room
  • Bedrooms

Looking at the requirements of the bedroom first, I think the Revo will be an ideal candidate,
especially considering the features it will be able deliver once VDPAU in implimented.

The living room however, requires additional features, due to the fact that this will be intensivly
used as a "Theretre" setup.

This means that the MD I select for the Living room will need to be able to output AC3 audio
either via spdif, or preferrably via optical for use in a 5.1 amp.
To my knowledge I do not recall seeing the spdif or optical ports on the specification list
for the Revo, however the EEEbox does (Via an adapter).

The main detractor for the EEEbox is the fact it has an ATI GFX unit.
Over the last 10 years of playing with Linux in one form or another I have
never had great experience with ATI by comparison to Nvidia derived cards.

So I'm back to the Zotec ION Atom (N230), It appears to have the same foundation
as the Revo, but with the added features of multiple audio/video outputs.

Presumably once VDPAU is introduced into LinuxMCE this platform shouldn't have
any issues with 1080p h264.

Is this evaluation of the options a fair one??

TIA

skeptic

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Re: Small Form Factor MD Hardware (First Posting)
« Reply #17 on: May 22, 2009, 08:04:51 pm »
I believe the Revo will output 7.1 surround sound...  Through the HDMI port.  No clue if there is a way to break this out to have video go to the TV and audio go elsewhere, or if you'd need your TV to pass the sound to your receiver.  I vaguely remember seeing a thread about passing sound over hdmi in lmce...  Maybe someone else can chime in on the status of this?

Perhaps a usb sound card for the Revo would do the trick?  I haven't looked into usb sound cards at all so I'm not really sure on that one.

cirion

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Re: Small Form Factor MD Hardware (First Posting)
« Reply #18 on: May 22, 2009, 09:28:07 pm »
There are boxes that split HDMI to DVI/Coaxial Digital
http://www.leteng.no/aspx/prdinfo.aspx?plid=19078re

And most TV's with HDMI have Coaxial Digital out...

There are boxes that convert Coaxial to Optical too.

Receivers with HDMI are getting cheaper, so you might consider upgrading it.

Tumbledown

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Re: Small Form Factor MD Hardware (First Posting)
« Reply #19 on: May 22, 2009, 11:46:14 pm »
Thanks for the replies,

What I really want is to avoid having various workarounds,
or breakout cables etc.

Bunny hopping the audio from the MD to the TV to the amp for me is a big no no.
I know it's possible, but there are a few things that get in the way.

  • If one of the bits of kit in the chain fails, it all fails
  • Each time you route from one device to another quality is degraded

I won't be using the TV all of the time as the video will be going to a projector for the good films ;)
The amp will be used for all films via the MD.

A practical example would be if you needed to run a signal cable over a distence of 10m,
but you only have 10 1m lengths,you could join each cable together to get the length as a workaround.

However, after each joint in the cable the signal is degraded, to the extent that at the other
end the signel is determinied to be unusable.

I know I'm over simplyfiying things here, and I'm no expert in these matters by any stretch of the imagination,
but I would like to keep things as standard and simple as possible.
Hopefully this will reduce the possibilities of failure.

If there is an MD that has all the outputs and falls within my price cap, then I'd go with that, providing
it's up to the job.

I guess I'm asking is the Zotec up to it?
The way I read it on paper, its yes.

But I'll bow to more experinced voices on this topic.

TIA


colinjones

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Re: Small Form Factor MD Hardware (First Posting)
« Reply #20 on: May 23, 2009, 01:01:12 am »

  • If one of the bits of kit in the chain fails, it all fails
  • Each time you route from one device to another quality is degraded


The proper way to do this is using an AV receiver/amp with HDMI inputs, as suggested above. The point about if "one of the bits of kit" fails is moot - if the amp fails then you aren't going to get any sound anyway. Don't eliminate options on faulty logic in an effort to avoid situations that won't occur. No amp = no sound irrespective of which way you route the sound.

Routing the sound (or video) from one device to another does NOT degrade the sound. It is digital, the sound will be identical at the binary level irrespective of how many devices you route it through, or how many cables you use. It either works or it doesn't, there is no degrade.... :)

One HDMI cable to the amp, audio gets stripped out and played (and/or gets passed on to the next device to be played, eg the TV)

One HDMI cable to your TV and another to your projector from the amp's 2 HDMI outputs (all will have at least 2), and you can use LMCE to tell the amp to switch the video output between the 2 video display devices.


totallymaxed

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Re: Small Form Factor MD Hardware (First Posting)
« Reply #21 on: May 23, 2009, 12:20:09 pm »
Thanks for the replies,

What I really want is to avoid having various workarounds,
or breakout cables etc.

Bunny hopping the audio from the MD to the TV to the amp for me is a big no no.
I know it's possible, but there are a few things that get in the way.

  • If one of the bits of kit in the chain fails, it all fails
  • Each time you route from one device to another quality is degraded

I won't be using the TV all of the time as the video will be going to a projector for the good films ;)
The amp will be used for all films via the MD.

A practical example would be if you needed to run a signal cable over a distence of 10m,
but you only have 10 1m lengths,you could join each cable together to get the length as a workaround.

However, after each joint in the cable the signal is degraded, to the extent that at the other
end the signel is determinied to be unusable.

I know I'm over simplyfiying things here, and I'm no expert in these matters by any stretch of the imagination,
but I would like to keep things as standard and simple as possible.
Hopefully this will reduce the possibilities of failure.

If there is an MD that has all the outputs and falls within my price cap, then I'd go with that, providing
it's up to the job.

I guess I'm asking is the Zotec up to it?
The way I read it on paper, its yes.

But I'll bow to more experinced voices on this topic.

TIA



See Colin's comments about routing digital audio - and listen to him ;-)

We have several Revo's on test here now and we have audio (PCM, 5.1 surround, DTS) all working out of the HDMI port. We have updated the avWizard to allow for the selection of more output connectors (the Revo's HDMI connector is HDMI-2 for some unfathomable reason) and to support the routing of audio out of the HDMI port. All of these changes will be, I very much hope, in the 0810 branch of the svn this coming week. So they should appear in an alpha/beta build the week after i would guess.

The Zotac looks great and as its based on the ATOM + Ion combination it should work as well as the Revo - but it has not been tested by us yet and i have not seen anyone else say they've tested it. If your happy to get a Zotac and test it under the 0810 alpha's then great.

All the best

Andrew
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castlec

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Re: Small Form Factor MD Hardware (First Posting)
« Reply #22 on: June 01, 2009, 05:24:22 pm »
This is sort of a double post since there are a few threads on the same Atom/Ion topics.

I'm looking to get one of the Zotac boards.  I started researching these little guys a few days ago.  I'm certainly excited about them.  The Atom 230s are available here now.  Andrew/Colin/Anyone Else, Do you guys think it's worth waiting/paying for the 330s?

Also, an odd question but how high is the board including the exposed part of the mounting screws and ram?  It looks like the heatsink is nearly as high as the IO panel but not quite there.  I'm thinking of squeezing one into one of these http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0013FGYTC/.

My current reqs are only 720p/1080i ATSC broadcasts but I'd like room to move into bluray in the future.

Thanks!

Chris

colinjones

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Re: Small Form Factor MD Hardware (First Posting)
« Reply #23 on: June 01, 2009, 05:42:30 pm »
Probably not - why do you want more CPU grunt?

If you are thinking HD video then don't.... the 330 is not going to give you what you need for decent HD video playback through software decoding... you need much more grunt than that (I'm talking about H264, or high bit rate streams at 1080) you will need the VDPAU integration and that is a little way off yet. The OpenGL performance of this GPU is easily enough for UI2 masking right up to 1080p, so no issue there...

castlec

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Re: Small Form Factor MD Hardware (First Posting)
« Reply #24 on: June 01, 2009, 08:04:03 pm »
Probably not - why do you want more CPU grunt?

If you are thinking HD video then don't.... the 330 is not going to give you what you need for decent HD video playback through software decoding... you need much more grunt than that (I'm talking about H264, or high bit rate streams at 1080) you will need the VDPAU integration and that is a little way off yet. The OpenGL performance of this GPU is easily enough for UI2 masking right up to 1080p, so no issue there...

The way I'm interpreting your statement:
ION currently does fine for ATSC 1080i TV broadcasts + UI2
ION currently does fine for DVD playback.
ION should do fine with H264 once VDPAU is integrated later in 8.10
Second Atom core will not be used for anything since all video decoding is in hardware.

Chris

totallymaxed

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Re: Small Form Factor MD Hardware (First Posting)
« Reply #25 on: June 01, 2009, 10:13:38 pm »
Probably not - why do you want more CPU grunt?

If you are thinking HD video then don't.... the 330 is not going to give you what you need for decent HD video playback through software decoding... you need much more grunt than that (I'm talking about H264, or high bit rate streams at 1080) you will need the VDPAU integration and that is a little way off yet. The OpenGL performance of this GPU is easily enough for UI2 masking right up to 1080p, so no issue there...

The way I'm interpreting your statement:
ION currently does fine for ATSC 1080i TV broadcasts + UI2
ION currently does fine for DVD playback.
ION should do fine with H264 once VDPAU is integrated later in 8.10
Second Atom core will not be used for anything since all video decoding is in hardware.

Chris

What was meant was the the Dual Core Atom 330 was not powerful enough to make it viable to do h.264 decoding without the vdpau hardware acceleration...although clearly a dual core Atom is more powerful overall but this additional processing will be felt more in areas other than graphics performance.

All the best

Andrew
Andy Herron,
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castlec

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Re: Small Form Factor MD Hardware (First Posting)
« Reply #26 on: June 01, 2009, 10:48:51 pm »
Thanks for the clarification Andrew.  Did you happen to catch my request for additional measurements of the board?  I'd like to know if it's realistic to squeeze the mini-itx board into a 2in x 7in x 6 7/8 in cash box.  The only thing I'm concerned about is the height of the heat-sink.

Chris


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Re: Small Form Factor MD Hardware (First Posting)
« Reply #27 on: June 02, 2009, 12:19:59 am »
Thanks for the clarification Andrew.  Did you happen to catch my request for additional measurements of the board?  I'd like to know if it's realistic to squeeze the mini-itx board into a 2in x 7in x 6 7/8 in cash box.  The only thing I'm concerned about is the height of the heat-sink.

Chris



Chris,

Missed the request for dimensions of the board sorry...

However i can tell you that the case design we are testing at the moment has 5cm (or 2") vertical dimension and the mobo fits comfortably inside with clearance.

Hope that helps.

All the best

Andrew
Andy Herron,
Convergent Home Technologies Ltd
United Kingdom

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castlec

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Re: Small Form Factor MD Hardware (First Posting)
« Reply #28 on: June 02, 2009, 12:56:32 am »
Thanks again.  Out of curiosity, have you tested out Hulu or other higher res flash streams with it?  Flash video is a dog on my 780G system.

Chris

colinjones

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Re: Small Form Factor MD Hardware (First Posting)
« Reply #29 on: June 02, 2009, 12:58:58 am »
Thanks again.  Out of curiosity, have you tested out Hulu or other higher res flash streams with it?  Flash video is a dog on my 780G system.

Chris

The Flash plugin does not yet have any hardware graphics acceleration, so it is all done by the CPU... consequently, if your CPU is not fast, complex Flash will suck! I believe that Adobe intend on updating the Flash plugin to use GPUs at some point, hopefully soon. At which point it will be as smooth as a baby's bum on an ION platform!