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Thread: Building Myth System on the cheap, recommendations?

  1. #1
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    Post Building Myth System on the cheap, recommendations?

    I am buying 2 used Compaq D51s (small form factor) from a local college. I plan on buying 2x1GB PC2100 sticks (one for each machine) from eBay. I also plan on purchasing 2x500GB WD PATA drives from newegg.

    I my house we mainly watch local channels and occasionally watch cable (non-premium, i.e. HBO, ShowTime) channels, i.e. MTV, E!, ESPN, etc...
    I am planning on purchasing a HDHomeRun to pull QAM off my cable lines and for the HD local channels, it is my understanding that the HDHomeRun can NOT pull cable channels but only the HD local channels which are broadcast by the cable companies via QAM, is that correct?
    If so, I will purchase 1 analog Tuner card to record the cable channels on one of the boxes. Again, Suggestions?

    Now I just need a recommendation for a PCI card to buy for these rigs?
    Preferably one that will have VDPAU support, I think that narrows it down to these. I need something that will help out processing h.264 1080i feeds from the HD HomeRun.

    Since I am limited to 500GB, I planned on making both of these backends&frontends (one being the master and one slave obviously), that way they can share in the responsibilities of scheduling and transcoding, etc...
    Is that the best route to go?

    Am I crazy, am I asking too much from these old rigs?
    Ubuntu 12.04 64-bit - IP35-Pro | Q6600@3.3ghz(TRUE [lapped]) | G.Skill 2x2GB | MSI NX8600GT | 150GB WD Raptor ||| NAS - Ubuntu 10.04 - Intel D865GBF | P4 3.0GHz | G.Skill 4x1GB | FX5200-AGP | 3x250GB mdadm Raid5

  2. #2
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    Re: Building Myth System on the cheap, recommendations?

    :bump:
    Ubuntu 12.04 64-bit - IP35-Pro | Q6600@3.3ghz(TRUE [lapped]) | G.Skill 2x2GB | MSI NX8600GT | 150GB WD Raptor ||| NAS - Ubuntu 10.04 - Intel D865GBF | P4 3.0GHz | G.Skill 4x1GB | FX5200-AGP | 3x250GB mdadm Raid5

  3. #3
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    Re: Building Myth System on the cheap, recommendations?

    I did start to write a reply yesterday but didn't finish it because I decided I probably wasn't the best person to ask, but since nobody else replied...

    The nVidia website says that the 8400 do support high def acceleration, see here, click purevideo hd support table on the left. However, when I was building my system, I ended up getting an 8500, because I think I read somewhere on the nvnews linux forums that this was the cheapest card that supported full VDPAU acceleration for HD. This could have changed if they have updated it, and I can't find the post I read. Those forums are pretty good; some nVidia guys post there, so I'm sure you will be able to find out for certain if the 8400 PCI will support VDPAU for HD.

    This is important because I think with your system specs, your only chance of decoding HD content is by using VDPAU. Note that this is only supported in mythtv if you build from source or find some unofficial realease that includes support for it, and that VDPAU itself is in beta. If you get it to work, I think those systems will be ok with that amount of RAM. I haven't tried it, so again it might be worth checking the nvnews (possible phronix or some other forum, but I haven;t used those), to get a feel for whether your HD programs will be wathcable with VDPAU on that system (assuming VDPAU will work with that card...).

    If it were me, I would put both 500gb drives in the same machine, and use a smaller drive in the second machine, which would be slave only. In my mind this would be an easier system to set up... however, if you plan to record a couple of channels whilst watching some HD channel, you may benefit from sharing the processing load across two machines.

    I don't know anything about cable tuners so that's all I've got! Hope this is some help to you.

  4. #4
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    Re: Building Myth System on the cheap, recommendations?

    What CPU will you be using?

    The HDhomerun does unencrypted QAM. The channels you can tune via unencrypted QAM will vary greatly from area to area. Check
    http://www.silicondust.com/hdhomerun/channels. Different places encrypt different QAM channels. I would expect at least the local HD locals, but in my area I now get all the basic channels unencrypted via QAM.

    If you are using myth, VDPAU will won't be integrated until .22, I believe. So you could use a patched mplayer, but not for liveTV or recordings. You'd need to compile your own myth until .22 is officially released.

    More info on myth and VDPAU, including the cards that support it which include only second generation purevideo HD cards (called VP2 or Purevideo HD 2):

    http://www.mythtv.org/wiki/VDPAU
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  5. #5
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    Re: Building Myth System on the cheap, recommendations?

    Quote Originally Posted by newlinux View Post
    What CPU will you be using?
    The specs for that system say P4 and Celeron, so they're not likely to handle decoding H.264 1080 files; certainly my 3GHz P4 can't manage it without dropping frames, even with hyperthreading.

    So GPU-assist is probably the way to go.

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    Re: Building Myth System on the cheap, recommendations?

    I'm sorry to say this, but those computers won't have a hope of running H.264 HD content, sorry. VDPAU support starts at the GeForce 8 series, and AFAIK they're virtually all PCI Express, while the D510s are AGP4X.

    You CAN build a good MythTV system on the cheap. You just need to get clued up on these things and shop around.
    Last edited by GCFreak; March 22nd, 2009 at 04:23 AM.
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  7. #7
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    Re: Building Myth System on the cheap, recommendations?

    Quote Originally Posted by GCFreak View Post
    I'm sorry to say this, but those computers won't have a hope of running HD content, sorry. VDPAU support starts at the GeForce 8 series, and AFAIK they're virtually all PCI Express, while the D510s are AGP4X.
    I see PCI Geforce 8400 and 9250 cards for sale online; no idea whether they're fast enough.

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    Re: Building Myth System on the cheap, recommendations?

    Quote Originally Posted by movieman View Post
    The specs for that system say P4 and Celeron, so they're not likely to handle decoding H.264 1080 files; certainly my 3GHz P4 can't manage it without dropping frames, even with hyperthreading.

    So GPU-assist is probably the way to go.
    Yes, I know. But depending on the CPU, GPU assist won't even help enough, so he needs to pick one good enough. Also I think the OP incorrectly assumes the hdhomerun will output h.264? QAM is mpeg-2 which with the proper CPU wouldn't requrire any gpu assist (I have a 3ghz P4 prescott HT which does just fine with 1080i mpeg2).
    Linux & MythTV 4 Life
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    Re: Building Myth System on the cheap, recommendations?

    Quote Originally Posted by movieman View Post
    I see PCI Geforce 8400 and 9250 cards for sale online; no idea whether they're fast enough.
    I doubt a PCI bus has enough bandwidth, more bandwidth was the reason for AGP and then PCIe.
    Linux & MythTV 4 Life
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  10. #10
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    Re: Building Myth System on the cheap, recommendations?

    Quote Originally Posted by newlinux View Post
    I doubt a PCI bus has enough bandwidth, more bandwidth was the reason for AGP and then PCIe.
    Raw 24-bit RGB, or even YUV HD frames are probably over the bandwidth limit for PCI, but if the card is doing much of the decoding then you wouldn't have to send the full decoded frames to it.

    I agree on the MPEG-2 front, my P4 has no problem playing (or editing) 1080i MPEG-2, or some other Windows codecs, but H.264 is just too complex.

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