locked
HP MediaSmart Server vs a custom build with a quad-core Xeon RRS feed

Answers

  • No. The server doesn't transcode the video stream, all it does is share the file.

    Friday, November 2, 2007 3:10 PM
  • Agreed.  It is the local machine that will be displaying the HD that needs the horsepower.  The server is simply passing through the information which doesn't require much at all.  Certainly not a quad-core anything.  Also keep in mind that this WHS is suppose to be on 24/7.  You'll want to consider energy saving parts to keep your operating costs down. 

     

    That being said, I am considering building a duo core machine, but it will probably use one of the newer chips with C0 which should give me a idle draw of about 12watts.  A 380w high efficient powersupply and a couple of HDs should provide me with a decent amount of horsepower and low energy consumption.

     

    Considering I currently have a computer that is on 24/7 for home automation and DVR requirements (items which would be moved to the WHS setup) that runs a p4 630 chip and Dell powersupply, I think my new system will be faster AND more efficient than my current setup.

    Friday, November 2, 2007 3:31 PM
  • No, you definitely do not need that kind of horsepower for the server, you'd be using a sledgehammer to kill a fly.

     

    My server has a P4 641 proc., 2GB RAM, and gigabit, and it has more than enough capacity to handle uploading a 600 GB folder WHILE watching 3 movies on 3 different machines (done primarily for testing purposes, our family doesn't do that all the time) without a single hiccup.

     

    I agree with the above statements; save the heavy-duty hardware for the end box.

     

    Friday, November 2, 2007 4:10 PM
  • I won't give you the pat answer of 'well, that depends..', man I hate that answer! Wink

    The technical specifics of HD streams have an upward limit around 20Mb/s.  The processor, bus, drive,  network, switches, etc. all run in the neighborhood of gigabit speeds, easily handling even multiple instances of HD data streams.

    HOWEVER,

    As we all know, there is overhead that goes along with any information running through the computer and going out through the network, so your mileage may vary.  I would estimate that you could get 3 - 4 concurrent connections of HD material without any problems.  The primary consideration for that is your end box; what kind of horsepower has it got?  If your accessing your server from identically equipped machines (identical to the server), then you shouldn't have any trouble at all.

    SATA II (3.0 Gbps) hard drives will give you plenty of bandwidth for anything you can throw at it.
    Friday, November 2, 2007 7:28 PM
  • I'm not sure how folks on this thread are using their WHS setups, but I can tell you that after 3 days of owning WHS, I'm not happy with my setup - in fact I'm starting to question the WHS strategy for large scale audio video deployments.

     

    Here's my WHS setup ...

     

    * ASUS P5M2-E T (LGA 775) Intel 3000 ATX Server Motherboard

    * Intel E4500 2.2 GHz, 2 MB L2, 800 FSB

    * 2 GB Corsair DDR2 6400

    * 3 x 500 GB Maxtor

    * Dual Gigabit LAN w/Teaming

    * Antec P182 Case

    * Antec Earthwatts 430 Power Supply

     

    Here's my Vista HTPC setup ...

     

    * ASUS P5W DH Deluxe

    * Intel E6600 2.4 GHz (OC'd 3.2 GHz) 4 MB L2, 1066 FSB

    * Gigabyte 7900 GT SilentPipe VGA

    * 2 GB Corsair DDR2 6400

    * 1 x 160 GB Raptor-X w/GUP Silencer

    * Gigabit LAN

    * Zalman HD160 Case

    * Zalman Silent 460 Power Supply

     

    Besides the processor on the WHS setup, I consider both systems very powerful. I have hundreds of CD's stored as WAV's, dozens of DVD's as VOB's, thousands of pictures, and all my software. My typical usage includes watching TV, listening to music, viewing pictures while ripping any new DVD's or CD's directly to WHS. 

     

    If the WHS server is inactive (not balancing storage or accepting backups) I get 45 MB/s (Tx & Rx) ... which is obviously exceptional.  BUT, if WHS is busy accepting backups, or balancing storage (which happens any time files are moved to WHS) it KILLS performance on all the clients (I have 2 other XP MCE setups) - when WHS is busy, my throughput falls to anywhere between 2-5 MB/s but the throughput is NOT the problem, the problem is the increased latency. Clicks are not responsive at this point which kills the entire experience.

     

    I imagine if I replace the E4500 I'll be sure to see some gains, consider that the CPU is always between 25 - 55% while it is balancing storage. I think adding another SATA controller would help.  Many replies to your post keep referring to a model where the client is very powerful and the server not so much. This is doesn't make sense. As the number of clients increases, and WHS begins to 'host' more and more HTPC functionality (ie, add-ins, etc ...) processing requirements will surely increase. Furthermore, the WHS model of 'avoiding' raid to reduce complexity makes no sense either. Imagine, 5 clients, 2 of them ripping CD's to WHS, 2 ripping DVD's and the other watching a HD stream all while performing a backup ... good luck.   I don't think see this as an exceptional scenario, in fact I think it's quite practical. The storage balancer just CANNOT handle that kind of load without significant degradation in response time and 'serving capability'.

     

    Enter RAID. This is EXACTLY the scenario raid was designed for - there is no balancing with raid, it's offloaded to the hardware (heck even software would do a better job) and balanced in real-time.

     

    Anyway, if you're looking for heavyweight solution, I'm not sure WHS is the way to go, but if you do go with WHS then I would definitely recommend as much processing power as possible, Quad Core or Xeon is not a stretch.

     

    Regards,

     

    spoonschlab

    Saturday, November 3, 2007 6:01 PM

All replies

  • No. The server doesn't transcode the video stream, all it does is share the file.

    Friday, November 2, 2007 3:10 PM
  • Agreed.  It is the local machine that will be displaying the HD that needs the horsepower.  The server is simply passing through the information which doesn't require much at all.  Certainly not a quad-core anything.  Also keep in mind that this WHS is suppose to be on 24/7.  You'll want to consider energy saving parts to keep your operating costs down. 

     

    That being said, I am considering building a duo core machine, but it will probably use one of the newer chips with C0 which should give me a idle draw of about 12watts.  A 380w high efficient powersupply and a couple of HDs should provide me with a decent amount of horsepower and low energy consumption.

     

    Considering I currently have a computer that is on 24/7 for home automation and DVR requirements (items which would be moved to the WHS setup) that runs a p4 630 chip and Dell powersupply, I think my new system will be faster AND more efficient than my current setup.

    Friday, November 2, 2007 3:31 PM
  • No, you definitely do not need that kind of horsepower for the server, you'd be using a sledgehammer to kill a fly.

     

    My server has a P4 641 proc., 2GB RAM, and gigabit, and it has more than enough capacity to handle uploading a 600 GB folder WHILE watching 3 movies on 3 different machines (done primarily for testing purposes, our family doesn't do that all the time) without a single hiccup.

     

    I agree with the above statements; save the heavy-duty hardware for the end box.

     

    Friday, November 2, 2007 4:10 PM
  • Understood.  If the network is gigabit wired and the router is decent then how does a Semperon processor handle HD video requests from multiple computers without getting bogged down with data streams?  Is there a better hard drive to use to provide a quicker response of multiple streams than that offered by HP?

    Friday, November 2, 2007 5:30 PM
  • I won't give you the pat answer of 'well, that depends..', man I hate that answer! Wink

    The technical specifics of HD streams have an upward limit around 20Mb/s.  The processor, bus, drive,  network, switches, etc. all run in the neighborhood of gigabit speeds, easily handling even multiple instances of HD data streams.

    HOWEVER,

    As we all know, there is overhead that goes along with any information running through the computer and going out through the network, so your mileage may vary.  I would estimate that you could get 3 - 4 concurrent connections of HD material without any problems.  The primary consideration for that is your end box; what kind of horsepower has it got?  If your accessing your server from identically equipped machines (identical to the server), then you shouldn't have any trouble at all.

    SATA II (3.0 Gbps) hard drives will give you plenty of bandwidth for anything you can throw at it.
    Friday, November 2, 2007 7:28 PM
  • I'm not sure how folks on this thread are using their WHS setups, but I can tell you that after 3 days of owning WHS, I'm not happy with my setup - in fact I'm starting to question the WHS strategy for large scale audio video deployments.

     

    Here's my WHS setup ...

     

    * ASUS P5M2-E T (LGA 775) Intel 3000 ATX Server Motherboard

    * Intel E4500 2.2 GHz, 2 MB L2, 800 FSB

    * 2 GB Corsair DDR2 6400

    * 3 x 500 GB Maxtor

    * Dual Gigabit LAN w/Teaming

    * Antec P182 Case

    * Antec Earthwatts 430 Power Supply

     

    Here's my Vista HTPC setup ...

     

    * ASUS P5W DH Deluxe

    * Intel E6600 2.4 GHz (OC'd 3.2 GHz) 4 MB L2, 1066 FSB

    * Gigabyte 7900 GT SilentPipe VGA

    * 2 GB Corsair DDR2 6400

    * 1 x 160 GB Raptor-X w/GUP Silencer

    * Gigabit LAN

    * Zalman HD160 Case

    * Zalman Silent 460 Power Supply

     

    Besides the processor on the WHS setup, I consider both systems very powerful. I have hundreds of CD's stored as WAV's, dozens of DVD's as VOB's, thousands of pictures, and all my software. My typical usage includes watching TV, listening to music, viewing pictures while ripping any new DVD's or CD's directly to WHS. 

     

    If the WHS server is inactive (not balancing storage or accepting backups) I get 45 MB/s (Tx & Rx) ... which is obviously exceptional.  BUT, if WHS is busy accepting backups, or balancing storage (which happens any time files are moved to WHS) it KILLS performance on all the clients (I have 2 other XP MCE setups) - when WHS is busy, my throughput falls to anywhere between 2-5 MB/s but the throughput is NOT the problem, the problem is the increased latency. Clicks are not responsive at this point which kills the entire experience.

     

    I imagine if I replace the E4500 I'll be sure to see some gains, consider that the CPU is always between 25 - 55% while it is balancing storage. I think adding another SATA controller would help.  Many replies to your post keep referring to a model where the client is very powerful and the server not so much. This is doesn't make sense. As the number of clients increases, and WHS begins to 'host' more and more HTPC functionality (ie, add-ins, etc ...) processing requirements will surely increase. Furthermore, the WHS model of 'avoiding' raid to reduce complexity makes no sense either. Imagine, 5 clients, 2 of them ripping CD's to WHS, 2 ripping DVD's and the other watching a HD stream all while performing a backup ... good luck.   I don't think see this as an exceptional scenario, in fact I think it's quite practical. The storage balancer just CANNOT handle that kind of load without significant degradation in response time and 'serving capability'.

     

    Enter RAID. This is EXACTLY the scenario raid was designed for - there is no balancing with raid, it's offloaded to the hardware (heck even software would do a better job) and balanced in real-time.

     

    Anyway, if you're looking for heavyweight solution, I'm not sure WHS is the way to go, but if you do go with WHS then I would definitely recommend as much processing power as possible, Quad Core or Xeon is not a stretch.

     

    Regards,

     

    spoonschlab

    Saturday, November 3, 2007 6:01 PM
  • Spoonschlab,

    As stated above, processing power for a server, no matter what, just isn't required. If you read around the forum, plenty of people are streaming HD and in some cases multiple HD, (see above,) with no problems.

    Personally, only have one HD client, but I've never had any problems streaming that, while multiple other operations are being carried out.

    It would sound as though your system isn't set up correctly, old/wrong drivers-network collisions etc. But certainly in this day and age when people are trying to reduce power consumption, Quad Cores and Xeons just aren't necessary IMO.

     

    Colin

     

    Saturday, November 3, 2007 6:22 PM
  • Hey Colin,

     

    I think it's perspective - when we talk about 'integration' and 'home' theater pc - these should be appliance like - when you turn your tv on, you don't wait until the little circle thing stops turning before you're watching. On your dvd player, you hit play and it plays, there's no pause. This is what I'm getting at.

     

    Sure, I can stream 10 clients if I wanted, everything would be fine - but what's the experience like (not the actual hd stream) but the getting there part of it.

     

    You're right to question my setup - Having had it for only a few days, I haven't worked out all the kinks,  I'm tweaking it hourly, and I'm also reviewing my network configuration - I'm thinking it's my gigabit switch - anyhoo, one thing that can't be denied is the CPU usage, it's way to high during multiple writes to WHS from multiple clients.

     

    AJ

    Saturday, November 3, 2007 6:39 PM
  • After reading your reply I'm thinking that you might just have something there.  Multimedia, while it is not necessarily processor intense, is thoroughput and host intense, particularly when you have multiple clients.  Right now I do not have WHS so I am only speaking theoretical.  However practically speaking I do have a Dell Dimension 9100 with a Pentium D 840, 4 GB ram, 1TB of storage, gigabit NIC and a 6800 Invidia with 256mb.  I have it set up on a gigabit network with a Netgear WNR854T gigabit router, along with HDHomerun dual network tuners (HD), Beyond TV DVR software etc. and I can attest to the latency issues you speak about.  From my lap top I can stream pre recorded HD content on the 9100 around 25MBS with no problem.  If I get two or more other computers connected to the same 9100 hard drive requesting their own HD content the stream on each system slows down and sometimes I have to buffer streaming video.   I was wondering if this was a router issue more than the problem of the 9100.  If that is the case then it would not matter what kind of horse power you have on the server or the clients because the problem would be a network router issue.  What do you think about this?  If the problem is my router then could a better gigabit router be used like the D-Link DGL-4100 Broadband Gaming Router - 4-Port Gigabit Switch? 

     

    On the flip side, why do most commercial storage servers have Xeon processors.  If processing ability is not at issue then why don't they use Celeron and Semperon processors instead of high octane when running Windows Server 2003 etc.?

     

    ALSO as an aside I was wondering if the horsepower of the server would be at issue if one were using a Mvix Wireless High-Definition Multimedia Center (MX-760HD) (in wired mode) or Netgear EVA8000 Digital Entertainer HD.  If one or more of your "clients" are not PCs then what happens?

     

    I hope to hear from others who have experience with intensive multimedia applications with WHS and appropriate hardware.

     

    Thanks,

     

    B


    Saturday, November 3, 2007 10:48 PM
  • Hi Spoons,

     

    One question: are you running Vista on your end machines?  I found that my Vista box is the slooooowest of all of my machines, I prefer MCE 2k5 myself, since I really don't need (or want) all of the fancy bells and whistles of Vista MCE.

     

    That one was proving to be the weak link in my network, with resposes much like you were describing.  Once I got a movie started, I had no problems but going back to the main DVD library sure took a long time.

     

    Sunday, November 4, 2007 5:49 PM
  • Has anyone had any experience with the prototype of the HP MediaSmart Sert?  What is your experience with HD video serving?  Does it get bogged down?

     

    Thanks,

    Boliek

    Tuesday, November 6, 2007 2:44 PM
  • you're so right - i used a spare drive to setup XP MCE on my main HTPC and sure enough, performance soaaaaared I mean it wasn't even funny. But, still, as soon as I started to rip a DVD across the network to WHS, things slowed down quite a bit - Vista's problems should be addressed the release of the SP1 coming soon - as for WHS, I'm not sure the balancing is as efficient as it could / will be once the dust settles and the product matures a bit.

     

    on another note, I did reinstall WHS and F6 to install the AHCI drivers for pure unadulterated SATA II performance and it sure made a difference. things felt more fluid throughout. both on the server (things like how long it took for the console to pop up) and on the client (how fast a ripped dvd started once I hit play) - early on I was getting feedback to the effect that AHCI won't make a huge difference over Standard IDE running in Enhanced Mode - but I have to disagree. My Vista disk performance went from 5.7 to 5.9 once I changed over AHCI - that's quite a bit considering my only drive in my HTPC is a WD Raptor-X running at 10,000 rpm

     

    Tuesday, November 6, 2007 6:24 PM
  • On the flip side, why do most commercial storage servers have Xeon processors.  If processing ability is not at issue then why don't they use Celeron and Semperon processors instead of high octane when running Windows Server 2003 etc.?

     

    Those commercial servers are designed for networks with 10x, possibly 100x or more clients than WHS.  WHS limits you to 10 clients which an extremely small number of clients in the grand scheme of commercial applications.   For those large scale applications, you do need the extra horsepower of a Xeon processor. 

    Tuesday, November 6, 2007 9:28 PM
  • If this is true then why is Proteon making a home server with a Core 2 Quad 2.4gh, 2GH DDR II etc. and MIcrosoft advertising it on their website?  Could it be that anticipated future applications for the WHS will require some horsepower on the server end?  Notwithstanding this debate I have pre-ordered an HP Mediasmart home server (EX470) from Amazon.com.  Right now they offer it for $539.99 with a special $20 discount on top of a $40 price reduction off of the $599.99 price for this unit.

     

    Assuming the EX470 is sufficient, since it comes with a 500GB 7200rpm primary drive, conceivably buying another 3 750GB Western Digital 7200rpm for $179 each from New Egg one could end up with an adequate WHS (with WHS operating system) with 2.75TB of strorage for under $1100.  That's not all that bad is it?

    Thursday, November 8, 2007 8:38 PM
  • All I know is that performance is a dog when the storage balancing is operational which seems to be 99% of the time.

    The performance numbers of the Mediasmart server look good - it's in the top quadrant in most of the tests at smallnetbuilder.com

     

    http://www.smallnetbuilder.com/component/option,com_nas/Itemid,190/

     

    By the looks of it, should make you a happy owner!

    Friday, November 9, 2007 6:28 AM
  • Dont' mean to detour your thread, but I have a realated question.

    I dont want to stream HD yet....but just regular dvix/xvid avi files from WHS to a TV.  After looking at SageTV, TVerstity and a few other vid streamer/server softwares..... I've streamed dvix/xvid files from WHS to another networked pc's browser with mixed results. Seems that if WHS and the software has to do the "transcoding" of the files for the client machine....the cpu is pegged at 100%.  So,  I'm begining to quiestion the horsepower needed for transcoading vid files and pushing them to a Dlink media server or something related. I'd definately have to build a faster server to handle this.
    I'm starting to think a software moded first gen Xbox is the ticket. Because the software runs on the xbox and not WHS...thus freeing WHS of any cpu load other than serving up the vid file. And the Xbox can handling the dvix and xvid formats.

    Granted, my WHS is running some older speeds....I realize that anything newer would probably help dramatically.  Now, if WHS does not have to "transcode" the vid file...just open the file from the share with WM-Player..then yes...even I can serve up movies to two/three pc's in the house.

    How are you streaming vid from WHS, to what devices and what formats??? I'm looking at options for doing so, then deciding if a new server build is in order.....
    Friday, November 9, 2007 12:41 PM
  • Judgeschambers [I've spent too much time in them in the past].

     

    Regarding your question - it is a good question.  My understanding is that many of the new multimedia player boxes (that attach to TVs) like the Mvix™ Wireless HD Media Center have built in transcoding that is updated through firmware updates.  The Mvix can play all sorts of streams on the fly or store them on its HD.  If this is the case then the WHS would merely be passing the stream on to the multimedia player and doing no transcoding.  Someone correct me if I'm wrong.

     

    boliek (former judges chambers groupie)

     

    Friday, November 9, 2007 5:28 PM
  • Boliek,

    I'll have to look at your suggestion of the Mvix Media Center to see what it's about. Thanks for the info.
    Anyone else have thoughts on what they are using and the need for faster processors?

    Sorry to see you've left the groupie clan...man...LOL.
    Friday, November 9, 2007 10:51 PM