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WHS High Definition Media Streaming Server Build RRS feed

  • Question

  • I would like to build a high definition media streaming server capable of streaming high def. compressed and uncompressed media, and also add multiple TV tuners.  There will be about 6 clients with varying hardware and software capabilities.   Some applications may require on the fly transcoding.  About 4 to 6 TB in storage is planned.

    If you were to build the ultimately capable HD media streaming server based on WHS, what hardware configuration would you use?

    Thx, barry


    Wednesday, April 30, 2008 2:44 AM

All replies

  • Barry,

     

    I will recommend that you go with a 2 system solution, one to record the programs (your media server) and the other WHS to store and share the recorded programs.  My experience using my WHS as a BeyondTV server is that the playback is terrible due to the need to constantly balance storage, if I record to a disk not in the pool, the playback is quite okay, but I lose the benefit of media sharing that WHS provides.  My solution is to have a BeyondTV box recording to its own drives, then I move the files to WHS regularly for sharing.

     

    Setho

    Wednesday, April 30, 2008 3:27 AM
  • I'm going to second Setho's recommendation. A two-box solution is what Microsoft recommends, for reasons that include those that Setho gave. It's possible to configure a Media Center PC to record directly to the server; it requires some registry tweaks to optimize everything, but is otherwise not difficult. That's part of the recommended solution; once you've done that you can stream that recorded media throughout your house.
    Wednesday, April 30, 2008 3:56 AM
    Moderator
  • I was trying not to do that.  I understand SageTV can do it, so perhaps SageTV is such a solution.

    If I do not go the SageTV route and do a two box solution, which Windows is better to use, XP or Vista (please say XP as I have not converted from XP).

    Thanks for your replies.
    Wednesday, April 30, 2008 4:40 AM
  • I really like Vista Media Center better. Little as the general public claims to like Vista, I really think Microsoft did some stuff right. However, I believe most of the tweaks are the same, or at least there are analogous tweaks on XP, so I don't think it makes any real difference.

    Note that I'm not a Media Center expert/MVP. For those you want to visit The Green Button, among other places.
    Wednesday, April 30, 2008 11:29 AM
    Moderator
  • I'm using VMC, but will probably be checking out SageTV in the next few months. I'm waiting to see how the VMC DirecTV tuner and the SageTV HDPVR turn out.

     

    Personally I think MS missed the boat. I do want my WHS to be able to record. In today's new "green" world. It simply makes more sense to have just one box that has to be on all the time.

     

    As for horse power, if you could offload the transcoding you could probably get by with a E21xx processor. With transcoding I'm guessing you'll want to go more powerful.

    Wednesday, April 30, 2008 5:24 PM
  • Josh, there are two schools of thought on the whole convergence deal. I think of them roughly as "Converge or die!" and "Different strokes for different folks!" (Yes, I do love my cliches...)

    I like the concept of converging as much stuff onto a single box as possible, however there are some serious issues that argue against that. The big one, of course, is stability. If you put a whole lot of features on a single box, you may find that eventually that box is less stable than one would like. This happens commonly with Windows on the desktop; you wind up reinstalling your OS every year or so because it gets flaky, and it gets flaky because you're constantly tweaking it. If you install Windows, turn on automatic updates, and then leave the box alone, it will sit and run happily for years, rebooting only when forced. (Eventually it will die from hardware failure...)

    That said, I believe that there will eventually be increased convergence of media functionality onto Windows Home Server. I can't say when that will occur, other than that there's no way it will happen sooner than the next major release of Windows Home Server (which the team is planning for, BTW). But I think the result will still be a two box solution, it's just that the division of labor between the boxes will be different, and there will be more integration between them.
    Wednesday, April 30, 2008 7:27 PM
    Moderator
  •  CalypsoCowboy wrote:

    Personally I think MS missed the boat. I do want my WHS to be able to record. In today's new "green" world. It simply makes more sense to have just one box that has to be on all the time.

     

    I think it will eventually happen...but I've become less idealistic about it.  Why?  Largely because prices have come down substantially.  The average consumer can buy an HP470 (500GB) and a inexpensive Media Center PC for less than $1300.  Several years ago..that was the average price of a notebook computer.  One counter arguement to integrating MC...it could make WHS less of a long term solution.  Why?  Look at routers, over the years consumers have upgraded from WIRED to WIRED/802.11b to WIRED/802.11n.  Media Center PCs and media technology is constantly improving (ex. analog tuners to cablecard/satellite to iptv).  Alot can change...but why force WHS to be upgraded everytime those changes come.  Especially if you have TBs of data/video.  Media Center has bigger issues that *must* be addressed in my opinion.  Like why can't another PC in the home connect to a Media Center PC (with tuners) to access Live TV?  When will other home computers (ex. laptop) be able to playback cablecard recordings?  What can be done to allow CableCard PC customers to upgrade their computers in the future without losing the ability to playback their recordings (DRM issue)?  How does IPTV get incorporated into Media Center?  All these issues would exist if MC was simply ported to WHS.  In my opinion, MC needs some more development beforehand.

     

    If and when a WHS based MC comes about...I would like to see a wider variety of UPNP network tuners (ie HDHomeRun) on the market.

    Wednesday, April 30, 2008 9:13 PM
  • I'm also looking at building a WHS system to stream HD video from. In my case I'd like to support up to 3 simultaneous compressed HD streams in/out of the WHS server.

     

    I'd like as low power a WHS server as possible. If I could get away with a VIA EPIA C7 SN10000EG with 512MB ram I'd be very happy. What about a SN18000G with 1GB ram?

     

    Does anyone have experience of streaming video, ideally HD, on a server of this size?

     

    Thanks,

    Olli

    Monday, May 5, 2008 3:05 AM
  •  bfb1963 wrote:
    I would like to build a high definition media streaming server capable of streaming high def. compressed and uncompressed media,

    All HD media that you have is compressed - uncompressed HD is Gigabits/second.  I think by uncompressed you mean MPEG-2 (which is what you get over the air, over cable and over satellite) at 1080i or 720p.  By compressed you probably mean some variant of MPEG-4 such as DivX, Xvid, WMV, H.264, etc.

     

    Uncompessed 1080i is, I believe, a resolution of 1920 across by 1080 high at 24 bits per pixel for colour and 30 frames per second as it is interlaced.

     

    1920x1080x24x30=1.49 Gb/s

    Tuesday, May 6, 2008 4:10 AM
  • Hi

    I have a seperate HTPC which I use to watch HD movies and HDTV (via a PCI sat card). My HD movies are encoded in various formats and resolutions VC-1, h264 etc and are all stored on my WHS and steam to my HTPC for watching.

    My WHS machine is a P3 1GHZ with 512mb of RAM and 2TB of disk storage. I have a really cheap PCI gigabit network card (does not support jumbo frames) and I have no issues at all streaming HD content. I have been running PC backups and had others accessing the WHS shares at the same time as the HD is streaming and I have no isses with performace at all. I usually get in the region in 15-20MB/s transfer speed between the WHS and HTPC which is more than enough.

    I dont think you need anything powerful to use as a WHS machine as I think I have proved, I am curious as to why people go and spend a lot of money on fast C2D chips and gigs of ram for WHS when its just a fileserver with limited number of clients.My advise is use something old and cheap (not a P4 or AMD XP as they use a ton of power) and enjoy!

    Hope this helps


    Tuesday, June 24, 2008 2:10 PM
  • rubberfingers2, what are you using to watch your HD video?  I'm having a heck of a time with video.  Using MyMovies on an XP MCE and it choppy.  I am running at 100Mb but with almost now other traffic.

     

    Thanks!

    Tuesday, June 24, 2008 6:36 PM
  • Hi

     

    I use DVBviewer to watch HDTV from a satellite (ITV HD BBC Hd etc in the UK). For movies I stream from my WHS I tend to use either Windows media centre (Vista) or sometimes media player classic. I use the POWERDVD h264 codec and use a cheap ATI HD3450 to handle all the hardware decoding.

     

    Happy to assist if I can - what sort of hardware are you rinning and what are you trying to watch?

    Tuesday, June 24, 2008 9:46 PM
  •  

    I'm not trying to do anything terribly fancy.  I'm running XP MCE 2005 on a P4 2.0GHz with 768MB RAM connected via 100Mb wired lan.  All I want to do is store DVDs on my WHS and watch DVDs on my Media Center.  I think I'm having software issues.  Possibly my video card.  It's an older NVidia GeForce 4 MX 440 AGP.  I've tried using Intervideo WinDVD6 and the NVidia DVD decoder.  I think I tried PowerDVD in the past but I can't guarantee it.  The video in my movies is jumpy.  Any ideas you have would be great.
    Wednesday, June 25, 2008 3:02 AM
  • Hi there

     

    DVD's use MPEG2 compression which is not that demanding on a modern CPU for decoding, a P4 2.0GHZ should be more than up to the job as I dont think your MX440 has any sort of hardware decoding built in (I used to have one years ago myself).

     

    It sounds like its eaither a network issue or something else on the PC taking up a lot of CPU time and causing the suttering. When you play DVD's locally (either from Disc or a local rip) do they play OK?

     

     

     

    Wednesday, June 25, 2008 9:28 AM
  •  

    Yeah, that was one thing I meant to include in my last post.  It's been so long since I've played a DVD locally I can't really recall.  I'll have to test that.  But as I recall even over the network, with WMP directly they played fine.  It has to be something with the DVD decoder that MyMovies/MCE is using.
    Wednesday, June 25, 2008 11:58 AM
  • MCE 2005 did not have a native MPEG2 decoder as standard so you must have installed one at some point?

     

    It may be worth you downloading and installing the latest K-Lite Codec pack to see if this cures things (just google it)

     

    Let me know if it helps

    Wednesday, June 25, 2008 1:45 PM
  • I use a two system setup:

    WHS Server:
    E6550 CPU w/ 4GB Ram, TrendNET Gigabit NIC, 6 500GB Samsung HD's
    TwonkyMedia Streaming Media Server

    Encoding Box:
    Old P4 2.4Ghz
    MeGUI Encoding Software (Encodes in any method, I use MP4)

    My encoding box, as a last step copies its encoded file to my WHS Server
    My WHS server, using TwonkyMedia can do on-the-fly transcoding of the media to any device.  It also seems to do a better job streaming media (audio or video) better than the built in Microsoft solution.

    The better CPU and more memory allow me to have multiple devices streaming from the server and even if transcoded, it will cruise along very nicely.
    Wednesday, June 25, 2008 2:04 PM
  •  mfmjos wrote:

     

    I'm not trying to do anything terribly fancy.  I'm running XP MCE 2005 on a P4 2.0GHz with 768MB RAM connected via 100Mb wired lan.  All I want to do is store DVDs on my WHS and watch DVDs on my Media Center.  I think I'm having software issues.  Possibly my video card.  It's an older NVidia GeForce 4 MX 440 AGP.  I've tried using Intervideo WinDVD6 and the NVidia DVD decoder.  I think I tried PowerDVD in the past but I can't guarantee it.  The video in my movies is jumpy.  Any ideas you have would be great.

     

     

    GeForce 4 MX 440 AGP is not compatible with MCE 2005 you need a DirectX 9 video card.

    Win DVD, Power DVD or Nvidia DVD decoder will work on MCE 2005.

    Wednesday, June 25, 2008 4:54 PM
  •  

    I've got a fairly refined system now setup including:

     

    Server: Intel 965 based with core2duo 2.4ghz and 2gb RAM, 2.7tb storage and gigabit networking. My 'Library' consists of over 15000 songs, 10,000 photos and over 6500 hours of video and recorded tv content.

     

    This is hard wired via an 8 port gigabit switch to 5 other PC's on CAT6 cabling around the house.

     

    2 PC's with high end specs and Vista Premium (both into LCD large screens) utilisng media centre

    1 PC with medium specs (3.5 pentium 4) and XP Media Centre Edition

    2 PC's with medium specs and xp home.

     

    All pc's can happily stream HD content from the server and display fine with one major caveat....

     

    CODECS!!!

     

    These cause havoc and need substantial tweaking particuarly if your content is in some of the more obscure formats. I still have a few problems now and have literally spent tens of hours getting the most stable mix of codecs. I think its very easy to 'blame' the server performance under such conditions especially when the codec issue is often to blame because it is so hard to get to the root of the problem.

     

    I would never attempt to turn the home server into an all-in-one and think its real secret is in maintaining its file serving simplicity.

    Wednesday, June 25, 2008 9:11 PM
  •  

    Aceman:  is correct.... codec packs are bad for Media Center, codec packs come with too much junk codec’s.

    Never install them.

    Wednesday, June 25, 2008 9:29 PM
  • I agree a******out the Codec Packs, I was not suggesting he installs anything on the WHS machine, ******ut rather try a new MPEG2 codec on his HTPC MCE 2005 machine. Personally I use the POWERDVD8 codecs for my HTPC.
    Thursday, June 26, 2008 3:37 PM
  •  

    Ah... Unsupported hardware does have the potential to casue problems.  I'll have to track a new one down.

     

    Tthanks!

    Tuesday, July 1, 2008 1:31 PM
  •  mfmjos wrote:

     

    Ah... Unsupported hardware does have the potential to casue problems.  I'll have to track a new one down.

     

    Tthanks!

     

    If you get a new video card for the Media Center it will play HD videos, the “GeForce 4 MX 440 AGP” you have now does not have the power and is not compatible with Media Center 2005 (or Vista Media Center).

    Tuesday, July 1, 2008 4:47 PM