MythTV Back-end / Front-end System specification

Prices correct as of 4th June 2010

 

Case – tower – already got (think this is an Antec case – 8×5.25″ drive bays – full tower sized)

PSU – 480W – already got (should be enough)

CPU – Core i5 750 (4 cores) – £143.34 inc VAT from Aria.co.uk

CPU cooler – Prolimatech Megahalems Rev B – £44.64 from Aria.co.uk – important to reduce number of fans if backend system is in room you use, rather than in garage or under stairs etc

Motherboard – Asus P7H55-M Socket 1156 DDR3 PCIe uATX – £70.49 from Aria.co.uk

RAM – (8GB) OCZ Gold 4GB 2x2GB DDR3 1333MHZ dual channel kit x 2 – £183.28 from Aria.co.uk

Drive Enclosure – Icybox IB-555SSK 3.5″ 5 bay dual channel SATA/SAS backplane – £99.86 from Aria.co.uk

Hard drives – (5) Hitachi HDS722020ALA330 7200rpm 3.5″ SATA 2TB – £96.34 each – £481.70 from Aria.co.uk

TV tuner cards – (4 ports needed, but preferably on two cards – ????? – £??.?? Each – £???.?? From ??????

  1. TBS6980 PCIe DVB-S2 dual tuner card (x2) certified for MythTV, XBMC, Win7MCE, Freesat HD – $302.08 from buydvb.net in USA
  2. Anyone else got any ideas of any dual DVB-S2 cards that work well with Myth ?

RAID – AMCC-3Ware SAS/SATA 6Gbit 8-port £435.93 from span.com

OS – Mythbuntu Linux 64-bit (tailored Ubuntu 64-bit distribution with MythTV and associated RPM packages built in). 32-bit version could be used if your system only has 4GB RAM. 

 

£1659.24 (assuming $300 = £200).

 For other rooms x 3 (initially)

Acer Revo R3610 PC / Intel Atom N330 DC, 2GB RAM, 250GB HDD, HDMI, nVidia 9400 Ion Linpus Linux  – £179.98 from ebuyer
£540 ish . This system was recommended by another MythTV enthusiast.

 Octo LNB – satellitesuperstore – £80 ish . Satellitesuperstore.co.uk deserves a mention as an extremely good reference for all things to do with the actual types of dish and issues around signal, dish placement etc. . No good having a superb MythTV back-end only to feed in a signal obtained from a Sky 40cm mini-disk that points through a number of tall trees … that’s another job on my list of to-dos ….

Coaxial cables – B&Q – £20. Should be enough if back-end PC can be placed very close to the back of the dish.

 So £2300 for all this…

Ways to reduce cost:

  1. Go for existing components, e.g. case and CPU wherever possible
  2. Try cheapest i5 CPU and cheaper CPU cooler/fan, possibly saving £50, or find an old quad core PC system for sale cheaply and build up.
  3. If only serving max 3 TVs, try 4GB RAM only
  4. Remove RAID and replace with single 1TB drive for £55 or 2TB for £96. Once system gets into realms of ‘true’ hardware RAID that’s supported by Linux and multi-high capacity drives, the cost doubles, but you can then store much more content.

Ways to improve spec:

  1. Increase CPU to an i7 960 for £200. Maybe more appropriate for 5-7 TVs with at least half using HD content.
  2. Increase motherboard and CPUs to 2 x Xeon 5500s for approx £600-1000 or more. If you are supporting 10-12 TVs you may have to do this.
  3. Add cache memory to RAID controller
  4. Buy a bigger RAID Controller with 16 ports, additional enclosures and more drives, although this will require a 1000W PSU also.
  5. Increase number of Tuner cards. Beyond a certain point, this probably requires a server or other specialist type of motherboard (e.g. as used in industrial computing, where you sometimes find 20 slot motherboards).
  6. Rackmount and fit into a decent rack lockable cupboard with ventilation and aircon.
  7. Add more Octo LNBs, resulting in more coaxial feeds IN.
  8. Increase number of teamed Gigabit NIC ports available to the back-end system. More than 8 probably doesn’t work – Cisco Etherchannel standard supports 8 x 1000Mbit/sec connections bound together. Also bear in mind what it’s connected TO – basic Dell 8 or 16 port gigabit switch will suffice for most wired networking installations, but beyond a certain point, the quality of the internal switching fabric and so on , comes into question. With professional grade network switches (e.g. Cisco 3750) comes NOISE. If planning for this sort of thing, you need a wiring closet planned, and equipment location away from people and living space.

     

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Welcome to my new Myth TV blog

I am working towards implementing MythTV at home, as an alternative to Sky HD+. I have been a Sky+/multiroom subscriber for 6 years now, and have been a Sky HD+/multiroom subscriber for the last 3 years. I have paid handsomely for the privilege of watching so many repeats 🙂

I have been thoroughly dissatisfied with Sky+ for quite a while, but having said this, but having said this, if I had the opportunity to upgrade to a Sky HD+ quad tuner box, which was connected by ethernet (wired or wireless) to up to 6 other sky boxes elsewhere in the house, then I probably wouldn’t bother implementing my own client/server TV/media streaming solution, which obviously carries a large, upfront cost.

Problems with Sky+

1) Recording 2 programmes at once while watching another would appear to be enough, but this breaks at primetime. Because Sky doesn’t correctly record perfectly from the start to the end of each programme, you have to add 10 mins to the end, to ensure you don’t miss the cliffhanger ! This has a knock-on effect if a recording is starting on another channel, and it’s therefore quite easy to get a clash.

2) When you get a clash, as there is no way to attribute priority to recordings, you have to be in front of the TV when the clash occurs, otherwise there’s a good chance that the recording you wanted, above all else, will not take place.

3) There is no way to archive the material. This is fraught with problems, as the original programme maker/broadcaster is also probably selling DVDs with the material on and doesn’t want you to be able to keep it. However, keeping it is entirely possible with a Sky box if you have a big enough hard drive (1TB now available).

4) Tuners and recorded programmes on sky+ box are only accessible to that box and not to the others.

5) Sky+ cannot be a central archiving location for all media (ripped DVDs, recorded TV, ripped FLVs (e.g. Youtube), MP3s/lossless or other types of music, family photos and clips from the family video camera), so it could NEVER be called a Media CENTRE.

6) Sky+ and multiroom boxes are bespoke and therefore cannot be expanded on to perform other functions. For instance, although you may not practically want to, why couldn’t you watch TV, while chatting on MSN, while searching on iTunes or Amazon for the name of a song ? Only possible if the media CLIENT is a commodity device, with the most cost effective example being an Atom-based PC with HDMI out and VDPAU-capable (HD content decoding) inbuilt video card.

Other posts to follow…

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