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Old 12-22-2008, 07:06 PM   #1
supermikeus
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Question Home Server Hardware Opinions


I've tasked myself with building a home server that will perform many various functions, including: MythTV, Bittorrent tracker, backup system, FTP server, etc. I'm looking for hardware recommendations from some experienced linux users.

I've decided on using the Xen Hypervisor with Ubuntu Dom0 to host multiple OS instances so that I can keep a maximum level of segregation between my personal data and remotely accessible data.

I already have a Zalman case (pretty),
Highpoint Rocketraid 1740 (RAID5 and open source drivers),
Seagate 1TB Drives x4 (3TB of storage in RAID5 )

I'm looking to purchase:
processor,
motherboard,
video card,
powersupply,
RAM,
video capture card

According to Intel's marketing documentation, there's around a 30% performance increase on using server virtualization on a platform that supports IOMMU, (vPro). Which is defacto standard in the new i7 chipsets as far as I know.
I also haven't checked in a while, but last I recall ATI/AMD video cards have very limited linux support compared to nVidia. Is this still the case? What about overscan resizing for my HDTV?
And as for video capture cards, I'm really at a loss to which would be best to use. There's decent support for the Hauppauge cards isnt there?

Currently I'm thinking of these specifics:
Intel Core i7 920 (quad core, affordable)
Intel BOXDX58SO (IOMMU support, PCI for raid controller)
2GB DDR3 1600 x3 (triple channel support)
Enermax PSU (high quality and quiet)
GeForce 9500 (passive cooling, DVI out)
Hauppauge WinTV-HVR-2250 (inexpenssive)


Notes:
I will not buy an MSI product ever again, please don't recommend them to me.
I'm located in the USA so I need an NTSC compliant video capture card.
If you think I'm approaching this all wrong, please let me know how you'd do it and why.

Thanks for your time.
 
Old 12-23-2008, 04:41 AM   #2
salasi
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Quote:
Originally Posted by supermikeus View Post
According to Intel's marketing documentation, there's around a 30% performance increase on using server virtualization on a platform that supports IOMMU, (vPro). Which is defacto standard in the new i7 chipsets as far as I know.
did they say what they were comparing to?? did they also point out that in the previous iteration of parts, they had hobbled the performance of VMs (in 64 bit mode only...bizarrely not in 32 bit mode) by omitting the bit of the instruction set needed for eficient VM operation?

Quote:
Intel Core i7 920 (quad core, affordable)
Intel BOXDX58SO (IOMMU support, PCI for raid controller)
Right now, the trouble with the i7 parts is that the motherboards tend to be either very, very expensive, or more expensive still. I'm not convinced that they represent value, unless you are going to upgrade on the same motherboard and/or you would have bough a pretty expensive motherboard anyway. Which is a shame, as the low end of the i7 line looks good.

Quote:
I will not buy an MSI product ever again, please don't recommend them to me.
Presumably, you had a bad experience, sometime. I haven't really had a bad experience with them, so you might want to say a few words about it.
 
Old 12-23-2008, 05:42 AM   #3
supermikeus
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Quote:
Originally Posted by salasi View Post
did they say what they were comparing to?? did they also point out that in the previous iteration of parts, they had hobbled the performance of VMs (in 64 bit mode only...bizarrely not in 32 bit mode) by omitting the bit of the instruction set needed for eficient VM operation?
From the comparisons I saw, they were directly referencing performance to Intel chips without VT technology. They didn't have great details, however I've read a number of white papers that describe the technical merits of IOMMU support (Intel VT-d)
I can't find the exact document that I recall with the broad 30% figure, but this one has a number of references that are more impressive and yet less detailed.
7300 series product brief

Here's a good Intel article describing in detail the merits of Intel VT-d
Intel Virtualization Technology for Direct I/O

Quote:
Originally Posted by salasi View Post
Presumably, you had a bad experience, sometime. I haven't really had a bad experience with them, so you might want to say a few words about it.
There aren't enough words honestly. I don't want to derail the topic, but I'll touch litely.

Customer Service - Horrible, and useless every time I've contacted them.
Online Support - Finding what you actually want on their site is mind boggling.
Product Failure Rates - I've had 2 motherboards and 1 video card. all fail within warranty periods resulting it interfacing with previously mentioned customer service.
Maybe I'm just unlucky? Then so are 2 of my friends and 1 of my clients. All with similar problems.


So, basically you're implying that IOMMU support isn't worth the premium? What would be your recommendation? I was thinking that the quad core processor + Intel VT-d would be a winner and at around $560 USD, doesn't seem unreasonable for a server setup.

Any ideas on video cards with overscan support in linux?
Or video capture cards?
 
Old 12-24-2008, 06:21 AM   #4
salasi
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Quote:
Originally Posted by supermikeus View Post
So, basically you're implying that IOMMU support isn't worth the premium? What would be your recommendation? I was thinking that the quad core processor + Intel VT-d would be a winner and at around $560 USD, doesn't seem unreasonable for a server setup.
I was just trying to say that the 30% figure may well be more optimistic than it would have been had they been more 'straightforward' about what they had done in the previous generation and/or compared against the 32 bit mode of the previous parts, where virtualisation was better implimented. You could get the impression that when the marketing group decided on what went in and what stayed out (in the previous generation), what they wanted was 'just enough to compete with AMD' rather than 'the best processor that we can deliver at a reasonable price'. Either that, or they thought virt and 64 bits wouldn't catch on...

One possibility is that you don't need this level of computing power; I suppose this depends on whether you think its vital for mythTV, bittorrent, backup, etc, etc, to all be delivering full performance simultaneously. If you are prepared to accept that the system can do one completely smoothly, but performance will degrade if there are many trying to run at once, the level of computer power (and, more importantly, expense and power consumption...and probably heat, fans and noise) can come down.

I haven't actually run Myth, so I am in a poor position to estimate the requirements, but judging from the hardware that people actually do run it on, it doesn't need that much. I think I'd also be looking at an AMD solution, if only because the integrated graphics solutions on some of the ATI/AMD chipsets are quite good while still remaining low power (I would say, don't go for the highest-end of the AMD chips though; the low-to-medium end ones deliver good bang per buck, but diminishing returns sets in and the highest end is a bit difficult to justify).

Quote:
in the new i7 chipsets
One of the problems is that there is only one chipset; it is from Intel, and they currently have a monopoly. The boards using it are (therefore?) expensive. I think Intel may know that home-builders put the cost of the processor and the cost of the board into separate 'bins' and decide on the processor and then chase a board for it, so while the CPU costs seem reasonable, its not the same for boards. Have no idea if an nVidia chipset is soon to be released, or not. If it is, they have been very quiet about it...

I think there is an 'economy' chipset coming out of Intel ~mid-09 (if memory serves), but that uses a cut-down version of the socket (fewer pins...two memory channels rather than three?).

Thanks for the comment on MSI; I have used few of their products & haven't had a problem (yet?). I'll bear that in mind and not expect anything in the way of 'service' from 'customer service'.
 
Old 12-01-2009, 09:49 AM   #5
ncsuapex
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To the OP,


Did you use WinTV-HVR-2250 with MythTV? I'm thinking of upgrading my current pvr-250 card with the WinTV-HVR-2250 and was curious as to how it has worked for you.



Thanks!
 
  


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