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  1. #1
    Senior Member audiomuze's Avatar
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    High performance, low power consumption options?

    Looking at CPU specs these days it seems pretty hard to discern one from another in power consumption, performance & chipset terms, so I'm hoping for some advice as to CPU and motherboard options I can consider for an upgrade...details below.

    Basic requirements:
    - high performance when under load, very little power consumption when idling
    - (5 or more) 2TB low power hard drives attached
    - drives will be spun down when Idle for 5 mins or more, PC ideally into sleep mode
    - will run headless
    - Activity on NIC must awaken PC from sleep mode
    - PC's only purpose is to run Squeezeboxserver & MusicIP and to serve video, photos and documents to HTPC/AV/HDTV
    - Music collection is in the region of 12-15k albums
    - will be connected to gigabit LAN via CAT6
    - no RAID or other storage schemes - just straight SATA connections with each drive being an independent unit.

    Any ideas as to suitable CPU & mobo combinations appreciated - would prefer to build my own pc rather than buy something that's pre-built.
    Last edited by audiomuze; 2011-03-14 at 08:07.
    SqueezeWand | Vivere DAC MKI | ATC SCA2 | ATC SCM100ASLT

    Linux finally gets a great audio tagger: puddletag - now packaged in most Linux distributions.

  2. #2
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    You didn't say if you need audio or video transcoding, which might be an important point.

  3. #3
    Senior Member audiomuze's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by signor_rossi View Post
    You didn't say if you need audio or video transcoding, which might be an important point.
    Guess so, insofar as SOX is concerned where I'm playing 24/96 or better. Video, unlikely, but lets not rule it out if its feasible to get transcoded video content from ethernet into DVI or HDMI
    SqueezeWand | Vivere DAC MKI | ATC SCA2 | ATC SCM100ASLT

    Linux finally gets a great audio tagger: puddletag - now packaged in most Linux distributions.

  4. #4
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    How many old SBes do you intend to serve simultaneously with 24/96 files?
    As for video transcoding, whether you really need it depends very much on the file types you want to play and on the media renderers you have to serve. Modern HTPCs and NMTs play almost everything, while the integrated media players of current BD disc players or televisions might still have problems with 1080p files.

  5. #5
    Senior Member audiomuze's Avatar
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    At most I'd be concurrently streaming to 4 squeezeboxes, but the chances that they'd all be running sox concurrently are pretty slim (excuse pun).
    SqueezeWand | Vivere DAC MKI | ATC SCA2 | ATC SCM100ASLT

    Linux finally gets a great audio tagger: puddletag - now packaged in most Linux distributions.

  6. #6
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    A dual-core Atom based board (D510 or D525 currently) is typically the answer for a low power consuming platform with a fair amount of computing power. The trouble with most, though, is that the standard Intel chipsets for the Atom only support two SATA ports. So your five or more disk drive requirement could be the sticking point.

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16813121442

    Some Atom boards have an added controller chip, but there aren't many with more than four onboard SATA ports.

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16813500048

    There are a few server-class Atom boards, especially those from SuperMicro, that use a different chipset with Atom CPUs and give more SATA ports. They're a little pricey, though, and probably nowhere near as low in power consumption.

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16813182243

    AMD has just come out with their Brazos platform (the dual core CPU is the Zacate E-350) to compete with Intel's Atom. Comparable in CPU power, slightly higher power consumption, but much better video (for HTPC applications). Motherboards are just starting to hit the market.

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16813131697

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16813131698

  7. #7
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    I dug out the killawatt and looked at the power consumption of my new development rig, a cheap performance machine:
    - micro-atx Gigabyte GA-880GM-UD2H
    - 6-core 3GHz AMD Phenom II X6 1075T
    - 400W PSU
    - 1 power-hungry (ex-server) 3"5 SATA drive, ~ 15Wh when active
    Now this is some very affordable and serious performance. It can handle quite bit of RAM too and support a few virtual machines if I need, so packing this much peak power is not totally absurd.

    Unfortunately, under the killawatt it doesn't look too good: 11W in soft off (doh!), 80W idling with the drive spinning and all 6 cores clocked-down to 800MHz (under ubuntu). I couldn't test under full load but surely it will be in the 200W.
    So obviously you do not want one of these… (I'm a bit disappointed myself by the idle and soft off values.)

    2TB drives of the green type will eat 7W each (minimum) when spinning and if you spindown after 5 minutes, you're going to kill your drives swiftly. 15-20 minutes seems a more reasonable value.
    The only way you can halve the drives power requirement and play with a 5 minute timeout value is using 2'5 drives designed for laptop use. But you won't get 2 TB.
    4 SB 3 • iPeng (iPhone + iPad) • SqueezeLite • Squeezebox Server 7.8.1 (Debian 7.5) with plugins: CD Player, WaveInput by bpa • IRBlaster by Gwendesign (Felix) • Server Power Control by Gordon Harris • Smart Mix by Michael Herger • PowerSave by Jason Holtzapple • Song Info, Song Lyrics by Erland Isaksson • WeatherTime by Martin Rehfeld • ShairTunes by StuartUSA • Local Player, BBC iPlayer, SwitchPlayer by Triode • Auto Dim Display, SaverSwitcher, ContextMenu by Peter Watkins.

  8. #8
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    Assuming energy use is a major concern, and if you can really control which drives are spinning, it would make sense to place the audio library on a smaller 2.5" drive. Also, keep the OS and applications on some type of solid state device like SSD or USB flash.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by epoch1970 View Post
    Unfortunately, under the killawatt it doesn't look too good: 11W in soft off (doh!), 80W idling with the drive spinning and all 6 cores clocked-down to 800MHz (under ubuntu). I couldn't test under full load but surely it will be in the 200W.
    It does not sound to bad; at least it is better than my similar setup... even with your hungry SATA drive.

    Asus M4A87TD/USB3 with a 1055 and 8 GB memory.
    A vertex2 SSD for system drive, a 2.5" 500GB for data and a 1 TB WD10EADS for media

    I think my soft off is 6W.

    When I put it together I had a Chill Innovation CP520 PSU and a ATI-4850 graphics from my old rig and my total idle (800 MHz) was 135W; I shifted to a ATI-6850 and it dropped to 94W.

    Besides that I use TurionPowerControl to undervolt a bit http://amdath800.dyndns.org/amd/

    Readout of my original P state values:
    core 0 pstate 0 - En:1 VID:14 FID:17 DID:0 Freq:3300 VCore: 1.3750
    core 0 pstate 1 - En:1 VID:32 FID:12 DID:0 Freq:2800 VCore: 1.2500
    core 0 pstate 2 - En:1 VID:32 FID:6 DID:0 Freq:2200 VCore: 1.2250
    core 0 pstate 3 - En:1 VID:45 FID:14 DID:1 Freq:1500 VCore: 1.2000
    core 0 pstate 4 - En:1 VID:60 FID:0 DID:1 Freq:800 VCore: 1.2500

    Then I apply
    TurionPowerControl -set core all pstate 0 voltage 1.3000
    TurionPowerControl -set core all pstate 1 voltage 1.1000
    TurionPowerControl -set core all pstate 2 voltage 1.1000
    TurionPowerControl -set core all pstate 3 voltage 0.9875
    TurionPowerControl -set core all pstate 4 voltage 0.8000

    These settings are not fully starved; it is stable and I am happy with the results. Cut a further 10W in idle (83W) and 35W under full load.
    Full load is tested with Prime95 maxing out all 6 cores.

    Besides saving a bit of power I also noted that during full load the core temp dropped a little to 50C and my stock CPU fan reduced with 450 RPM.
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  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by slate View Post
    It does not sound to bad; at least it is better than my similar setup... even with your hungry SATA drive.
    The bulk of the difference must come from that fact I avoid using a discrete graphics card. These things tend to draw a lot of current.
    Last edited by epoch1970; 2011-03-16 at 00:51.
    4 SB 3 • iPeng (iPhone + iPad) • SqueezeLite • Squeezebox Server 7.8.1 (Debian 7.5) with plugins: CD Player, WaveInput by bpa • IRBlaster by Gwendesign (Felix) • Server Power Control by Gordon Harris • Smart Mix by Michael Herger • PowerSave by Jason Holtzapple • Song Info, Song Lyrics by Erland Isaksson • WeatherTime by Martin Rehfeld • ShairTunes by StuartUSA • Local Player, BBC iPlayer, SwitchPlayer by Triode • Auto Dim Display, SaverSwitcher, ContextMenu by Peter Watkins.

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