PDA

View Full Version : Is slim still good in 2006 ?



shvejk
2006-01-12, 12:17
The latest load/performance issues with SqueezeNetwork got me thinking...

Is slim architecture still a good idea in 2006, when cheap embedded devices are getting more and more powerful?

SqueezeNetwork provides ( so far ) little functionality. If the same functionality is available in firmware, then there is no longer need for centralized server/network infrastructure.
And when SlimDevices sell many thousands of SB3s, the cost of the infrastructure will be very significant ( I think ).

Any comments?

seanadams
2006-01-12, 12:43
The latest load/performance issues with SqueezeNetwork got me thinking...

Is slim architecture still a good idea in 2006, when cheap embedded devices are getting more and more powerful?

SqueezeNetwork provides ( so far ) little functionality. If the same functionality is available in firmware, then there is no longer need for centralized server/network infrastructure.
And when SlimDevices sell many thousands of SB3s, the cost of the infrastructure will be very significant ( I think ).

Any comments?

A fine question - in fact many engineering meetings were spent here figuring out if Slimproto would even work across the net for most people. I turns out it does - in many cases even overseas users have found it faster than their local slimserver (with obvious exceptions like the recent overload issue).

You're right that the current Squeezenetwork feature set could conceivably fit in firmware. However, the advantages of Slim architecture will become more apparent as we add more services and personalized features.

WRT to load management and infrastructure cost these are tractable problems and we're approaching a google-like infrastructure in that n machines can be brought online quickly whenever they're needed at any of multiple POPs.

Mark Lanctot
2006-01-12, 12:56
Interesting thoughts.

While embedded processors are getting cheaper and
more powerful, they still can't come close to the
power and flexibility of regular processors.

Also there's the issue of firmware. Firmware
changes in such devices are still limited and
difficult. But software changes in the server are
quick and easy, comparatively.

Will this change? Yes, embedded processors will
become even cheaper and even more powerful, and
changing them will become easier. But I still
like Slim's model of a low-cost, low-complexity
client with a much higher-complexity server.

In the future, I wouldn't really care if the
player became even "dumber" with more power than
ever in the server. All the player really needs
is a wireless card and audio circuitry. I don't
mind paying for either. Paying for an even more
complex embedded processor doesn't offer me
anything, unless it means smoother wireless
communication or better playback. In fact, as
these processors become cheaper, who wouldn't mind
paying *less*, or the same but with a better
wireless card, audio circuitry or display?

The issues with SqueezeNetwork are another story.
Only Slim knows how scalable it is. Obviously
it's costing money - servers aren't free, nor is
bandwidth! The breaking point will come when they
are forced to start charging for the service. Now
I like SqueezeNetwork, but if that were to happen
I'd just get all my Internet radio through
SlimServer. I suspect a lot of others might as
well. Personally, I don't see much value in
moving SqueezeNetwork functionality to the
Squeezebox firmware, even if it keeps the service
free, since I can just do this in SlimServer. I'd
rather not pay for increased Squeezebox processor
power just for that.

But this is balanced out by what's coming in
SlimServer 7.0. SlimServer is becoming so
complex, low power servers like NAS devices are
having difficulty running it. 7.0 aims to break
up SlimServer into modules. While desktop and
laptop PCs have immense resources to run
SlimServer and should handle SlimServer 7.0
without much difficulty, the problem arises when
these low-power servers try to tackle it. So
adding complexity to SlimServer and reducing or
maintaining the same complexity in the Squeezebox
may be reaching its limits.

Hopefully you don't see my response as
confrontational. It's interesting to speculate on
future trends as it relates to our favourite toy. :-)

shvejk wrote:
> The latest load/performance issues with
SqueezeNetwork got me
> thinking...
>
> Is slim architecture still a good idea in 2006, when
cheap embedded
> devices are getting more and more powerful?
>
> SqueezeNetwork provides ( so far ) little
functionality. If the same
> functionality is available in firmware, then there
is no longer need
> for centralized server/network infrastructure.
> And when SlimDevices sell many thousands of SB3s,
the cost of the
> infrastructure will be very significant ( I think ).
>
> Any comments?
>
>

--
___________________________________


Mark Lanctot
___________________________________

shvejk
2006-01-12, 13:23
Thank you for your reply, Sean. I am looking forward for the new
Squeezenetwork services.

Most companies would just charge a monthly fee for Squeezenetwork, getting
more and more money as the user base grows. It is really cool that you do
not charge anything. My existing SB2s are getting new features for free.
This is a very unique approach in today's greedy corporate world.

Cheers,

Mark Lanctot
2006-01-12, 13:52
Yes, I should have mentioned this. SqueezeNetwork
does cost Slim money. It's really fantastic that
they don't charge for it. It shows care for
Slim's customers and shows that we aren't viewed
as just a cash cow!

Josef Shvejk wrote:
>
> Most companies would just charge a monthly fee for
Squeezenetwork,
> getting more and more money as the user base grows.
It is really cool
> that you do not charge anything. My existing SB2s
are getting new
> features for free. This is a very unique approach in
today's greedy
> corporate world.
>

--
___________________________________


Mark Lanctot
___________________________________

stinkingpig
2006-01-12, 21:39
....
>
> The issues with SqueezeNetwork are another story.
> Only Slim knows how scalable it is. Obviously
> it's costing money - servers aren't free, nor is
> bandwidth! The breaking point will come when they
> are forced to start charging for the service. Now
> I like SqueezeNetwork, but if that were to happen
> I'd just get all my Internet radio through
> SlimServer. I suspect a lot of others might as
> well. Personally, I don't see much value in
> moving SqueezeNetwork functionality to the
> Squeezebox firmware, even if it keeps the service
> free, since I can just do this in SlimServer. I'd
> rather not pay for increased Squeezebox processor
> power just for that.
>

I don't really use SqueezeNetwork much (or even Internet radio much,
though I'm starting to more thanks to the Last.FM plugin). However, I
wouldn't be surprised if the goal is to make it something a lot more
compelling than it is now.... Of course, to the target user it's quite
compelling as is.

> But this is balanced out by what's coming in
> SlimServer 7.0. SlimServer is becoming so
> complex, low power servers like NAS devices are
> having difficulty running it. 7.0 aims to break
> up SlimServer into modules. While desktop and
> laptop PCs have immense resources to run
> SlimServer and should handle SlimServer 7.0
> without much difficulty, the problem arises when
> these low-power servers try to tackle it. So
> adding complexity to SlimServer and reducing or
> maintaining the same complexity in the Squeezebox
> may be reaching its limits.
>

Then we can run Slimserver on Beowulf clusters of small NAS devices!!!!

> Hopefully you don't see my response as
> confrontational. It's interesting to speculate on
> future trends as it relates to our favourite toy. :-)
>

quite :)
--
Jack Coates At Monkeynoodle Dot Org: It's A Scientific Venture!
"I spent all me tin with the ladies drinking gin, so across the Western
ocean I must wander" - traditional

JJZolx
2006-01-12, 23:33
The latest load/performance issues with SqueezeNetwork got me thinking...

Is slim architecture still a good idea in 2006, when cheap embedded devices are getting more and more powerful?

SqueezeNetwork provides ( so far ) little functionality. If the same functionality is available in firmware, then there is no longer need for centralized server/network infrastructure.
And when SlimDevices sell many thousands of SB3s, the cost of the infrastructure will be very significant ( I think ).

Any comments?
I think this is a good idea for Internet radio. I'll reserve judgement of SqueezeNetwork and whether it will offer much more than can be accomplished in an embedded device. No question that the same thing as an embedded app will be always be more reliable. That is, until Slim Devices puts a LOT more work and money into redundant systems for SqueezeNetwork. At this point I don't see the reason for the current approach either.

But that's only the Internet radio aspect of the device. Beyond that - playing back dozens of codecs, cataloging libraries of 100,000 tracks, quickly searching databases, is probably a lot to ask of the current crop of low powered CPUs. At a certain point in time, though, the entire thing should easily be doable within the device, with the possible exception of containing the disk storage. That's easily solvable with network attached storage, or file servers on the network.

I can see some day having two versions of the Squeezebox - one that runs the server (and is also a playback client) and one like that offered today - a client-only to SlimServer. This is the approach some other companies are taking today, and it sure would solve 90% of the support problems of running SlimServer on a bazillion varied hardware platforms and three different operating systems.

funkstar
2006-01-13, 05:58
The issues with SqueezeNetwork are another story.
Only Slim knows how scalable it is. Obviously
it's costing money - servers aren't free, nor is
bandwidth! The breaking point will come when they
are forced to start charging for the service. Now
I like SqueezeNetwork, but if that were to happen
I'd just get all my Internet radio through
SlimServer. I suspect a lot of others might as
well. Personally, I don't see much value in
moving SqueezeNetwork functionality to the
Squeezebox firmware, even if it keeps the service
free, since I can just do this in SlimServer. I'd
rather not pay for increased Squeezebox processor
power just for that.

What if the basic SqeezeNetwork as it stands were to remain free (perhaps will a few more features) but also had a premium service that was charged for? obviously this wouldn't appeal to everyone, but if the features were compelling enough may mean that some people would buy SBs just for the SN and wouldn't need to run any type of server at all. This would be a very good revenue stream for SlimDevices i think.

Something to think about at least.

Browny
2006-01-13, 05:59
Interesting one this.

Personally I think one of the great things about the Squeezebox is that it is essentially a dumb device. For me the obvious benefit of this is the sound quality.

I can't help thinking that adding a processor is going to introduce a lot of noise inside the case (try listening to the soundcards in PCs - its not pleasant). I'm sure Slim would manage to engineer a way around this, but that would imply more complexity and higher cost too.

shvejk
2006-01-13, 07:01
>
> I can't help thinking that adding a processor is going to introduce a
> lot of noise inside the case


SB3 already has a processor inside.

When Sean wrote:

>You're right that the current Squeezenetwork feature set could
>conceivably fit in firmware.

he was referring to firmware upgrade with no hardware changes ( I think ).

Thanks,

Browny
2006-01-13, 07:24
aahhhh....I'll shut up now!

Mark Lanctot
2006-01-13, 07:29
There already is a processor inside the Squeezebox
- a 250 MHz Ubicom IP3000:

http://wiki.slimdevices.com/index.cgi?HardwareComparison

http://www.ubicom.com/processors/ip3000/ip3000_family.html

(according to the Ubicom page, a 250 MHz clock
would make it an IP3023).

These devices are getting faster and cheaper. The
Squeezebox1 used the Ubicom IP2022 if we match the
Wiki's data with Ubicom's.

I'm not up to snuff on processor architecture. I
believe these are RISC processors. It's
interesting to note that there are still *current*
"PC-like" x86 processors clocked at the same speed
- for example, the AMD Geode.

There are three other possibilities for Squeezebox
"brains". Note that the SLIMP3 used a
microcontroller (which has embedded RAM/ROM,
essentially, a computer-on-a-chip). These are
advancing rapidly. And the PocketPC market makes
use of Intel XScale processors. Finally, the
audio DSP market is booming. Dual cores have
appeared and speeds are pushing 300 MHz.

Browny wrote:
> Interesting one this.
>
> Personally I think one of the great things about the
Squeezebox is that
> it is essentially a dumb device. For me the obvious
benefit of this is
> the sound quality.
>
> I can't help thinking that adding a processor is
going to introduce a
> lot of noise inside the case (try listening to the
soundcards in PCs -
> its not pleasant). I'm sure Slim would manage to
engineer a way around
> this, but that would imply more complexity and
higher cost too.
>
>

--
___________________________________


Mark Lanctot
___________________________________

Mark Lanctot
2006-01-13, 07:48
aahhhh....I'll shut up now!

Sorry, I responded before I saw shvejk's and your responses.

Now it looks like I was trying to beat you over the head with it. :-)

The key point is, computer audio doesn't have to sound like a computer sound card if it's done right. Low electrical noise and high-spec parts help out tremendously.

I'm like you, I thought a better computer sound card could work. I have the M-Audio Revolution 7.1. It's better than any others I've had, but only marginally. I guess the typical "computer speaker sets", even high-end ones, don't help.

Michaelwagner
2006-01-13, 08:21
I can see some day having two versions of the Squeezebox - one that runs the server (and is also a playback client) and one like that offered today - a client-only to SlimServer.
Or perhaps a little box that sits under a Squeezebox and matches it in design, also has a network connection and a pair of USB ports. Configured roughly like a FAT SLUG (200-400MHz processor, 128MB RAM or better, Linux in flash, slimserver on the first disk). One of these on the whole network and you don't have to be a boffin to run Slim)

Browny
2006-01-13, 14:53
Now it looks like I was trying to beat you over the head with it.
Dont worry about it - best way to learn!!