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View Full Version : Celeron/Sempron good enough?



dick
2006-10-30, 06:37
I currently use a LinkStation II with OpenLink to run SlimServer v6.3.1. Given the current problems of upgrading to v6.5.0 (in addition to the time it takes to rescan my library and general sluggishness of the interface) I have decided to move to a more powerful unit.

Of the 4 choices; another NAS (e.g. QNAP), an ITX machine, a mini mac or a small PC, it is the latter I have decided to go for. For a spec, I quite like the Shuttle XPC (built several in the past) with 512Mb DDR2 RAM and a 500Bg HDD. My initial question is about the processor...

Would a Sempron 2800 or a Celeron D336 be good enough to use as a DEDICATED server? By "good enough" I mean give me a snappy response to the web interface and library rescan on 12k tracks. If not, then what level of processor would? I'm well aware of the power consumption/performance trade-off and I'd prefer the unit to consume the least amount of power as possible as I intend to run it continuously. I've heard AMD's processors run hotter than Intel's suggesting they are more current hungry - any truth in this?

I will probably get XP Home as an OS but may try Debian in the first instance to see what it's like (and if I can cope with it).

Any suggestions of alternatives would also be greatly appreciated.

TIA

jeffluckett
2006-10-30, 07:29
My dedicated SS box is a 800MHZ P-III with a scant 256mb RAM running Win2k3. It is only running SlimServer, and MusicIP Mixer.

90% of the time, it's got plenty of performance to stream music and the web interface is responsive enough. It starts to choke if the scanner process or MusicIP Validation is running concurrently, however.

I believe I'm mostly memory limited, however, as I rarely see the CPU above 80% when scanning. If I (ever) get around to bumping it up to 512, I'm confident it'd be more than up to the task.

The specs you mention are in excess of mine ... I'm sure you'll be fine.

gerph
2006-10-30, 08:18
I currently use a LinkStation II with OpenLink to run SlimServer v6.3.1. Given the current problems of upgrading to v6.5.0 (in addition to the time it takes to rescan my library and general sluggishness of the interface) I have decided to move to a more powerful unit.

(snip)

Would a Sempron 2800 or a Celeron D336 be good enough to use as a DEDICATED server? By "good enough" I mean give me a snappy response to the web interface and library rescan on 12k tracks. If not, then what level of processor would? I'm well aware of the power consumption/performance trade-off and I'd prefer the unit to consume the least amount of power as possible as I intend to run it continuously. I've heard AMD's processors run hotter than Intel's suggesting they are more current hungry - any truth in this?

I will probably get XP Home as an OS but may try Debian in the first instance to see what it's like (and if I can cope with it).


I'm sure others have more appropriate answers, but here are my experiences with a far less powerful system.

I'm currently using a 500Mhz P3 with 512M of RAM (so that it rarely if ever goes into swap) for my Debian linux server, which is running quite a number of other services in addition to the SlimServer. There are 34593 files in my collection. All metadata is held in ID3v1 tags and no untagged files exist in the collection. I'm running the current trunk version, rather than the 6.5 which you cite; with the exception of an earlier problem I had with logging, I do not believe that performance will differ significantly to 6.5.

It takes a reasonable time to rescan - I've not timed it, but it does take a little bit. However, my solution to this problem is to not care. Set automatic rescan to occur before I get up in the morning and then all the updates are present the next day.

As for responsiveness whilst it's doing the scanning, on those times where I have done scans whilst I'm wanting to use it the server has been completely capable of supplying the data to SB3 on the other end of a 802.11b wireless link (usually sitting at around 80% signal strength). Data supplied is always MP3, at bitrates which range from 128kps - 224kbps. If you were to be serving, for example, FLAC or .wav data then this would obviously affect things as there would be a greater amount of data to transfer. The server never does transcoding for local content.

I did, briefly, test that AlienBBC (ie mplayer decode of foreign stream formats) would work whilst a scan was being performed. The load hits around 4.2 but I suffered no drop outs from the player. I rarely use the web interface except for simple configuration, so cannot comment on its performance. When I have used it during the scanning process there is a distinct slow down. Usually at the start of a 'full rescan' the web interface can be severely slowed (like a minute to return a page); once the scan has started properly the delay is far less.

Prior to running 7.0 I was running 6.2.1. Comparing the two, the newer version offers more facilities and is far more responsive in getting some of the menus (Browse->Years or Browse->Albums was always a drag on 6.2.1, but is far better in 7.0; this is an effect of moving to MySQL rather than using SQLite, I believe), but the rescan process is slower in the 7.0 over the older version. Memory usage is (incredibly rough estimate based on flakey memory) around 25-50% higher with 7.0 (including the MySQL in the total) in use.

Despite the fact that I already have a regular MySQL installed, I use the bundled MySQL concurrently with it, just for SlimServer. I like an easy life and don't want to have to debug problems with a single MySQL when I can have them completely separate.

The linkstation you cite is, if I've understood correctly, a 400MHz MIPS processor with only 64M of RAM - perfectly adequate if you're just serving files, but a little underpowered for slimserver, I think. I don't know what the comparison is between MIPS and x86 as it's been years since I've had to use the two side by side.

For my main XP desktop machine I use a Sempron 2800. It seems to me that it's a massive overkill to use such a system as a dedicated SlimServer, but then your needs will obviously differ and what you feel is acceptable and what I feel will also not be the same :-) But that's my view anyhow.

dick
2006-10-31, 09:03
Thanks for those helpful replies.

I suppose there is a wider aspect to this topic and that's future maintenance. I happen to have an old 500MHz PIII with 256Mb RAM and Win98 to which I have considered installing Linux and SlimServer. However, I really don't want to have to spend much time upgrading kernels, etc when new versions come out and figure just installing the latest Windows version would be simplest. I may be wrong of course!

Also, to make this PC usable I would need a new (and much bigger) IDE HDD. If, in a few years time, I then wanted to increase the capacity again, I may have problems finding a compatible device. A bit like trying to find the PC100 RAM it needs.

I figure getting a low power desktop would make it more future-proof?

gerph
2006-11-01, 03:48
Thanks for those helpful replies.

I suppose there is a wider aspect to this topic and that's future maintenance. I happen to have an old 500MHz PIII with 256Mb RAM and Win98 to which I have considered installing Linux and SlimServer. However, I really don't want to have to spend much time upgrading kernels, etc when new versions come out and figure just installing the latest Windows version would be simplest. I may be wrong of course!

That really depends on where it's located. If it's directly connected to the Internet then yes, tracking the most recent security updates is a good idea. But if you're going to use it behind your firewall then the security implications are minimal - certainly limited to whatever you'd expect to be on your local network. As such, install a kernel and then leave it alone. If it works then don't mess with it. I can't speak for other distributions but kernel security upgrades are a simple apt-get operation and can be performed without much pain at all.[/QUOTE]


Also, to make this PC usable I would need a new (and much bigger) IDE HDD. If, in a few years time, I then wanted to increase the capacity again, I may have problems finding a compatible device. A bit like trying to find the PC100 RAM it needs.

ATA harddrives are still available and I don't see them going away any time soon. RAM, I'll admit, is getting scarcer and the prices are rising, frustratingly. As a dedicated server, I'd say (others might disagree) that 256M should be adequate.

Call me weird, but I don't like replacing equipment which still has a servicable life - and I'd say that the machine you cite could have a lovely life as a dedicated server. No need to send it to the retirement home known as 'the bin' just yet. I'm a little surprised others haven't commented as system spec is one area that everyone should have experience of.

jeffluckett
2006-11-01, 05:07
As a dedicated server, I'd say (others might disagree) that 256M should be adequate.

I agree 256M is adequate, but you will encounter the occasional performance meltdown ... but only when asking too much of the server. Regular day-to-day streaming will be fine, even to multiple SB's.

Going to 512M will likely provide a snappier web interface, and allow you enough overhead for other complex operations to take place without impacting your streaming capabilities.

SadGamerGeek
2006-11-01, 06:43
I'm running SS 6.5 (under Fedora FC5 Linux) on a Mini-itx system. It is an Epia M1000 motherboard with a built-in Via C3 chip (i686) running at 1Ghz. I'm pretty sure this is somewhat slower than a similar speed Intel chip due to quite low onboard cache. I recently upgraded the RAM from 256MB to 512MB, and to be honest, didn't notice any real performance change.

The performance is absolutely fine for serving FLACs/MP3s etc to my two Squeezebox 3s. The SB menus are almost always very responsive & quick. The web menu performance is quite usable, though I'd prefer it to be a little faster.

As I've been gradually re-ripping (on a different PC) my CD collection as FLAC, I also want to have a parallel hierarchy of MP3 transcoded versions of my music. To this end I've been running the excellent flac2MP3 script (http://robinbowes.com/projects/flac2mp3 - this thread just reminded me to make a donation!). Unfortunately, it runs as slow as hell on my server (over an hour to transcode one album). Also, when it is running, I did notice occasional drop-outs on my Squeezeboxes, though raising the priority of Slimserver seemed to sort this out.

What I'm saying (in my long-winded way) is that you can get away with running SS on a very modest piece of hardware. There are though, other processes (such as flac2mp3) that you may eventually wish to run on the same box, and you will have to accept that the performance of them could be pretty low.

dick
2006-11-02, 06:13
OK, how about this as a plan...

256Mb RAM - is OK for streaming but might result a sluggish web interface and may cause "issues" when re-scanning. Solution would be to put up with web interface (can't be worse than using a LinkStation) and re-scan at night.

500Gb SATA2 HDD - install one of these and connect it using a IDE-SATA converter. That way when/if the old PC dies the HDD can be used in a brand spanking new machine.

I shall try an install the ClarkConnect distribution and setup SlimServer on that as it appears to have everything I need.

jeffluckett
2006-11-02, 06:34
OK, how about this as a plan...

256Mb RAM - is OK for streaming but might result a sluggish web interface and may cause "issues" when re-scanning. Solution would be to put up with web interface (can't be worse than using a LinkStation) and re-scan at night.

500Gb SATA2 HDD - install one of these and connect it using a IDE-SATA converter. That way when/if the old PC dies the HDD can be used in a brand spanking new machine.

I shall try an install the ClarkConnect distribution and setup SlimServer on that as it appears to have everything I need.

I think that'll be just fine, and I do the same thing with scanning (usually). I have it set to rescan at 4:00AM. I'd say 90% of the time I'm happy with the performance of my 800mhz PIII with 256MB.

If you do find yourself memory limited, you can always upgrade that later. Also, you may indeed find running a leaner OS gives you the headroom you need for the smaller memory spec. I haven't tried that yet.

Harani
2006-11-02, 10:46
I'm runninng an XPC with a 2600 Sempron and 256MB of Memory it works a treat

dick
2006-11-03, 08:17
I must say I do have a soft spot for the XPC; great engineering, easy to build and configure, quiet, and small enough to be inconspicuous.