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Motherboard for Media/File Server

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July 28, 2008 4:51:56 PM

I need a motherboard that is capable of supporting up to 20 SATA hard drives in one RAID 6 volume. I guess it goes without saying that the motherboard itself need not have 20 SATA ports, but it should have enough SATA ports, plus be able to support enough PCI controllers in order to reach 20 HDDs.

Also, I'm not sure what kind of video card arrangement I will wind up going with, but it would be best if the motherboard could work with the SLI or Crossfire set-ups.

I apologize if I've left out some important details in order for you guys to make any recommendations. I am a relative newb in this arena, but I hope you won't mind giving me some advice anyway.

Many Thanks,
Ryan
July 28, 2008 5:05:12 PM

Really? You want a super-hard-core-gaming-RAID-mahoossive-file-server motherboard? Why? Sounds like you want 2 separate computers.

Do you just need huge amts of storage or also high speed read/write to the array? If you are ok with moderate file system performance and if you are OK with building two computers then this:

http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/ciprico-enterprise-...
looks like a good way to start your raid array.

Get any old system that supports lots or PCI or PCIe x1 slots.
I would suggest an old Athlon X2 full ATX board with 3-4 PCI slots and
get cheap simple 4 port Silicon Image Raid cards.
http://www.xbitlabs.com/articles/storage/display/sil-31...

I know that PCI express will give better performance but, you will need newer hardware and I dont know a suitable cheap RAID card off hand. I'm sure they are out there.
July 28, 2008 5:56:56 PM

Thanks for your advice.

I figured when I started to get answers from people who know their stuff, that it would lead to even more questions. So, please bear with me, I am learning more and more about the particulars of this project everyday.

First, let me answer your "Really?" by telling you the main purpose of this file server. It's mostly just for movies; I want to store my entire collection electronically and watch them on a large HDTV. I know I will need a pretty high quality Video card if I want my movies to look good in high definition and displayed in the proper aspect, etc., but perhaps SLI or Crossfire is overboard. Then again, maybe in the future I might need something that powerful. I guess that's why I just wanted to make sure I got something compatible. But leaving video cards aside for now...

My main question after reading your reply is this:
The first link in your response was for software RAID (or at least that's what I thought it was), but in the next paragraph you recommend a RAID controller (which I understood to be hardware RAID). So, I'm confused, unless each PCI card can only unite 4 HDDs in a single RAID volume, then the VTS Pro software is for joining the groups of 4 HDDs on each PCI card, thereby creating a single RAID volume consisting of 4 groups of 4 HDDs (4x4=16 HDDs total in a single RAID volume). Maybe you could help me understand your suggestion in more detail?

Then maybe I can start to ask more intelligent questions!

Thanks ,
Ryan
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a b V Motherboard
July 28, 2008 6:21:05 PM

Im not sure how big your collection is but you could consider getting 1TB drives and moving the videos to a few of those drives.

Also a NAS might make sense for this situation also.
July 28, 2008 6:25:23 PM

Hi! I'm with cyborg, sounds like you need 2 pcs, fileserver and main pc. You need to think about how much space you really need and what quality is acceptable to you for your movie files.

I have just over 300 movies which has filled my 500gb hdd and gives me good quality (standard dvds encoded to divx at native resolution 1gb-ish), took bloody ages), if that helps give you a rough idea.

When you have this much data, you must think about you backup needs too. It would be insane to not have this much data backed up and a raid array will only protect you from disk errors, not from accidental erasure, viruses etc, only offline storage can do that.

As far as gfx cards go, you don't need sli or crossfire, they wont bring you better quality video, just go for a fairly decent single gfx card - I got a 4850 which serves me well or maybe get something a bit less beefy for purely htpc, just make sure it has hdcp built in.
July 28, 2008 6:48:44 PM

Thanks, rtfm. I think you & cyborg may be right. The more I read about other people's set-ups, the more it seems that a "back-end" & "front-end" type of approach is generally preferred. Just as background information, do you guys know why that tends to be the preferred set-up, as opposed to just putting the necessary gfx set-up right in with your RAID set-up and jacking that right to your display? Just curious. Also, thanks for the recommendation of making sure the gfx has hdcp built-in. I will make a mental note of that for when the time comes to pick a card.

So, let's assume we're talking about my "back-end" file server then. That's where I have an open question, as to what motherboard I should use. If I had to guess, I would say I have maybe 8TB worth of movies (I don't have them encoded to divx, so my movies are more like 4-7GB each). So, I guess currently I only need about 10 drives, but I want a motherboard capable of 20 drives so I can expand in the future as movie files get larger and larger.
a b V Motherboard
July 28, 2008 6:58:34 PM

rlslehigh said:
First, let me answer your "Really?" by telling you the main purpose of this file server. It's mostly just for movies; I want to store my entire collection electronically and watch them on a large HDTV. I know I will need a pretty high quality Video card if I want my movies to look good in high definition and displayed in the proper aspect, etc., but perhaps SLI or Crossfire is overboard. Then again, maybe in the future I might need something that powerful. I guess that's why I just wanted to make sure I got something compatible. But leaving video cards aside for now...

My main question after reading your reply is this:
The first link in your response was for software RAID (or at least that's what I thought it was), but in the next paragraph you recommend a RAID controller (which I understood to be hardware RAID). So, I'm confused, unless each PCI card can only unite 4 HDDs in a single RAID volume, then the VTS Pro software is for joining the groups of 4 HDDs on each PCI card, thereby creating a single RAID volume consisting of 4 groups of 4 HDDs (4x4=16 HDDs total in a single RAID volume). Maybe you could help me understand your suggestion in more detail?


I second the notion of a NAS/fileserver. Seems like you are just looking for mass storage. A NAS can be built with minimal hardware, in most cases with older parts that are just laying around. Check out Freenas.org and Openfiler.com.

DO NOT USE SOFTWARE RAID to permanently store all your media!!! A good hardware controller card is key and will determine the overall size and performance of your storage array. Do not be cheap with the hardware controller card! You might want to go with a PCI-e RAID controller card, something with onboard XOR processing, that supports live migration, preferably with at least 8 - SATA ports. Check out 3Ware, Areca, and Highpoint controller cards. RAID5 is better than RAID6, IMO. Fact is, 8 - 500GB drives is a usable space of 3.5TB and that is a HUGE amount of space. But if that's not enough, you can set up 8 - 1000GB drive for a usable array of 7TB!!!!

Generally speaking, you don't want to use the file server as the same machine that you plan on using to view your movies on and play games with. It's just not a best practice. You would better served by building 2 seperate machines, a NAS/filer server and then a second machine to watch your media and play games on.
July 28, 2008 7:03:42 PM

First, sorry about my semi-snarky opening line.

From the SLI bit I thought you were building a gaming machine, and adding all that storage would just help kill performance.

The card I suggested is not a true "hardware" raid card... It is a SATA interface with some basic "softwareish" RAID capacity. Even motherboards with intel ICH10R built in RAID are essentially a software solution (that supports up to 4 drive arrays).

In consumer space (as opposed to enterprise where things cost 10x) there is no hardware raid beyond 8 drives, and even that is pricey.

What I am suggesting above is add low cost PCI SATA interfaces and use good RAID software.

Next... Any Videocard better than an ATi 2600 Pro should be excellent for watching movies at up to 1920x1080p including blu-ray.

I prefer ATi because they can put Audio over HDMI. Other than that GeForce 8500 GT or better will work fine too (some nV cards in the low end are defective, due to excess heat so watch out).

If you plan on gaming a 4850/4870 HD will be the best bet because it is a great 3D performer and can handle more Audio channels/formats than any other video card over HDMI

*EDIT*

The biggest issue (other than high performance gaming) with having all your storage in the same machine that you will be watching from is that the noise of the fans and drives will be distracting.

If you can live with this, or can just run video and audio cables from an adjacent room to block noise there is no problem with having your media server hooked up to the TV. It may even be easier B/C you would otherwise want to create a wired network connection from the server to the client anyway as wireless networks seem to stutter a bit when serving content.
a b V Motherboard
July 28, 2008 7:13:00 PM

rlslehigh said:
So, let's assume we're talking about my "back-end" file server then. That's where I have an open question, as to what motherboard I should use. If I had to guess, I would say I have maybe 8TB worth of movies (I don't have them encoded to divx, so my movies are more like 4-7GB each). So, I guess currently I only need about 10 drives, but I want a motherboard capable of 20 drives so I can expand in the future as movie files get larger and larger.



You should decide what hardware controller you plan on using first before deciding on the mobo. Will it be PCI-X or PCI-E? If PCI-E, the 8x or 4x? A NAS/fileserver is all about storage and the machine should be built around that purpose.

If you plan using hardware controller cards, the number of SATA ports on the mobo is unimportant. What is important though, is the number of PCI-X slots or PCI-E slots to hold the hardware controller cards. For a back end file server, onboard video or a PCI video card would serve the purpose of being able to configure the OS and view the GUI. Remember that a 16x PCI-E slot is backwards compatible to 4x and 8x. So, you could just get a mobo that has at least 3 PCI-E 16x slots and just make sure that they can operate electrically at least at 4x PCI-E. By doing this, you can reserve the PCI-E slots for the hardware controllers and use the PCI or onboard video out to the monitor.

Another thing to remember is that for a filer server, the cpu, memory, and video do not have to be super powerful, they have to be just enough to process the data streaming to and from the storage array. Fact is a 1600MHz Skt775 Celeron and 2GB of RAM would be more than enough for a fileserver.
July 28, 2008 7:15:53 PM

chunkymonster said:

DO NOT USE SOFTWARE RAID to permanently store all your media!!! A good hardware controller card is key and will determine the overall size and performance of your storage array. Do not be cheap with the hardware controller card! You might want to go with a PCI-e RAID controller card, something with onboard XOR processing, that supports live migration, preferably with at least 8 - SATA ports. Check out 3Ware, Areca, and Highpoint controller cards. RAID5 is better than RAID6, IMO. Fact is, 8 - 500GB drives is a usable space of 3.5TB and that is a HUGE amount of space. But if that's not enough, you can set up 8 - 1000GB drive for a usable array of 7TB!!!!


How much would this all cost? Assuming even 10 Sata drives in a single array? How about for 20? For this sort of low performance/medium security requirement, semi pro raid software will be far cheaper and simpler.

Linux has the software tools to build this built in. I have a 4 disk array in a Pentium III 900 running ubuntu and mythtv on a Silicon Image 4 port SATA to PCI "RAID" card. I am using LVM for the raid not the SIL "Bios" and booting the system of an IDE drive. I have replcaced a drive in the array and it works fine.
July 28, 2008 7:24:25 PM

What is the budget for all of this?

I think that will partially dictate the route rlslehigh takes.

chunkymonster said:
You should decide what hardware controller you plan on using first before deciding on the mobo. Will it be PCI-X or PCI-E? If PCI-E, the 8x or 4x? A NAS/fileserver is all about storage and the machine should be built around that purpose.

If you plan using hardware controller cards, the number of SATA ports on the mobo is unimportant. What is important though, is the number of PCI-X slots or PCI-E slots to hold the hardware controller cards. For a back end file server, onboard video or a PCI video card would serve the purpose of being able to configure the OS and view the GUI. Remember that a 16x PCI-E slot is backwards compatible to 4x and 8x. So, you could just get a mobo that has at least 3 PCI-E 16x slots and just make sure that they can operate electrically at least at 4x PCI-E. By doing this, you can reserve the PCI-E slots for the hardware controllers and use the PCI or onboard video out to the monitor.

Another thing to remember is that for a filer server, the cpu, memory, and video do not have to be super powerful, they have to be just enough to process the data streaming to and from the storage array. Fact is a 1600MHz Skt775 Celeron and 2GB of RAM would be more than enough for a fileserver.


If that is the route you are going to go, the above advice is excellent. The ASUS P5Q-E Has 3 PCIe x16 slots at 8,8 and 4 electrical. Would work great.

A software RAID solution could be done with inexpensive used hardware and cheap controller cards.
July 28, 2008 7:34:14 PM

cyborg: no worries. i wasn't offended in the least. i appreciate the advice for choosing a video card, that will come in handy for sure.

chunkymonster, et al: i definitely want to do hardware RAID, and I am willing to spring for a quality PCI-e RAID controller. so, from your collective responses, am i correct in gathering that it's more about the controller cards than it is about the motherboard when it comes to how many HDDs you can support? also, what if i get a mother board with 3 or 4 PCI-e slots, then i get 3 or 4 RAID controller cards... then can i support 20 HDDs in one RAID volume?

From the get-go, I was assuming that this project was going to wind up costing me a pretty penny. So, I always thought that I would buy the components over time. I've picked out my case, and now I'm trying to figure out which motherboard to get. I just want to make sure that I get one that won't cause me limitations in the future. If the PCI-e controllers are doing all of the RAID work, then does the motherboard have to do anything RAID related at all?

Again, sorry for the newb-questions, but I have not built anything like this before.

Thanks,
Ryan
July 28, 2008 7:42:49 PM

rlslehigh said:
what if i get a mother board with 3 or 4 PCI-e slots, then i get 3 or 4 RAID controller cards... then can i support 20 HDDs in one RAID volume?


Nope, you are back to a software solution. AFAIK you would have to have them all on the same controller to have the XOR engine do all the calculation. I suppose you could use software "RAID" 0 to combine the arrays with limited computational overhead.

*edit*

I think there are multiple options for combining volumes, however most can be damaged/destroyed by losing part of the set. Microsoft Dynamic Disks or LVM have these options.

Why do you HAVE to have them on the same volume? How about horror on D:, action on E: and pr0n on F:, G:, H: and I: :) 

rlslehigh said:

From the get-go, I was assuming that this project was going to wind up costing me a pretty penny.

Too True...
a b V Motherboard
July 28, 2008 7:48:08 PM

cyborg28 said:
How much would this all cost? Assuming even 10 Sata drives in a single array? How about for 20? For this sort of low performance/medium security requirement, semi pro raid software will be far cheaper and simpler.

Linux has the software tools to build this built in. I have a 4 disk array in a Pentium III 900 running ubuntu and mythtv on a Silicon Image 4 port SATA to PCI "RAID" card. I am using LVM for the raid not the SIL "Bios" and booting the system of an IDE drive. I have replcaced a drive in the array and it works fine.


I agree cyborg...money is a factor...but that's rlslehigh's decision to make...generally speaking, I'm not a fan of relying on any software in order to rebuild or migrate an array...learned that the hard way...

Like you, I built a NAS, but using FreeNAS and running on a ASRock Conroe 1333 mobo, 512MB RAM, a low-end Celeron 420, and a 3Ware 8506 controller card plugged into a regular PCI slot housing a RAID5 array of 5-320GB drives. I either had the parts laying around or got them cheap off Ebay with the whole NAS costing me about $350. That's not a bad deal for 1.2TB of storage space, methinks!

As you've noted, you can build a fast and cheap NAS/fileserver for a minimal cost. But, I'm guessing the OP wants something more beefy...i dunno...
a b V Motherboard
July 28, 2008 8:10:57 PM

rlslehigh said:
chunkymonster, et al: i definitely want to do hardware RAID, and I am willing to spring for a quality PCI-e RAID controller. so, from your collective responses, am i correct in gathering that it's more about the controller cards than it is about the motherboard when it comes to how many HDDs you can support? also, what if i get a mother board with 3 or 4 PCI-e slots, then i get 3 or 4 RAID controller cards... then can i support 20 HDDs in one RAID volume?

From the get-go, I was assuming that this project was going to wind up costing me a pretty penny. So, I always thought that I would buy the components over time. I've picked out my case, and now I'm trying to figure out which motherboard to get. I just want to make sure that I get one that won't cause me limitations in the future. If the PCI-e controllers are doing all of the RAID work, then does the motherboard have to do anything RAID related at all?


Correct, the controller card determines the number of drives, performance, and storage capacity of the array.

There is no hardware controller card or hardware controller utility, that I know of, that allows you to combine the drives from multiple controller cards into one large array. However, that will be controller card specific and would depend in the manufacturer. I'm quite sure it could be done in software.

Most major controller card makers (3Ware, Highpoint, Areca) support installing at least 2-3 controller cards on the same system. Again, that will be controller specific and depend on the maker.

If you want to maximize the size of the array, then get a 12 port controller card and use nothing but 1TB drives! In a RAID5, that's potentially a total of 11TB of space! And then, put two controller cards in the same system! 22TB?!?! THAT'S A LOT OF STORAGE!!!!!!!!

If the hardware controllers are performing the RAID calculations, the motherboard does nothing more than channel the signals and take care of running the OS and background services.
July 28, 2008 8:27:23 PM

chunkymonster said:

If you want to maximize the size of the array, then get a 12 port controller card and use nothing but 1TB drives! In a RAID5, that's potentially a total of 11TB of space! And then, put two controller cards in the same system! 22TB?!?! THAT'S A LOT OF STORAGE!!!!!!!!


Kick A**! that is an excellent Idea and way cheaper than I imagined. Forget worrying about the Mobo, just get this for ~$750. It is a bit price but if you can spring for 10x 1TB drives this should fit the bill.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

You may even be able to throw it in a gaming pc and not suffer terribly. Now to find yourself a 1.5kW power supply and a Nuclear Reactor to provide the Juice!
July 28, 2008 8:31:51 PM

Selection factor for GPU cards... be aware that there are currently almost no good options for getting Dolby True HD or DTS Master Audio out of a computer. An exception to this is the 48x0 series ATi cards, that purportedly support both of these over HDMI. If you have a receiver that can parse these out (the Onkyo 605 and 705 both can, among many other options), then one of these GPUs may be the best audio option for you. The ugly alternative would be to use a whole bunch of analog cables from PC to receiver, out of an audio card.

Since you're thinking of gaming anyway, the 48x0 series might be a great choice anyway. The biggest shortcoming is noise. If you're thinking of having your gaming PC in your living room, you will want to try to find a version of the card that has quiet cooling and vents to the outside of the case.
July 28, 2008 8:46:28 PM

This is all great information. I have a much clearer picture of what I need and how everything works now... much clearer. Thanks!

cyborg has a good point, it doesn't HAVE to be on one volume. i guess i was just hoping for that because one of the reasons for this project was too many separate drives (sometimes i can't even find the movie i'm looking for). anyway, that 12 port RAID card looks awesome. i can't quite tell if cyborg is being serious or sarcastic, though, with respect to the price of the card, my greed for HDDs, and need for my own nuclear power station, haha!

i am very grateful for you guys getting me pointed in the right direction. i'm not sure i would have ever stumbled across that particular card... or understood properly why it's the right tool for the job, without your help. assuming i get the 12-port card, is the ASUS P5Q-E still the right mobo for this application?
July 28, 2008 9:01:52 PM

hsarc said:
They are expensive but you can get a single card that will handle that many drive. Here is one
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...


This looks even better.

As for the mobo, are you going to use a single RAID card? If so then your choice of Mobo is not so critical, unless you want to game as well.

The card above needs a PCIe x8 slot. Many mobos only have the single PCIe x16 slot for the video card that would also fit the raid card. If you want to do high end gaming as well you would need something with 2 PCIe x16 physical slots, preferably one that does full x16 electrical on at least one of the physical x16 slots.

The P5Q-E would work, and would be fine for something like an 8800GT but the video card would only see x8 electrical I think even a 4850 could use the x16. An X38 or X48 based board would give you 2 x16 electrical slots I think.
July 28, 2008 9:27:05 PM

okay, i think i have to do some more research on the pros & cons of the "front-end and back-end" approach, versus the "all-in-one" approach. sounds like a lot of you guys think putting it all in one case is a terrible idea. i guess, because the case i picked out is so huge, and because my philosophy for this project had been to lean toward getting state-of-the-art components, so that if i decide i want to do something with the rig in the future, then i don't want to be limited by some constraint on one of the components i chose.... that's why i still entertain the idea of a more bada$$ motherboard.

anyway, you're advice and constructive criticisms are still very much welcomed, but maybe you could suggest the appropriate mobo for each case? which model would be right for "bare-bones file server" and which model would you recommend for "crazy man wants to build HTPC & file server combo" (assuming vid card is 4850... since teramedia points out that it can do HD sound over HDMI) ?

Many Thanks & Regards,
Ryan

July 29, 2008 1:30:31 AM

For the file server, how many raid cards are you going to want to use & how many ports on each? It looks like the single 24 port card is the way to go so any mobo with a pcie 16x slot should work. You may have to get an old fashioned PCI video card to make that work though as PCIe x16 is usually there for video. A mobo with onboard video might work but you would have to see if the PCIe x16 slot and onboard video can be used at the same time. You usually can't use onboard vid. for an extra monitor when using a video card.
July 29, 2008 1:05:29 PM

for the file server, i agree with you that it makes the most sense to go with the 24 port RAID card, so that would be just one controller card. okay, so in that case, i should just pick out the cheapest mobo that has both a PCIe x16 and a PCI slot. right, or i could double-check that a mobo with onboard video could still work when the PCIe x16 is being used.

and for the "crazy man" build you recommend an X38 or X48 mobo? i'm afraid i'm not familiar enough with all of my choices to know specifically which mobos you're referencing when you say that. could you please give me some details?

Thanks Again,
Ryan
July 29, 2008 1:24:40 PM

ah, X38/X48 is the intel chipset, sorry.

still, if there's a particular model that you had in mind, i would love to hear about it!
July 29, 2008 2:13:12 PM

For the "Crazy Man" Build. This is it (You can always spend more, this is the best low price sol'n)

ASUS P5E Deluxe LGA 775 Intel X48 ATX Intel Motherboard

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Just build it and put it in an adjacent room to your living/family/home theater room. Get extra long cable from http://www.monoprice.com and run them thru a small hole in the wall.

Add any intel quad core, 4GB DDR2 800 ram (dont waste money on faster ram) and a 4850 or 4870 video card and a new Western Digital 320 MB Hdd for boot and programs and you are good to go.

Have you picked a power supply? What case are you using?
July 29, 2008 2:39:33 PM

i have not picked a power supply, and i would love some pointers there as well. the case i chose is the lian li v2010.
July 29, 2008 2:47:49 PM

Antec 1kW

$100 off for a limited time... cant do better for 200 bones.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Second choice... Cooler Master, also 200 clams.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

*Edit*

The raid controller has staggered start. It will be your best friend with 5+ Drives as they draw 2-3x more power on startup than when active/idle. You are looking at 20-30W @ 12 V startup per 3.5" drive, but less than 10 W when idle. 24 drives on startup all at once would kill a 1kW PSU even if there was no computer attached.
July 29, 2008 2:51:23 PM

What is your home network setup? How many computers/nodes & where are they located. What is wired, what is wireless? What speeds?
July 29, 2008 3:15:36 PM

currently, i just have a desktop and a laptop. i've set up a network via the windows xp wizard, but as you probably know, it's very unreliable. it seems everytime i install windows updates, i lose my network again. when it does work, i had been hooking my laptop up to my HDTV, and playing movies that were stored on my desktop. since i was connecting through my wireless-g router, as others have noted, it was jumpy. a friend (who knows more about this stuff than i) told me it's because the g-standard doesn't really have enough bandwidth, but that once the n-standard becomes more mainstream, that should be able to handle movies without playback being interupted.

this same friend has offered to get me running linux on this new machine, and maybe mythtv, etc. so that's probably the route i'll wind up going. in the long-run, it would be nice to be able to get access to the movie files wirelessly from other computers in the house. but i think that's much further down the road. i don't currently have any need or desire to take on something like that. but i'm sure i will much later.

not sure i answered your questions, ummm, the desktop is in the adjacent room to the living room (where the home theater is, and where the laptop usually resides). i have cable internet, and a linksys wireless-g router (with gamer boost, or something like that, i forget what they call it). sorry, probably the best i can answer. please don't feel obligated to comment on my network issues, since i'm not really network-savvy anyway. but i can't thank you enough for all of your patient and kind advice about hardware components. i'm still undecided between "bare-bones" and "crazy man"... i willl have to think about this some more. Thanks!!
July 29, 2008 3:38:46 PM

For the most part, 100 Mb wired network using your router should be plenty for streaming video... The stuttering with wireless is not really a bandwith issue, its more that the connections tend to be somewhat unreliable. For instance, I compress most of my movies to 1GB which can be transfered by wireless in a few (<<30) minutes, but I still get stuttering even though the whole movie only has to be delivered over 2 hours.

I suggest you just build the "Crazy man" machine with Vista Home Premium & the media center interface. Put it in the next room and run an HDMI cable to it. Get a usb extension cable and wireless keyboard and mouse and run those back to the computer as well.

That way you can use the RAID and game on your Big Screen HDTV @1080p. Gaming on linux is non-existent.

If you do the front end/back end setup then Linux back end is the way to go. I just have not found a decent Mobo for the back end yet. Onboard video + x8 or x16 PCIe raid support is hard to find a known working Mobo for. - Might be worth starting a new thread. Does the raid card work in linux?
July 29, 2008 3:57:36 PM

cyborg28 said:
Does the raid card work in linux?

ah, good question, i will check that.

cyborg28 said:
Get a usb extension cable and wireless keyboard and mouse and run those back to the computer as well.

i have a bluetooth keyboard and mouse that work nicely, even through walls, so i guess i would just need a long hdmi cable.

Thanks!
July 29, 2008 4:00:25 PM

the accusys card says it supports this:
Linux 2.6.x kernel (Red Hat and SUSE)

so, i guess that still leaves my options open.
July 29, 2008 4:05:19 PM

here's an important question/consideration for you:
do you think, if i ran a linux wireless network (g or n), that playback would still stutter?

from what you wrote earlier, it seems to imply that any wireless network would stutter, regardless of bandwidth, OS, router, whatever. but maybe that's not true, what do you think?
July 29, 2008 6:07:37 PM

I Run a linux samba file server, directly wired to my wireless g router, that connects to my HTPC wirelessly. A 1GB 2hour movie still stutters unless I buffer 3+ seconds of content using VLC player. Don't know about N, but you were talking about 5-7 GB/hour content right?
July 29, 2008 7:19:32 PM

okay, that makes sense. so, regardless of the network, you need a media player that allows buffering. that's a simple enough solution.

my movies are currently just stored as image files (*.iso) so they're 4-7GB for two or three hours. so ~2-3GB / hour. i usually keep the special features and the menus, so it's convenient to keep them as images and just mount them on a virtual drive in order to play them. somebody on the thread said they encode to divx without losing any resolution, and bring the size down around 1GB. and you said your movies are around 1GB. maybe i should look into alternative formats more closely before i go about building a 20TB monstrosity...

i'm really glad i talked with all you guys on this forum, it's given me a lot of ideas and fresh perspectives. i'm still going to build this computer, but i guess depending on what i find out about different video formats, it may wind up being a bit more modest in terms of total storage space.
July 29, 2008 7:45:25 PM

I would not say that I am keeping full DVD quality. I usually keep DVDs for that. I only have stereo sound usually as well. All depends on what you want.
*EDIT*
The stuff I have on the server is in x264 h.264, set up so it can be watched on an ipod or on a 40" TV, so there are some compromises involved.
July 29, 2008 8:09:07 PM

right, okay, well i'm sort of a freak for resolution and surround sound...
July 29, 2008 8:10:51 PM

Me too, but I haven't got the space to store my dvds "online".
!