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Need Help Tuning and Tweaking My Home Network

Last response: in Networking
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August 29, 2011 5:14:13 AM

Hi All, I am looking for help and recommendations with my Home Network.

I am good at building computers, but have lots to learn about networking. I hope some of you will take the time to read this post and make some suggestions. Since my layout is rather large and confusing I am trying to include as much info as possible in this post. Thanks in advance for any help.

Here is a rundown of the layout.
My whole house is wired in Cat 6. Everything is wired, no wireless. All equipment runs to the 24 port switch.

Location - Hall Closet:
AT&T Uverse Gateway Made by 2-Wire, Model Number 3800 HGV-B. We have 24 Mbps Internet Service.
Netgear JGS 524 Unmanaged 24 port Gigabit switch.
42 Terabyte Server running Windows 7 64 Bit Professional. ( Details Below )
QTY> 3 Silicon Dust HD Home Run Dual Tuners for a total of 6 ATSC Tuners.

Location - Home Theater:
Home Theater PC running Windows 7 64 Bit Professional
XBOX 360

Location - Den:
XBOX 360
Location - Office:
QTY>2 PC Running Windows 7 64 Bit Professional

Location - Master Bed Room:
XBOX 360
Popcorn Hour C200

Location - Kids Room:
QTY>2 PC Running Windows 7 64 Bit Professional
XBOX 360
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
All the equipment above works fine. The problem I am having is fine tuning the network for more bandwidth and higher speeds. The 42TB server is where I have the bottle neck.
All the straight up PC's have no problems and do not seem to contribute to the problem as they do not use or stream from the Server. The 4 XBOX 360 units do not contribute to the problem if they are just being used for online gaming.

The Home Theater PC, Popcorn Hour C-200 and all 4 XBOX 360 units do stream from the server. The server is the main Windows Media Center PC. It holds all our DVD' , Blu-Rays, Music, Pictures as well as has the 3 HD Home Run Tuners configured in Windows Media Center.

We have 4 Television sets in the house. If I am only using one of the above units as a media center extender I have no issues. When adding a second unit, if both are streaming High Definition Content, 50% of the time there is no problem. It depends on the Content and Audio. Once the third unit is started you get Screens freezing, Stuttering, Loss of Audio, Loss of Picture, etc... If I shut down one unit immediately the last two will recover and continue normal operation. Otherwise they will crash and you need to either reboot or go out to the main menu and start again. The first one to crash when multiple units are running is always the PopCorn Hour C-200 if it is streaming a Blu-Ray.

Here are the specs of the 42TB Server:

Windows Professional 64 Bit Running Media Center, Intel S3210SHLX Server Mother Board, Intel XEON E3110 Wolfdale 3.0GHZ Dual Core, 8 Gig of GEIL Memory, QTY- 21 - 2TB SATA Drives, QTY- 2 - SUPERMICRO AOC-SAT2-MV8 64-bit PCI-X 133MHz SATA II (3.0Gb/s) Controller Cards, Sony Optiarc Slim 8X DVD±R Burner Black SATA Model AD-7590S-01.

The Intel Board has two onboard Gigabit Ethernet Ports ( I am only using one ) I am using the onboard video and no sound. This unit stays in a air conditioned closet. All units have static IP's.

OK, Here are my questions about the server and network.
1. What would be the optimal settings in Windows 7 Professional for the network and each unit for maximum speed and bandwidth?
2. Can I Team up the Two Onboard Ethernet ports on the Server to act as one? ( I think the two ports are different. They are both listed as Intel Gigabit ports, but have different model numbers. One is Intel 82541 and the other is Intel 82566.
3. Can I add more Ethernet Ports to the Server Board?
4. Would a higher end managed switch make a difference?
5. Should I upgrade the server to Windows 7 64 Bit Ultimate to get NFS file sharing? ( This may work much better for the Popcorn Hour than Using SAMBA )
6. What kind of tests should I run to help find out how to fix this?

If you need more info , Just ask. Please remember Networking is not my strong suit. Please explain it to me as simply as possible.
Thanks for any help,
Chris

More about : tuning tweaking home network

August 29, 2011 6:48:25 AM

Quote:
Windows Professional 64 Bit Running Media Center


Are you running this as the Server OS?

If so then that is your problem right there. The client OS's have a cap on the number of negotiating inbound network connections. They also have absolute crap file sharing performance to multiple systems. Ontop of that is if your using Windows Media Center to stream anything, its slow and there's not much else you can do about it.

If your got the money then Windows Home Server will do what you want to do, otherwise you can just go with a varient of Linux, I'd suggest CentOS 5 if your comfortable with server OS's.
August 29, 2011 6:51:21 PM

Last night after I posted this on another forum, I had gotten a private message from someone that had the same problem only on a smaller home network.
His biggest problem was also the Popcorn Hour C-200 while streaming Blu-Ray iso. files from the server. He said he fixed his whole network by using the program
SG TP Optimizer. It can be found here: http://www.speedguide.net/downloads.php

I ran it late last night and rebooted the server. The Intel server board takes quite some time to reboot so I went to bed.

This morning I started to use Windows Resource Monitor in the server to see what was happening. As I started adding running units to the server I expected something to freeze or crash, but it didn't.
I went back to the SG TP Optimizer and returned the server to the prior settings from yesterday and rebooted.
The server went back to not being able to have more than two units running without crashing the units. I then used the SG TP Optimizer to change the settings back to optimal and rebooted. Once again everything performed flawlessly. Now I started using Windows Resource Monitor to see what was going on.

I first started the PopCorn Hour C-200 and streamed a Blu-Ray iso. with DTS bit streaming. It worked perfect. This unit is the only one that does not use Windows Media Center through the server. It just streams the files directly.

I then turned on the Home theater PC and through Media Center streamed a Blu-Ray iso. with DTS bit streaming.

All the rest listed were all using Media Center through the server.
An XBOX 360 Streaming Live 1080i Television with Dolby Digital
Another Xbox Streaming Hulu through Playon
Two more XBOX 360 units one with live TV and the other streaming CBS.com Late Show through Playon.
The last two units were running but not selected through the AV receiver.

That is 6 devices running off the server. We would never use more than 4. We only have 4 TV's.

While watching Windows Resource Monitor on the server, I saw the following:

The network almost reached 200mbps and probably can go lots higher if needed.

The disk transfer speeds were exactly in the proper range.

The CPU reached 98% a few times. I would say this is the weak spot. Since I was home alone today while testing, I could only do one thing at a time. If more family members were home and everyone was starting and stopping the units, changing programs to watch etc.... I think the CPU would have topped out and something would have crashed. I think if I ran all 6 units using Playon then it definitely would have crashed. The transcoding in Playon is CPU intensive.

I am currently running the Intel XEON Wolfdale E-3110 3.0GHZ Dual Core.
I just ordered the Intel Core 2 Q9550 Quad Core 2.83GHZ. That should fix the CPU from hitting 100% It will be here by Friday.

The Popcorn Hour still glitches from time to time , but that is mostly due to widely known problems with the unit and or firmware. DTS can make that unit freak out.

So right now it seems this problem is solved. I highly recommend SG TP Optimizer.
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September 4, 2011 8:28:42 AM

What i think is also part of the problem is your disc. I guess it has only 1 or heads, BD iso are huge and need also a fast HD. But if you start to play four isos the head cannot cope with the amount of requests and a disc queue appears.
You should also get smaller and more discs to increase read speed and use a raid 0 configuration.
September 4, 2011 12:01:09 PM

besthtpc said:
What i think is also part of the problem is your disc. I guess it has only 1 or heads, BD iso are huge and need also a fast HD. But if you start to play four isos the head cannot cope with the amount of requests and a disc queue appears.
You should also get smaller and more discs to increase read speed and use a raid 0 configuration.



Thanks, I was wondering about the speed of the Hard Drives also. I will run some more tests and see what other changes are needed. Thanks for the reply.
!