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Hi Everyone, I'm trying to get an HTPC going, but I don't have any money to purchase a new computer. I have 2 desktops in my possession that I am ...
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  1. #1
    Just Joined! JeremyG's Avatar
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    Build an HTPC using clustering


    Hi Everyone,

    I'm trying to get an HTPC going, but I don't have any money to purchase a new computer. I have 2 desktops in my possession that I am trying to use: 1 is a 2.4 GHz with a 128 MB Radeon 9800 PRO video card (I think) and 1.5 GB RAM (the system is about 8 years old, but I built it top of the line for back then). The second system is a 3.2 GHz dual core with on board video and 2 GB RAM.

    The problem is, neither system will run 1080p video's without dropping hundreds of packets producing very choppy audio/video. I was wondering if it is possible to cluster these two systems together to harness both their processing power to run 1080p video?

    I would just jump in and attempt it, but as I have been reading, it looks like processes aren't actually shared across PC's, but auto determined which PC it will run on based on load, which is an issue since neither can cleanly run the 1080p video. I'm hoping someone has a little experience with this that might help.

    Thanks,
    Jeremy

  2. #2
    Super Moderator Roxoff's Avatar
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    The 3.2 GHz system should easily be powerful enough. Its not really a factor of the CPU but down to the power of your video card. If you want 1080p video and this computer has a PCIe slot inside, then get one of the current crop of video cards with an HDMI port on it (for convenience), you can get something powerful enough for 40 or 50 dollars, I'm sure.

    My own HTPC is a Pentium 4 2Ghz I think - or maybe even something older. It's got maybe 1GB of memory and a 40 gig hard disk, upon which is its Fedora 14 install. All the video files are on the big 2TB partition on my server, but they've both got on-board gigabit network connection - that means it can hand the files over quickly (the media partition is NFS mounted for simplicity).

    The video card is an 8xAGP NVidia 6000 or 7000 series one - nothing particularly fancy, but it does 720p nicely. As I have no video files in 1080p, I have no need for anything higher, but if I did, I'd get the extra oomph with a better video card.
    Linux user #126863 - see http://linuxcounter.net/

  3. #3
    Just Joined! JeremyG's Avatar
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    Thanks for the quick response.

    I've been told the 3.2 system should be powerful enough, but I just can't seem to get it to work. I've tried windows XP (was installed by default), xubuntu 11.04 with XBMC, and ubuntu 10.10 & 11.04 both with XBMC and 2-3 other media players (the names escape me at the moment). All will play 720p without an issue, but the 1080p is unwatchable because of the stuttering.

    The 3.2 system is an IBM small form factor case. It has 1 PCI slot, that's it. So I can't put in another video card, and even if the slot would take it, because of the small form factor, it would be impossible to fit it in. As for the 2.4 GHz system, I have the 128 MB AGP video card, and it's a regular tower and I can upgrade it as much as I want, but I can't really change the processor (again, no money, just spent $3,000 I don't have to replace my transmission in my SUV).

    Do you think there is anyway to get this working with the equipment I have? Clustering if possible (my last resort)? Or do I have to suck it up and buy something else? Because for a $50 - $60 video card, it would be simpler to buy a dedicated HTPC for $150 (a few friends bought them and 1080p works fine), but I can't spend the money.

    Thanks

  4. #4
    Trusted Penguin Irithori's Avatar
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    Roxoff is right.
    Add a halfway decent videocard in either of the systems, and you should be able to play 1080p

    As a starting point:
    A atom n330 + ion is the bare minimum of hardware that you need
    So any generation newer and faster than an ion should do.
    My htpc has a passiv cooled nvidia gt430, which is about 60euro


    Clustering is not applicable here.
    You must always face the curtain with a bow.

  5. #5
    Just Joined! JeremyG's Avatar
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    Thanks for the info guys. I'll have to put it on the back burner until I get some extra money, but at least I know I can stop wasting my time trying to get it to work on hardware that is too slow.

    And I didn't think clustering would work like I wanted it to. Glad to get a solid answer on this though.

    Thanks again, much appreciated,
    Jeremy

  6. #6
    Super Moderator Roxoff's Avatar
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    What on-board video chipset does your computer have? If it's an nVidia one you might get away with putting the proprietary video driver package on your system.
    Linux user #126863 - see http://linuxcounter.net/

  7. #7
    Just Joined! JeremyG's Avatar
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    I'm not certain about the on-board video (I'm at work), but I know it's nothing great, and certainly not a brand name. But I will look at it when I get home and check if it is a possibility. Thanks for the direction.

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