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  #1  
Old February 22nd, 2011, 04:27 AM
roofmunky roofmunky is offline
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Question Multiple Boxee boxes and a NAS

I have the oppotunity to kit out all the tv's in my house with Boxee boxes and have them fed by a NAS for all my local files, does anyone have a similar setup and have any recommendations or problems? Also if I were to scrap the NAS idea could I localy connect 2tb hard drives to each Boxee and have them all share each others content?
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  #2  
Old February 22nd, 2011, 05:09 AM
flighttime flighttime is online now
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Boxee doesn't care where on the network the files are located but I can't see any benefit to having individual hd's for each BB. Also, if you have them attached to each BB, they will only be available if the box is on and running.
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Old February 22nd, 2011, 05:15 AM
Prospero424 Prospero424 is offline
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Make sure the NAS is on wired Ethernet so it's not sharing WiFi bandwidth.

Make sure you set Boxee up to access it over CIFS/SMB (Samba) rather than adding the NAS as a UPnP device, as there seem to be a lot more compatibility and performance issues with that mode, presently.

If you can raise the read buffer setting on your NAS, this has been found to help with certain performance-related issues.

A NAS is the ideal solution as long as it's set up properly.
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  #4  
Old February 22nd, 2011, 05:33 PM
roofmunky roofmunky is offline
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Many thanks for those tips guys, looks like the NAS is the way to go. I have always planned to keep the network wired for speed and reliability purposes. Any recommedations on which NAS to purchase?
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  #5  
Old February 24th, 2011, 02:19 AM
Brian Brian is offline
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Be careful when buying your NAS. I tried the same thing. I used an array of cheap desktop disks in a software RAID5 set (just about every single cheap ass NAS does this). The SATA disks are only capable of servicing a single filesystem stream at a time. As soon as more than one MAYBE two (depending on the content) stream requests content from the filesystem, the SATA disks take a shit.

I've proven it time and time over again. The only way around it was to build a SAS array.

I'm now running 8 of these: 2TB model

http://www.seagate.com/www/en-us/pro...stellation-es/

and 8 more for a backup, in a eSAS array connected to one of these:

http://www.lsi.com/storage_home/prod...-8e/index.html


I work with enterprise grade hardware everyday at work. I've had the opportunity to test just about every combination with all sorts of test scenarios.

I've proven the following NAS' cannot service more than one HD stream at a time:

http://www.cisco.com/en/US/products/ps10855/index.html (most advanced small NAS around, I was able to get 3 streams out of this one with write cache enabled. Write cache caused this box to segfault when a write occurred to the volume during the video stream)

CentOS EL5.5 Software RAID5
CentOS EL5.5 Hardware RAID5 with write cache
OpenFiler
FreeNAS
Drobo with Droboshare
unRAID (worked fine if a stream sourced from individual disks, not real RAID and lacked necessary features)

http://www.readynas.com/ (the netgear ready NAS gave me two solid streams, however, as soon as I opened a small write session to the volume both streams froze and the write dropped to .5MBps.

And finally, the SNAP Appliance 18000 (6 years old)
http://www.amazon.com/Appliance-Netw.../dp/B0003009FI

This puppy was $40,000 new, it's an array of SATA desktop disks with custom written firmware from adaptec. I was able to get 8 streams out of this guy with no trouble, however writes were limited to 5MBps. By far the best I've seen, but the special SATA disks were only available through adaptec at a crazy high price. No sense in using this...



The issue with all of the above are the SATA disks. SATA disks in NAS formation (with or without RAID) just aren't capable of servicing multiple heavy file streams. You can see I've spent countless hours and tests to figure out the actual problem. I even had the opportunity to speak with EMC (the most powerful enterprise storage company in the world). EMC said their SATA shelves use a hybrid drive which caches all I/O traffic to flash before spreading across the spindles. This makes the SATA disks 'appear' to have similar characteristics as SAS or FC drives.

SATA disks just aren't designed to do what we want.



Anyway,... I'm done. Be sure to post your experiences!




One last thing. All SATA combinations above gave me:

50MB/s - single filesystem stream
4MB/s - when adding a second stream (brought the SATA disks to its knees)

My SAS configuration:

384MB/s - single filesystem stream
372MB/s - double filesystem stream

The decline is consistent as you add more streams. These tests were done with a 10GB .mkv video and large file transfers.

I've averaged all results and came to the above conclusion.



-Brian
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Last edited by Brian; February 24th, 2011 at 02:23 AM.
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  #6  
Old February 24th, 2011, 05:15 PM
roofmunky roofmunky is offline
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WOW many thanks for your info, looks like the NAS selection maybe more difficult than I thought. I can't see me streaming more than two feeds at once, three at a stretch. I understand your reply but looking at prices I don't think I can stretch to more than a SATA array. Is anyone else using a SATA setup with a three or four feed system?
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  #7  
Old February 24th, 2011, 08:49 PM
wincrasher wincrasher is offline
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Wow!

I've served several PC's, 3 Boxees, a PS3 and an Xbox 360 easily from a drobo pro connected to an imac via firewire 800 and usb 2.

A usb drive or two would serve just as well. You home PC should be an adequate server just sharing a drive out to your network.

You should be good for many more streams in SD. 1080p could be iffy, depending on the file, but I'd try it before I spent serious money or committed to the complexity of an NAS or Raid Server. Consumer level NAS's are notorious for weak performance. They are mostly used in backup applications.

If you are committing to streaming HD, just go all wired - from server and boxees. Wireless is just not up to it. Make sure your router or switch and server PC are using gigabit ethernet. Your Boxee Box's are using 100mb, but you need the wider bandwidth at your server.

Good luck!
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  #8  
Old February 26th, 2011, 07:27 AM
roofmunky roofmunky is offline
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Excellent, this brings me back to my original idea of replacing my PC and using the old one as a server with drives connected to start with. There seems to be plenty of options available, its just what the budget will allow.
On the Nas side of things someone suggested a Qnap anyone used these before?
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  #9  
Old February 26th, 2011, 03:29 PM
arildsd arildsd is offline
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http://www.synology.com/enu/products/DS1010+/index.php

I'm going for this!
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  #10  
Old February 26th, 2011, 03:46 PM
Brian Brian is offline
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Unfortunately, defining abilities using ambiguous terms such as SD or HD isn't a reliable means of benchmark.

Obviously the smaller the files the more filesystem streams the source can dish out. I've only ever tested and streamed HD video (1.5-5GB per 45-60 minutes of video and audio).


You can probably get 10+ boxees pulling from a single SATA disk if the filesystem stream were SD (<700MB per 2hours of video and audio).


Anyway,... my point being the usability of SATA disks for multiple filesystem streams depends on the size of the file being streamed. I've had close to zero success with SATA disks when working with files over 1GB-50GB via multiple streams.


What would be really awesome is if Boxee supported multicast video broadcasts. This way a server would only need to broadcast a single mcast stream over a broadcast group and any device could join the stream. The work could be offloaded to the network then.


-Brian
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