The Treehouse Blog

Archive for July 13th, 2008

IC failure

by on Jul.13, 2008, under Computers

A year or so ago, I lost my BT878-based 4-port video capture card, apparently to lightning. The card was connected to a cheap black-and-white camera outside my house, intended for security monitoring purposes. When the card failed, it stopped showing up in ‘lspci’ and the box was otherwise fine, so I didn’t bother taking out the card. That box was decommissioned about 6 months ago, and I finally took it apart this week, revealing this:

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Oak Upgrade

by on Jul.13, 2008, under Computers

Oak had an upgrade this week. It’s been running for years with an AMD Athlon XP 2400 on an Asus A7V8X motherboard. With the new tasks of running a 5-disk software RAID5 array and H.264 video codecs added over the past few years, it has started lagging behind. The processor and motherboard have been upgraded to AMD Athlon 64 X2 5400+ Brisbane running at 2.8GHz and 65W, and a Gigabyte GA-M57SLI-S4 motherboard. That should provide something around 2.8x the processing power, more disk I/O capability since the motherboard provides 6 onboard SATA ports instead of the two PCI-to-SATA cards I had been using which would max out at 133MB/s, and I’ve also quadruped my RAM from 1GB to 4GB.

Instead of upgrading the OS in place, I opted to do a fresh install of Fedora 9 x86_64 onto a software RAID mirror, replacing the old 10-gig non-UDMA IDE system drive that I had been using. This was relatively painless. A fresh mythtv install combined with importing my old database resulted in a working system. I had to copy over my lirc customizations, of course. The on-board sound with the default PulseAudio configuration works fine for everything including the raw digital output for AC3. One quirk I may need to look into is that when skipping around in a AC3 video, there will be an absence of sound for a considerable portion of a second before it comes back. This quirk is better than the problems I’ve had recently with my (ancient) SoundBlaster Live which would cause the receiver to not switch back to PCM mode on its own after an AC3 stream stopped.

I also upgraded to a GeForce 7300GS-based PCIe graphics card which has allowed me to switch to ‘gl’ rendering for mplayer, which seems to fix most or all of my frame tearing issues that I would experience when using 1024×768 to drive the TV output.

Still some issues to resolve, and I haven’t measured it’s power draw yet, but the upgrade process has been a lot less painful than I had feared.

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July 2008


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