[AG-TECH] New hardware specification for AG 2.0?

Ivan R. Judson judson at mcs.anl.gov
Wed Feb 19 06:18:38 CST 2003

I agree mostly with chris' opening point but should note that if we were to
start building the ag over again -- it would probably still require multiple
machines because (as you'll see in the coming months) the ag is still about
future collaboration environments...it still is based on asuuming high
bandwith, lots of processing.  The design that is being realized in ag2
simply scales down to what e have today in a nice way :-)

--ivan, with a baby on one knee

> -----Original Message-----
> From: owner-ag-tech at mcs.anl.gov 
> [mailto:owner-ag-tech at mcs.anl.gov] On Behalf Of Osland, CD (Chris) 
> Sent: Wednesday, February 19, 2003 4:39 AM
> To: ag-tech at mcs.anl.gov
> Subject: RE: [AG-TECH] New hardware specification for AG 2.0?
> [Warning - this reply has grown a bit long...!]
> Can I chip in with some thoughts on this.  I don't think AG 
> 2.0 is actually the agent of change, so much as the passing 
> of time. When the 'recommended' hardware (which has 
> previously been noted is more of a 'reference known to work' 
> hardware set) was written down, 500 MHz was about tops for 
> CPU power.  If you wanted more, you went for dual 500 MHz.
> Now AMD 2200+ MPs is equally affordable on a per-chip basis, 
> as are 2.xx GHz Pentium 4s.  Dual processor motherboards are 
> not as expensive, compared to single processor ones, as they 
> were, and they appear to be much more reliable than dual 
> mobos a few years ago.
> As a result, it appears to me that a single machine with dual 
> processors (AMD or Intel to personal choice) can provide the 
> power to run what I'm currently running on 3 1.4 GHz AMD 
> single proc machines:
> 	display machine peaking at 100% utilization with about
> 	20-25 video windows (and about half that when encrypted) (**)
> 	capture machine running at about 15% with 4 Hauppage cards
> 	active
> 	audio machine barely idling
> (**) The fly in the ointment is the Gentner control software 
> which hogs all remaining cycles as a result of polling over a 
> serial line (ugh!!!).  Setting its Windows priority to Low 
> (the lowest) improves things, but in critical meetings I 
> still kill it off to avoid 'sticky windows' problems.
> I like things rack-mounted, so am considering a single 4U 
> machine with, say, twin 2400 MP processors (or whatever is 
> affordable the week I place the order), Osprey twin capture 
> cards (2 off 220s - which have the advantage of balanced 
> audio I/O - saves a card and a bal-unbal box), and possible a 
> 1U pensioned off server box just for the Gentner software!!!  
> For display I like the idea of the Parhelia 3-output card 
> (AGP) for the wall and something OK but not earth-shattering 
> for the monitor - I might use a dual output card for that, as 
> the combined windows from display, audio and video capture 
> functions might be a bit crowded on a single monitor - my 
> eyes aren't up to 1600x1200 displays unless they're about 32" wide!
> In summary, the power needed these days depends on the most 
> complex meetings you aim to handle effortlessly.  If you're 
> regularly running 15 site meetings encrypted (we are headed 
> that way) the display machine will probably need as much 
> power as you can cram in one case all to itself.  If 8 sites 
> without encryption is more your style, you can probably put 
> everything in one box, insofar as CPU power is concerned.
> Just my 0.02's worth.
> Chris
> ____________________________________________________________________
> Chris Osland                         Office tel: +44 (0) 1235 446565
> Digital Media and Access Grid      Medialab tel: +44 (0) 1235 446459
> BIT Department             Access Grid room tel: +44 (0) 1235 445666
> e-mail:   C.D.Osland at rl.ac.uk               Fax: +44 (0) 1235 445597
> CLRC Rutherford Appleton Laboratory (Bldg. R18)
> Chilton, DIDCOT, Oxon OX11 0QX, UK
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> -----Original Message-----
> From: Jon Johansson [mailto:jon.johansson at ualberta.ca]
> Sent: 18 February 2003 22:45
> To: ag-tech at mcs.anl.gov
> Subject: [AG-TECH] New hardware specification for AG 2.0?
> Hi, 
> We have finally got some money to buy hardware for an AG Room 
> and I am now wondering whether the Access Grid Hardware 
> Specification is going to change for AG 2.0. I know that 
> several groups have 
> got nodes working with 2 computers (one for display and control, and 
> the other for both audio and video capture), is this going to 
> become the new specification? This question is motivated by 
> my interest in buying pieces, installing software and, as 
> much as possible, having it work through the change from AG1 to AG2.
> We are considering the following hardware: 
>    Display computer:	dual Xeon - 1 GB Ram
>                         Matrox G450 Dual Head AGP Graphics Adapter
>                         Matrox G200 Quad PCI Graphics Adapter
>    Video Cap computer:	dual Xeon - 1 GB Ram
>                         Hauppauge video capture adapters x4
>    Audio Cap computer:	single Xeon - 512 MB Ram
>                         Creative Ensoniq AudioPCI Audio Adapter x4
>    Control computer:	single Xeon - 512 MB Ram
> All computers have Ethernet and ATI RAGE XL 8MB video on the 
> motherboards and IDE drives. 
> I am particularly interested in audio and video capture cards 
> with multiple inputs, are there any that people are finding 
> usable? These seem to be 
> necessary if you are going to reduce the number of PCI slots 
> available by reducing the number of computers. The CPU usage 
> on the capture computers must depend on how much processing 
> is done in the capture cards, are there multi-input capture 
> cards that will leave little for the CPU to do in terms of encoding?
> Are there alternatives to the Matrox graphics cards that are 
> cheaper/ better?
> The AG specification gives a price for the Matrox G450 Dual Head AGP 
> Graphics Adapter of $200. When I go to the Matrox website the 
> G450 cards seem to be PCI now and the prices are $600US for 
> the dual head and $800 US for the quad head. Matrox doesn't 
> seem to be selling the AGP cards anymore. Are these PCI cards 
> acceptable for driving the displays? 
> Are there alternative AGP graphics cards that would be suitable?
> Thank you,
> Jon Johansson.
> -- 
> Jon I Johansson             *  Research Computing Support
> jon.johansson at ualberta.ca   *  Computing and Network Services
> Tel.: (780) 492-9304        *  University of Alberta
> Fax.: (780) 492-1729        *  Edmonton, Alberta, CANADA

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