[AG-TECH] Hardware concern ...

Paul Hatton P.S.Hatton at bham.ac.uk
Wed May 17 10:47:35 CDT 2006


I run two studio nodes using the inSORS cubes here, both with 2 
projectors and a master console, so a triple-video-head setup. This 
is an old-ish - about 3 years - setup so the PC is probably lower 
spec that their current one. We have dual 2.4GHz Intel CPU, 512 Mb 
ram (tight, I think), 20 GB disk (!!!), 4 port Winnov capture card, 2 
dual-head video cards. They run the insors IG software, not AG 

On the whole it holds up pretty well, although one e-science 
directors' meeting with about 15 sites failed spectacularly when 
encryption for all sites was mandated - this brought many sites, 
including us, to their knees so I think that this imposed some large 
overheads somewhere. Don't know if it hit the network, the PCs or 
both but that's the one and only time that encryption was mandated. 
That aside, it's pretty robust.

I have found one gotcha, maybe down to having 2 dual-head video cards 
rather than one triple or even quad-head card (the latter were rather 
expensive at the time; I'm not sure if quad head was available at 
all, but triple head certainly was at a price). One of the regular 
uses is joint teaching of a Physics 4th year course that has students 
here and at a remote site (Rutherford Appleton, for the UK readers of 
this list). We sometimes played a DVD locally at each site, and some 
players - I think some versions of media player and Cyberlink 
PowerDVD - get upset at running full-screen on a secondary graphics 
card. The master card drives the console monitor, only using one of 
it's two outputs, and the secondary card the two display projectors, 
so there may be a way around this by swapping the roles of the two 
cards. Since this only happens rarely, and it can be circumvented by 
running in a window sized to fill the screen, as opposed to full 
screen, I've let well alone. I feel that a triple or quad head card 
should get round this - any ideas out there?

I've never run a 3 PC setup, but on the whole the insors cube has 
been pretty good - unless you are well networked (one of our rooms 
has fibre straight back to our machine room and hence fast onto the 
wider world, one goes out over the standard campus network), the 
network limitations are more likely to hit you for large meetings. 
Then we get into the efficiency of various codecs - especially insors 
v. AG toolkit - which is where I sign off.

Hope this helps.

Date sent:      	Wed, 17 May 2006 09:54:54 -0400
From:           	"Nathan P Johnson" <nathan.johnson at louisville.edu>
To:             	<ag-tech at mcs.anl.gov>
Subject:        	[AG-TECH] Hardware concern ...

> Hi everyone:
> We are thinking of converting our three-PC full room node ( three
> projectors, AP 400 etc. ) to a single PC design, possibly using a
> PC
> setup from INSORS. Has anyone set up a room node with three
> projectors
> and everything running on a single PC? If so what has the
> experience
> been during large conferences when there are a large number of
> incoming
> video streams and so on. 
> Thanks in advance for your help.
> Nate
> Nathan Johnson
> sysAdmin
> Dahlem Supercomputer Lab
> Speed Scientific School
> University of Louisville
> (502) 852-0164
> nathan.johnson at louisville.edu

Paul Hatton
High Performance Computing and Visualisation Specialist
Technical Director, HP Visual and Spatial Technology Centre
Information Services, Elms Road Computer Centre,
The University of Birmingham, Birmingham B15 2TT.
Ph: 0121-414-3994   Fax: 0121-414-3952  M: 07785-977340

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