[AG-TECH] Hardware concern ...

Claus Endres claus at endresconsulting.com
Mon May 22 17:51:50 CDT 2006

Hi all,

At the Museum of Victoria, we have built two AccessGrid nodes
using only a single machine. The limitations are the number of
projectors and cameras supported. It will drive up to 3 projectors,
two S-video cameras and a webcam.

The system uses an ASUS SLI Premium motherboard with a AMD 64 X2
4400 dual core processor. It has two PCI-Express GEforce 6200
dual head video cards and two PCI Bt878 capture cards. The third
PCI slot is taken up by a Phoenix SOHO echo canceller.

Due to its heatpipe design, the motherboard allows a very quiet
operation, so with an appropriate case (Sonata II), you can leave
the AG PC under the conference table without soundproofing measures.
The video cards are fanless too, and the Hauppauge ImpactVCB
capture cards (tunerless) also develop little heat, keeping the
cooling requirements and fan noise down.

Processing power is enough to drive the two S-video streams at
704x576 at 20 fps using MPEG4, plus the webcam at 640x480 20 fps.

Due to the very high CPU demands, H.264 cannot be used at full
resolution at frame rates greater than about 5 fps. This is a
single CPU limitation, having multiple CPUs will not help with
the current X264 encoder. H.264 works very well at 2 fps or so
for a document camera where motion is not an issue but high
resolution is required. Using H.264 at 20 fps and PAL resolution
is a while away. You could try the fastest AMD64 FX (currently
60 I believe) and see how far you can go for a single stream.


Jason Bell wrote:
> G'day Nathan
> The question you pose, can a single machine run an entire AG, is an
> interesting one, which there is no right answer.  As it depends on many
> variables and how you wish to use the Access Grid.  (I will only talk
> about the AG stuff, as I have never used INSORS)
> I personally use a single machine for some of my AG nodes, as well as I
> also use multi-machine nodes as well.
> For the current use of Access Grids, I would say that a powerful machine
> (Insert any brand here) should be able to handle most AG situations.
> Though, a consideration you will have to think of is how a single
> machine will handle future AG improvements.  For example, if a "new"
> media tool for the AG uses H264 as a codec, then this will require
> significant computing resources to "encode" the video streams and having
> multiple video captures may reduce the performance of a single machine
> greatly.  Of course there is also DV and HDTV to also consider.
> One of the great things about the Access Grid is that it is so flexible,
> such that you could just try running it on a single machine!!!  If you
> find that it isn't powerful enough, just add another computer to the AG
> Node.  This new computer could possibly perform the capturing of video,
> thereby reducing the load of the single machine.
> This is just my 2 cents worth, but hopefully you find it useful.
> Cheers,
> Jason.
> -----Original Message-----
> From: owner-ag-tech at mcs.anl.gov [mailto:owner-ag-tech at mcs.anl.gov] On
> Behalf Of Nathan P Johnson
> Sent: Wednesday, 17 May 2006 11:55 PM
> 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

Claus Endres                | Phone:  +61-3-5998 2310
Endres Consulting Pty. Ltd. | Mobile: +61-418-595 136
10 Facey Road               | Fax:    +61-3-5998 2540
Devon Meadows, VIC 3977     | claus at endresconsulting.com

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