[AG-USERS] Do I still need 3 servers in this day and age?

Todd Zimmerman todd.zimmerman at ubc.ca
Wed Jan 14 16:03:31 CST 2009

Hey Les,

I've cc'd this to AG-Tech also (its the more active list).

On Wed, 2009-01-14 at 16:29 -0500, Les Rhoda wrote:
> Hello all,
> I work in Video Services at the University of Maine in Orono.
> I have been tasked with constructing a quote for building an Access Grid node. It will be a small node, not even using projectors or anything fancy, just a small room that can act as a hub for some research teams to collaborate on.
> I have scoured the net for hours trying to suss what the best and most economical way to build the node would be. I've researched all of the capture cards, cams, etc but I still have one burning question: do we reall need 3 boxes to process and
> serve, or can we pack it into one so long as we do not need multiple video input and display cards (which would require too many slots?
> Any suggestions are immensely appreciated. I'm under a deadline for grant money and since I'm new to this job there is a lot riding on this (especially given the economy, etc :)

Using multiple computers is definitely not required - but provides
additional configuration options and abilities.  If you have enough
slots in a single box etc, I'd try one - you can always add another.  

Here's a blurb from a doc I'm just preparing:

I would say, in general, any reasonably new computer will have the
processing capability and memory to handle the load required for basic
collaboration needs. The one caveat to this, however, is that the
computational requirements for encoding and/or decoding multiple
MPEG4/H.264 streams has not yet been determined - so if you are going to
be using higher def video, your mileage may vary.  

The more important options are related to the number of
capture/display/audio cards, and the number and configuration of slots
available within the computer(s).  

For capture, there are a few different options. First, you can select
multiple reasonably priced analog capture cards (such as the Hauppage
Impact VCB) – or a single card that offers multiple capture capabilities
(Osprey 440).

For display, almost all new display cards offer dual output. If more
outputs are required, you should be able to just add an additional
display card; however you should definitely do some research before
purchasing multiple cards to confirm the configuration will work with
your operating system. 

For audio, depending on the quality of the typical 'on-board' audio
provided as part of the motherboard, you may want to add a reasonably
priced stand alone audio card. There have been sites that reported poor
quality (buzzing/noisy connections) when using on-board audio. However,
since collaboration usually doesn't involve a wide frequency range (like
cd quality audio) or require surround sound etc, and some of
collaboration software (RAT Audio Tool specifically) may not work well
with the more advanced cards, your best bet is a standard issue, medium
to low end audio card. 

Hope this helps.


Collaboration & Visualization Specialist
UBC Okanagan - http://web.ubc.ca/okanagan
WestGrid - www.westgrid.ca
Ph. 250-807-9979
Todd Zimmerman - todd.zimmerman at ubc.ca

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