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Advice sought on machine specifiaction

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Mike Dunn
Advice sought on machine specifiaction
on Dec 6, 2008 at 2:09:12 pm

Hello,
First post, thanks for all the great information.
I am looking for a little advice on machine specification. After hovering between the Blackmagic Decklink HD Extreme and the Xena 2k I have decided to take the plunge and go for the Xena.

A little background detailing my requirements. I need the box to capture HD SDI Duallink 4:4:4 out of a Sony F900R. I am being asked to do more and more green screen work and am frustrated with the compression from HDCAM

I usually, to save money build all of my own equipment. I have read the minimum requirements distributed by AJA but would like to hear real world experiences from people with DIY rigs. In my experience, often machines with less specifications will do the job fine. ( An example being Autodesk Maya, which also only certifies Quadro but I have been a power user for ten years and mainly use geforce cards which work fine.)

Is the Quadro really necessary? Will an gforce 9000 or GTX series do the job?

The raid will be 8* WD7500AYPS (750 gig 7200rpm 16mb cache)
connected to a RocketRAID 2320. I know SATA raids are not certified but this will easily pull the 400mbs required, right?

I was intending to reuse one of my renderfarm workstations

ASUS P5KR motherboard with a Quadcore Q6600 CPU 4GIG Ram XP SP2

I understand the minimum spec states two physically separate chips but is this really necessary? I anyone running the xena 2k with a Q6600?

Oh yes and all of this will be going into a new Coolermaster Stacker 832, Case 1000w p/s

This box will not be used as an edit suite. I create visual effects with Maya and Fusion. As long as it can reliably capture 4:4:4 that will be enough.

I hope I have provided enough information for some feedback.

Any comments will be greatly appreciated. The shooting schedule for a project has been moved forward and I need to build this for the second week of Jan09.

Cheers
Mike


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Tim Kolb
Re: Advice sought on machine specifiaction
on Dec 16, 2008 at 12:25:51 am

Capture 4:4:4...uncompressed HD?

Hmmm...you'll be pushing about 250 MBytes+ per second...store about a terabyte per hour, though for effects work you'd work on small duration clips no doubt.

If the machine is simply for capture, the config you have might work...I'm not a DIY guy so I don't know what throughput rates exist with various motherboards, etc. I personally find it easier to lean on an integrator who has some background in this stuff.

For uncompressed, it's all about the buss and the drives, the procs mean less in this case...with compressed, the drives and buss become less important as the datarates are smaller, but the proc has to do all the compression/decompression, so the processor needs more juice.

It's all relative. For compositing and VFX, I run QFX boards and have had good luck, but then I have never really attempted to use a prosumer display card so...maybe they're fine.




TimK,
Director, Consultant
Kolb Productions,


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Armand Sonneville
Re: Advice sought on machine specifiaction
on Mar 8, 2009 at 2:51:41 pm

Hi All,

I realise that this is an old posting but some of you might be interested in my current, working, configuration.

I too was interested in using the Xena LHe but balked at the hight cost of the "workstation" required by Aja.

To cut a long story short, I did a lot of research on consumer mobos and ended up on some gaming/overclocker hardware sites. Computer gamers are known to be pretty demanding on their hardware.

I came accross the DFI LP UT P35-T2R during my reasearch, a high end motherboard with quality components, used by gamers/overclockers.

The most important feature of this mobo was that you can switch one of the PCI Express x16 slots to dedicated x4 use. This won't work properly on most consumer mobos but since the components on this mobo are of such high quality and it has proven to be very stable even under severe stress it seemed a likely candidate for the Xena LHe.

In addition to this I also purchased a Quadro FX 570 graphics card as the Xena LHe simply won't like a consumer Geforce card.

I also added an Intel Quad core 9300 CPU and 4 x 1Gb DDR2 Dimms.

I'm running the whole configuration successfully under Windows XP 64 bit system with the Adobe CS3 suite.

My Xena LHe is connected via HD-SDI to my Sony MEUWX2/LMD 172WS, HD capable, production monitor.

I mainly shoot and edit DVCPRO HD on P2 which I edit in Premiere CS3 with the latest AJA Xena plugin software for premiere CS3/DVCPRO HD use.

Oh, before anyone asks, the Xena LHe Vista 64 bit driver does work under the Windows XP 64 bit OS.

The system has been running very stable for the last 3 months now and I might attempt some overclocking on the FSB to up the CPU clock which I have refrained from doing so far.

I can therefore highly recommend the DFI LP UT P35-T2R mobo for use with the Xena LHe.

It won't be easy to find however as its an older mobo based on the Intel P-35 chipset.

Any questions, feel free to ask.

Cheers,
Armand Sonneville
Independent Producer
Cineville Ltd
London
United Kingdom


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Tim Kolb
Re: Advice sought on machine specifiaction
on Mar 9, 2009 at 1:42:44 pm

While I'm glad that your computer works well, anyone who reads your post really should know what they're up for with a system spec like yours...

XP 64 is not technically tested by Adobe (and since AJA makes their 64 bit driver specifically for 'Vista'...), CS3/4 isn't supported by Adobe running on XP 64, therefore it is likely not supported by AJA. There is no reason why it shouldn't work...but when you make software, it weighs down the development process significantly to test all OS variants, so XP32 and Vista 64, and of course, current versions of Mac OS are supported.

As long as you're able to supply your own tech support, there's nothing wrong with creating a custom setup off the map.

Overclocking simply takes us beyond off the map to 'risky'. Processors are clocked at a rate at which they've been verified to be stable. They're all capable of operating at a higher clock speed, but they will become unstable at some point. Where that point is varies by processor...not by model, but by specific wafer.

Everything you're spelling out is "at your own risk" territory.

If there's one thing many of us are weary of around here, it's users who go off-spec to build they're system and then post here that AJA drivers, or Adobe software are a buggy mess...

I'm not saying that you are one of these people, Armand...but someone who follows your lead to save a couple of bucks may be back on the PPro forum cranking about CS4 instability.

Buyer beware.




TimK,
Director, Consultant
Kolb Productions,


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Ramona Howard
Re: Advice sought on machine specifiaction
on Mar 10, 2009 at 2:45:53 am

Have to agree with Tim here. If your not a pro at the hardware and OS side then you best stick to the recommended specs :)

I haven't been able to dig enough into this Mobo yet to be a naysayer....

Not that AJA won't help but if everyone were to go off in this direction, things could get ugly. High-end video is very demanding and it is usually better to stick with the specifications that vendors lay out there (or at least really close), if you want good support. Otherwise they are shooting in the dark along with you in solving any issues. If you think vendors will build up every combination of gear out there to solve your problem, your crazy.

Some things you just can't cheap out with and motherboards are a prime example :)

Cheers,
Ramona





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Ramona Howard
Re: Advice sought on machine specifiaction
on Mar 11, 2009 at 8:36:05 pm

FYI....

CPU manufacturers - who used to void warranties if their CPUs were over-clocked - now embrace and even promote over-clocking as a feature (when you see Intel or AMD describe their processors as "unlocked" that's what they are referring to.)

99% of the time, when people are talking about over-clocking, they are referring to the processor. This started because processors were deliberately slowed down in order to artificially create steppings in products. So for instance, an Intel Pentium processor that was capable of being clocked at 3GHz may have come out in 4 flavors: 3GHz, 2.8GHz, 2.6GHz and 2.4GHz. Over-clockers then knew that the 2.4GHz part could be tweaked (with the right BIOS tools) to clock up to 3GHz.

More advanced over-clocking takes place with memory and video cards - but this can introduce instability far more easily than CPU over-clocking. Over-clocking the PCI-E bus is the absolute trickiest and generates the most instability for the lease possible performance benefit.

There's a lot more to it than that, but that's kind of the gist of it... over-clocking is both an art and a science - and to answer your question about "lasting long" - it is the one thing you can do with a computer that can actually *physically* damage the parts.

Obviously it can be done, but when expensive parts are involved, I like to leave this up to the people that do it everyday for a living. We (SpectSoft) have always been on the edge of development and would certainly give this a look, but not before bringing all the component players together to fully understand the pros and cons.

Like Tim said, "at your own risk". Sometimes this isn't worth the few dollars you save, especially when there are well priced solutions available without going this route.

And besides in this world of updates and ever changing stuff (drivers, codecs, etc. etc. etc....)support for something of this nature will be hard to come by from the component and software vendors. Where does the finger pointing begin?

I do wish you success on your machine, no doubt if you have the smarts it will work.


Cheers,
Ramona






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Ramona Howard
Re: Advice sought on machine specifiaction
on Mar 10, 2009 at 2:14:43 am

Armand,

Nice little Gem there, will have to get a sample and see how it holds up running Rave.

In addition to this I also purchased a Quadro FX 570 graphics card as the Xena LHe simply won't like a consumer Geforce card.

This comments strikes me odd. We use the AJA products, both the OEM versions and the Xena/Konas and so far we have had no issues running with GeForce cards. In fact our new 3d Live product runs with a GeForce 295 perfectly, while we are running lower version in Rave for the GUI. Wonder what the difference is?

The only pitfall with this board is that it is only a single CPU, but certainly doable for some applications that are not CPU intensive :)

Best of luck and thanks for the find, I really like it.

Cheers
Ramona



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