On using a HTPC in NZ

Update on MythTV Freeview HD testing

, posted: 24-Aug-2008 10:04

Over this weekend I have had a chance to properly try out MythTV with Freeview so here is an update on where I am at for now.

Firstly I did a major hardware swap, moving my Antec PSU, 3800 and Nvidia 8600GT to my main box in return for a cheap X-Power PSU and 5200 X2. The X2 provides more grunt for software decoding H.264, enough to work in Windows but not myth as will be seen.

So with Mythubuntu 8.04.1 + latest upgrades, including from Paul Kendall's repository, I monitered the CPU usage over SSH whilst testing out the channels. I got around 40%-70% CPU overall, obviously the SD channels where lighter on the CPU than HD with TV3 causing the max load.

However despite not maxing out the CPU TV3 was unwatchable, freezing for half a second every 1-2 secs. This is a problem a few others with similar CPU's on the mythnz mailing list have and the solution is changing the 'skiploopfilter' settings, I think forcing myth to drop frames rather than lag. However what is required to make this change is beyond my current Linux/GNU abilities so I am putting this project aside for the moment. What also contributed to that decision is reports from others about frequent frontend crashes, something I don't want on a HTPC that gets regular use.

So now I am re-installing Mediaportal (the change in graphics cards did something weird to the Windows install) and will work on getting Mythbuntu installed onto my old IDE drive so I can have my USB drive back.

When I am prepared to figure out rebuilding patches etc, or Paul sets up a GUI to make these changes (as he indicated he may) I will revisit this. Until, MP it is. It may not be perfectly stable, or make every recording I schedule (NCIS 2 weeks ago came back with just the xml file, no .ts at all!), but the codecs work better for obvious reasons.

I am glad just to have something that works, support is very limited for these MPEG 4 codecs and will be for a while yet.

Other related posts:
New wiki for setting up guide data in NZ
Final MythTV report
It works - 1080i with a 5200X2 in mythtv

Comment by Matt, on 25-Aug-2008 23:29

Nice post. I don't have an HTPC yet but am researching what hardware etc to buy and will start building one soon. I already have a FreeviewHD set top box and am well pleased with the results, now I wanna build a FreeviewHD HTPC. I have my heart set on mythtv as a friend of mine has a myth box (no Freeview) and it's wicked. I'll keep an eye on your blog and hopefully myth + Freeview will be possible soon. Otherwise I'll go for media portal. But I'm not happy about forking out for another Win XP/Vista license, which is yet another reason I'm leaning towards mythbuntu. -Matt

Author's note by amphibem, on 26-Aug-2008 08:55

I would suggest having a look at the mythtvnz mailing list archives, there has been heaps of discussion recently on getting FreeviewHD working under myth.

A lot of people are looking at the fasest 65W AMD CPU's (5600 I think currently) and finding they can't quite manage TV3 without editing the source code. There is however one person running a high end Intel Quad core who has had success, so that is one (expensive!) option if you really want a MythTV FreeviewHD system now.

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Andrew Richards
New Zealand

My Current Setup

CPU: A64 5200 X2 (2.6GHz) Memory: 2GB Graphics: Onboard 6100 Hard drive: WD 640GB Optical: DVD-ROM Remote: Microsoft MCE USB2 Tuners: Hauppauge Nova T 500 & PVR150 Display: Toshiba 20" LCD Audio: Genius 5.1 bookshelf speakers

OS: Windows Vista Premium SP1 PVR: MediaPortal RC3 Codecs: Built in MPEG1&2 codecs, PowerDVD8 for H.264 EPG: nice.net.nz feed (from satellite feed)

Useful Links

MediaPortal Homepage
NZ Thread in MP Forumns
NZ MediaPortal Wiki page
MythTV Homepage
NZ Mythtv page
Mythbuntu Forumns
EPG Setup Guide