CPU upgrade from Xeon D-1541 for Media Server

DaSaint

Active Member
Oct 3, 2015
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@IamSpartacus - Kinda why i went the path of the Dell VRTX, huge it maybe but man is it quiet for the workloads i put on it and i get the benefit of all the cores i have in it.

downside put a PCIe card in that thing and things get louder and sadly cannot control it. Tried vSAN with dual NVME PCIes and gave up due to added noise, but right now the way its running its somewhere around 35/40 db with 2 blades in with dual E5-V2 10Core setups and 256GB Ram each.

Just bought a bunch of those 3.2TB Micron SSDs threw that in there with the Shared PERC way and i mean WAYYYY faster than vSAN on Dual NVME

when it comes to transcode and all the goodies just works :) Cost higher but endgame does what i need it to do
 

Ixian

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Oct 26, 2018
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That's a whole different level from "I have a 45wTDP D-1541 server that I want to upgrade for a little more punch for my Plex server". I mean, come on.
 

IamSpartacus

Well-Known Member
Mar 14, 2016
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That's a whole different level from "I have a 45wTDP D-1541 server that I want to upgrade for a little more punch for my Plex server". I mean, come on.
LOL. That was my thought exactly. We're not even talking the same ballpark here.
 

DaSaint

Active Member
Oct 3, 2015
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is it a bigger punch yea, but i run a lot more Lab VMs than just Plex, im just saying by far the quietest branded server i have ever found that has the HP to do what needs to be done.
 

Ixian

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Oct 26, 2018
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I think what we're scratching our heads over is the relevance to this thread, which is zero :)

I mean, good for you, certainly, but maybe a build thread of your own would be more useful and allow others looking to do the same to more easily find it?
 

ullbeking

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Jul 28, 2017
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I've recently started researching how to build a media server, and the plethora of options is fascinating. Mostly, I'm curious as to what is the most lightweight, quietest single CPU that can transcode 4k on the fly? I'd like to avoid having to rely on proprietary iGPU or discrete GPU solutions. On the other hand I would be very happy to use an open source application that uses iGPU or discrete GPU if the drivers are open source and blob free.
 

Ixian

Member
Oct 26, 2018
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It all depends on what your definition of "lightweight" and "quiet" for a CPU are - also I'd trade "power consumption" for "quiet" since the latter is tied to your cooling solution and that in turn is tied to the former - but generally speaking, none on the lower range can do it which is why the iGPU/external GPU route is as popular as it is. Software decoding 4k HEVC needs a high core frequency CPU - I think the rule of thumb is around 8k passmark per stream though as with all rules of thumb that is open to debate.

The bottom line is if you have a real need to transcode high bitrate 4k streams from a price/performance/power standpoint you're best served by going with an modern iGPU solution, which is why the newer Xeon-E series is getting so much attention even though they are still hard to find.

You probably don't really have a need though. Most any new, cheap client (newer Rokus, the Shield, and so on) can direct play that content (it may need to transcode audio but that isn't much of a CPU hit at all) which is the preferred way to do it anyway. And a lot of 4k content is also HDR, which doesn't work well with transcoding because it doesn't map the colorspace (the result will look very washed out). You'll need to direct play that stuff regardless.

I'm aware you can download 4k content that has been tone-mapped to SDR manually, but I seriously question how much better that end result looks from a good high bitrate BD remux, which is SDR to begin with.

This all will probably be sorted at some point but buying now for the future is always a fools game; get a good cheap solution now and if you have to replace it in a couple years when things have improved...so what? Vs. buying expensive now or making other compromises, all to be ready for a day that hasn't arrived yet.

Just my two cents :)
 
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EffrafaxOfWug

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Feb 12, 2015
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I still don't understand why Plex users seem to always want to transcode everything in realtime (are devices that play 4k content somehow not capable of decoding 4k content?), but the long and the short of it is you'll need a very beefy CPU to get ffmpeg to do a realtime 4k transcode to H264. My 6-core haswell 1650-v3 is able to sustain about 68% transcoding speed with 4k output on the "fast" preset (which is as low as I'm prepared to go quality-wise), reaching about 160% speed on the "ultrafast" preset. Personally I don't see the point in downgrading high quality media like this.

At the minimum you're probably looking at an 8-core Xeon (or Ryzen) with a clock of ~3GHz or more, less if you can live with poor quality transcodes.
 

Ixian

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Oct 26, 2018
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I think it boils down to many Plex users (and Emby, though there are fewer of those) like to share their server with family and friends, which Plex & Emby makes easy to do. In those cases, realtime transcoding is almost always necessary.

The issue then with 4k is options: A) you can keep both an HD and a UHD version of the same content and A.1) keep them in the same library and trust the user at the other end to know to pick the correct file on playback or A.2) keep the files in separate libraries and don't share the 4k one. In any event doing this means storing two versions of the same content.

What the people chasing realtime 4k down want is option B) to just get the highest quality version they can and leave it to Plex/etc. to ramp it down, i.e. exactly how it works for non-4k content now. Which, sure, who wouldn't want that, but as I keep pointing out 4k is more than just pixels, it also introduces HDR colorspaces, which don't map to SDR colorspaces when transcoded no matter if you have a system that can keep up with the transcode or not. With those, you either have to keep an SDR and an HDR version of the content - which is no better, and in fact slightly worse, than keeping an HD version or B) give up on HDR content period in which case, why bother at all, because I think the colorspace changes are a far bigger difference than the increased pixel count....but that's just me.

So all this, in my mind, rules out B) so we're left with A) and either A.1) or A.2), which is slightly inconvenient, but in my mind not nearly worth the trouble of going overboard with hardware simply to solve a problem for the few 4k files I have that aren't also HDR. Each to their own of course.

If anyone cares, my 4k stuff is in a separate library (I use Emby, but it works the same in Plex) that I don't share with clients that aren't direct play capable. I keep HD copies for everything else. Hard drive space I have to spare; spending a lot of time and money to rebuild my server around realtime 4k transcoding I don't.
 

IamSpartacus

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Mar 14, 2016
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I agree with @EffrafaxOfWug that I don't see the reason to need much 4k transcoding. I have plenty of 4K content but have no interest in transcoding it. If I'm watching 4K there's a reason for that, I want the highest possible quality. And thus I use clients that support 4k content via direct play (Shield TVs). I have all that content in it's own library and only share it out to a few friends who I've worked with to ensure they are direct playing it as well.

My personal need for lots of transcoding power is love lots of live transcodes streams (usually high bitrate h264 1080p to 720p for remote users) and for mobile sync (I and lots of my users do a lot of mobile syncing for travelling).
 

Alitech

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Feb 14, 2020
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