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Using compact flash or SSD for media streaming PC

Discussion in 'Hardware' started by MaximumShow, 20 Mar 2008.

  1. MaximumShow

    MaximumShow Member

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    I am in need of advice. I am in a situation where I must put together a system with the following requirements:

    • It must be small
    • It must be robust/durable
    • It must be powerful enough to run an OS and software capable of streaming audio from a server remotely over the internet.
    • It must have the ability to connect to a stream requiring authentication
    • It must have audio output (decent quality)
    • I must be able to log into remotely for reconfiguring/diagnostic purposes
    • Quiet is a plus

    This system will be placed in another city, so its reliability is key. One of my main concerns is system crash due to HDD failure, so I figured I would use a compact flash card or SSD (expensive) with the OS and apps on it instead. However, I know that continued writes to a compact flash drive can kill it quickly. The systems sole purpose will be to play music streamed from a large server, over the internet 24/7, 365. It should be noted that this stream will require some form of authentication/password protection.

    My main question is, will a system like this quickly kill the CF card by constantly writing temp files to it from streaming music? Or will this data simply be stored in ram and then flushed out without writing to the disk? The system will have very few boot cycles over its lifetime as it will be on 24/7.

    The second question is, what should I be looking at in terms of software? As of now all I need is the OS, a music streaming client that can connect to authenticated streams, and something that allows me to log into it remotely from my own PC. This project may turn into a commercial/profitable venture so I am sure this will have a hand in determining what can be used. I have no experience with Linux but I am determined to learn anything that I need to about it if that's the way to go.

    I know that asking for "free" advice/help on a profitable venture is frowned upon, and rightly so. I am still getting the money for this in line and would like to pay a consulting fee to the person with experience and real answers in this field. If anyone feels more comfortable PM'ing me instead that would be great.

    If anyone still has free advice\info\ideas after that, then I thank you! :rock:
     
  2. GoodBytes

    GoodBytes How many wifi's does it have?

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    Q1: Use a normal HDD.. if speed is an issue go with 10000RPM HDD however you can forget that silent part you want.
    Part2: For a Home usage, I think in my opinion you are better off using Vista Home Premium or any future Windows with Media Center. People are most comfortable with it, and Windows is fairly reliable with high quality hardware, also easy hardware compatibility that you may face with new hardware coming out. Dell uses (or used to) Windows remote desktop to help their customers out.

    As for the rest, not be evil or anything, but DO YOU RESEARCH!
    I don't do on forum and ask... "Hey can any one of you programmers can do me a software that I will sell, that that makes this and that". If I don't know, I buy book and figure it out. Also business wise it is better for you to do such.

    I don't know what are your goals, but so far, this is not new, and you have several bigger companies that offer that and more. Before thinking of a product you must know your competitor, you must create something that people want, or create a need, that other companies can't do, or did not think of, or is not their goal. Like the Nintendo Wii, Sony and Microsoft COULD make a simple add-on that ads this new system on their console, but they don't for their own reason (other then copyright and patent issues). If you want to make a machine that streams your own music anywhere you are, Winamp does that already and is free, and no special device required.
     
  3. MaximumShow

    MaximumShow Member

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    This system will not be for resale at all. It will act solely as a tool that allows me to provide a service to the customer... this service is what may end up being profitable. There will be zero customer interaction with these system, as they will be embedded. The use of a 10,000 rpm drive is not needed, as read/write speed requirements will be very low (after all, all it is doing is accessing a server remotely, and streaming audio media).

    Because it is embedded and located far from me it needs to be very reliable, hence my question about compact flash as a drive.

    I have been doing tons of research, and part of that requires me to find some people with more knowledge than I have in the area.

    Thank you for your input though.
     
  4. wywywywy

    wywywywy Member

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    If you don't want your CF card or SSD to die prematurely, you NEED to use EWF, and disable page files, if you use Windows.
    Another thing to look into, is MinLogon.
     
  5. shadow12

    shadow12 I lie

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    How about considering something off the shelf. The Neuros OSD runs linux is very durable, small uses little power has no fans and can take cf card sd card and usb. It is very cheap too. Have a look at it: http://www.neurostechnology.com/

    I know it is not designed for what you specified but I think it could manage streaming music comfortably.
     
  6. MaximumShow

    MaximumShow Member

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    EWF in XPe looks perfect! I am going to research and see if there is also a Linux equivalent just to give me more options.

    Shadow, I have been looking into hardware based devices such as Squeeze Box, but every one I have seen lacks the ability to connect to authenticated streams, and has lower flexibility. I would jump on a device with these capabilities in a second if I could find one. Thanks though :D
     
  7. ryanjleng

    ryanjleng ...

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    I worked on a car project a few months ago with a Chinese company on building a small-compact high reliability PC using INDUSTRIAL Compact Flash with expectancy of 5 years. Can't tell you much about the project but here's few ideas that should help you.

    Here's a simple low down:

    - Use INDUSTRIAL CF card. Despite CF is slow, but the form factor and reliablity beats the hell out of mechanical HDD. High temp is a killer.

    - No need to run RAID-1 with 2 CF. That is redundant. You don't get extra reliability.

    - Max out the SO-DIMM RAM for the board. Look for a board that supports a single 2GB 667MHz SO-DIMM. Create a RAM-DRIVE or RAM DISK and run the pagefile/virtual memory from there. This is a bit counter intuitive, but some programs need to use the page file regardless of RAM size.

    - Watch your tiny PSU that powers the Tiny Board. We built our own PSU with Solid Capacitors.

    - Depends on where you are, High humidity and dust in summer is a killer as it becomes a "wire" between connections.


    - We used Windows XP SP2 :) Damn amazing when you see it is running zippy on a tiny box.

    - We used XP because apps were quicker to write or adapted by the team to experiment. the programs were carefully written to be able to run in Limited Account.

    - You have to tune XP and remove NTFS indexing as it is a vampire drawing life from the SLC NAND chips in the Industrial CF card.

    - Remove or disable all unnecessary software and services such as Windows Restore. No anti virus and XP is automated to run in limited account for security reason.


    No, by all means go make all the money you can make with available ideas. It is sweet :)

    Keep asking questions. :)

    Share your know-how with others if you can legally do it.

    I call it Open Source ideas.
     
    Last edited: 20 Mar 2008
  8. ryanjleng

    ryanjleng ...

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    A few things on SSD...

    SSD is not worth using unless you need a capacity higher than CF.

    CF does not have a lot of spare NAND in there when compared to SSD due to form factor limitation.

    SSD is expected to last for 5 Years from day 1 (only in DESKTOP and NOTEBOOK environment). Not designed to be use for 24/7 operation with wide temp change.

    If you use SSD for mission critical application, avoid cramming more than 50-60% capacity.

    Standard desktop SSD is not as reliable as Industrial CF because of temperature tolerance and the quality of the NAND and Controller chips.

    Many SSD still use more reliable SLC NAND chips. But some makers are already cramming much more less reliable MLC NAND into SSD package. It like carrying more spare rubbers in the back of the car on long journey - 5 years worth.

    The current SSD in the market is CRAP compared to what we have seen in the labs, where we could make our own SSD with available components. What is holding up? new generation of NAND production... there is a glut in the market as of now.

    Premature desktop/notebook SSD failure is not exactly due to the NAND chips, but things on chipsets.


    * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

    A handy tool to help you optimize Windows XP on a solid state...

    Microsoft Sysinternals - File Monitor.

    Use that to see what programs are doing WRITES and disable them if they're unnecessary.

    For programs that do lot of WRITES, assign a space on the RAM DRIVE.




    * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

    all the above information is in public domain.
     
    Last edited: 20 Mar 2008
  9. MaximumShow

    MaximumShow Member

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    Thanks a lot for the info Ryan! You gave me a ton of great info. May I ask what your opinion is of XP versus XPe? Using XPe will allow me to use a smaller (cheaper) CF card, and I'm hoping that reducing the number of services available will improve reliability.
     
  10. ryanjleng

    ryanjleng ...

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    Sorry but i have to say i don't have much experience developing apps on XPe.

    There are negatives and limitations that i can't see.

    If you could run your apps from XPe, i think the slimmer OS will mostly likely give you more responsive usage.

    Probably ask others on XPe. :)
     
  11. Glider

    Glider /dev/null

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