View Full Version : can the atom pull it off?
August 11th, 2008, 03:08 AM
I'm currently in the pool for a Boxee invite.
But i do have some questions, regarding hardware.
I was thinking of getting an Atom based system to hook up to my hdtv.
I'm probably going to get the MSI Wind Board as soon as it's out (at a fair price), because it has no active fans on it (so it'll be dead quiet)
Would this little board (loaded up with 2gb of ram) be enough to run it as a Ubuntu/Boxee box?
I'll probably hook it up via VGA, so what about image quality? And would it play high res video (1080?), i'm assuming it'll lack some power for that?
I know most of these questions are more hardware related then Boxee related, but i might as well give it a shot right?
And on a side note: is there (or will there be) a backup function to burn content to DVD-R?
August 11th, 2008, 03:54 AM
that's a great question. in all fairness, i don't know. the 945 chipset is running fine, but the cpu may be too weak.
otoh someone just wrote in the forums he was able to run it on an eeepc laptop fine, so it may work.
1080 is out of the question imo, 720 is probably streching it as well.
right now there is nothing on our roadmap for dvd-r backups. but with enough interest, maybe - we're listening to you guys.
August 12th, 2008, 01:26 AM
Thanks for the reply!
What would be the limiting factor here?
The cpu or the gpu? Because if it's the gpu, a pci based graphics card might be an option? Although that will hog some more power, so i might as well go for a low-budget 'standard' system them.
I kind off liked the low-power idea of the atom-systems for an always-on machine.
I might give it a shot once the MSI Wind board is available (don't like fans)
August 12th, 2008, 10:13 AM
decoding is currently being done in the cpu, while color space conversion and scaling are gpu bound (if supported).
so top of the line gpu wont cut it alone without a usable cpu.
i was able to run a 1mbit/s network stream in h264 (don't remember the res though) with an eeepc. so again, under sd, i think you'll be fine, hd i have no idea.
August 12th, 2008, 02:59 PM
I am pretty sure that this first-generation Atom processors will not be able to play any native 720p H.264 videos at all as Boxee/XBMC will not be able to off-load any video decoding to the GPU so the CPU will that the full load of that, for facts see:
The Atom 230 (1.6Ghz) is as fast/slow in SuperPi as:
- Pentium 4 Wilmetta @ 2125Mhz
- Pentium 3 @ 1517Mhz
- Athlon Tbird @ 1616Mhz
- Pentium M 745 @ 1804Mhz
- Pentium 4 Nortwood @ 2.4Ghz
- Duron 600@1069Mhz
The SuperPi 32M result is even worse, as it's not even able to match Pentium 3 1Ghz CPU ( http://hwbot.org/listResults.do?cpuModelId=1381&applicationId=7&filterUser=true&filterBlocked=true&limit=100 )Microsoft recommends a 2.4 GHz Pentium 4 processor or equivalent to play 720p resolution Windows Media Video 9 (WMV 9), and WMV9/VC-1 is a less processor intensive codec than H.264
August 20th, 2008, 04:22 AM
You could also use a board with a VIA Nano on it, which has some advantages (and some disadvantages as well) compared to the Intel Atom.
While the Intel Atom uses less power when under load, the VIA Nano has a better performance. But the biggest disadvantage of the Intel Atom platform, is, that Intel is very restrictive about how their boards will be built by 3rd party manufacturers (No DVI/HDMI, No HD Audio, only one PCI-Slot, and I think also only one Memory Bank, but I am not sure about the last one).
In contrast, VIA is pretty open with their designs, and they recently opened up more to the OpenSource Community: VIA OpenSource Portal (http://linux.via.com.tw/support/downloadFiles.action).
Even if the Graphics Chipset from the Atom platform is supported by Boxee at this stage of development, while the VIA Chipset isn't, I could bet that Team Boxee is capable of making that Chipsets also supported in the future, also thanks to the initiative VIA started I previously mentioned. And the VIA Boards I saw around the web have a PCI Express slot, allowing you to use a more powerful VGA Adapter to get the performance you need for a decent HTPC. You can read a very good comparison of both platforms here (http://www.tweaktown.com/articles/1540/2/intel_atom_vs_via_nano_platform_comparo/index.html).
A good source for mini-itx boards and other equipment is Mini-itx.com (http://www.mini-itx.com/) also with good reviews.
Intel sees it's platform more for UMPCs or MIDs, whereas VIA has a clear intent to go into the HTPC market.
August 20th, 2008, 10:35 AM
VIA have actually just announced that they will stop making chipsets and motherboard, they will only continue making processors.
Intel is very restrictive about how their boards will be built by 3rd party manufacturers (No DVI/HDMI, No HD Audio, only one PCI-Slot, and I think also only one Memory Bank, but I am not sure about the last one).That is not true, DVI/HDMI and HD Audio is too supported by the new Atom chipset, (now available just yet, all Atom products to date use an older chipset).
August 20th, 2008, 06:37 PM
i installed boxee last night on an atom based system with 2 gb of ram running hardy. it plays downloaded divx episodes and movies just fine. cpu utilization is at the 90% level but i was also running torrentflux in the background. i just got a pci based nvidia 6200, i'll see if the cpu utilization goes down and also if it will be able to play some hd files without stuttering. on a side note, this software rocks! i was using elisa on the same box and boxee is way better than it. my wife saw boxee and asked if i can install it on her hp running vista :)
August 21st, 2008, 12:12 PM
@breynded - awesome! thanks for the update.
September 2nd, 2008, 06:46 PM
i installed a pci evga nv6200 in my atom box to see if it can handle hd. video playback is smooth for most of the time but i am encountering audio stuttering. cpu utilization has come down to around 27% when playing divx files so the video card has taken the load off the cpu.
this is my setup:
atom 230, d945gclf (52 C)
2gb 667 DDR2
evga fanless nv 6200 pci (172 C --this is not good)
ubuntu hardy desktop running samba, openssh, torrentflux.
i am using a fanless mini-itx case which i guess would have to be replaced by another case with fans and good airflow.
intel will be releasing a dual core version of the atom by the end of september or early october. i wonder if it can handle hd ....
September 4th, 2008, 06:07 AM
thanks for the update (again). can you try with vlc / mplayer and see how works under them?
September 4th, 2008, 09:48 PM
tried it with vlc and playback is even worse, skipped frames and stuttering. i downloaded a 720p mov trailer and it played smoothly on boxee, is this a format compatibility issue?
September 5th, 2008, 10:59 AM
probably a bitrate issue. use http://www.headbands.com/gspot/ or vlc to identify the codec and bitrates.
January 12th, 2009, 06:18 PM
Just wanted to report that boxee alpha for windows runs pretty well on the MSI Wind. I've tried playing some 720p Battlestar Galactica episodes and the cpu is humming around 90%. With a +14% Overclock, it fluctuates between 50% and 75%. I'm decently surprised.
MSI Wind as Tested:
Intel Atom n270 1.6ghz
2gb Corsair Value Select
Fujistsu 160gb Harddrive
For those who are having trouble playing 720p on "lower" end systems, try decoding the videos via Coreavc (not free but you know what to do). It might make the difference between smooth and stuttering playback. But on a side note, does anyone know how to link Coreavc with boxee? That would make it possible to watch 720p without overclock for the intense scenes.
March 22nd, 2010, 02:02 PM
Any news from boxee and the MSI Wind? I'm getting a Wind soon and want to know how much i can do with boxee.. I think 1080p will not be possible, even with CoreAVC Codec :(
But is 720p working fine on it ?
How slow will it be on Windows 7 instead of Ubuntu?
How fast comes the box in and out Standby via Ubuntu?
September 6th, 2010, 07:48 PM
I am currently running an atom 1.66ghz HP mini 110 with the Intel gma945.
I upgraded from the stock 1Gb of memory to 2Gb, and have experienced a great improvement from the minor tweak.
I will say that 1080p playback is out of the question, even using CoreAVC (which seems unavailable with Boxee at the moment). 720p is most often playable, although depending on the encoding job it seems to vary on its framerate.
Currently I would recommend a motherboard with Nvidia Ion, as CoreAVC has lately been tweaked to more fully utilize its output, and I have heard some people are able to get smooth 1080p playback going that route. The other option is tracking down a Broadcom CrystalHD hardware decoder, although I thin those are only available in the miniPCIE format and not in lowprofile cards.
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