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512gb SDD drive in a TiVo HD.

Discussion in 'TiVo Series3 HDTV DVRs' started by TexasGrillChef, Aug 27, 2010.

  1. Worf

    Worf Active Member

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    True, I have a PC with a 1GB SSD used as ReadyDrive. But it's a separate device that Windows sees as two drives, similar to ReadyBoost except it's built in rather than USB. In non-ReadyBoost aware OSes, you see two drives.

    As for TiVo - it's all the little I/O that's the issue. Reading big chunks from the disk (i.e. playback) isn't an issue and hard drives are great at that. It's all the little reads and writes that happen. For example, doing database updates after a guide data download can make TiVo visibly more sluggish, or take hours as it reindexes. TiVo does prioritize media accesses over OS and database accesses, so you get stutter free video, but at the expense of possibly sluggish UI as TiVo ensures the media buffers don't underflow which can delay other I/O. Given the nature of the database accesses, the drive might cache the databases and parts of the OS, possibly speeding it up.
     
  2. royfernandez

    royfernandez New Member

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    I have a good heat sink, but the drive boils, maybe something is wrong with the drive :mad:
     
  3. heatherprotz

    heatherprotz New Member

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    That's an awesome space. HD to add to it.
     
  4. L David Matheny

    L David Matheny Active Member

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    Failing hard drives do often draw more power and generate more heat. But what drive do you have a heat sink mounted on?
     
  5. DocNo

    DocNo Member

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    Not if you have Thom's ninja hex editing skills and hack your partition tables to be on traditional rotating disk, but the Tivo OS, indexes and swap on the SSD.

    Now THAT kind of a hack is something I would be willing to pay for! Or dig into the bowls of Linux partition table innards to figure out... Everything would happen on copies of my existing drives so it's pretty low risk to try it out - worst case scenario would be drives I'd have to use elsewhere and wasting some time.

    Hmm..... sounds like a good skunworks project candidate...
     
  6. DocNo

    DocNo Member

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    If you use a sandforce controller TRIM is irrelevant. They accomplish the same thing as TRIM through over-provisioning. The MacBook Pro I'm using right now has a sandforce based SSD that's almost a year old and just as fast as the day I put it in, despite Mac OSX not supporting TRIM on non-Apple hard drives.

    I think the only practical way this would work for me is to go down Thom's path of putting all the MFS partitions on rotating disk, with everything else being on the SSD. It's an interesting proposition. 4TB drives coming out make this even more appealing...
     
  7. DocNo

    DocNo Member

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    Actually it's memory. Tivo is incredibly stingy with RAM and it causes the OS to page to disk CONSTANTLY.

    On top of continually writing multiple video streams :p

    I've got a Tivo S1 with a cache card - best $100 or whatever it was I ever spent. I've looked off and on for transparent SATA caches that don't require OS drivers and are inline and self contained between the hard drive and motherboard. Similar in concept to external hard drive cases that have transparent RAID - to the computer they look as one drive, ideally to Tivo this would just look like a hard drive as well. All you need to do is get the majority of the database into the cache and the speed increase is dramatic...

    I haven't looked in a while - maybe it's time to look again!
     
  8. DocNo

    DocNo Member

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    Maybe you have some alternate version of Tivo than I do, but every generation - S1, S2, The original OLED Series 3, Tivo HD and Premiere (I have and do own them all) started out awesome performance wise, and then with each OS update as they added more stuff and overrun the meager RAM built into the boxes, the interface lags more and more.

    It's extremely infuriating to me. Perhaps your just more patient :D But it annoys me enough I'm now very, very interested in Thom's strategy and potential solution.

    The more I have sat here thinking about it and talking about Tivo software updates that could be fun with that approach. One would certainly hone their skills! I'm going to look a little harder for a transparent inline SATA Cache again.

    Hmm.. I wonder if someone has an iSCSI to physical SATA adaptor. That would be an interesting solution! I have a great NAS box already that I can easily add some more cache to if need be.
     
  9. DocNo

    DocNo Member

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    I dunno - I tried Hybrid drives (Seagate Momentus) in both my Mac and Windows laptops and was underwhelmed. Then again laptop hard drives are generally much worse performers than their desktop counterparts. Now Tivo is not a normal PC - but I wonder how smart the cache in the drive is - will the steady recording of the live buffers keep it flushed out or will the drive's firmware be smart enough to favor the frequently accessed database files?
     
  10. DocNo

    DocNo Member

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    I have no reason to doubt the original poster of this thread, and based on my experience with the cachecard on Series 1 I can unequivocally state that Tivo - for the UI, anyway, is ABSOLUTELY I/O bound.

    Hideously.

    It's also pretty easy to deduce it from the upgrade pattern. When I go my first S1, it was great - then got slower with each successive software update. Then I got an S2 and I though "Wow, this is what I remember Tivo being", then it got slower yet again.

    Then the S3 (OLED) was released and I pounced. Once again, performance was awesome and I was very happy - but sure enough, over time and system updates the performance once again went in the crapper.

    I bought into the Premiere late in the game so I never did get to see if the earlier versions of it were any faster - at least with the HD menus off it's no worse than the S3 OLED :p

    Probably a $5 part for more RAM would make all the difference - the problem is that would probably add $25 or more to the retail price of each Tivo - so I kind of understand why they do it. I just wish there was an easier way for those of us who it bugs the crap of to address it later if we were willing to pay.

    Hmm.. I wonder if they did anything different with the Elites with the four tuners. Probably not :p
     
  11. DocNo

    DocNo Member

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    The efficiency was the driver. It guaranteed the files that needed to be in cache the most, and only those files, were in cache.

    The fact that it was volatile really didn't matter. The amount of data, as you point out, is trivially small and Tivo's, by their very nature, are rarely powered off or reboot!

    It wouldn't even need to be a couple of gigs. CacheCard paved the way - a custom driver, a little bit of extra RAM and BOOM - a fantastic difference in performance due to a very specific optimization.

    An optimization that's impractical to do on a general purpose computer but perfect for pre-made appliances like Tivo that are designed for a specific purpose. They obviously think the cost to do so isn't worth the effort, or the hiking of the retail price. And most people are so conditioned to accept crappy interface lag (or just not as OCD as I am - I admit it!) they would probably way prefer to not spend the extra $$ - never mind how much more enjoyable it makes the whole user experience.

    Sigh.... the triumph of mediocrity...
     
  12. MichaelK

    MichaelK New Member

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    Nothign but the series 1 had the header on the motherboard so it would be impossible to build a card. Now you would need to build some sort of memory in line with the SATA drive- basically a hybrid drive.

    might be true that the current boxes have more memory- but my GUESS would be it still "isn't enough"- there's probably more there for more tuners, or the like. But to me it's easy to watch the HDUI choke all over itslef and realize they could download the thumbnails and internet information for everything in the my shows list, everything suggestions, and most downloaded content and stuff that in a couple gigs on the motherboard and watch the thing scream. (I'm not saying it would be easy or evey possible with the current architecture but they could have thought about it when they moved to the S4/Flash UI and planned all around doing that)

    Bottom line is TGC in the first post of this very thread said an SSD speeds things up ~40-50% which is similar to the cachecard results of years back- so it seems pretty clear there is still an IO bottleneck that memory could solve and TiVo made a decision to save a few bucks on each box at the cost of performance. We'll never know if tivo would have sold more by investing for more memory in each box- but I wish it were an option to try...
     
  13. DocNo

    DocNo Member

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  14. MichaelK

    MichaelK New Member

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    I'd love to experiment as long as it's "reasonable" in price.
     
  15. DocNo

    DocNo Member

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    Me to - I just can't find one to buy :(

    Seems like it would be a perfect fuss-free way to speed up the one aspect of Tivo that drives me batty - the UI!
     
  16. ccfoodog

    ccfoodog New Member

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    It was mentioned that much of the media storage IO is undesirable to have on an SSD. I just wanted to point out that swap is in the same category.

    In reality, the better option is to eliminate swap. It is fine to run Linux systems (and modern Windows variants for that matter) w/o swap. The trick is you just need enough RAM to not need swap.

    Typically the reason you add swap is because the load on the system is unpredictable. This is often because there are interactive user(s) on the system doing random things. With an appliance like the Tivo, this is not the case and this use is the poster child for running swapless.

    Is it not possible to increase the RAM on these devices? What are the HW specs for the HD and Premier? How much swap is allocated? If you can add the amount of RAM that they allocate for swap and remove the swap entry in the fstab, you should be golden.

    Memory is so cheap these days it would be a shame if it was not possible to run w/o swap due to memory restrictions.

    -john
     
  17. unitron

    unitron Active Member

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    Go back and re-read where you said "an appliance like the TiVo..."

    It's not designed with hardware upgrades in mind the way a computer is.

    So anything newer than an S1, adding more RAM probably ain't happenin'.
     
  18. ccfoodog

    ccfoodog New Member

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    So I take it the memory isn't socketed. Bummer.

    -john
     
  19. unitron

    unitron Active Member

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    Sockets cost money.
     
  20. jgantert

    jgantert New Member

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    WD just came out with a new 1TB Velociraptor drive. $302 on Amazon. 10000 rpm, 5yr warranty. That would probably speed up the Tivo nicely, if it could dissipate the heat enough.
     

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