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Old 08-20-2013, 03:17 PM   #1
puffdaddy
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Can a Roamio Rebuild a Data Drive from Scratch?

The Roamio tivos are the first retail offering to have a built in Flash that houses the "executable" portions of the tivo software (as opposed to the data, e.g. videos, program guide data, etc.)

Presumably, this should allow them to tolerate replacement of the internal hard disk (termed a "data disk") with a blank/new hard disk and be able to boot and rebuild the internal disk.

One would still lose recordings, but at least it would obviate the need for backup images.

I'm wondering if anyone has tested this yet (to confirm that it will rebuild the data disk if provided a new drive) and can say whether or not the tivo will attempt to fully utilize the new drive (potentially to 3GB or beyond).
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Old 08-20-2013, 03:19 PM   #2
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The Roamio tivos are the first retail offering to have a built in Flash that houses the "executable" portions of the tivo software (as opposed to the data, e.g. videos, program guide data, etc.)

Presumably, this should allow them to tolerate replacement of the internal hard disk (termed a "data disk") with a blank/new hard disk and be able to boot and rebuild the internal disk.

One would still lose recordings, but at least it would obviate the need for backup images.

I'm wondering if anyone has tested this yet (to confirm that it will rebuild the data disk if provided a new drive) and can say whether or not the tivo will attempt to fully utilize the new drive (potentially to 3GB or beyond).
I would be shocked if this would work, or that TiVo would let such a system work.
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Old 08-20-2013, 03:22 PM   #3
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Where did you find this cool nugget of info?
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Old 08-20-2013, 03:24 PM   #4
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It should be easy enough to test this out...
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Old 08-20-2013, 03:27 PM   #5
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This would be sweet if its true.
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Old 08-20-2013, 03:28 PM   #6
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in my armchair version of the next Tivo I had them putting everything on flash and selling a drive-less Tivo for cheap. And leaving it up to the customer to supply a hard drive. The flash storage could have even have enough for a few recordings in the meantime.

be nice if they did let you just put in a new blank drive and press a button or two.
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Old 08-20-2013, 09:06 PM   #7
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Sounds like the four-finger press on the moxi.
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Old 08-20-2013, 09:22 PM   #8
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Interesting. The Pace TiVo box does this, right?
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Old 08-20-2013, 09:33 PM   #9
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in my armchair version of the next Tivo I had them putting everything on flash and selling a drive-less Tivo for cheap. And leaving it up to the customer to supply a hard drive. The flash storage could have even have enough for a few recordings in the meantime.

be nice if they did let you just put in a new blank drive and press a button or two.
A drive-less TiVo would be a support nightmare.
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Old 08-20-2013, 10:59 PM   #10
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Some Motorola DVR's do this, you just pop a blank hard drive in, plug it in and formats the drive.
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Old 08-21-2013, 06:32 AM   #11
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IF this were true and the base Roamio has a 2.5" drive it would explain the choice of 500GB for the unit. Its the cheap sweet spot for laptop drives at the moment.

Driveless TiVo would not happen due to support issues but selling the unit with a mediocre drive and easy upgrade path would be the next best decision. Oh if only its true.
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Old 08-21-2013, 07:38 AM   #12
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I'm pretty sure the old Microsoft Ultimate TV DVRs did this too. That would be a great option for the new TiVo units, but I'm not holding my breath in anticipation.
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Old 08-21-2013, 07:42 AM   #13
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I'm pretty sure the old Microsoft Ultimate TV DVRs did this too. That would be a great option for the new TiVo units, but I'm not holding my breath in anticipation.
You're correct, Ultimate TV automatically formatted a new drive and installed the software. When I went from Ultimate TV to the HR10-250, I was surprised at how cumbersome it was to install a new drive.
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Old 08-21-2013, 08:03 AM   #14
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If anything they should provision a smallish SSD to the tuner buffers, that would at least allow the HDD to take a break once in a while.
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Old 08-21-2013, 08:49 AM   #15
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If anything they should provision a smallish SSD to the tuner buffers, that would at least allow the HDD to take a break once in a while.
And also greatly increase the price. SSDs need to come down alot in price before that happens. Besides the hard drive doesn't need to take a break. My GF is running two of my S3(OLED) boxes. Each with the first 1TB hard drive that was available. The Hitachi, five platter, 1TB drive. Which also runs hot. So far they have both been running 24/7/365 for over six years, buffering the two tuners, without any problems. And hopefully they continue to run because I don't want to deal with the complaints if it does die.
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Old 08-21-2013, 10:10 AM   #16
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If anything they should provision a smallish SSD to the tuner buffers, that would at least allow the HDD to take a break once in a while.
SSDs are not really designed for 24/7 writing. I don't think there would be any benefit to killing a SSD instead of using a hard drive designed for that type of writing.
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Old 08-21-2013, 10:20 AM   #17
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SSDs are not really designed for 24/7 writing. I don't think there would be any benefit to killing a SSD instead of using a hard drive designed for that type of writing.
Is SSD write capacity still around 100K? If used as a constant buffer, I'd be curious how often a sector is re-written. Once per hour? That's a 10 year life, still not a deal killer.
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Old 08-21-2013, 10:23 AM   #18
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If anything they should provision a smallish SSD to the tuner buffers, that would at least allow the HDD to take a break once in a while.
This would actually lower the lifespan of most Tivo Boxes in two ways. First, it is far better to leave a hard drive spinning 24/7 then to turn it off. Technology has gotten better, but most of your damage to a hard drive would be when it stops and when it starts. Leaving it at a constant spin reduces stress on the drive.

Second is the limited read-writes of SSD disks. This works great for computers, because most drives will give you 500+ rewrites. But, in the case of a Tivo where the buffer is 30 minutes long and is ALWAYS recording, it wouldn't take very long at all for 500 rewrites to happen (assuming the drive is filled with buffer, 500 half hour cycles would kill the drive, which would happen in about 10 days (48 half hour cycles per day).

Now, theoretically, if the SSD was 256GB, you'd have space to play with (assuming each channel is 2.5GB for 30 minutes, and 6 buffers, you'd only use 15GB at a time) but that would only increase the life of the drive by 15X, which would still see failure in about 6 months at a cost of $200 per drive retail.

As far as the OS (and JUST the OS, no databases, as those have high rewrites for indexing and data only being valid for 24 hours before an update is needed) yes, SSD would speed up load times and screen refreshes, provided the processor isn't the bottleneck. And at 700mhz, I think the processor might be the bottleneck rather than the hard drive, but I may be wrong because I don't know what the overhead is on that processor in performing daily operation (indexing, recording 6 tuners 24/7, rendering menus and UI's, doing updates, running HTML5 applications, etc).
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Old 08-21-2013, 10:25 AM   #19
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Is SSD write capacity still around 100K? If used as a constant buffer, I'd be curious how often a sector is re-written. Once per hour? That's a 10 year life, still not a deal killer.
For consumer grade, it's 2-3000 times, tops. And each sector would need to be rewritten twice per hour, or 48 times per day. (reposting this for the TLDR crowd).
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Old 08-21-2013, 10:36 AM   #20
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Also depends on it's purpose. They could have a small amount of NAND baked in to load a base os (factory) onto a drive if they wanted to and it would be read-only if it can't boot from the hard drive.
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Old 08-21-2013, 10:46 AM   #21
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Also using a SSD for the buffer would give the user zero benefit. The read/write capacity has never been a bottleneck on a TiVo.
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Old 08-21-2013, 11:48 AM   #22
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Now, theoretically, if the SSD was 256GB, you'd have space to play with (assuming each channel is 2.5GB for 30 minutes, and 6 buffers, you'd only use 15GB at a time) but that would only increase the life of the drive by 15X, which would still see failure in about 6 months at a cost of $200 per drive retail.
Or just stick 16GB of RAM in there. While cool, the benefit to the end user is questionable. It is not as if HDD are failing all over the place. Shrug.
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Old 08-21-2013, 01:12 PM   #23
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If anything they should provision a smallish SSD to the tuner buffers, that would at least allow the HDD to take a break once in a while.
Ok OK OK...scratch the SSD thing...how about a dedicated smallish hard drive for this?

Isn't the most frequent failure point (save power supplies with bad capacitors) the HDD (internal or expander?).

So let the one that stores the data rest until an actual recording/streaming/watching is happening and buffer 4/6 tuners to a small drive. 3 hours (6 tuners at 1/2 hour) can't take up more than what 10GB?
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Old 08-21-2013, 01:28 PM   #24
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Are you commenting upon speed or reliability, I'm not sure where these keep coming from. A tivo is always storing data, having two drives ads multiple points of failure.

I think what you want to suggest is having the Tivo OS on a chip that can be upgraded from time to time, like an iOS device.
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Old 08-21-2013, 01:33 PM   #25
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Are you commenting upon speed or reliability, I'm not sure where these keep coming from. A tivo is always storing data, having two drives ads multiple points of failure.

I think what you want to suggest is having the Tivo OS on a chip that can be upgraded from time to time, like an iOS device.
The OP hasn't said it, but I think the only real value provided by separating the Operating system from the storage is swappable hard drives.
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Old 08-21-2013, 01:37 PM   #26
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Can we move on? SSD/NAND for the OS only, putting a buffer on ram wouldn't extend the life of a hard drive at all. Hard Drives last longer when spinning 24/7.

I'm still trying to confirm the unsubstantiated rumor that the OP posted about the Roamio loading the OS off of flash storage instead of the hard drive.
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Old 08-21-2013, 01:38 PM   #27
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I really hope this is true. Will make upgrades so much easier.
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Old 08-21-2013, 01:44 PM   #28
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He's saying that Tivos should just ship with a nominal hard drive like a 500GB or even 320GB that's very low cost with the OS stored on flash. That way the boxes are as cheap as possible and the user just puts in his own hard drive in a simple plug and play style. Or unscrew a bunch of things, rescrew back in and then plug and play.

I like the idea.
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Old 08-21-2013, 02:56 PM   #29
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For consumer grade, it's 2-3000 times, tops. And each sector would need to be rewritten twice per hour, or 48 times per day. (reposting this for the TLDR crowd).
Actually (assuming the drive is just big enough to hold all the buffers) it'd be more like 1.3 - 1.4 times per hour. (So more like 31 - 33 times a day)

The buffers only display up to 30 minutes, but (unless they've changed something semi-recently) they really seem to fluctuate between about 35-45 minutes*. Presumably because the natural 'block' size is 10 or 15 minutes long and they wait until and entire block is "out of buffer" before dumping it.


Still, that usage pattern is a poor match for an SSD. Now putting the OS and database on SSD might generate some speed improvements for things like wishlist searching; but it wouldn't affect the reliability of the data drive at all.

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*That's why its possible (or used to be?) to record the current show and have stuff older than 30 minutes ago be in the recording.
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Old 08-22-2013, 08:28 PM   #30
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SSD's are "sexy" now, but the fact of life is that HDD's are still KING of THE WORLD. Yes, SSD's are great for boot-ups, if people really want, need, or require that speed--at a high cost. I find my late model, traditional PC's with their nominal boot-up times to be just fine, and I believe TiVo's long boot-up has been cited to be for reasons of keeping the product "secure."

Yes, the OP's notion of a box we buy and then we slip in our own HDD sounds nice, but I imagine TiVo has quality concerns as a lot of unknowledgable people will go with the cheapest "off-brand" HDD, and this would diminish the TiVo experience and TiVo would lose customers and have more public gripes and forums like this would be telling newbies they should've gone with a WD Green or whatever HDD that is know to do very well with TiVo.

However, I do look forward to the SSD's improving with tech breakthroughs and the falling prices, but for now HDD is really still best overall.
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