Hackable 'Powersave' mode?

Discussion in 'TiVo Series 1 - UK' started by bignoise, Aug 30, 2008.

  1. bignoise

    bignoise New Member

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    Oct 7, 2000

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    Ever since I started walking around the house with a plug-in power meter, I couldn't get over how much power a TiVo seems to use, especially when you've got dual drives in place.

    Which got me to wondering.. would it be possible to produce some kind of 'hack' which could attempt to optimise TiVo's power use? For example, disabling the live TV buffer, and (where possible) spinning down the hard discs during the periods of inactivity between suggested and planned recordings?

    It doesn't strike me that either of these things would be hard to do... but of course I don't have the faintest idea about how you could do them. Does anyone here have any ideas?

    (I'm almost considering trying out some SSD drives too... in which case being able to disable the live buffer should be even more important from a disc wear point of view.)
     
  2. Automan

    Automan Ex TiVo User

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    Oct 29, 2000
    South...
    My last Tivo is turned off mainly because of its high energy consumption :(
    That and of course the STB needed to work with it.

    Last last models I know failed USA EPA energy saving tests due to the fact they are always awake to make the record live TV buffer work.

    The only area I think our UK ones could be enhanced is as you suggest a solid state hard drive but I suspect more important would be a new very high effiency power supply unit and then perhaps a "green" hard drive.

    My Windows Home Server has 2 x 500Gb "green" SATA drives and eats just over 40watts of power.

    Automan.
     
  3. Pete77

    Pete77 New Member

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    My 2 x 250GB Tivo only uses 37W. Admittedly the Sky box uses a further 16W and the Freeview box 11W.
     
  4. mikerr

    mikerr TiVoCentral.co.uk

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    1W per year costs just over £1
    So your average tivo + STB combo uses 60W, or £60 a year

    Stick both tivo and STB on a mains timeswitch if you want to save some money,
    e.g. off at 2am, on at 8am
    Then set a matching manual repeating recording on tivo for these times,
    that way tivo will warn you if you try to set a recording when its scheduled to be off.

    BTW home server has a "lights out" service that puts it into suspend at set hours
     
  5. Automan

    Automan Ex TiVo User

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    My one has to be awake 24/7 to talk to my weather station http://www.morlocks.co.uk/weather/ but I could tweak it as you suggest and then get my weather software to read the saved data from the Davis Data logger module in the console when the server wakes up.

    Automan.
     
  6. Milhouse

    Milhouse Member

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    Sep 15, 2001
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    I suppose it would make sense to spin down the disks whenever nobody is going to be watching (overnight and during the day if the owner is out at work) AND when there is no scheduled recording (or suggestions) - I only need the live buffer when I get home from work, so between 6pm-1am. Unless there is an easy hack for this it seems to be more hassle than it's worth.

    And putting the TiVo on a timer switch would most likely lead to early failure of a component, most likely a hard drive.
     
  7. mdolan

    mdolan Guest

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    Jun 4, 2002
    Dundee
    Yes, it could be a lot of hassle - however it would have a physical cash payback. As someone has pointed out 1w/hr roughly equates to £1/year (and with tivo running around the 40w mark thats a saving of £40/year!)

    I would *love* a plugin that could power down/hibernate/sleep the tivo... (or at least the hard drives).

    Anyone up for the challenge? If there are people intelligent enough to design cachecards etc, maybe this could be the next puzzle for them to work upon?

    Could be a nice commercial earner?

    Cheers,
    Mike
     
  8. Milhouse

    Milhouse Member

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    My only concern would be that any such power down could lead to increased drive failure, the net saving thus being zero or less.
     
  9. mdolan

    mdolan Guest

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    Jun 4, 2002
    Dundee
    Shouldn't be a real issue depending on your usage.

    My guesstimate is:
    Time spent recording/playback= 25% of the day (6 hours).
    therefore 75% of time is "wasted".

    75% saving against 40w=30w saving

    1w=£1

    So each year savings would be approx £30. So you could easily pay for a new drive every 1.5 years....

    I've been running a home server for 3 years with hibernate/spinup support and still waiting for a drive to fail :)

    Cheers,
    Mike
     
  10. boringgit

    boringgit New Member

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    Jan 20, 2007
    Spam methinks :)

    Would love to see the hack. Tivo has been relegated to the bedroom now that V+ is on its way but 60 quid a year makes me wonder if a cheap HDD freeview box wouldn't be a better option.... Especially given that I'll need to run a cat 5 cable in order to let me set recordings from work (which is pretty useful)

    I could never understand why the live buffer didn't switch off when you put the darn thing into standby. I struggle to see that it is a feature - therefore either an oversight, or there was a problem which made it difficult to implement...
     
  11. Automan

    Automan Ex TiVo User

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    Oct 29, 2000
    South...
    Yes I now have in my bedroom a Daewoo DSD-9503TFP which eats 11watts in standby and 22watts when on.

    Freeview+ works pretty well, infact where avaialble the best I have seen starting recording nearly always within 30sec before the program!

    Unit was under £100.00 from amazon.

    Gadget is not perfect but is okay for a second room / low usage.

    Automan.
     
  12. boringgit

    boringgit New Member

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    Jan 20, 2007
    I have a quite awful Digifusion box plugged into Tivo now. It seems to freeze several times a day. Bought a 1.99 timer switch from Wilkos which I hope will keep it responsive.

    Seems silly to spend money on a crappy freeview boxwhen £90 odd would get me a dual record PVR.

    Think I have decided that Tivo will stay out of the cupboard until that kind of price point will get me a dual record PVR with HDMI. Should be about a year I reckon...
     
  13. bignoise

    bignoise New Member

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    Oct 7, 2000
    Not just me then. Seems like there are several points of attack:

    1. The STB feeding the TiVo itself. This is a good point - an old ONdigital box sucks up about 14 watts while on, a newer box (e.g. Pace DTVA) just 4 watts. [Although not all new boxes are low power - the cheapo box from Woolworths is about 10 watts.] I'm not too sure about Sky boxes (my ancient Pace takes about 11 watts, I don't know if a modern box is any better) - possibly the Pace 'minibox' might be worth looking at as it's powered by an external PSU rather than internal mains.

    2. If there's a significant power difference between 'on' and 'standby' then some means to IR blast a standby code after a recording finishes would be neat. (In the case of, e.g. a Sky box, it'd automatically be woken up again by the "Sky" button before the next channel change.) This might also have the effect of causing no writes to the live buffer if there's no signal on the SCART.

    2b. Alternatively, forcing a channel change to a blank UHF channel (e.g. 65 or whatever isn't in use locally) could/should reduce disc writes substantially, if there's no easy way to disable the live buffer directly.

    3. Hard discs - two use more power than one. Newer drives use less than older ones? I must get my power meter out again. Still tempted by SSD drives but capacity/cost is an issue. (A 64gb IDE SSD weighs in at about £180. It might be possible to do something interesting with a few 32gb CF cards, but either way this increases the cost and lowers the storage considerably.)

    3b. Which means.. still far better to spin down the hard drives if at all possible. Can't some drives be configured to automatically spin-down themselves when not in use? Or is that a parameter which would need to be asserted by a disk utility at boot time? (Easy as adding something to the TiVo startup file? hdparm -S60 -B1 /dev/hda, etc?) Disabling/circumventing the live buffer and perhaps getting a Cachecard in place might prevent a lot of 'background' use, maybe?

    4. If all else fails, some kind of external power box that can be signalled (perhaps by serial/ethernet) to "Turn off until 20:55pm on Tuesday"? Great if you leave the TiVo alone for long periods but a nuisance if you have to power it up every time you want to watch something.

    5. What was that about replacing the TiVo PSU? Could that make a significant difference?

    Must be plenty of options, surely.
     
  14. Pete77

    Pete77 New Member

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    All of the above suggestions might save you perhaps £30 per annum at best but no doubt also severely reduce the recording reliability of your Tivo. The only one that seems of any practical value and is easy to do is powering the Tivo off on a timer between say 2am and 6pm each day for those who do not use Suggestions and who only record shows in the evening. Even then implementing the established hack to force the Daily Call to a time of day when Tivo will be on and after which all indexing operations will be complete before it powers off would be very advisable.

    I would suspect most of you would save far more per annum if you visited www.saynoto0870.com to find a geographic alternative for any 084 or 087 prefixed number phone number before you call in on your landline or mobile, especially if you have a bundled minutes package on your mobile or unlimited calls plan on your landline to all 01, 02 and 03 prefixed numbers.
     
  15. bignoise

    bignoise New Member

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    Oct 7, 2000
    What does SayNoTo have to do with saving electricty? That's a rather blatant advert for an entirely unrelated thing. If we're doing that then surely I should point out the everday low, low prices at MORRISON'S supermarkets. :)

    My point here is not in reducing the usability or reliabilty of the TiVo - just optimising its power use so that it is not wasting electricity buffering live TV that I'm not watching, not spinning its discs when it doesn't have to, and so on. My primary TiVo (the original and best) only records 3 programmes a day, so for the vast majority of the time it's using a lot of electricity - and money - doing nothing. Multiply this by the 4 TiVos that I personally own and suddenly things just get insane.

    Some quick measurements.. This is a twin-drive TiVo, one 120gb Samsung, one 160gb Maxtor, 512mb cachecard on board.

    BOOTING (disc read, cachecard loading) - 30 watts
    INTRO (playing the TiVo intro video) - 33 watts
    LIVE TV (watching in the live buffer) - 33 watts
    DISABLED LIVE BUFFER (changed to an invalid UHF channel) - 30 watts
    FORCED /DEV/HDB [Maxtor] TO SLEEP MODE (hdparm -y /dev/hdb) - 27 watts
    FORCED /DEV/HDA [Samsung] TO SLEEP MODE (hdparm -y /dev/hdb) - 21 watts

    It looks to me like there's an attack surface of at least 12 watts that could fairly easily be optimised from within software, and possibly more with hardware (better/greener discs, etc) and clever STB tricks. Certainly killing the live buffer makes a measurable difference immediately, though it'd need some kind of software to automate it. Setting the drives to spin down after a few minutes of inactivity is also a measurable saving [at least on the B drive - the A drive seems to be more constantly in use, but I haven't tested that too closely. Maybe if HDA gets all of the attention in an unavoidable manner then it'd make sense to replace HDA with a (possibly quite small) SSD/flash drive and keep HDB as a big spinning disc.]

    I think there's the chance to do something useful here.
     
  16. Pete77

    Pete77 New Member

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    It just seems like a lot of trouble to go to in 2008 when Tivo S1 in the UK is now much nearer to the end of the line than it was in Autumn 2000.

    Of course if its a challenge that you enjoy for its own sake then don't let me stop you and I am sure you will be the first to remind me of the substantial increases in electricity prices over the last couple of years.
     
  17. boringgit

    boringgit New Member

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    Jan 20, 2007
    I agree with Pete, in that there are lots of ways to save £30 a year and that leaving Tivo alone and tackling others is far easier.

    However ;)

    There's a wee bit too much Scottish blood in me to enjoy the idea that I am wasting that money.

    Agreed - if Tivo could switch a set-top box to standby, then wake it up again that would be fantastic.

    What's the padding hack? That would be a perfect way of doing it - it's already adding 3 minutes (or whatever you set), to the beginning and end of recorded shows.. if it doesn't conflict with other recordings. Somebody has already worked out the logic, all it would need to do is, 30 seconds before it was due to start recording send a power signal, then 30 seconds after it ends (which would only be padded if it didn't conflict), it sends another power command.

    Switching off the TV buffer has an even easier cue - when you press the standby button it should stop and not resume again until you switch it on.

    Of course I come to this with loads of enthusiasm and absolutely zero practical know how :(
     
  18. bignoise

    bignoise New Member

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    Oct 7, 2000
    That's the style, boringgit. I agree entirely. :)

    I do see your point, Pete, but if it comes down to it, if a couple of quick software mods could save you [at least] £15 a year on your electricity bill, it's daft not to. If you don't care about the money, think of the planet. Think of the rainforest, full of meerkats and dolphins and otters yearning to breathe free, clogged up by all that carbon exhaust from your inconsiderate TiVo viewing. :)

    OK, no question that ripping out the guts of the TiVo and replacing it with less powerlicious hardware is extreme, totally agree there, and that's definitely up at the "advanced dabbling" end of the scale. But I think even if you just look at the difference that could be made with some fairly quick, simple software hacks, I reckon that alone is worth taking a look at. It can't hurt, after all.

    Totally agree with you, boringgit, about the padding hack - maybe somewhere between that and the old IR blaster hack (for sending 'BACK UP' to remove the red dot during recordings) there could be a workable solution.
     
  19. mikerr

    mikerr TiVoCentral.co.uk

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    Lancashire, UK
    2.5" drives use up less than half the power of the lowest power 3.5" drives,
    so try that route to get a tivo using 20W while active....

    E.g. £60 for a 250GB 2.5" IDE drive

    [edit] BTW the last thread we had on power saving.... was here
     
  20. bignoise

    bignoise New Member

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    Oct 7, 2000
    Interesting! Laptop drives, hadn't thought of that. Definitely an idea.
     

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