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Home Network Equipment

Discussion in 'Desktop & Laptop Computers Forum' started by StevieB, Jul 26, 2005.

  1. StevieB

    StevieB
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    I am in the process of cabling my house with Cat 5e, ready for when I build my home network.

    I am going to have pc's in each room, and a server downstairs for DVD's and music storage.

    So I need a reasonably fast network, in order to stream DVD etc.

    Can anyone recommend which network cards, switches/hubs, and router to use? Am I looking at a 1000 network equipment or will 10/100 be adequate.

    Any recommendations would be appreciated.
     
  2. Paul Shirley

    Paul Shirley
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    100mbit is more than good enough for any amount of streaming I can imagine, remember that most hard drives are slower than a well functioning 100mbit network. Though 100mbit can feel sluggish that's mostly to do with network latencies and gbit won't really help.

    I'd do 1gbit wiring but just shove in 100mbit switches, if after a few months there's a speed problem gbit price drops will cover the cost of retiring a switch.

    If your network topology involves multiple switches its worth bridging them with 1gbit links.
     
  3. StevieB

    StevieB
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    Thanks for that Paul.

    Just one thing, I'm not too sure what you are referring to when you say my network topology, and multiple switches.

    I will have 5 media pc's and 1 server connected to the network, so I would of thought the need for multiple switches isn't going to be necessary is it. An 8 way switch should be sufficient shouldn't it?

    Sorry if I sound a bit thick, but this is the first time I have had a go at this, and I'm pretty happy I know enough to build the network, and if I get stuck I can get help of you guys on the forum, but some of the technical jargon goes over my head.
     
  4. JonMace

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    Topology = geography, layout etc.

    Basically if you have 4 machines upstairs and 4 downstairs are you going to run all 8 cables to one central switch or have one switch upstairs and one downstairs therefore only needing one cable going from upstairs to downstairs bridging the 2 switches?
     
  5. StevieB

    StevieB
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    Sorry not used to such big words!!!!!!!

    I was intending to wire all cables to one central patch panel and then from that to my one swich unit.

    Well that was my plan, unless someone thinks it would be better to do it another way? (3 pc's upstairs, 3 downstairs).
     
  6. The Dude

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    For the sake of simplicity (and expense!) I'd stick with your plan Steve.
    Only go for 2 bridged switches if running the 3 cables from Upstairs to downstairs is gonna be a big headache..

    make sure you get the pin-out specification correct too, if you are installing a cat5 backbone.

    1 White/Orange
    2 Orange
    3 White/Green
    6 Green

    are the ones that matter.. ;)
     
  7. StevieB

    StevieB
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    Thanks for that guys.

    As far as cabling from upstairs to downstairs is concerned, there's not problems, already have the Cat5e in place ready for connection.

    When it comes to network cards, switches and a patch panel, has anyone got any suggestions?

    Is it a good idea to keep them all the same make?
    The less conflicts between equipment, the less chance of slowing the network down?
     
  8. Paul Shirley

    Paul Shirley
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    No-one ever lays enough cables the first time. Its a good idea to add a lot more than you expect from the start, a lot more network devices are beginning to appear, just counting the PC's isn't enough. An 8 way switch will certainly get your current stuff working but offers no future expansion capacity.

    Running a star off a single switch pretty much maximises the amount of work needed to add new connections later. Switches per floor are a fairly common topology that simplifies some of the wiring and only hardcore gamers will notice the extra latency involved. At the very least run 2 cables to every outlet and install a larger switch, cables are cheap, installing them isn't.
     
  9. StevieB

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    See what you mean.

    It just so happens I've installed 2 cables for networking, 1 cable for possible installation of Systemline Modular (Local input), and 2 cables into the loft for Systemline speakers (haven't decided on whether to go for this systems yet, depends, I want just one box in each room, but also have a good speaker system in the rooms).
     
  10. Paul Shirley

    Paul Shirley
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    The biggest slowdown you'll see is from mixing PC's with different OS's (including different versions of Windoze). I doubt you'll be able to find incompatible network kit nowadays, it should all just work together.

    The major difference between cheap and expensive NIC's is how much work the leave the CPU to do. With typical client streaming use you'll not notice the difference between a £5 and £30 100mbit card, just use the onboard NIC or whatevers reasonably cheap. Don't feel qualified to recommend a switch or router but whatever you get make sure its well cooled, overheating is the one repeatable way I've found to crash all mine
     
  11. StevieB

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    Thanks for that Paul.

    I did think about making sure all machines were running the same OS, and that was a question I was going to ask in the future.
     
  12. Paul Shirley

    Paul Shirley
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    Mixing OSes will likely cause problems browsing file shares, possibly cause problems actually transferring files. Win98 & WinXP are a definite bad combination - expect massive slowdown in one direction (can't remember which way). Mixing Linux and WinXP works better despite Microsofts ongoing efforts to break it, a Linux server should work OK.

    Accessing other types of network server (http,ftp, Videolan streaming etc.) should have no problems. Anything running directly at TCP/IP level should be immune to Microsofts monkeywrenching...
     
  13. StevieB

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    Thanks for the advice Paul.

    I was considering installing Windows Media Centre on the pc's with 'My Movies add on, but hadn't decided what to put on the server, any suggestions?

    I don't know anything about Linux, is that a good OS, is it as easy to use as Windows?
     
  14. Maff et1

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    If you are planning a server to stream to several clients then remember that the servers network link will be under more load then the clients, so it may be worth getting a gigabit switch and using gigabit on the server, leaving your general clients at 100 mbit. If you have another machine you plan to do lots of transfer too and from the server with then you'll appreciate having gigabit on that.

    On a typical setup data throughput will be about half the rated speed (so 50mbit for 100mbit network). A dvd is typically about 6mbit so you could run a few before the link is saturated.

    No modern hard drive is slower than a 100mbit link. At 100mbit the link will be the slowest point, at 1gbit the drive (unless you have a suitable raid and PCI-X busses).

    I'd put in a gigbit switch and gigabit on the server, leaving the clients at 100mbit. You should also consider a raid 5 on the server (just software based), so when a drive fails you have a chance to repair it.
     
  15. StevieB

    StevieB
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    Thanks Maff, so getting a gigabit switch at the start may well be the safest option, then I shouldn't have any problems with transfer rates.

    Also put gigabit on the server as well.

    I was considering RAID5 on the server for that exact reason of data recovery. The one thing I don't want to do is spend days re-ripping dvd/cd's.

    I think I might put gigabit in the main lounge pc as well, as I was considering using that machine as the point where all the media is ripped. Unless people think it's better to do it straight onto the server that is?
     
  16. Maff et1

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    It's more convienent to rip on a client machine rather than the server (also means you can run the server headless).

    A gigabit switch doesn't cost much these days (about 80 quid), especially in relation to the amount of money you'll be spending on disks (my network as a whole just topped 1.5TB last weekend, and I need more).
     
  17. StevieB

    StevieB
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    I take it you are running RAID5 then Maff?

    If you don't mind me asking, what components have you got in yours, and what software are you using.

    I take it you are using software based RAID?
    From what i have read, as long as you have got a decent CPU, software based RAID can outstrip hardware based these days, due to the amount of power CPU's have.

    The only thing I have decided on so far, is buying a Coolermaster Stacker case, that should give me plenty of room for expansion.

    I was looking at having 1.0tb useable storage to start, so what would you recommend to get me going?

    Thanks for you help by the way, much appreciated.
     
  18. owain_thomas

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    just to stick my oar in here:

    I've got a RAID 5 server which I setup for exactly the same reasons, I couldn't face ripping 350+ CDs again. I got a highpoint rocketraid card which has four SATA ports and does RAID5. Because its a cheap card it does the number crunching using CPU cycles rather than with an onboard chip but I've never found this a problem. multiple simultaneous reads are fine. no stuttering or hiccups, trying to read and write at the same time is another matter, this often does give some stuttering. Having said that for my purposes this situation almost never occurs, if you're just using the server as a central repository for media then it shouldn't be a problem.

    I've got 4x 250GB drives giving 750GB of useable stroage. this is nearly full now though so I'm thinking of my next step.
     
  19. Maff et1

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    I'm not running a proper media server at the moment, most of my storage is adhoc (also known as thrown in whatever machine has space). With the exception af a .5TB stripe I use for video editing.

    A proper server is something I mean to do over the next couple of months, CM stacker is the way i'm going to go aswell, combined with supermicro hot swap cages - http://www.scan.co.uk/Products/ProductInfo.asp?WebProductID=90116 - (5 disks per cage and 3 cages can be fitted in the stacker).

    In terms of processing the new pentium D (dual core) look interesting, and at only about 150+vat for the 2.8Ghz.

    There are 2 ways of doing software raid - using a card like the rocket raid which has drivers that implement the raid, or creating the raid in the os, linux supports this and windows server does (you need a hack to enable it in xp pro - http://www.tomshardware.com/storage/20041119/ )

    One thing to remember with addon cards, either raid controller or gigabit network is that the standard PCI bus only has 133mb/s, which isn't enough for this. Look for onboard gigabit as it will use a seperate bus and a PCI-X bus, whilst lots of motherboards now come with PCI express slots there don't seem to be any controller cards yet for them. The only non server (read affordable) PCI-X board I know is the ASUS NCCH-DL for Xeons http://www.scan.co.uk/Products/ProductInfo.asp?WebProductID=150694 - I've got the previous version (PC-DL) in my workstation and it's a good board.

    With regard to 1 TB of storage, the best price point at the moment is 250Gb disks, 5 disks will give you 1TB (about 900GB after formatting) in a raid 5. I've got a couple seagate 7200.8 baracudas which seem good drives, and seagate give a 5 year warenty now - but you want the .8, not the .7 which arn't as fast.
     
  20. GrahamMG

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    Just my ten penneth worth but the CAt5e cabling should always use all 8 cores and connected correctly, 1Gb networks use more than the 4 cores mentioned. Check and double check all 8 wires at both ends of the cable (a simple master/slave tester is invaluable), many people upgrade from 100BaseT and find that gigabit don't work, this is always down to cable being terminated poorly IMHO...
    The full RJ45 pinouts are:-
    White/Orange
    Orange
    White/Green
    Blue
    White/Blue
    Green
    White/Brown
    Brown
     
  21. The Dude

    The Dude
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    You're absolutely right mate, but then who needs Gigabit networking anyway? ;)
     
  22. GrahamMG

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    Everyone will and I plan to make a fortune re-terminating RJ45's...... I have actually seen our cable installers testing 100BaseT networks and not bothering to fix the terminations if one of the unused cores fails the test....

    BTW, I find that sending hi-def 1080i files around to more than a couple of PC's needs the extra bandwidth of gigabit ethernet. I've not seen a wireless G solution that works with HD files either without stuttering....
     
  23. jaymz

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    Sticking my oar in.......

    I have found this happens when you are running the NIC's as half duplex make sure they are full duplex i.e. communicate in both directions at the same time without waiting packets completion at each end.

    This is the same thing that happens on conference phones when the person listening at end B trys to talk but can not be heard, although obviously they can talk, when the person is still talking at end A

    Instructions to change/determine can be found here

    http://www2.slac.stanford.edu/comp/winnt/faq/networking/NIC_speed.htm

    One limitation you should not forget with any software RAID is that you will have not battery back-up that hardware RAID controllers have i.e. if power fails, assuming you are not using a UPS, then any data in a read/wite activity occurring at the time will be lost.

    I have seen this alot on high performance technical computing (HPTC) applications (car crash simulation on HPUX11.i shared memory parallel (SMP) or beowulf linux clusters) with shared I/O paths even over dual fibre channel RAID0 (stripped) disk arrays. This is caused because the file system is set a synchronous reads/write.

    It needs to be modified a asynchronous read/write files system. Basically the read I/O call with a synchronous file system has to finish before the write I/O call can be started.

    With an asynchronous filesystem the read I/O call starts and then immediately write I/O call starts knowing that I/O read call will finish later. This can cause problem when data integrity but is acceptable when performance is king.

    http://support.microsoft.com/default.aspx?scid=kb;en-us;156932

    Did not mean to confuse........
     
  24. GrahamMG

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    Jaymz.

    Of course you will never get the full 1Gb over a gigabit network (not even close with home use switches etc.) and no-one ever got 100Mbit over 100BaseT either. Even with NIC's running full duplex, there is a huge overhead and packet checking etc etc. As a very rough guide gigabit ethernet is about 4 times faster than 100BaseT at anything like sensible money.... Even servers here with Foundry edge switches don't get beyond 2/3rds of the theoretical maximium rate.... If people get 60Mbit over 100BaseT and 300Mbit over 1000BaseT they are doing quite well with home setups. If anyone can tell me how to get much better than this on normal home stuff I'll be more than interested.
     
  25. The Dude

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    Graham, I have made plenty of posts in the last year on this forum, with regards to how to properly terminate Cat5... there is also a bit more to it than getting the right colour wires in the right holes..

    Your cable engineers probably shake their heads in disbelief at you 'turning things off, then turning them back on again' for a living... :rotfl:

    A pre-made professionally-made, nice looking, strain-booted Cat5/6 patch cable costs less than £1.... nice business plan. :smashin:

    I actually used to be a Cat5 engineer, these days I just reboot servers.... :rotfl:
     
  26. Monty Burns

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    I streamed the new Project Gotham 3 (xbox360) trailer (1080i) over my 54g network to my xbox (Xbmc) last night, worked a treat ;) From this and other posts ive seen here im begining to think im either a god or Linksys stuff rulez! (Im thinking its the later :) )

    Its nearly the weekend, have a good one!


    P.s. Thats with WEP turned on as well.

    *edit* My mistake, it was 720p not 1080i. <--- worlds worst memory. :confused:
     
  27. jaymz

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    Graham

    I understand what you are saying, my experience is in the coporate environment also with Foundry equipment (BigIron 15000 with 480Gbps max throughput is aaaaaawesome! :thumbsup: ) however i would expect higher utilisation rates. We certainly get closer to 60-70% for 100Mb Full duplex with FSEs/4802s and 70-80% utilisation for GB!

    We are however moving multiple GB (6GB +) files around the network core!

    Why do you need a server to stream your data something like this would work;
    http://www.lacie.com/products/product.htm?pid=10587
    http://www.microdirect.co.uk/ProductInfo.aspx?ProductID=8955&GroupID=634

    Obviously it depends on price but the can be daisy chained via USB2/Firewire!
     
  28. Maff et1

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    You need to take account of the fact that the 100m/bit speed is raw maximum pottential throughput. Collisions will reduce this (on a switch you will still get collisions as multiple clients try to talk to the server). Latency will reduce this (the switch takes time to route). Ethernet framing will reduce this (about 38bytes per frame, in the best case a (non jumbo) frame will have 1500 bytes of data). Then you have TCP/IP headers, typically another 40 bytes per packet. Then TCP ACK packets. If you are using http style streaming app then you have mime conversions, if you are using windows file sharing then you have the smb overhead.

    To be fair I may have been a little pessamistic when I said half, but don't expect to get anywhere near 100mbit/s in terms of end user/application data.
     
  29. StevieB

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    Well you've lost me guys, things are starting to get way over my head.

    I have managed to pull out some info you have supplied, to help me decide what to put in my server, could some kind soul go over what I have so far, and tell me if I'm going down the right path or not.

    Also, there are still a few things I haven't decided on yet, so if you could also fill in the blanks for me with a couple of suggestions that would be great.

    Once I've got all the components, all I need to do then is put it together, so I will be living on here from that point, well unless some kind soul offers to put it all together for me, for a ridiculously small charge (HINT HINT!!!!)


    Case: Coolermaster Stacker

    PSU: SUGGESTIONS REQUIRED - Would I need more than one?

    Motherboard: Asus NCCH-DL (Gigabit ethernet, and PCI-X)

    CPU: Intel Xeon 2.8ghz (800mhz, 1mb Cache) - May put dual in, if required

    Memory: 1gb DDR400 (2 x 512mb) - SUGGESTIONS ON BRAND REQUIRED

    HDD: 5 x 250gb Maxtor Diamondmax plus 10 (7200rpm, 16mb)

    O/S: Windows XP

    So guys, can someone please fill in the blanks, and let me know if there's anything they think should be changed or added (More cooling for example)

    Cheers
     
  30. GrahamMG

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    I know far more than our cable installers as well, I normally settle on them being able to get the right wires in the right holes as explaining bend radii and maximum unsupported length usually results in a blank expression on their faces............ ;) I just despair at what they think is good enough...... Of course patch leads are ten a penny the difficult bit is teaching a bloke to use a Krone tool properly..... :D How we suffer for our art mate eh.....
     

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