Wednesday, April 21, 2010

PS3 Media Server + CoreAVC

I bought an Nvidia GT 240 just so I could use CoreAVC with CUDA to stream to my PS3. It went pretty smoothly, except for one trick, and that is... Windows 7 preferred filter tweaker! As you might guess, this is only really tricky with Windows 7, due to the way the filter priorities are set. If you have Vista or XP, you shouldn't have any trouble with that.

So anyway, what do you need to get hardware accelerated streaming to your PS3?


  1. Install everything. When installing CoreAVC, don't install the Haali Media Splitter.
  2. Go into the CoreAVC settings - Programs -> CoreCodec -> CoreAVC -> Configure CoreAVC. Make sure CUDA is checked and the tray icon is also enabled.
  3. Go into the ffdshow audio decoder settings - Programs -> Combined Community Codec Pack -> Filters -> ffdshow audio decoder configuration. Ensure that Mixer is checked, and in the mixer panel, make sure you have the speaker configuration set to 3/0/2 - 5 channels, and LFE is checked.
  4. Run the Win7 preferred filter tweaker. For H.264, make sure CoreAVC is checked. Hit Apply and then Exit.
  5. Run PS3 media server. Configure your share points, then head to the transcoding tab. Make sure Avisynth/Mencoder is enabled and has highest priority. Under "Common transcode settings", make sure everything on the page is unchecked (particularly the ones that say "avisynth not supported".
  6. Check to make sure it works! When you play a video, you should see the CoreCodec icon in the system tray colored green. If it's blue, it's not using CUDA.

After doing all that, you should be able to stream just about anything to your PS3! On my computer with a 2.7ghz Pentium dual-core (E2160), I can stream and reencode 1080p video with about 70% CPU usage. Before my new nvidia card, my computer could only handle 720p files.

Some notes: when I used avisynth/ffmpeg as noted in the PS3 media server readme, I had some occasional audio stuttering that went away using avisynth/mencoder.

If anything is unclear, leave a note in the comments and I'll try to address it.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Crashplan - backing up my stuff!

A large chunk of my life -- nearly all of my records, accomplishments, photos, music -- is stored on my computer. I got very scared when I thought about losing the data on any one of my computers. Of course, anything super important I store in a few places (like my thesis), but there's a lot of other stuff that I only have stored on one machine -- my photograph collection, my music, some of my research data. Earlier this year, I had the hard drive in my laptop fail suddenly -- I turned my laptop on, and poof, 10 minutes later I hear an awful grinding noise and my computer freezes. Drive was totally dead (it was a Hitachi 7200rpm 2.5" hard drive).

Luckily, I was using Apple's Time Machine, which had an up to date backup... mostly. I forgot that VMWare marks the virtual machines with the no-backup flag, so I lost my virtual machines. I also told Time Machine not to backup my applications to save space on my backup drive, but that had the unfortunate consequence of leaving me with an unusable OS X install after I restored from my backup. But my data was safe!

While I was waiting for a replacement hard drive, I thought to myself, "You know, your backup drive is really really old... what are you going to do if it dies before you can get your data off it?" Not a lot of things would make me cry, but that would probably be one of them.

After that experience, I bought an external hard drive to backup my desktop, but it could fail too. I decided to look at online backup services - for a monthly/yearly fee, I could backup my data and trust (hope?) their data centers would be more reliable than a few external drives. I looked at a few services, but ultimately I decided on CrashPlan. It is a bit pricey, but they have a family plan that lets me backup all my machines, and I figure that $100/year is not that much to pay for the peace of mind of having a backup of my data.

I've been using CrashPlan for about nearly 5 months now, and I don't have any complaints. The service has had good uptime (I had a problem connecting to their online backup servers on Christmas, but it was working the next day), I get good upload speed to them, and when I've tried to restore a single file, it's worked fine. I currently have about 50gb backed up over 3 computers with no issues using a variety of connections (Time Warner Cable, Verizon FiOS, university connection). Overall I'm pretty happy with CrashPlan and intend to keep using it as long as I can afford it.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Buying a new video card!

After about 2.5 years, I decided to upgrade my video card -- mainly to get one that can accelerate Flash and to handle videos that DXVA can't deal with.

My current video card, an ATI Radeon HD 2600xt, isn't supported by Flash 10.1 for GPU acceleration. Nvidia has a list of supported chipsets, and most of their recent cards are supported. Additionally, Nvidia cards are well-supported by CoreAVC, which enables a greater variety of videos to be accelerated. There's a great setup guide available from My collection of short anime reviews. Not only are more videos supported, but it's very likely to be supported by PS3 Media Server, but I'll know for sure when the card I ordered arrives.

So I've decided on getting an Nvidia card... now which one to get? I don't play many games, so all I needed was a card for video playback. It needed to do the following:

  • Accelerate 1080p H264, VC1, and Flash playback
  • HDMI sound output capability, at least 7.1 and preferably support for bitstreaming uncompressed codecs (DTS master and TruHD).
  • Low power usage / heat

I narrowed my choices down to the following based on the above criteria:

  • Geforce GT 220
  • Geforce GT 240
I excluded the Geforce 9600 and 9500 because they can't handle 7.1 sound over HDMI, have an older revision of Nvidia's purevideo decoder, and tend to use more power. The GT 210 didn't seem to have enough power to do some post-processing of 1080p content. The GT 220 and 240 both seemed to handle everything I need (in fact, the setup guide I linked to earlier suggests a GT 220-based card, but the GT 240 has 2x the number of stream processors and is only another $20.

I ordered the card from Newegg and expect it sometime next week. I'll update with my results!