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Building a DIY Music Server


Nenon

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2 hours ago, Nenon said:

And that concludes this DIY music server build. I hope you enjoyed the read. 

 

I have enjoyed this thread thoroughly. Very informative and helpful. Fantastic!

 

 

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In NUCi7 (8 logical cpus), looks like the default isolation is already configured to what one would have configured explicitly in the expert setting:

 

1127 /usr/bin/smbd : 0,1
1129 /usr/bin/smbd : 0,1
1130 /usr/bin/smbd : 0,1
1132 /usr/bin/smbd : 0,1
1134 /usr/bin/nmbd : 0,1
1682 gstp : 4-7
327 /usr/lib/systemd/systemd-journald : 0,1
342 /usr/bin/lvmetad : 0,1
344 /usr/lib/systemd/systemd-udevd : 0,1
450 /usr/lib/systemd/systemd-timesyncd : 0,1
452 /usr/lib/systemd/systemd-resolved : 0,1
454 /usr/bin/haveged : 0,1
458 /usr/bin/dbus-daemon : 0,1
463 /usr/lib/systemd/systemd-logind : 0,1
495 /usr/bin/dhcpcd : 0,1
683 wpa_supplicant : 0,1
875 nfm : 0,1
885 stylus : 2,3
973 avahi-daemon: : 0,1

 

PS: I especially like these kind of default small tweaks targeted towards sound quality in Euphony rather than being open ended and leaving much on the user for guesswork.

 

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Fyi....I had done clock mods a long time back with PPA tcxo clocks (I still have it running but non-audio purpose). Changing clocks on ASRock mobo can be quiet tricky. I destroyed two to them - the clock traces run within the layers and if you are not careful, you might destroy them. I finally moved to Asus and the clock mods worked fine.

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1 hour ago, rickca said:

The first two slots are designated PCIEX16/X8_1 and PCIEX8/X4_2.  These are the ones connected directly to the CPU.

 

Yeah, that will usually be the case since the CPU direct would need to be closer.

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@Nenon and others,

 

have any of you guys compared Intel vs AMD ? I think @Nenon has built both, so he must have some idea. Are there much differences between the two ? If one is starting a fresh build (and leaving the behind the price for now), is there a consensus which one sounds better ?

 

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for folks who are using a single DIMM in a two or four slot configuration - be careful into which slot you insert the DIMM into as it should be placed on one which has the shortest path to the CPU. The motherboard manual will most likely have details on how you need to populate. I find this to be very critical to sound quality.

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Has anyone able to find good quality micro-ATX motherboard with 2 PCIe slots, with at least one slot being CPU direct ?

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14 minutes ago, dminches said:

 

Supermicro X11SCH-F

 

 

Yeah, I have looked at that motherboard. can you confirm that a i9-9900K or a KF will work ? It doesn't seem to support 300 series 1151 socket. Also, this motherboard will need a thermal riser if installing on Streacom but not a issue. 

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2 hours ago, dminches said:


I don’t know all the CPUs it supports.  I am using a Xeon CPU.  And, yes, it requires a riser but that part is easy.

 

I would email their support to ask about the CPUs.

 

 

which Xeon are you using ?

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13 minutes ago, Nenon said:

What do you think happens with that single rail that feeds the motherboard? The motherboard has to convert internally all the voltages with its own regulators. Essentially you have a similar circuit like the hdplex built into the motherboard, which is not necessarily better quality than the hdplex. Also, these motherboards are for low-powered CPUs. If that's your thing, you can give it a try. I am never going back to low powered CPUs after hearing what a server like this can do. 

 

motherboards still will have switching regulators even if you power it from the ATX, for example, RAM needs 1.2v or 1.5v or 1.6v which isn't part of ATX. There are other components which works on less than 3.3v for which it needs step-down regulators on the motherboard itself. There is absolutely no way out, unless one designs its own motherboard.

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1 hour ago, lmitche said:

In some motherboards the PCH can be disabled in Bios.

 

 

Larry, this is interesting but I wouldn't think motherboard will allow the entire chipset to be disabled. There could be parts of it that can be disabled, for example, the sata controller or the PCI lanes, but the entire chipset ? Can you site some example on which motherboard allows this ?

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I sometimes wonder if the issue related to single server being better than a server/endpoint concept to be not so much on the hardware side but related to software being lossy in some way. If we assume that “low noise” (mind you, i haven’t said “low power”) system connected to a DAC vastly improves SQ, then theoretically an extreme server and extreme client combo is supposed to be at par or even better than a single extreme but that’s not the case. This leads me to believe that either the s/w and it’s communicating protocol being lossy, incur more latency or the network interface between the server and client is generating a noise pattern which is detrimental to SQ or a combination of both.
 

As for a high power server, I echo others sentiment. I have started dabbling my hands onto it and all I can say at this time is after hearing it even with ATX power supply and with the Jcat usb and Net powered PH SR4, I can never ever go back to any of the Rendu’s or for that matter a NUC. I have planned for a diy Lps for this new server and have parts coming in slowly. So will see how much further I can take it in terms of SQ but Emily, @romaz, @Nenon has been bang for the buck right on this !!!

 

My previous “high powered” server (was a dual PC setup) built couple of years ago was a 4th gen i7 S version with low TDP and onboard clock replaced with TCXO. This setup was trumped by a NUCi7 powered by excellent quality power supply. Admittedly, the newer generation of motherboard and CPUs are much ahead of the game in terms of technology advancement (larger cache, more cores, faster base clock, more PCI lanes and many more) which also has brought significant  SQ improvements as many of you have found out through various experiments - thanks to all the forerunners like @romaz, @Nenon and others.
 

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6 hours ago, Hauser said:

I'm not game to try a dual CPU board build and having read the thread on the Phasure site, feel that complexity may not be justified.  The Asrock mATX board I was looking for is no longer available.  They do offer an ITX but it has the usual constraints; 1 PCIE x 16, 2 x M.2 and only 4 DIMM slots.  Supermicro's mATX  X11 SPM TPF has several ethernet variants and 3 PCIE slots, 1 x M.2.  This with a 4214 CPU will probably be my choice.


 

my initial plan was to use one of the Supermicro (I like them a lot) mobo with 3647 socket and the Xeon 42xx series but the real issue was lack of passive socket mounts and a chassis which can cool minimal of 100watts. Note that all the Streacom and Hdplex can effectively cool at 65watts beyond which the processor would start throttling big time. I have written to Streacom but they said 3647 and 100watts is not what they have in plans or remotely in future works. It’s time that Hdplex step up their game 🙂 there is another chassis Truemetal but it looks like their higher end model which would support higher TDP is not yet released and there is no hope to support 3647. Right now the only option, as @Nenon is venturing, is to diy it but long term stability will have to be seen.

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3 hours ago, ASRMichael said:

 

 

Thanks @ASRMichael I was looking at Truemetal website and it said they are still in beta.

 

3 hours ago, elan120 said:

My understanding is, Fanlesspro is a distributor for Turemetal based in China, but if there is any specific motherboard and/or CPU planned to use in the build, either discuss with Fanlesspro or send Mical Wong at Turemetal an email, Mical likely can customize the enclosure for the specific requirements.

 

Good to know. Thanks. Still need to confirm with them if they will still support 3647 socket and high clearance of the heat pipes if the RAMs are slotted on the side along the heat pipe runs. Also there isn't much info on the internal dimension of the chassis as well. I will write to them to get these clarified. The chassis are already on the expensive side, not sure if they charge extra for customization.

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1 minute ago, Hauser said:

Glad I was sitting down when I saw the price of that case.  My intention is to customise a Takachi case I have used already in a couple of power supply builds. 

 

Yes, the Truemetal is quiet expensive, even the HP5 at $600 is only 65watts but the chassis looks more beefier than the likes of Streacom or Hdplex. I am guessing the TDP support is probably underrated. 

 

Be careful with a Takachi for the computer build. I don't have enough information of all their models but I have 5 of their cases similar to the ones used in Uptone JS-2. If that is what you will be using, I don't think it will cut a 65watt CPU, let alone a 95watt. You need ticker aluminum and a lot of real estate to passively cool down a high power x86 CPU.

 

 

2 minutes ago, Hauser said:

When reading Nenon's two box server build, the separate power supply seemed a good idea but somewhat hobbled by the need for extra wiring.  I thought I'd try using the bottom of the case for all the supplies; the lower 50mm, build a second level for the motherboard; the top 90mm.  I will probably use MP Audio regulators and 4 or 5 Toroidy transformers. 

 

A two box is a reasonable compromise and that is also what I am targeting, provided you keep the connection as short as possible by stacking one on top of other. The ISO acoustic feet also helps dampen vibrations from the lower chassis transformers to the top.

 

12 minutes ago, Hauser said:

For the CPU heatsink, I'm thinking a custom lump of copper with with heatpipe holes drilled near the top with a Supermicro or Dynatron 1U passive cooler mounted on top. 

 

Those passive coolers actually works great but are designed to be used with a fan - either sucking in or blowing out the heat trapped in the fins. Not sure how good they work with heat pipes, so I would love to see what you come up with.

 

16 minutes ago, Hauser said:

I think the key to this is using a high power processor at near idle speed.

 

You got it! This is where the latency comes in. A faster processor can execute work loads (a set of instruction pipelines) very very efficiently and quickly if it has to work less. With heavy handed audio application as Roon is, this is also where more cores helps by taking advantage of it by using multi-threading and today's modern Linux (or even Windows) scheduler does a damn fine job around it.

 

 

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Has anyone built a system using the X570 yet ? All the motherboard seems to have the chipset fan except possibly the Gigabyte Aorus Xtreme which is quiet expensive. Wondering how much annoyance the fan is and how much it deter the sound quality ? Does the Bios has an option to turn it off ?

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3 minutes ago, rickca said:

The Asrock X570 Taichi BIOS revision 2.80 introduces 'optimize chipset fan curve'.

 

Although only the Aorus Xtreme has a passively cooled chipset heatsink, the other Aorus X570 boards apparently have built-in chipset fan profiles in the BIOS.  From Gigabyte:

In this BIOS you will find 3 profiles - Silent, Balance (default) and Performance. Balance and Performance will almost always have the fan spin, even at idle, without additional cooling directed at the PCH. If you have good airflow, or even a fan aimed at the PCH it's possible to cool the PCH to a level where the fan will stop. If you want the fan to be off during idle use the silent profile. Of course this is all dependent on airflow and ambient temperature.

 

 

In our audio application the chipset/PCH is actually doing nothing, if you are using a JCAT net card and USB card on a direct CPU slot. There is no fan to be connected to any of the fan header, there is no sata drives, on board audio can be turned off, etc. So in reality and in our application, the chipset is redundant - offcoarse it does the primary boot up initialization but that's about it. The X570 power consumption is ~15watts as far as I remember but I am not sure if this is with the peripherals loaded or not. I just wished they had a way to turn the fan off when most of the sub-blocks are off.

 

10 minutes ago, rickca said:

There are probably X570 motherboards from other manufacturers with similar capabilities since this is a very common concern.  I'd just check with the vendor's support line if you have a specific motherboard in mind.

 

I will dig up some of the manual on Gigabyte and Asus which I am primarily interested in. I was hoping someone here has one of these to play with and can comment. Wishing thinking perhaps 🙂

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2 hours ago, OAudio said:

 

 

I think this may be a misleading assumption about the role of the PCH.

 

What the PCH does is essential for sound quality and one of the key limiting / enabling factors in the quality of audio achieved by an Audio Server. This is regardless of the route chosen for USB and network connections (eg by On chip PCH or by PCIe expansion cards). 

 

To illustrate the point, I would suggest that pretty much one of the first sub-systems to look at when selecting a motherboard is the clock subsystem of motherboards PCH architecture. In most of the more recent PCH designs for, Intel at least, from the X99 PCH onwards, the clock generation for key the sub systems CPU, PCIe, Sata, CPU to PCH HSSI channels and in some cases USB and network connections are all generated and distributed across the motherboard by the PCH chip. This remains critically important to sound quality even if USB and network are handled by expansion cards.

 

I have highlighted clock subsystem above as one example of why the PCH matters but there are many more benefits for sound quality that PCH designs can deliver. As mentioned earlier at the moment the c621 architecture is in my opinion, by a large margin, the best available right now.

 

OAudio

 

Having said this, research and direct experience here is limited to Intel Chipsets so its not sure if AMD PCHs (X570) behave differently. 

 

 

 

 

 


You are actually correct in terms of operating environment. As I also hinted (without going into details) that it does primary boot up initialization but did not clarify it further. It indeed plays a key role, not only in terms of audio but also as in a x86 architecture. My concern was primarily on the power consumption side when it comes to audio application and the use of fan which creates adverse effect on audio quality. I assume one of the reason for heavy power consumption of X570 comes from the fact that it has several PCIe Gen 4 lanes. The more the speed the more it consumes.

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On 5/18/2020 at 6:04 AM, OAudio said:

These costs and the price of this server make me smile. I say this with real insight in the area, I have been developing a C621 Intel scalable processor system >3 years now (actually 7 years if you include the research on other audio servers that lead up to this c621 development).

 

can you provide more details on what c621 board are you using and what cpu, chassis, cooling, power supply, etc ?

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23 minutes ago, OAudio said:

 

I may start a separate thread.


perfect. Thank you. 

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@Nenon what is your base clock freq the Xeons are running at ? What TDP ? I would say you got a pretty good core temp with DIY - it's not easy feet. My 8 core Xeon hovers in their higher 40's in H5.

 

The HDPlex (and Streacom) side panels _only_ acts like a heat sink. Not the whole chassis unlike Extreme and other professional servers. I got a H5 last week and to my surprise the core temp runs couple of degrees (higher 40's) higher than the Streacom FC9 (lower 40's) I was using earlier, though I have a bigger ATX motherboard but the processor is the same in both case and the same applications running Euphony/Roon. The FC9 has only 4 heat pipes, the H5 has 8 of them.

 

Yes, the 3647 mounts directly on the socket, unlike the 115x but it should not be harder for HDplex (and others) to make the 3647 compatible mount. I forwarded the reference thermal design guide to Lary couple of days earlier and he will be looking into it.

 

https://www.intel.com/content/dam/www/public/us/en/documents/guides/xeon-scalable-thermal-guide.pdf

 

Also most of the 3647 boards are bigger than ATX (as you have also noted). Even though some will fit the H5, there is no space for a 400w or 800w DC-DC ATX. So there is a need for bigger chassis as well - more surface area, better cooling, etc. 

 

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21 minutes ago, jean-michel6 said:

Eventhough I do not need high power , Is there any interest to use the 800 over the 400 or 200 ?

 

I use a Xeon 8-core as well and have both the 800w and 400w. The EPS is powered by separate 12v rail and so are the PCIe cards. My Gigabyte mobo consumes ~35 watts. In this setup, I don't believe I hear a difference between them but since space isn't a constraint I use the 800w for a feel good reason 😄 The 800w consumes only couple of more watts than 400w though but nothing alarming.

 

If you are powering the CPU through the Supermicro, I would suggest using the 800w.

 

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28 minutes ago, jean-michel6 said:

Thank for your reply . From your perspective sq is the same for 800 or 400 .

 I will be powering the cpu through the atx plug  as there is no 12v  cpu specific plug on my mobo .

 

In that case, make sure you have a good beefed up power supply for the 19v rail and much greater than 5A. With 19v @5A rail, I couldn't boot. If you are not upsampling, you "might" be bottle-necked at boot as it requires a ton of power to initialize. Once this is past, the normal operation should be a breeze. I have DIY'ed LPS using SJ regs and have gained and measured a ton of data recently. 200w Hdplex is probably not a good idea for 8-core but depending on which CPU you are using I would at least go 400w. The 800w is preferrable for powering high-power CPU.

 

28 minutes ago, jean-michel6 said:

Does efficiency of dc-dc conversion is different between 800 and 400 ?

 

sorry, I can comment the dc-dc conversion efficiency between the two since I haven't used them to power the CPU. For low wattage application, I don't hear any audible differences between the two as I was saying earlier. Maybe you can check with Larry on this. 

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