Thursday, March 17, 2011

Using a solid state drive in a MythTV box - does it make a difference?

The other day I finally got around to installing a solid-state hard drive (a 40GB Intel X25-V) into my MythTV box, to see what sort of difference it would make in day-to-day running. Of course, I only have the root partition on it, no recordings. I still have the 2TB drive for them. What prompted the move was the occasional sluggishness to respond when going through menus, and the odd pause or stutter when hitting the "i" or Info button on the remote. It would also sometimes get a brief pause when it popped up the notice that a commercial break was about to start.

I figured that it was down to too much being asked of the main storage drive - asking it to respond snappily when it is recording four or five episodes and playing back another is just too much.  What if there was a second drive that could take care of the actual running of the machine, just leaving the big drive as a bit bucket to store media on?

Taking the Intel SSD from my main desktop (I had bought a 60GB OCZ Vertex to replace it), there was a spot ready for it in the Lian Li PC-Q07 case - right under the main drive. It wouldn't get a whole lot of air, so I'm glad it's a cool-running SSD. I copied the root partition from the 2TB drive onto it, as well as creating a swap partition. Partition sizes were kept down - 16GB for the root partition, 3GB for swap, leaving more than half free for the drive to use for wear-levelling. Overkill, but Mythbuntu doesn't need much room for its base installation. Eventually I got it working and booting from the ssd (after much swearing - how I did it may be covered in a future post) and I could check out the results.

And has it made a difference? A small one, but it's noticeable. Going through menu screens is a little quicker, more responsive. During playback, hitting the info button brings up the playback time without any stutters. Ending playback brings you back to the menu quicker. It's made the interface seem that little more polished. I'd say that it's not the fact there's a solid-state drive that has made the difference, more the fact that there is a second disk that's able to take some of the load off the storage one. I am not able to test it with another type of drive (frankly I can't be stuffed), but there are advantages in power consumption in going for an SSD.

No comments:

Post a Comment