Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Mythtv + HDHomerun + SheevaPlug : Connecting the Dots

Marvell just announced a 5 W Linux box with a USB 2.0 port and Gigabit ethernet, the SheevaPlug. This is a full Linux server with a 1.2 GHz processor in a box the size of a large wall wart power supply for a price of $79 US. Presumably any geeky person reading this has a dozen things they could do with such a product, and here is one: MythTV backend.

One of my problems with MythTV has been the old Pentium 4 Dell desktop I use as a backend. The monster draws upwards of 100 W. 24/7. Just to record 5 hours of TV a week and serve out videos.

Well look at what we can build now:
  • SheevaPlug 5W ($79)
  • HDHomerun 5W ($159) Dual HD TV Tuner
  • 1.5TB USB Hard Drive 10 W ($110)
  • 20 W for $348

The hard drive cost and the dual tuner are constants when building a MythTV system. I'm not counting the cost of an ethernet switch, as I assume most of us would have an extra port regardless. The major point is using a SheevaPlug for a MythTV backend would be much cheaper even then using a NetBook $250, and would very rapidly be cheaper than even re-using an old desktop $10/month electricity versus $0.50/month for just the SheevaPlug.

And it should be quiet.

On the down side, it would be useless as a frontend, and probably not up to the task of re-encoding videos.