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Thread: Multiple consoles in one vehicle

  1. #1
    Constant Bitrate reece146's Avatar
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    Multiple consoles in one vehicle

    I'm toying with the design of my next project. It will have four to five different consoles, one for the driver using my existing prototyped environment and the rest will be "general purpose" workstations for doing pretty much anything that the passenger desires. It will be based upon the prototype though so that is the default mode (headphones for passenger specific AV playback, button to toggle to "desktop").

    What I'm trying to decide at this point is what hardware model to follow.

    Do I use one big SMP mobo or multiple, separate systems?

    I'm keen on something like a single dual Xeon (w/ HT) mainboard (or AMD equiv) but I am worried about latency caused by system load affecting the driver's console. Couldn't care about the other users being affected.

    In the one mainboard model each user gets their own dedicated X-Window server while using dual head display cards to reduce the number of display cards required. That's at least 1 ACP and 2 PCI display cards for 5 seats so that dictates at least one mainboard feature. I may have to remove one console (four seats total).

    Is there an operating system level virtualization/partitioning engine for Linux that can be used to guarantee OS partition performance and/or soft real-time performance?

    I'm not terribly keen on separate systems per console, or even one dedicated to the driver if I can avoid it. Separate systems will be more expensive, occupy more space, etc., etc. X-terms might reduce some of the complexity in multiple systems but it is still a distinct hardware footprint per seat (dollars and space). I'll listen to good debate.

    Heat and noise are an issue. I haven't turned my attention to quieting the dual Xeon board I have now but surely there must be a quieter fan for Xeons other than what ships from Intel? It's quite noisy.

    What say you?

    TIA

  2. #2
    Newbie Zimans's Avatar
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    If you get a MB with on-board video than you only need 1 AGP and 1 PCI for 5 seats.

    What software do you intend on running on these terminals?

    --ZIms
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  3. #3
    Constant Bitrate reece146's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zimans
    If you get a MB with on-board video than you only need 1 AGP and 1 PCI for 5 seats.
    Very good point, my brain is on standby I guess.

    What software do you intend on running on these terminals?
    Pretty much anything that suits the passenger. The primary purpose is AV entertainment and I'd use a modified version of my front end for that. I'd like to make other applications for general purposes available for long distance travelling. Might be a good time to write a letter, do pet projects, that kind of thing.

  4. #4
    Variable Bitrate intuitionsys's Avatar
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    Just be aware that some motherboards share the AGP slot with the onboard video so adding an AGP card on those boards would just replace what you already have rather than add to it.
    Silverwolf 2 is dead.
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  5. #5
    Constant Bitrate reece146's Avatar
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    Good point.

  6. #6
    FLAC TheLlama's Avatar
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    you can also make it so that the driver's programs have a lower nice value (higher priority). This way, if the other users really are hogging cpu, they won't take it from you. I think there is a daemon somewhere that will renice processes based on the uid or process name. If not, it shouldn't be too difficult to write one.

    Edit: Dur, I just remembered. Just start all the passenger's consoles (or frontends, whatever) with a lower priority than the driver's console. Every program started from the passenger's consoles will have the priority of the process that spawned it (the shell or the frontend)

  7. #7
    Constant Bitrate reece146's Avatar
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    Thanks for the input guys.

    I'm trying to get my head wrapped around how much "horsepower" will be required. I'm doing a little prototyping of the environment in the lab but am uncertain were to go from the uni-proc 1.7GHz P4 I am playing with.

    iBase has a new-ish Mini-ITX board that uses the Intel Duo <http://www.ibase-i.com.tw/mb899.htm>. Adding a backplane would allow two PCI display cards with dual DB15 ports. This would give a small footprint and a SMP base but I'm not sure if that is the way to go. Enough horsepower? The onboard video is lack luster but only basic 2D window manager type functions are needed on the driver's console... any form of 3D in gpsdrive is at least a major release or two away if ever.

    I was doing a little schematic of all the devices this setup would require - a nutty total of ~24 USB devices depending on how it gets finalized. I guess powered USB hubs will be required.

    Tyan has some way cool 4 way Opteron boards that support the dual core CPUs (8 Way!). That would be fun but be like dropping dynamite in a bait bucket and calling it fishing. It's also large scale gear with all the inherent noise, space, and $$ problems.

    Anyone have first hand impressions with the Intel Duos yet? Impressions? Low power draw P4 by another name?

  8. #8
    Variable Bitrate intuitionsys's Avatar
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    I don't have any direct experience with the Intel Duos but just from technical research I've been doing for a replacement computer for my studio, the dual core AMD processors appear to have a price/performance edge and much higher FSB speeds, which is probably what is more important for what you're doing. Even the Sempron CPUs are $$$ though
    Silverwolf 2 is dead.
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  9. #9
    FLAC TheLlama's Avatar
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    I've been an AMD advocate since the K6. AMD has gotten much better over the years and the Athlon64 and Opteron chips pack much more performance for the price as compared to their Intel counter-parts. AMD also has some really good stuff brewing for 4th quarter this year.

    So, the moral of the story: I would recommend AMD as well, simply because I don't like Intel's desktop chips (or their server chips for that matter).

    Quote Originally Posted by intuitionsys
    I don't have any direct experience with the Intel Duos but just from technical research I've been doing for a replacement computer for my studio, the dual core AMD processors appear to have a price/performance edge and much higher FSB speeds, which is probably what is more important for what you're doing. Even the Sempron CPUs are $$$ though

  10. #10
    Constant Bitrate reece146's Avatar
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    I'm more of an Intel fan than a AMD fan but am fairly agnostic in general.

    I haven't touched AMD since the 386-40 days.

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