SmartSDR and Intel I3, I5 & I7 Onboard Video

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I'm in the beginning stages of picking out parts for a new computer build.  I've been considering using a Mini-ITX board with an Intel I5 or I7 processor, 16Gb RAM and trying out the on-board video that comes with the Intel processor.  I've found a small case for the system that actually mounts on the back of the monitor and the power supply runs off of 12v.  Perfect for my solar powered station.

Has anyone tried using the Intel on board video to run their station software?   I've read that SmartSDR should be able to run on a dumb terminal, so I'm guessing the Intel onboard video would be more than enough horsepower.   Hearing from others that have actually tried this would really be beneficial.

Other than SmartSDR, the only other video intense applications I will be running on this machine are DM780 for the digital modes and a web browser.  Others may chime in and tell me if there are other applications I might want to plan for in the future.

Norm - W7CK 
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Norm S

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Posted 4 years ago

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George Molnar, KF2T, Elmer

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Sounds cool!

Smart SDR won't quite run on a dumb terminal (I'm sure you were being facetious), but as for system requirements, they are pretty modest for a modern setup. The video card is the most important, I've noticed. You might want to keep an upgrade path for your video in mind, especially if you're considering multiple slice operation. Neal, K3NC posted some good card options on here some months ago. 

Although it doesn't sound like you're headed to remote operation, but watch out for applications that use a "mirror driver" for video. LogMeIn, for example, is awesome, but can soak up some video resources pretty quickly. I've moved over to a simple VNC approach, and it works well.

Good luck! Pictures when you build it?

73 
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Norm S

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I also use VNC and really like it.  That's a good point to keep in mind.  I have no idea how much of the video resources are used in VNC remote operation.   There has to be someone on here that has tried on-die video on the i5 or i7 who can chime in here and give us a better idea of what to expect.

Norm - W7Ck      
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Neal - K3NC, Elmer

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Did you see my note on it?
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Norm S

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I also use VNC and really like it.  Remote operation is something I really do need to keep in mind. I have no idea how much of the video resources are used by VNC. There has to be someone on here that has tried on-die video on the i5 or i7 who can chime in here and give us a better idea of what to expect.

Norm - W7Ck      
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Neal - K3NC, Elmer

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Hi Norm!
There have been issues historically using the Intel 4000 graphics adapter that is built into the Haswell CPUs. The one thing I can verify is that SmartSDR and the Intel 4000 work just fine  under Windows 8/8.1. Whatever the problem is/was under Win7, it runs fine under Windows 8.
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Norm S

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Neil,
Have you been using Intel4000 with SmartSDR under Windows 8?   If so, how is the performance?  Can you have 8 slices open and still operate ok? Digital modes? Web browsing?  I'm just trying to get a feel for what to expect.

I have a great video card and there is a slot on the Mini-ITX MB that I could stick it into if the on-die video does not work as expected.  The problem would be that I'd have to move to a larger case and use a standard PSU to provide power to the GPU.   All of which I'd really like to avoid if possible.

Norm - W7CK
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Neal - K3NC, Elmer

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Norm, I do not operate with 8 slices so thats something I couldn't give you much feedback on. The problem running the integrated graphics under Win7 is that the panadapter shows no activity at all, just an empty screen. So having it run 2 slices under win8/8.1 proves that the bug doesn't exist. The rest of it will probably depend on how much memory you have in the system and what the CPU is. I typically run 16GB memory configuration with the fastest i5's or the fastest i7s that run in a 1150 socket, and I feel pretty confident that both of these configurations could run 8 slices. I do not have a system to test this with however. I still put dedicated graphic cards in my systems, one, because if the bug comes back I do not want to deal with which vendor is at fault, and two, I like having a separate GPU using its own memory instead of dealing with system memory.

My advice is to try it, what can you lose? If its not acceptable, then you would need to invest in the additional hardware but it doesn't cost anything to try it!
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Norm S

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Thanks Neil.   I'll skip ordering the case for now.   I'll put together the MB, CPU (i7), RAM (16Gb) and miniture 180w 12v GPU (smaller than a pack of cigarettes) and place it on the test bench for a while.  If it works I'll order the compact case and mount it to the rear of one of my monitors.  If it doesn't work well, I'll order the larger case, pop in my standard PSU, video card (HD-7870).  Since the case will be a bit bigger, I'll have to place it on the desk and call it good.  Either way, I'll be running Windows 8.

Anyone else have anything to add?   I'm really hoping that the on-die video works well because then it can be powered off of 12v.

Norm - W7CK
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Reg

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Norm:

It has been previously documented on this Community that you want to get all video driver updates from the Intel website, NOT from Microsoft.  MS will roll your system back to an old version of the Intel HD driver that will not work with SmartSDR.

Good luck.

Reg

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Norm S

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Thanks for the reminder Reg.
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Brian - W9HLQ

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I think this discussion might be of interest to those looking for what computer resources are desirable to support SmartSDR.  I recently bought a Levono Flex 15D laptop running Win 8.1.  It was on a bargain table so I grabbed it.  It runs AMD A6 1.5 GHz processor; AMD Radeon HD 8400 graphics.  The reason I am writing is to alert those shopping to be sure to get enough CPU to avoid choppy audio.  Running just SmartSDR on the machine drives the CPU well over 50%, much of the time to 65%.  I have not tried digital modes yet.  That might make the CPU load too high.  Hope this info helps anyone deciding what size computer to get.   I would wish my laptop were faster.  73  Brian W9HLQ
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Lee, Elmer

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I have a lga 1155 ivy bridge i3 3.3ghz 55w processor with 4000 video, 8gb ram in a shuttle DS61 v1.1 barebones.  I run 8.1 with the latest intel drivers.  I feed 2 HD monitors one off HDMI and the other off DVI.   I also have the NIC plugged into the radio and a wifi mini pcie card stuck in the slot connected to the internet.

with only SSDR and a browser running, one slice with the fps and waterfall rate maxed out = 33% utilization.  If I run the fps back to 25 utilization drops to under 30.  If I shut off the waterfall (set rate to 1) utilization drops to 22 and my cpu throttles back to 2.5 ghz.   If I open a second slice and turn everything up on both slices running just SSDR and a browser   I get 58% not quite double 33%.  If I back fps down to 25 in both slices and shut off both waterfalls utilization drops back to 24% and I throttle back to 2.7 ish ghz.  with 2 slices at 25fps one waterfall off and one waterfall full I'm at 32% utilization.  What this means is you have a lot of control over tuning system resources.  

If I turn on CW skimmer and the full DXLab suite with 2 slices at 25 fps and one slice waterfall full blast resources are steady right at 62%,  If I turn off both waterfalls it drops under 50%  Remember this is with a lowly $140 2 core i3 3rd gen chip with 4000 internal graphics.  I can turn on a you tube video plus have both slices maxed out which means I am running 4 streaming video feeds (2 slices with max water fall  cwskimmer and full screen HD youtube video which means the wifi is running full blast as well)) and utilization jumps to 90- 95% but nothing stutters the audio is absolutely perfect and I can type this in the browser without any problem.  the fans in my computer don't even speed up.   I was able to make it stutter when with all of this running I opened up the intel extreme tuning tool which sends queries to every system.  Once things stabilized however I was back to 90%

I imagine a i7 would tear it up but this setup works fine for me.  it's very nice to be able to tune utilization depending on your needs for a given batch of programs eg contesting or making a screen capture video.  

73  W9OY


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