FrameGlide Software with Spin Browser Dial | System Elements Explore at the speed of your imagination

Audio-Visual Hardware >> Computer >> Details
(Last updated 2022-08-10)

Brief summary of PC info for FrameGlide | Spin Browser (FG|SB) operation.

  1. For installations presenting pre-produced HD 1080p (1920x1080) video less than 60 minutes in length (at 30fps), virtually any Windows machine one can buy today (2022), laptop or desktop, will be more than powerful enough.* It is in situations with large pixel resolutions (e.g., 4K), multiple monitors and potentially multiple application instances, live capture, long content lengths (e.g., terabyte-size, year-long video capture sets), and high speed capture, where choosing the appropriate hardware and OS is critical.
    [* Indeed, for simple installations one can even consider USB "Stick PCs". They are typically "fussier" (OS "peculiarities" - such as difficulty imaging for backup, mechanical ports of lower quality/reliability, needing more external fan cooling, required wired keyboard for BIOS access, etc.). However, they are sufficiently low cost that one can consider purchasing 2-3 for the price of a “normal” PC (which could be from the same or different manufacturers to distribute "risk"), allowing for instant swap-out backup, "shipping" in a simple padded envelope at low cost, etc.
    One option as of this writing is "MeLE PCG02 Fanless Mini PC Stick Windows 11 Pro N4000 4GB/128GB Portable Mini Desktop Computer Business & Home Video Support HDMI 4K 60Hz, BT4.2, 2.4G/5.8G Dual Band Wi-Fi, USB, Ethernet Port " https://www.amazon.com/MeLE-J4125-128G-PCG02-GLE/dp/B09DV5VKYL/ref=sr_1_3 $189.99. We have not tried that particular model/manufacture, but we do have Intel brand units out there (a half dozen or so) that have been functioning reliably for several years. (Intel Compute Stick CS125 Computer with Intel Atom x5 Processor and Windows 10 (BOXSTK1AW32SC). These particular units are currently difficult to source affordably, and may no longer be best option regardless.)
    PS: One USB hub we have tested successfully with Intel unit (not all reliable): "UGREEN USB 3.0 Hub, 4-Port USB Hub with 3ft Extension Cable, High-Speed Portable USB Splitter for MacBook Air, Mac Mini, iMac Pro, Surface Pro, XPS, PC, Flash Drive, Mobile HDD" https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00OQ0CYFE/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_search_asin_title?ie=UTF8&psc=1]


  2. The FrameGlide software has an optional Timing Log that benchmarks essentially all operations of relevance and writes the results to a file. This can be used to assist in assessing a system for bottlenecks.

  3. For live capture systems, we strongly recommend using full size tower systems. Such systems typically run cooler, are easier to maintain, and allow for use of a wider range of hardware — including the typically-needed larger video capture drives. If you are pushing the limits of performance, such full-size systems are a virtual necessity.

  4. The software is a Windows-only application. There do not exist Mac or Unix versions.

  5. Video content such as moving-camera point-of-view flyovers, or stationary-camera footage of a runner in motion, requires faster frame update rates to appear smooth, than (say) timelapse of a flower blooming or building going up. Thus, content, as well as other factors, affects required hardware.

  6. For certain installations, including multiple screen output and/or multi-camera live capture input, concurrent operation across multiple cores is employed and thus the more cores the better. Please contact us for additional detail.

  7. We do not discuss below systems with computation and I/O load distributed across multiple computers. For such ultra-high performance configurations, please contact us.

  8. Each application is unique; we strongly encourage you to contact us and share your planned system specs for review before finalizing the purchase.
    (This of course does not apply if we are the ones supplying the PC.)

CPU

  1. We have in general found Intel and AMD CPUs to be roughly comparable.

  2. www.cpubenchmark.net can be most helpful in comparing options. Note that as long as you have at least a quad-core machine, adding additional cores is unlikely to help — what matters is the single thread benchmark. (This comment applied to a single application running on a single screen — it does not apply to multi-concurrent app instance, multi-screen operation, where more cores will help.)

Memory

  1. Unless you are planning to create a RAM disk for limited-duration high-speed capture temporary storage, 8 Gigs is plenty.*
    (*And when using the little USB Stick PCs with 32 bit OS, even 2 Gig sufficient for small projects.)

Graphics card

  1. These days, the chipset built-in graphics is typically sufficient for up to 1080p. For 4K, it would be prudent to get a separate card — or at least be prepared to do so if testing on built-in graphics gives too slow results. If a separate graphics controller is needed, most mid-range PCIe cards (ideally implementing a fast PCIe standard, as system RAM to graphics card RAM speed* does matter), will likely be fast enough. (High end cards are more costly typically because of their 3D capabilities, which we essentially ignore at this time. This may eventually change with pre-produced content systems due to existence of HAP codec.)
    (* What Are PCIe 4.0 and 5.0? - Intel)

  2. We generally recommend getting nVidia chipset cards because our experience with them has been good. We have occasionally had a bit of trouble with ATI. (The "trouble" we refer to has to do with handing non-standard resolutions and/or monitor spanning; for simple setups, likely almost any chipset is fine. And the problems we encountered were over a decade ago, so may not even be applicable currently...)

OS

  1. Recommend always using 64 bit OS.*
    (* With possible exception of little USB Stick PCs, where if 32 bit, testing one before purchasing a bunch strongly recommended.)

  2. Windows XP, 32/64 bit: Current software may still run on XP, but we do not guarantee it. Furthermore, LogMeIn's (what we use to remotely support client installations) installer no longer supports XP, so...

  3. Vista: Ignoring because so few installations use.

  4. Windows 7, 32/64 bit: Should be in general be fine.*
    (* But do not downgrade from existing 64 bit installation to 32 bit OS without checking with us first, as RAM available to our app may then be insufficient...)

  5. Windows 8: Almost no installations have, so our experience limited. On one machine we tested, at first glance seemed fine.

  6. Windows 10/11 (Win 10 tested both 32 and 64 bit, with much more experience in 64 bit land; Win 11 does not, to the best of our knowledge, even offer a 32 bit version): Fully Supported.


Disk drives

  1. These days, the OS should be on an SSD, not spin drive. (This is both to minimize Windows "bookkeeping" tasks from causing an temporal "stutter" in exhibit operation generally, and to allow both OS and FG|SB app, for pre-produced content systems, to be on the same drive — something that is ill-advised on a spin drive.)
  2. Obviously, the drive (or drives) selected must provide adequate storage for the desired content.

  3. It is often the latency, rather than average bandwidth, that is the most important drive feature. Therefore, do not necessarily assume a RAID setup will perform better than a non-RAID one.*
    (*This comment applies to typical systems. If you are trying to get crazy-high-speed continuous-live-capture-to-disk, then a RAID array may be called for.)
  4. Recent PCIe SSDs are very fast — as much as 6 times as fast as SATA based ones. For pre-produced content systems pushing the limits (4K etc.) they can be of great help. With live capture systems, their greater speed must be weighed against their lower write lifetime than spin disks.


Ports

  1. USB: When USB first came out two+ decades ago, it was static sensitive in the extreme.* This is no longer true, where virtually all recent PCs from Lenovo, Dell, etc. that we have tested provide motherboard USB ports that are sufficiently static-rugged for typical museum installation layouts**.
    [*At the time, devices such as a keyboard, mouse, and/or related button-user-interface keyboard-emulators, would not infrequently disconnect and stop functioning altogether until manual reboot of pc or physical device plug-unplug cycle, if a static discharge was applied to an electrically unconnected metal plate 10” away. Current testing suggests that dramatic improvements have occurred, on both the hardware and firmware/driver (in terms of attempting reconnect automatically) fronts.
    **Trade events on deep shag carpet, when combined with low humidity, can result in visitor/customer sparks to the dial on the order of 1/4" and 10,000 volts. In such cases, additional testing is needed, with the possible requirement of add-on USB cards — and even, in extreme cases, human monitoring and periodic manual reset.
    ]

  2. Gigabit Ethernet: If your installation is employing capture from a GigE camera, the computer should have two network ports, one dedicated to the camera, and the other for remote Internet login support. (And the camera NIC in general should not be a USB-adapter-based one, but rather, either a motherboard port, or PCIe add-on card.)

Expansion slots

  1. PCI Express slots can be useful, and for live capture systems, may be a requirement (depending on the quality of the motherboard NIC, its ability to support Jumbo Frames, etc.).

Manufacturer-specific comments

  1. Lenovo:
    1. Our greatest experience is with Lenovo. Upon request we can provide specific models, in various case form factors, that we have used/tested.

  2. Dell:
    1. We have used less than Lenovo, but when we have used, in recent years (vs. when USB first came out), have been fine. In the recent past, to the best of recollection, Optiplex systems have been used (often supplied by our 3rd party partners).

 

Additional items

  1. UPSes:
    1. Should such be needed for live capture systems, please contact us. (Our experience with APS units is too dated to be worth detailing here. You will need the ability to either call a batch file of ours prior to shutdown, and/or be sure you set delay from initiation of Windows shutdown to actually shutdown.)

  2. For other questions, such as related to backup of live capture system video content, please contact us.