What are the upper limits of library capacity tv can handle over streamed connection

Discussion in 'Apple TV and Home Theater' started by rotarypower101, May 12, 2009.

  1. rotarypower101 macrumors regular

    rotarypower101

    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2007
    Location:
    Portland Oregon
    #1
    I know the logical answer is “there is none” (under the guise that not many people could have that much media) but we have been having problems streaming to both apple TVs and the macmini lately, and I often wonder if it is due to the amount of content it is trying to manage. And I don’t mean individual file sizes nor physical size of the total files contained there in; I mean the amount of unique files. (or at least that’s what my hypothesis has lead me to wonder about)
    Our one computer manages multiple library’s (10 frequent users and 2 infrequent users, so a total of 12 users media library’s reside on a single machine) so the amount of content has steadily increased to almost unmanageable proportions in a single iTunes account, and are simply streamed to each users computer.

    All devices and software are current as of this writing, symptoms appear roughly equally and very similarly on both wired and wireless devices. All devices only running apple sanctioned software. And have been rebooted and restored adnosium to no avail.
    I have centralized all media on a 2.8 octo macpro, so as to limit the “media format not recognized” errors. (these used to plague me as well but once all media was centralized, on one single device running iTunes, I have not seen this issue rear its nasty head even once! Yay!)
    The symptoms that we commonly plague us are the menus are god awful slow, and sometimes start working only to bounce back to the last selection that was made when going between series, only to stall out again, and then finally work. This commonly takes up to 5 minutes, and in rare cases much longer. Overall the interface seems to just drag its feet for just normal tasks.

    One of the new symptoms that has started lately on our wired TV (and is rather annoying), is that when a selection is made, the show starts without displaying any video or sound, then after almost exactly 2 minutes (there is a small window of variance, but I would say 2 minutes is a solid average), the show starts to run normally, but this causes the user to often miss the opening scenes, and or opening credits. (sometimes this is the best part of the show, and often sets the tone for the episode, ie The Office)
    On our wireless TV (believe me I would wire it if I could) which maintains a healthy 4/5 bars (but does bounce up to 5 occasionally) because of the distance of the device, running on a AEBS wireless N connection, was running almost identical in overall performance. But recently has taken on a whole new issue where about ten minutes into a selection just freezes up for no apparent reason even though the connection is constant, and nothing on the network has changed as well as the host computer has not been touched. This started roughly after the last AEBS update.

    As for the device completely crashing out and actually rebooting, I do get this once in a while but not very often, and is usually due to a bad file from my experience.


    Anyone else have these issues and think it could be caused predominantly because of the size of the library?

    I really do not remember all these problems before revision 2.x (though it has been a bumpy ride since 1.x) but things really have not been getting better with the Apple TV, and I wonder if maybe its time to move on as much as I would hate to leave this little diamond in the rough.

    My biggest concern is I don’t think I could find anything better short of a HTPC, and even front row on a mini really is cumbersome in comparison to the TV. (we use it on a 1.83 mini, but it just is not as nice as the TV menus and navigation refinements)

    Anyone experiencing these issues and can propose any sort of advice we have not heard here before?

    I really think the network we run is as optimal as it can get, particularly the wired device which I can honestly say I cant think of a better scenario for connectivity. MacPro>AEBS(gigabit)>TV where is the weak link?

    Anyone with inordinately large library’s (unique number of files) that can make any points, or at least sympathize?
     
  2. eddyg macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Sep 5, 2003
    Location:
    Christchurch, New Zealand
    #2
    My setup is identical to yours, two Atvs, one wired, one wireless over n, mac pro as server. Also a smattering of pcs and macs connected.

    I don't have the issues you describe, and I thought I had a fairly large number of items, I can't check right now. - on iPod touch in bed :)

    How many items do you have?

    Sounds like the media needs to me partioned - I have no solution for that other than different machines with their own iTunes.

    Cheers Ed
     
  3. rotarypower101 thread starter macrumors regular

    rotarypower101

    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2007
    Location:
    Portland Oregon
    #3
    all devices included that normally stream count in at 12

    3 iphone
    1 blackbook
    1 air
    2 dell laptops
    2 TV > occasionally 3
    1 macmini
    2 desktops
    and a handfull of ipods as you can well imagine

    see thats the thing, all devices other than the TV seem to stream great, its the achilles heal of our network. which really sucks because they are the items most used for sitting down as a family for entertainment.

    and when it does its little hissy fit thing it is a bit infuriating, and takes away from the enjoyable experience.

    let alone the embarrassment and apologetic behavior i have when it pulls its little stunts, as i am the one who introduced the device touting its merits.
     
  4. eddyg macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Sep 5, 2003
    Location:
    Christchurch, New Zealand
    #4
    Actually I meant how many items in the library.

    Mine is at 456 TV shows, 575 Movies, 9432 Music, and syncing a few thousand photos.

    No issues with streaming or syncing with that number. A dare say that you have significantly more in your library which is making the ATVs unstable.

    Cheers, Ed.
     
  5. DoFoT9 macrumors P6

    DoFoT9

    Joined:
    Jun 11, 2007
    Location:
    Singapore
    #5
    how about you give us some REAL numbers instead? when the :apple:TVs take 2 minutes to start playing properly - what is the I/O rate of the MP in Activity Monitor? if you pause the video for 10seconds to let it stream for a bit does it catch up? are the HDs of the MP nearly full? could you most be maxing out the AEBS connection?

    we need numbers!
     
  6. eddyg macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Sep 5, 2003
    Location:
    Christchurch, New Zealand
    #6
    When I sync I get ~95Mbps to my ATV over wired (i.e. saturating a switched 100Mbps link) and about 56Mbps to the wireless one over N (probably limited to 56Mbps by the WDS).

    No issues with HD rates which are eSATA - no issues with memory or swapping.

    I don't think the issue is on the Mac Pro side of things for him, I reckon the ATV is reaching a scalability limit on number of elements in its DB - hard to be sure without hard numbers - as you say.

    I get zero streaming issues to my ATVs now - used to have issues over wireless - hence going wired on the furthermost ATV. No show start almost immediately.

    Cheers, Ed.
     
  7. Nimiety macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2006
    #7
    As far as library size, I have 1557 tv shows, 321 movies and 5498 songs.

    I did notice erratic behavior on the apple tvs I have when I used up all the storage space - I began leaving a few gigs of space free and unsynced (which meant managing closely what got synced over), and since then, the problems disappeared.

    More specifically, I noticed audio problems, stuttering, and occasional files that couldn't be found. Since I began leaving, say, 10% free, I haven't seen that same behavior crop up. It would appear that the extra space may be used to help cache streamed content (?) but regardless, I have been able to "let go" of the dvd player.

    I'm not 100% sure if that matches what you are seeing, but maybe it will help.

    N...
     
  8. rotarypower101 thread starter macrumors regular

    rotarypower101

    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2007
    Location:
    Portland Oregon
    #8
    From my observations for the wired device, we get a very consistent 11 MB/s for a 1.1 GB file that took 1:47 to completely sync once iTunes finally does all the TV talking at the beginning.

    This “communication” is the bulk of the sync time with a very erratic 60kB/s to 3MB/s data rate, at a time of 5:06 before iTunes even begins sending data.

    So 5:06 for the initial talking to iTunes 1:47 for the actual file to be written to TV total of 6:53 to do a 1.1GB file.

    But from my assumptions, this should be an optimal running machine, but slow menus and lag persist. i dont want to make the statment that it is always like this, because it is not, but i notice it alot, and i just dont understand what i could be doing better to make this device function properly.




    The wireless device seams to be on a much more restricted bandwidth diet, but even at its lower end still maintains a bandwidth that is exceeding even our highest bandwidth encodes. the wireless device also sees a very erratic “communication” data transfer rate but over 2 runs was edging out the wired device, at a rate of 150 kB/s to 3MB/s at a time of 6:00 flat.

    The transferring of the 1.1GB file was much slower than the wired device, again with an erratic bandwidth behavior between 500 kB/s to 3MB/s with a time of 25:27 which works out to an average bandwidth of 750 kB/s as a steady rate over that duration of time. One of our large files is running at a data rate of 3616 kbits/s from the quicktime inspector. 4000 kbits = 500 KB/s so on average even for our most robust files, hypothetically the wireless device has a overhead of half again as much bandwidth as it requires to operate properly running one of largest files.

    And i know this is reality, so there are more variables to consider than just raw bandwidth numbers, but the idea is sound right?

    I can make a concession on the wireless here, i know the device is not running at its full capacity, and that better conditions can exist, though the bandwidth numbers should be sufficient.



    For the wired machine, i keep it completely empty except for the obligatory “Other” data

    For the wireless machine, i do keep it almost topped off as there seems to be more issues with it dropping off the network, so i insist that it has media local on the machine as to not render it completely useless for the less technology minded users if/when it drops off the network.


    I personally have not noticed a marked change in the TVs ability to buffer media between these 2 machines one with low bandwidth and a full HD (wireless), and one with full bandwidth, and empty HD (wired).
    I have seen the TV load an entire episode of a TV show ~100 MB completely on the progress bar only to see it reload the same data when a skip or chapter marker was selected


    Is there a free program out there that will allow a user to log bandwidth to a particular device on the network, so as to get a closer approximation of the averages and detailed info of spikes and anomalies?

    Screen grabs of Disk Activity and Network Activity of the wired device syncing a 1.1 GB file

    [​IMG]


    [​IMG]
     
  9. DoFoT9 macrumors P6

    DoFoT9

    Joined:
    Jun 11, 2007
    Location:
    Singapore
    #9
    just read your latest reply, this is quite a sticky situation. the 'responsiveness' (if you could even call it that) of the :apple:TVs is pathetic to be honest. how it takes 20minutes to transfer a 1GB file over wireless (to verify - its 802.11n isnt it?) is hopeless. even over wired its pathetic.

    i can only think of a few possible causes, they most likely arent the answer to the problem though. in the Airport Utility you can check all the clients connected to it, and their noise levels, link speed etc. things to check here are - that there isnt too much noise on each device.
    - that the link speed of each device is acceptable.

    i remember that on some older wireless routers/hubs etc the wireless speed was shared. if you had 5 devices on a 802.11g (54mbps) router (for example) then each device would be 54mbps/5 = 10.8mbps maximum throughput.. i am not certain if this is the case for 802.11n routers though.

    another problem could be interference. do you have any 5.8GHz wireless phones (nextdoor neighbours maybe?), is there some sort of light/microwave/oven near the router? that COULD explain the overhead because there are many more errors coming through.

    the above mentioned could also prove a fault for wired devices - they can have interference too.

    not being at your house and unable to look at all devices is quite hard, so my advice is only suggestions haha. could there be a device on the network that is using up a big chunk of bandwidth or something of the sort?

    are ALL files streamed or copied onto the :apple:TVs? or are the majority held on the MacPro? i dont see CPU usage being a problem, nor data/network I/O.

    ill keep thinking of some possible causes and/or solutions.. good luck with it !
     
  10. rotarypower101 thread starter macrumors regular

    rotarypower101

    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2007
    Location:
    Portland Oregon
    #10
    496 TV Shows
    715 Movies
    9751 Music
    and more photos than you can shake a stick at




    it appears you are a perfect candidate to make an almost direct comparison, the only difference might be the amount of simultaneous streaming

    When you say “No issues with streaming or syncing” do you mean absolutely no problems with it what so ever, or just not enough to worry about or aggravate the user.

    I would love to hear about your network setup as in components and cabling, approximate lengths of cabling and spec used.

    did you ever at one time have any issues and since resolved them, or has it been smooth sailing since the beginning?

    how long have you had these devices in use and the amount of usage would be great to know if it is not to much of a shakedown for you.

    any other details you would be willing to share that you believe would be pertinent to the success of you network working with the TVs?




    Audio problems, could you elaborate?

    Stuttering, not really, we dont get studdering persay though i have seen it, its just never been consistant or caused any persistant issues at all.

    Occasional files that couldn't be found, as stated above i really have had zero problems with this (unless it was due to an action or change i have made) locating all media on the local machine running iTunes (if possible, i know this is not always possible)and this will be one of the best moves you will make if this problem persists.

    As stated above we have a lot of users on one machine, and just partition users off by using playlists.

    I know i know almost all old shows, but this is originally what the TV was intended for, for us, but has since evolved into our go to TV entertainment preference for current media. Originally, it was just to reduce the amount of dvd series box sets for all the old shows that used to exist, as they were not regularly found on TV so they were out and getting scratched up and strewn out everywhere , in wrong boxes, disks would come up missing, and some of those duel sided disks are very frail and tend to crack around the inside race and proliferate, which old box sets seem to heavily rely on.

    [​IMG]
     
  11. rotarypower101 thread starter macrumors regular

    rotarypower101

    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2007
    Location:
    Portland Oregon
    #11

    yes AEBS model number A1143, which I am certain is a N model, thinking about going with the duel band just to stop any problems we could be having with the iPhones dropping the network down to G (now that it is the only G device in the  universe lets hope the new phone has this)

    All files are streamed from the mac pro on native bay drives (so as fast as it is going to get under regular consumer hardware)(sans the series Gilligan’s island which resided on the wireless TV HD as a backup media source if the wireless craps out)
     
  12. Shuttleworth macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Dec 23, 2008
    Location:
    UK
    #12
    You only need an additional AirPort Express to get dual band, you don't have to buy a new AEBS.
    Set the AEBS to 5GHz on N and attach an AirPort Express to it with ethernet, and set it to use G. Your :apple:TV (and everyhing else that can do N) will be able to connect to the N broadcast and just your phones on G, the phones won't drop the speed of the whole network to G like it does on an N with G compatibility.

    http://tntluoma.com/apple/notes-on-a-dual-mode-airport-extreme-network/
     
  13. rotarypower101 thread starter macrumors regular

    rotarypower101

    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2007
    Location:
    Portland Oregon
    #13
    WOW,great post,that almost needs it's own thread here, as I am sure there are many that are blindly degrading their networks because of this detail.

    Now if I just hadn't sold my little AEBS space ship on eBay for pennys on the dollar :rolleyes: i would have been all set.

    To be honest we tryed to set them up in bridge mode but had issues that were never able to be resolved.

    Can you answer this fit me though, will the remote app still work through a network setup ad detailed?

    I have plugged the ATV directly into the Macpro be sharing the Ethernet connection through it's second port, but no luck with the remote app.
     
  14. rotarypower101 thread starter macrumors regular

    rotarypower101

    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2007
    Location:
    Portland Oregon
    #14
    Sorry you know how that predictive text works somtimes :rolleyes:

    Fit=for
    Ad=as

     
  15. eddyg macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Sep 5, 2003
    Location:
    Christchurch, New Zealand
    #15
    Looks that way.

    There are always "little" issues. Like the ATVs dissapearing from iTunes now and then. Restarting iTunes fixes that - annoying when it happens though.

    Also - rewind is godawful - improved by not using B-frames when encoding, but still not great. Fast forward is OK now.

    Still get issues sometimes when I pause, and then try to play - and nothing happens for 10 seconds, so press play again - and then it finally catches up and starts playing to pause again due to the extra press - frustrating.

    I have an Airport Extreme 100Mbps Ethernet to 802.11N n/g/b on 2.4Ghz running to one ATV, and using WDS through an Airport Express 802.11g for extending the network to the back of the house. One ATV is on that but only 8m from the base station so syncs at 120Mbps gets 56Mbps throughput on testing due to WDS.

    1000Mpbs ethernet from Mac Pro to 100Mbps switch then cat6 20m to the other ATV - get great speeds to it at almost line speed - protocol overhead.

    I used to have awful stutturing and pausing issues on the remote ATV until I went wired - now it is great except for my comments earlier.

    A couple of years now - and the wired ATV is in constant use, the wireless one not too much use.

    No parallel use to be honest.

    Cheers, Ed.
     
  16. Shuttleworth macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Dec 23, 2008
    Location:
    UK
    #16
    Our iPod touch's connect to the network using the 2.4 G part of our wireless network, and the remote app works very well both for AirTunes and :apple:TV. (the wife asked if the iPod needed to be pointing at the :apple:TV to control it, then realised what she'd said:D)

    Pity you got rid of the old AEBS, you should be able to get a newer one on eBay cheap though;)
     
  17. rotarypower101 thread starter macrumors regular

    rotarypower101

    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2007
    Location:
    Portland Oregon
    #17
    :)

    Those moments are priceless(brought a smile to my face as I get that kind of question all the time and can relate to the exact infection and tone that was used )….though I hope that’s not us as we age and the younger generation introduces their new fangled doo-dads.
     
  18. Shuttleworth macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Dec 23, 2008
    Location:
    UK
    #18
    I agree but I fear it is inevitable ;)
     
  19. DoFoT9 macrumors P6

    DoFoT9

    Joined:
    Jun 11, 2007
    Location:
    Singapore
    #19
    beause you said "doo-dad" that means you are already out of the loop. sorry.
     

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