Buffering problem and advice on potential hardware upgrade

I posted a similar topic in the hardware help section but I’m not getting very many responses. I thought I’d try here since this is specifically a Tvheadend problem.

I’m running CoreELEC on a W95 (S905W) box and it works good overall.
It’s a dedicated Tvheadend backend and I don’t use it for anything else. However, I sometimes have buffering problems when watching live TV or recordings. I suspect it is because I’m “overloading” the box with Comskip processing and simultaneous multiple recordings while viewing a recording or live TV. During testing I have observed that the more recordings I’m making the more likely I have buffering problems.

Another problem I have is sometimes the playback will freeze when I’m watching a program while it is being recorded. The skip controls will do weird things (skip backwards when trying to skip forward, etc.) and I will continue to have problems trying to get past that spot. If I watch the recording after it is completed there will be a bad spot in that area but I can easily skip past it. I suspect that I may have had a short signal loss but I’m not sure.

I use a HD Homerun Quatro tuner and have a USB 3.0 hard drive connected directly to the box for the recordings.
I use a Shield TV box and Fire TV 4k stick to watch the live TV/recordings in Kodi.
The Shield TV, W95 CoreELEC box, and HD Homerun Quatro are connected directly to my router’s Gigabit ethernet ports. The Fire TV is WiFi.

I’m thinking of replacing the 100M S905W box with a S905X3 USB 3.0 Gigabit box but I want to make sure I’m doing something that will solve my buffering problems.

Should I expect to be able to be making multiple recordings while watching live TV or a recording while it is in-process without having problems?

The X96 Max Plus (4/32) seems to be good bang for the buck, would it be a good box for my application?

Is there any advantage of 4/32 memory/storage over a 2/16 configuration for my use?

I might spring for the more expensive (~50%) Ugoos X3 Cube (2/16) if there is a significant advantage of it over a “generic” S905X3 box but I’d like to make sure the value is there for my application.

Thanks for any input

I tried to answer this on your other post. For bang for your buck, I would say yes. Whether it would help you, I wouldn’t know.
I have a x96 max+ 4/32. I run CE from sd card with a usb tuner.
I also run Android from the same device, not at the same time.
You could run the plex dvr from Android & use the shield as the plex server, you need the plex pass which you could try for month.
I think plex dvr is more stable nowadays.
Perhaps no one is answering you, because they just don’t know.

The USB 2.0 port on the S905W will be a bottleneck for multiple simultaneous recordings, especially if they are HD.

So a box with a USB 3.0 port is going to help to some degree.

Comskip is a huge resource hog when it comes to post processing of HD recordings and although a more powerful SOC will help, I would not like to say that it would solve your specific problems because if it consumes all the power available then it would still have a potential adverse effect on other functions.

From the little that I have seen about the Odroid HC4, the speed of the disk ports does seem to perform much better than the average USB 3.0 port and might be ideal for a headless TVHeadend server set-up.

More memory is often good but only if the required processes take advantage and are optimised for it and in the case of TVH I do not know and would suggest asking the developer for more information.

Overall you are going to get some improved performance but to what extent may well be a trial and error basis whatever you choose to purchase.

The USB 2.0 port being a bottleneck is starting to make sense. I tried making my NAS (WD MyCloud) the target for my recordings but that was worse. Probably because of the 100M ethernet on the S905W.

Initially I was using my 2017 Shield as both a Tvheadend client and server. It worked pretty good but the author of the Tvheadend server app went MIA so I was concerned about future problems. And, if I needed to reboot the Shield (whether or not I was having problem with Tvheadend) I would interrupt any recordings being made. And there were some comments that using same box as both a Tvheadend client and server is a bad idea so I tried repurposing the S905W box as a dedicated Tvheadend server.

Is anyone out there using a X96 Max Plus as a Tvheadend backend?

You’re going into a lucky dip for electronic parts bin if you go and purchase this branded box.

Our forum is littered with users receiving this branded box with mixed hardware and software,.

Really something like an odroid is your safest bet.

Shoog

Is there a reason to think that a Ugoos X3 Cube wouldn’t be able to handle the job of being a dedicated Tvheadend backend?

In should do but I would consider the odroid hc4 as better.

Shoog

Try the following add these 3 lines to your comskip.ini

play_nice_start=2000 ; 24-hour display (8pm)
play_nice_end=0100 ; 24-hour display (1am)
play_nice_sleep=5 ; less CPU performance or more CPU performance for comskip

Define start and end time and adjust “play_nice_sleep” to your device

Before doing this, test without comskip whether your hardware is able to handle multiple recordings and a live TV stream.
As a tip for timeshift recordings, I use an extra flash memory for this (32Gb USB stick).

@Fuchs2468

Thanks for the input. I currently have play nice lowres set to 10 (automatic). I’ll give your suggestions a try if I continue to have problems.

I decided that the S905 box wasn’t up to the task of being a dedicated Tvheadend server. I went back to using my Shield TV as a Tvheadend client (kodi) and backend. It can record multiple recordings simultaneously while watching live TV without buffering problems. I’m going to take a more pragmatic approach to problems and then decide if a dedicated Tvheadend server can fix them.

I encountered a problem last night where I finished watching a recording (while being recorded) on Kodi (Fire TV stick) and Kodi locked up when I tried to watch live TV. It would be just about the time that Comskip would be running. I rebooted the Fire TV but it was still having problems. I tried a few minutes later and everything was fine. I haven’t determined if it was a Tvheadend client issue or backend issue.

Are you running Comskip on the firestick ?
Comskip should be running on the server. Comskip is very heavy lifting for most ARM chips, I run my server and Comskip on an x86 Atomic-Pi which doesn’t break a sweat. Not powerful enough for post record transcoding though.

Shoog

I’m running Comskip on the Shield TV (it’s integrated with the Tvheadend backend).
The Fire TV is just a Tvheadend client running from Kodi.

Shows that the Shield isn’t really up to the job - which probably means that most ARM boxes will struggle as well. How many cores does the Shield have ?

Core/thread count maybe the critical figure for you which means that an s922x would be in order.

Shoog

It’s an 8 core Tegra X1

Thats surprising then that its folding under the load.

Maybe look into one of the Chinese NUC clones.

Shoog

I don’t know whether Comskip is causing problems or it is something else. That is what I’m trying to figure out.

I guess my next step will be to look at the Shield CPU load when I’m having problems.

Seems a good strategy. Try disabling Comskip and seeing if it goes away.
The most I would ever have running are two recordings plus one live stream or two Comskips at any given time so maybe our use cases are not comparable.

Shoog

Thinking about this it seems unlikely that its a CPU issue since the Nvidia has 8 cores. This means its probably a Network or USB bottleneck. Bare in mind that the Comskip is placing load on an already stretched USB hub since it is disk reading and grabbing as much bandwidth as it can get.
If its a Network issue then running LAN to all clients is the best solution.Whenever I have tried using WIFI for clients they have performed poorly when streaming anything but SD. It is my experience that neither the LAN or USB ports on these ARM based boxes ever reaches the theoretical maximum for the standard.

Just some thoughts.

If I were in your position I would definately be thinking about getting the Odroid HC2 which should solve any issues with data throughput bottlenecks, unless its a network failure in your home.

Shoog

Just to be clear, I don’t have the same buffering issues when I use the Shield TV as the Tvheadend client/server. Everything is connected by Ethernet with the exception of the Fire TV stick 4K which doesn’t have a Ethernet port. I know I can buy an adapter but the Fire TV is close to my router with excellent signal strength and is connected to my 1080p bedroom TV so I don’t think that is a problem.

My main concern with using the Shield TV as my Tvheadend backend is the guy that ported the Tvheadend app to the Shield TV is MIA. I always cringe when there is a Shield TV update that might break the app. The other problem I have is sometimes (rarely) the Tvheadend app would lock up and require rebooting. And if I needed to reboot the Shield TV I would loose any recordings in progress. There are some minor issues but those are the big ones. I now need to get to the bottom of the glitches.

I had heard that CoreELEC/Tvheadend doesn’t require computing power and it is better to have a separate client and server setup so that is why I tried repurposing the S905W box as a Tvheadend server. In retrospect it looks like that wasn’t a good idea. While may be true that CoreELEC/Tvheadend doesn’t require much computing power I’ve now out found that Comskip does and I need fast USB & Ethernet ports to perform multiple recordings simultaneously. That is why I went back to the Shield TV as a client/server setup.

I live in an area of fringe TV signal reception. Most of the time I have good signal strength and SNR but during temperature inversions I can watch the SNR drop like a rock and then become good again a minute later. I suspect it is due to multipath problems. I think some of my problems can be attributed to Kodi/Tvheadend not being able to gracefully recover from a loss in signal. My concern could be that I invest in another box and have the same problems.

So that is why I’m saying I want to get to the bottom of the problems I’m having before I invest in another box.

Everything points to LAN port USB port overloading, the best solution is to get off the Shield for the reasons you discussed and the best cheap box available will be the Odroid HC2. This is because it has a pci to SATA bridge which has much more bandwidth than USB HUB, and it doesn’t share that bandwidth with the LAN port.

Unfortunately random lock ups seem to be a fact of life with TVHeadend whatever hardware it runs on.

Shoog

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