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New guy with questions


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My budget emby server consists of:

dual E5-2680 xeons

128 gigs of 1600 ECC ram

8 gig RX580

HP EX950 NVME (boot drive)

Rosewill 4u server chassis

Storage currently is one 12TB 7200 RPM drive (with room for 7 More)


My media collection predates high definition so its a mixture of all common resolutions (DVD,

720p and 1080p)  I don't have any plans for 4k outside the home.


(1) Does hardware transcoding happen on the GPU or the CPU?

(2) If I have a choice, which is better?

(3) What is software transcoding?

(4) If I have a choice, which is better software or hardware?

(5) Is a second SSD for caching a good idea?


Thanks in advance

The new guy


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1) It can happen with either. For example, a GPU that supports NVENC/DEC (nvidia), or an intel CPU that supports Intel QuickSync, or an AMD card


2) That's depends on what each one has to offer. Nvidia has a lock of 2 max streams on consumer cards (GTX), but can be removed with a driver patch. If your CPU already supports QuickSync (a google search can confirm that), I'd go with that first and see how it runs. If it can't keep up, look at getting a dedicated GPU for hardware transcoding


3) "Software transcoding" is transcoding that, like any other software, runs on your CPU. People say that software transcoding can produce better video quality than hardware transcoding, but personally, I find you can't even tell a difference unless you put two software and hardware transcoded streams next to each other


4) Depends on what you need; If you want to be able to get more concurrent streams, you want your transcoded streams to start up quicker and scrub through the video quicker, go with hardware transcoding. If you want something that'll be slower, be able to handle less streams, don't want to pay for Emby Premiere (required for hardware transcoding), and potentially produce "better quality", then go with software


5) I use a second SSD for caching just because I have one in my system, but your boot drive should be sufficient


As time goes by, harder transcoding is getting better and better, with the picture quality of a stream from an RTX card looking better than that of a GTX card, so hardware transcoding can be dependent on the age of your card 

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EDIT: Looks like someone posted before I did. :)


Hardware transcoding happens on "hardware" meaning a hardware based GPU.  If transcoding happens on the CPU it's software based.  Emby can use both CPU and GPU and you can control how this works in the admin console!


If you have GPU then for most people this is better as it puts little hurting on the CPU so the computer runs cooler, uses less electricity and you don't need as powerful a CPU.  This also means the CPU can be doing other things while the GPU handles the "grunt work".


GPU is part of the Graphical Processing Unit.   This could be built by the manufacture as part of the CPU itself (so it's both a cpu/gpu unit) as Intel does (Quicksync) on many of it's processors or the GPU could be part of a video card.  Some consumer video cards like nVidia only allow 2 simultaneous transcodes on the GPU.  One of my older servers running in the basement has no built in GPU but I added an nVidia TI750 (old outdated card) which works great for transcoding if needed but limits me to 2 transcodes.  For my family this is fine as most of my content will direct play but if I'm out and want to watch some live tv or something on my cell phone I can have it transcode to stream faster or deal with crappy cell service or shared wifi, etc...


In my opinion a small cheap SSD is perfect for using with Emby.  Set your transcode and other "temp" files to use this drive.  I use what I considered a "throw away" drive of 250 GB that was $50 or less and I figured I'd beet it hard and just replace it once a year and save wear and tear on my expensive drives. 2.5 years later it's still going but if it dies I'll replace it and put the workload again on another cheap/fast drive.  I have other high end 1 TB SD drives that get used as well but not for the transcoding, TV recording, conversions...  So my vote is heck yea, add a cheap one of about 250 GB or so and make it a work horse utility drive.


Let us know if you still have other questions or if I didn't fully answer you in any way or I open new questions. :)



Edited by cayars
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Well I do happen to have a spare 500 gig SSD that isn't doing anything. I toss it in and give it a go. For now I'm running the free version of Emby so I'm playing the software game for the time being. I may try the premier service soon but not until I get my feet wet. Heck it took me an hour to figure out port forwarding (LOL).

Thanks for quick reply.  I'm sure I'll have more question as I dig deeper.

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Port forwarding is probably one of the hardest things to setup, so if you got that done, you're in great shape.


Definitely use the SSD if you have it available.  It can greatly speed things up.


Once you get everything working the way you want, do yourself a favor and get a month Premiere membership and try all the different features available to you that you can test.  That's a great way to try things out and if you don't need it then you only spent a few bucks which helps support the product. :)


My favorite feature isn't even a server feature per say but the ability to unlock all the clients and use them at will.

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