Is there any point to x86 LibreElec builds anymore?

  • Controversial topic maybe?


    I have been using Kodi in one way or another for several years. First my own builds on top of Ubuntu, later OpenElec, and then migrated to LibreElec.


    For all that time I have use x86 hardware. First on my desktop, but later in purpose built HTPC's


    First dedicated was using on board graphics. First one was an AMD A10-7850k. Most things worked, but for whatever reason, when cable signal quality was weak, the on board GPU would crash the MythTV plugin at the time, so I moved on.


    Next I tried a Intel Haswell era Celeron G1820. Again, back in 2014 the MythTV plugin kept crashing with the Intel On Board graphics as well. Then I tried adding a cheap Nvidia GeForce 720 GT, and everything worked beautifully. I built three boxes with this configuration, main one in the livingroom, one for the bedroom and one for the guest room.


    Then Nvidia discontinued VDPAU. In order to get newer H.265 decodes, I needed to move away from Nvidia. I tried dropping all the G1820's back down to integrated graphics last year. It turns out in the 5 years since I first tested, integrated graphics now works fine with the MythTV plugin. One of the motherboards didn't have an HDMI port, so for shits and giggles last year I took advantage of a MicroCenter combo deal and got a motherboard and a completely overkill Coffee Lake i5-9400 for my main home theater HTPC. I was shooting for something lower end, but all the small CPU's were sold out at the time. It has been pretty good, but I have had the early adopter penalty from a hardware compatibility perspective, with occasional passed through sound channels getting mixed up (center channel going to rear right, etc.) requiring reboots. Shame on me for forgetting that Linux rarely works right with new hardware :p


    Anyway, this was just a long and roundabout way of getting to the point that I like x86 hardware. I've enjoyed building systems, but I am starting to wonder if it makes sense anymore, or of it really has made sense at all in the last 5 years.


    Is there anything I would be giving up (display quality, sound quality, playback capabilities, etc.) by going with - say - a Raspberry Pi 4 or some other cheap ARM-based media box compared to my x86 boxes? Maybe the next time I am forced to upgrade hardware (probably due to H.266/VVC encoding) maybe I should just give up on all this stuff, and transition to ARM?


    Appreciate any thoughts.

  • Most of the team still regard x86_64 as the "true" Kodi experience and is still the best for GUI (due to raw CPU performance) and will be the first to properly crack HDR support. That said, ARM devices are now approx 85% of our userbase (75% is RPi of some kind) and whlie ARM means there is usually some kind of compomise somewhere, they're increasingly capable devices.

  • Most of the team still regard x86_64 as the "true" Kodi experience and is still the best for GUI (due to raw CPU performance) and will be the first to properly crack HDR support. That said, ARM devices are now approx 85% of our userbase (75% is RPi of some kind) and whlie ARM means there is usually some kind of compomise somewhere, they're increasingly capable devices.


    Good to know my investments in hardware are not completely wasted :p


    I get frustrated though. An x86 CPU/Motherboard/RAM setup lasts for many years these days. For HTPC use what drives upgrades more than anything else is compatibility for hardware accelerated decode. You used to be able to just do this by buying a cheap low end video card of the latest generation, but low end video cards are more and more rare (the GeForce GT720 was really the last good one).


    Neither AMD nor Nvidia make true low end GPU's anymore, and Nvidia's GPU's are pointless for this purpose due to the end of VDPAU and the lack of NVDec support.


    (And yes, I understand that is Nvidia's fault for pushing their stupid way of doing things, not the Kodi or LibreElec projects, but still, annoying)


    So what that means is that those of us on x86 are going to have to buy new motherboards and CPU's every few years when a new codec comes out, which is a shame.


    Maybe I'll transition the bedrooms to ARM when they next need an upgrade, but keep my main HTPC up to date on x86. That's really the only place I care about the flagship experience.

  • So what that means is that those of us on x86 are going to have to buy new motherboards and CPU's every few years when a new codec comes out, which is a shame.

    Well it is the Same Situation on all plattforms. And it ever was that way...


    How could a Vendor Support HW decoding for a Codec which wasn't developed or arrived in the mainstream?


    New Codec new Hardware...

    because you want HW decoding on a Low Power Hardware instead of having a Quad core running at full Speed with 100w+, Heat and noise, for doing the Same decoding in Software ;)



    X86 Hardware decoding...(for Windows)

    q1900 full HD h264

    n3700 4k 30hz No HDR No vp9

    j3455 4k HDR 30hz vp9

    j4105 4k HDR 60hz etc...


    Rpi... The rpi3b is also Not able to do h265 decoding in Hardware (maybe 720p+ h265 in Software) so you have to buy the Rpi4 for 4k or a Vero 4k or a Nvidia shield pro or....

    It depends on what you want/need.


    Regards

    Nicolas

    Edited once, last by Nicolas ().

  • x86 fan here... Stlil running Braswell N3060 for the main living room TV, and before that Atom D525 / ION2. For the next upgrade I am only sitting on the fence for waiting for H265 / 4K HDR (no rush for H266 yet, obviously). Maybe J4115 next time round, but I am happy to wait in the meantime.

  • Using/testing a J5005 m-itx board here with Ubuntu+Kodi, or LibreELEC. You can tell during the more demanding tasks it's only a low-power Pentium machine, but video-wise it should have enough potential. The whole box uses 8-9 Watts when idling, and up to 20 Watts during complex video stuff. If it wasn't for HEVC, I'd still be using a 8-yr old Celeron 1037. ;)


    BTW, Intel will be moving the J40xx/41xx and J50xx to EOL per coming October.

  • BTW, Intel will be moving the J40xx/41xx and J50xx to EOL per coming October.

    I saw that too - but then I saw that they have a "refresh" range launched late last year...

    Products formerly Gemini Lake Refresh

    And some of those parts are starting to be used in newer products (Odroid H2+, for example) so I wonder whether they may be an option going forwards, unless Intel are pulling the plug on those as well? I may just go for the Asrock board that you have while there's one or two still around.

    Edited once, last by S80_UK ().

  • I am a x86 fan. Started with a Celeron 1610 and Nvidia GT 610. That was great. Next Haswell NUC was great too. Now i3-8100 and it does it all in the most stable way except 4k with HDR.


    For me x86 is not dead, it is working great except HDR (for now) and i will buy most likely a new x86 Board and CPU and put in in my Streacom FC8 Evo.

    I was tempted more then one time to buy something for Intel HDR, but it is not yet ready and far from be stable to use.

    I will not buy a new Intel before native HDMI 2.1 4k HDR 60 Hz is working and that is for sure not this year, becaues Hardware for that is not yet build. LSPCon are the worst.



    I use Kodi every day instead of TV and i just want to use it stable

    2 main Kodi player at the moment.

    i3-8100

    - most stable

    - the least problems

    - can use full software deinterlace yadif

    - really fast interface

    - really fast start playing also Streaming like amazon prime

    - HBR audio does simply work

    Vero 4k+, because i wanted 4k HDR now with HBR Audio (IIRC 18 month ago)

    - plays HDR with 4k and passthrough just fine

    - interface is a bit slow, when use x86 all the time


    and for testing

    RPi4 to see if it can beat the Vero 4k+

    - it is getting there, but probably not this year (talking about stable and good for the wife with 4k HDR PT)

    - today i tested successfully HBR Audio with the latest patches from HiassofT

    - but that is with devel Kodi 19 and at the moment without 4k and no HDR (it will come)

    RPi2

    - reference for the other 2 rooms where are RPi2 running

    - interface is slow, but fast enough

    - play H264 1080p fine if you dont need/want HBR audio

    Meecool K1 Pro to play around with AML

    - mostly off, because i wait that mainline kernel will do with full HBR audio

  • Personally I don't see a point in x86 for a Kodi client anymore. I migrated from an Asrock J4205 to a RPi 3 a year ago and more towards a client/server setup. I turned the J4205 into a NAS (OMV) running Tvheadend and everything else while the RPi "just" does the streaming to the TV through Kodi. Currently waiting for the drivers for the RPi 4 to get more mature to replace the RPi 3 with the 4.

  • I think the first time I saw Kodi running on an Amlogic S905 I knew the writing was on the wall for x86 HTPC's, sure x86 is still faster but the UI is not 'that' much smoother, not enough to justify the extra power consumption and sheer size an x86 platform inevitably brings.


    Also lack of built-in CEC for a lot of x86 systems doesn't help, and while HDR is on the way, it's not here right now like it is with ARM and that's simply why a lot of folks have migrated to you know where.

  • Personally I don't see a point in x86 for a Kodi client anymore.

    If you need an all in one solution, tvheadend with multiple Tuners, without the need of running a dedicated Server x86 with PCI Tuners is very nice. Or if you want/need another TVH client let's say an rpi a Tablet or Just a Notebook the x86 is more flexible can be upgraded and has more Power for being a TV Server.


    In the past deinterlacing of Most SBC's was(is) Not as good as it is on x86.

    Edit: and Overall Image quality with KODi.


    I Love the fact LE is running on different plattforms so you can choose which is the best solution for your Situation/needs.


    Regards

    Nicolas

    Edited once, last by Nicolas: Forgot to mention Image quality ().