It seams no matter how fast things get in this zany PC computing world, they just aren’t fast enough! As soon as you get one bottleneck eliminated another one pops up.  Such has been my life the last few days.

Some back story – if you are a regular reader, you know I have been working with Vista Media Center as a potential solution for my trusty Direct TV Tivo.  Ironically while working to replace my old Hughes DVR2, I picked up a second one and quickly hacked it up to 100+ hours of recording; I know, I must really have some issues, but I digress. At any rate, my efforts thus far to supplant the Tivo with a new HiDef capable device have lead me down a very rocky path.

As I blaze a trail to this promise land of HD goodness, I’m reminded yet again of the woeful inadequacies of PC architectures.  See to enjoy that glorious 1080p image I need to move lots of data to the flat screen; and standing in the way between those digital bits and a CSI autopsy so clear that you have to wince, is a cadre of cruel components.

While most of these are pretty easy to remedy – More RAM, Faster CPU, etc – one remains for me to beat my head against: I/O. See for successful 1080 playback you are looking at some serious data transfer, and whether it’s streaming form the local Hard Drive or across the net, it’s proving to be a serious challenge. Alas, I/O performance has set itself up like a massively walled city, constricting the poor plebs passage to and fro through a small constricted city gate.

But since I’m not content to take the simple route, slap a blistering RAID 0 in the local Media Center – heck, where’s the fun in that – I’m presently scratching my noggin whilst endeavoring to move this HD content over the network from my home server. Attempting to move this data via WiFi, would be ridiculous!  This makes me wonder what so many device manufactures are thinking about, integrating wireless into solutions like the Apple TV or the SMC SMCWMR-AG, to cite a couple.

Presently I’ve hardwired the Media Center box on a 100Mbit switched port to my Gigabit connected file server, and am still experiencing stuttering with 1080 content.  Seams I can play 720 with reasonable success, but the added burden of 1080 is just too much. And considering the MC platform is running on a Pentium D 2.8 with an Nvidia PCIe 7300 card, it’s hard to imagine that it does not have the processor power to decode and play the images.

Further testing in this matter is required. But while I do that, check out a great source of Vista MCE info I have found  The Green Button. Nice forums with a strong hacking community, if you are working on a Media Center implementation I highly recommend them.