Roon Server on an ARM based "faster alternative" to RPi?

Thanks Steve! I was a bit worried that maybe it would be interpreted as being dismissive of your fair question to Support.

They are the experts and I’m sure they will answer in due course but I’m not sure even Brian (the CTO) can predict a date for when an ARM based Pi-like device can give the performance of your excellent NUC7i5BNH.

Unless he has friends in the industry and they’ve shared with him, something like a 5 year lookahead for where things are headed. Then maybe he can guesstimate a date but it’d be a guess. Who knows what Roon will require 5 years from now. Our Roon Cores/Servers might all be in the Cloud by then!

I’m sure we’ll get there but predicting a date might be the tough part.

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Is Mono available for ARM CPUs? Without that, it’s a non-starter for Roon on ARM.

Supporting multiple CPU architectures also has a cost in terms of support and developer resources. It’s a bit chicken-and-egg, but without a substantial number of ARM-based Roon Core users, that cost probably isn’t warranted… I’d rather they be working on new features than supporting an alternate CPU architecture, personally.

Roon’s position on tinkering is this: go for it, but don’t expect support. :grin:

My (good) guess is that they have already specced out minimum requirements for a Core vehicle, and they probably won’t look at this again until there is a significant performance or cost shift.

And my (even better) guess is that, should they walk down your chosen alley, they will not pre-announce or give deadlines.

My purpose here is only to give you a heads up on this. No judgement or ill wishes implied. Peace.

Running Roon Core well requires more than CPU power: RAM and I/O are equally important, and those are the areas in which most single board computers (SBCs) fall down. I own a Tinkerboard; it makes a great Roon Bridge (I’m running DietPi), but I wouldn’t want to run Core on it…

We have no concrete plans to do this. I suspect that there will be a good reason to one day, but we/the world are not there.

Having a bunch of people trying to run Roon on inadequate ARM platforms (this would happen immediately if we released an ARM core for hobbyist oriented boards) would push the product in a direction of economization/reduced ambition/reduced functionality that we do not like.

From a business standpoint supporting tinkerer-oriented ARM devices for the Core doesn’t appear to help us much. We like to turn computing power into user experience. The product is still growing. It’s not time to put the dampers on that by introducing support for a constrained platform that we think will be popular.

When this thread came up, I hoped someone had a really interesting ARM board in mind. Something with 6-8 cores at 2GHz+, a Cortex A72 or A73, 4GB+ of RAM, PCIe SSD support. Good SATA/USB3/GigE support without bus bottlenecks.

The A17 Tinkerboard with 2GB doesn’t really tick those boxes.

I’ve seen a couple of platforms from Marvell that were interesting enough to make me want to try them out (not stuff from the hobbyist market…more like ARM bladeserver/NAS SoCs). Nothing at the level of a fast NUC, but some that seemed close enough. These are, of course, not much cheaper than a NUC and are less convenient…so no point right now.

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You can get some very beefy ARM-based servers. But these are aimed at the Enterprise and quite expensive. 244 threads, up to 4TB RAM, etc. But that’s not what the average home user will bring to the table when they think “ARM Roon Core”… :slight_smile:

Much thanx for taking time out of your day or evening to consider this.

Yes, understood. I didn’t think we were there presently, but also wasn’t sure. My Chome homepage on my phone shows me things to click on it thinks I am interested in. And it seems “better than NUC” and “better than RPi” systems or boards are one of those things [very big lol] . So got me wondering if folks there had done a ‘gap analysis’ of sorts and were forecasting a time when it would be put on your backlog to be imminent or far off. ( I do gather the answer to that is, no )

Whatever the answer may be, I have little skin in the game, really. Only doing some planning myself of what type of hardware & software I may want to deploy it on if/when I build a system for friends. The consideration being cost. Knowing that my friends dont want to spend what I have on a dedicated roon core server (even if I found that to be within reason), thinking the ARM SOC route would be more to their liking cost wise.

Thanx again.

Hi Brian,

Have you considered the NVidia shield TV? It has Nvidia’s X1 mobile chip inside and is very capable and at present runs Plex server easily.

It has gigabit LAN, HDMI, USB 3.0 and can be bought for a very reasonable price also.

Wouldn’t want support to hinder development of the software though.

Thanks

Paul

That’s a pretty standard 4-core A57, not in the ballpark I was talking about above.

I suppose it is from 2015 after all. I assume Plex is easier to run or perhaps utilises the GPU instead?

Roon and Plex are not a good comparison from a technical standpoint…very different products, goals, and implementations that happen to serve a similar purpose.

…artfully stated. :slight_smile:

There is this. But I’m guessing as this seem incremental to an NVIDIA Jetson Nano not something that blows it away this is not yet “Core worthy” either?

Then there are these, some of which have a Cortex A72/3 named above. But you also mention “that dont have bottlenecks”, which I can’t say they are free from…

We’re getting closer…one day on the consumer edge…

https://www.marvell.com/server-processors/thunderx2-arm-processors/

HIGH LEVEL FEATURES
Core - Arm architecture – Arm®v8-A
- Highest supported core count – Up to 32 in single socket, 64 in
dual socket
- Highest supported frequency – Up to 2.5GHz in nominal mode,
3GHz in Turbo mode
- Simultaneous multithreading – Up to 4 per physical core
- Virtualization – Arm virtual extensions
- Advanced RAS supported using RAS extension
Cache - 32 KB L1 instruction and data cache, 256KB L2 per core
- 32 MB distributed L3 cache
- Advanced RAS supported using RAS extension
Memory - Controllers: Up to 8 DDR4 per chip
- Speeds: Up to 2666MHz in 1DPC and up to 2400MHz in 2DPC
- Capacity per socket: Up to 4TB in dual socket
Coherent Processor
Interconnect
- Generation: CCPI2™
- Speed: 600Gbps
- Number of sockets: 2
I/O - Integrated: Yes
- PCIe: Up to 56 PCIe Gen3 lanes with 14 controllers
- Supported widths x1, x2, x4, x8 and x16
- Storage: 2 SATA Gen 3.0 ports
- USB: 2 USB 3.0 ports
- Advanced RAS support
Power Management - Autonomous Turbo (DVFS)
- On-chip management processor
- Low Power Idle State support
Security - Supported by Arm TrustZone™
Package - Process Technology: 16nm F
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Kewl! Thanx for the info.

Really puts it into perspective tho. Those are not inexpensive diy oriented SoC systems. Compared to that, the NUC as the Roon Core is way more attractive, as far as form factor and finance are concerned at least.

Agreed, but there’ll come a time when prices will be such that they’ll make sense for home use. The thing that appeals most to me would be lowered power consumption in a multi-core environment so I don’t have to feel guilty about leaving my music server on 24/7.

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I don’t recall seeing idle power draw for NUCs running ROCK (or for the Elac Discovery, which is ARM if I’m not mistaken). It’d be interesting to get data on that.
If it can make you feel better, it’s probably rather small when idling, which is most of the time (these guys say 3-7w for a NUCi7 running Windows, with an average around 6w). That’s not too bad.

Another option to reduce power consumption, if you use other stuff (like a NAS for your storage), may very well be a converged appliance running Roon and the other stuff.
UnRaid works rather well for this, and their architecture has the huge advantage, from a power-usage perspective, of allowing you to keep parity on data drives without making them into a RAID array. You pay for this in performance, of course, but the way their topology works, you’re only writing to storage + 1 or 2 parity drives during write, and only hitting a single storage drive (and an SSD storing the docker + library data) during read, so you’re not spinning up an entire RAID array each time you want to get your Celine Dion or Jay-Z fix.
Assign a few of your cores to the Roon docker if you’re concerned other stuff going on might impact SQ, and you’ve pretty much virtualized ROCK (which may also be a possibility in a setup of the sort).

Hello again Brian. You were very gracious with your time in this thread regarding running the Core on ARM SoC devices. You were clear regarding their inadequacies at the current time.

Could I however turn you attention to the current crop or Ryzen Embedded SoC offerings? Could you please have a look at the article and board linked to from that and evaluate if you believe it would be sufficient to run the core? Based on Passmark scores of the SoC used, it would seem so. Would love your opinion:

Thanx!

The CPU is probably fast enough. The eMMC would be an area of concern–I have never seen one that behaves like a “real” SSD under load.

$378 is a lot of money for what you’re getting. You could assemble a NUC8i3, SSD, and RAM For less, and the NUC would slightly outperform. Only benefit of the AMD is TDP.

You would run Linux on it, it’s amd64 arch so our linux builds will run. No harm in trying if that’s interesting for you.

Thanx for the comments. Noted and TBD on the eMMC.

But regarding cost. Two or three years ago my 7th Gen i5 NUC I built my RoonCore with, the cost of entry of the NUC plus RAM was higher than this device, and I bought it all for the cheapest I could find; of course one does get the complete package in the lovely NUC case, plus I did have the ability to use a M.2 nVME for the OS and Roon, which is major. But more importantly when I went to purchase a NUC recently I discovered the prices were a good deal higher now than then.

With your comments in mind it does seem as a penny-pinching RoonCore solution this is pretty high on the value curve. I thank you again for them. I will [eventually, not immediately tho] pick this or similar up to see if it is in fact a sufficiently performative platform for the task of a RoonCore.