Forum Thread

Video Tiling HTPC Build with 4K Output and Multiple HDMI Input

theZeigs 214 24 March 14, 2016 at 08:24 AM
Hello All,

About a year and a half ago, I was looking for a way to take multiple feeds and display simultaneously on the same screen.


While there are some reasonably priced ($1k range) commercial solutions, they don't allow for a few things I want/need:
  • 4K Output
  • 1080P input
  • any number of simultaneous screens, from say 1-8

The solutions for the above (for example, upscale sports bars have these commercial systems installed) are more than $15k, far outside of my budget.

However, it seems like a reasonable Home Theater Personal Computer (HTPC) should accomplish what I want to do, as was noted in the thread.

Before my questions, please note that I am not concerned about HDCP on any HDMI input feed. In other words, any HDMI feed would be free of HDCP coding such as personal HDMI camcorders or some other source without HDCP.

Also, while I know a bit about computers and electronics, I'm generally of beginner level, so please excuse my neophytism Smilie

Questions, numbered for easy reference:
  1. Assuming I have non HDCP protected input coming from HDMIs, how can I take multiple HDMI signals into the computer? I mean, physically, what are good cards that will allow me to plug an HDMI into the back of the computer and see that feed?
  2. What kind of graphics card(s) will I need to take, say, four 1080p feeds and then output on a single, 4k monitor? I assume I will need a graphics card for the output capable of driving 4k, but what other specs will I need? Is it possible or is there any benefit from using more, less powerful cards over a single high-powered one?
  3. What other specs should I look for, specifically for RAM, processor, etc.? Are these very important if all I'm doing is taking feeds in and kicking them out?
  4. Would I be better off taking HDMI feeds, turning them into some other plug, and then plugging that into the back of the computer?
  5. Does anyone know of a good program that I can use to watch each feed, individually? For example, can I open 4 instances of a given program and select each one to play a different feed in its own window? or am I better off getting four separate programs and running them each concurrently, with appropriately sized windows?
  6. Is there an off-the-shelf solution that would allow for recording of each feed, perhaps in conjunction with the above?
  7. I was thinking of just using Windows 7 or something to run this, is there a better OS for this kind of application? Eventually, I would like to run a script that takes the various windows, sizes them automatically, and outputs them. I have had good experiences with Windows 7, but not so much with 8 and definitely not with 10. I would be open to a Linux/Unix but want to design the system to be as user-friendly as possible in case family/friends want to operate.
  8. Assuming I need multiple input/output cards, what kind of MoBo will I need to have all these input and output cards? what kinds of slots and how many?
  9. What kind of case will I need to accomodate the MoBo? I assume the form factor will dictate, but if there's other considerations like cooling, recommendations are helpful.

For the purposes of this thread, let's assume a budget of about $2-3k for the build, but obviously the best situation is the minimization of cost that would fit the need. Note that the computer would probably only be used for this purpose and perhaps some internet browsing, so no need for extreme gaming, video editing, etc., although I imagine that those applications will be within the capabilities based on the types of graphics cards I'm imagining I'll need.

Thanks in advance everyone, I'll be lurking to answer questions and probably ask a few more!

4 Comments

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#2
What is the content source? You can get TV tuner cards with multiple tuners, that might be more practical. Cable would be easier to deal with than satellite.

Most of the hdmi capture devices are limited to 1 hdmi port, some only capture 1080i or at a reduced frame rate. The best ones (on newegg) are actually external usb devices. It's conceivable you could have problems trying to run 4 hdmi capture devices at the same time. Software might not support it or you could have some other bottlenecks.
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#3
Thanks for the reply, jkee. It led me down a dark hole of GPU, CPU, RAM, and Motherboards running at 6GB/sec. Basically, you can buy a board that will let you take multiple inputs and bring them into a computer. The difficulty is then in the processing of the computer, the power and RAM you need, etc.

I didn't want to mess around with what would be very expensive testing. In other words, to see if a system would work, I would have to build it at relatively high cost, then see if it lagged, worked at all, etc.

All of this research led me to this:
https://www.blackmagicdesign.com/.../multiview
http://www.adorama.com/BMMULTIV16.html

So the plan is: take HDMI feeds, convert to SDI, then feed into the above. The above can tile 2X2, 3X3, or 4X4 with an UHD = 4k output. Still will need to convert output to something whatever monitor or screen I use can work with. Also, will need to figure out audio, especially latency.

I figure the $1500 for the box is cheaper than building my own top-of-the-line computer with the required card, such as this one:
http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/pro...annel.html

The card alone is $1000.

The trade-offs are:

-conversion of HDMI to SDI ($80 per line, give or take)
-audio syncing/selection issues
-a little less versatility: video tiling will always be a grid, no way to select just two feeds and have one over the other, three side by side, etc., but I think I can live with this.
-no recording of the feeds except through some splitter and separate situation etc.

In case there was curiosity, this setup is to replace my 4-screen ugliness in the living room to watch the NFL. It will be nice to have a single screen with the electronics hidden away.

More to come in the upcoming months!
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#4
Quote from theZeigs View Post :
In case there was curiosity, this setup is to replace my 4-screen ugliness in the living room to watch the NFL. It will be nice to have a single screen with the electronics hidden away.

More to come in the upcoming months!
A cable card tuner with 4 tuners would be a lot simpler than trying to deal with hdmi inputs. Something like a Ceton infiniTV: http://cetoncorp.com/products/infinitv/

This might mean switching to cable instead of satellite, but that could still be cheaper than the alternative.

I thought there used to be some special multiplexed channels that would show 4 games at the same time (1080p total resolution) that were marketed to sports fanatics and bars.
Some cable/satellite companies are also offering features like this. http://www.techhive.com/article/3...l-dvr.html
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Last edited by jkee March 15, 2016 at 04:06 PM
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#5
Quote from jkee View Post :
I thought there used to be some special multiplexed channels that would show 4 games at the same time (1080p total resolution) that were marketed to sports fanatics and bars.
Some cable/satellite companies are also offering features like this. http://www.techhive.com/article/3...l-dvr.html
Oh, wow, I didn't see that Dish thing. Yes, this is for NFL watching and probably nothing else (maybe Olympics or NCAA hoops occasionally). Unfortunately, DirectTV has exclusive rights to the NFL, so unless that changes, I cannot use the Ceton solution (although that seems neat and tidy for sure) nor Dish. DirectTV has a 4-screen option as part of their NFL package, but you can't pick the games that are shown IIRC.

Hopefully, DirectTV will see what DISH is doing and replicates, because that is precisely what I'm trying to do: 4k output with 2X2 @ 1080p screens. It would save me $1500!

I guess I'll sit tight in the meantime, jkee thanks so much and +rep because you just potentially saved me $1500.
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