Computer for high speed data streaming

Obtaining a PC that is suitable for high speed camera/SDR work typically entails building a PC from parts for $1K, or getting an appropriate off the shelf Dell Precision for $2.5K. A desktop CPU is needed with a moderate amount of CPU cache memory and a motherboard with sufficient PCIe slots for the data acquisition cards used.

Some equipment such as software defined radio (SDR) requires dual 10-Gig Ethernet via a PCIe card, and some cameras require a CameraLink PCIe card. Other devices with onboard FPGAs sometimes require USB 3.0 or Thunderbolt connections. Don’t use USB 3.0 hubs between PC and the device!

For high frame rate camera acquisition, here are a few CPU series that are known to work well via lab experiment. The “extreme” edition or Xeon CPUs are not necessary (unless the manufacturer specifies). Note all these CPUs have at least 8MB of L3 cache (on the CPU die) and are vPro capable. Please only use desktop quad core i7 CPUs with model number NOT ending in “U”.

Please consider avoiding:

  • “ultrabook” Intel CPUs that have a model number ending in “U”, such as the Intel NUCs presently use.
  • laptop computers or tablet computers.
  • CPUs with model ending in “K” as currently, overclockable CPUs don’t have Intel vPro remote management

Get a motherboard supporting vPro with no less than four USB 3.0 ports. It’s not wise to cascade USB 3.0 hubs. Four USB 3.0 seven-port hubs allow up to 28 USB 3.0 HDD, to get hundreds of TB of external storage. That’s enough storage for 3 months of 12 hour recording per day, or far longer (years) if filtering out unneeded data off-line.