My experience using Blue Iris in a VM

Here is a great place to discuss hardware experiences with other Blue Iris users, and where you can give each other feedback on what you have had the most success with.
sspeed
Posts: 118
Joined: Fri Apr 13, 2018 11:05 pm

My experience using Blue Iris in a VM

Post by sspeed » Tue Oct 30, 2018 6:11 pm

I see a lot of posts saying Blue Iris shouldn’t run on a VM. I wanted to share in-depth technical details about my own experience so that others can make an informed decision vs being afraid. If you have criticism of performance in a VM I ask that you ask specific questions related to performance so that we can all learn. You may hear on IPCamtalk that Blue Iris doesn't work well in a VM, that's completely false and not based on real world experience. Here is my real world experience.

The goal of my setup was fourfold:
1) Spectacular performance of Blue Iris first and foremost. No other goal would matter if this could not be achieved.
2) To run BI on a VM where I could dynamically change resources as needed.
3) To exchange 4 power hungry computers for one VM host. The VM host would also run 3 other VMs.
4) Run ESXi on a powerful desktop which had decent horsepower in a small form factor with low power consumption vs a loud, power hungry server.

The hypervisor I chose was VMWare’s ESXi, version 6.7 to be exact.

The hardware I chose was:
Motherboard – Asrock B150M-ITX
CPU – Intel i7-6700 (10,007 passmark score)
Memory – 16GB DDR4
Drives – Mix of SSD and platter
Total system cost at the time – about $650

Below is a screenshot of the ESXi info screen.
Image

The “server” has 8 vCPU available. Here’s how I’ve set up the VMs on the host:
Blue Iris – 8 vCPU
Untangle (my UTM router) – 2vCPU
Mothership (domain controller) – 1 vCPU
Ppbe312 (Cyberpower agent for UPS – 1 vCPU

Below is a screenshot of my Virtual Machine set up. Untangle shows a warning because it’s loosely based on Debain, but not close enough that ESXi is happy with the association.
Image

The vCPUs are over-budgeted strategically. Blue Iris uses the most CPU, and only about 35% most of the time, while the others may have small intermittent periods of high CPU usage, so the ESXi host never actually hits 100%.

For cameras I run 13 cameras, 3 are “clones” of existing cameras with different motion settings to capture everything going on vs specific zones. They range from 720P at the lower resolution to 4k at the highest. I run all cameras at their max framerate, max resolution and max allowed bitrate. I utilize VBR when the camera allows it. Below are my cameras.

Manufacturer Model FPS Resolution Bitrate Encode mode Firmware App version
Foscam FI-9900P 25 1920x1080 4096 VBR 1.11.1.13 2.74.1.64
Amcrest IP3M-954EW 20 2304x1296 10240 VBR H.264H 2.400.0002.15.R, Build Date: 2017-04-26 3.2.1.422026
Amcrest IP4M-1028EW 30 2688x1520 8192 VBR H.265 2.420.AC01.2.R, Build Date: 2017-07-20 3.2.1.454221
Amcrest IP4M-1028E 30 2688x1520 8192 CBR H.265 2.420.AC01.1.R, Build Date: 2017-06-15 3.2.1.454221
Amcrest IP2M-841EW 30 1920x1080 8192 VBR H.264H 2.520.AC00.18.R, Build Date: 2017-06-29 3.2.1.453504
Trendnet TV-IP572PI 30 1280x800 H.264 1.1.3 Build 5607
HikVision DS-2CD2432F-IW 20 2048x1536 8192 VBR H.264 V5.4.5 build 170123 V4.0.1 build 170117
Edimax IC-9110W 30 1280x720 3072 H.264 v3.09 (Dec 27 2017 11:18:33) v2.0.4.0
Amcrest IP8M-2496E 15 3840x2160 10240 VBR H.264H 2.460.1.0.R 3.2.1.474688
Amcrest IP2M-841EW 30 1920x1080 8192 VBR H.264H 2.520.AC00.18.R, Build Date: 2017-06-29 3.2.1.453504


Here is a screenshot of the Blue Iris camera info screen.
Image

On all cameras I do:
Motion detection recording
Keyframes matching FPS
Overlays on camera
Direct-to-disc recording
20MB receive buffer
7 sec Pre-trigger video buffer

On cameras where I am less concerned about motion:
Check “Limit decoding unless required” ensuring keyframe is happening once per second.

Here are screenshots of my Blue Iris VM utilization, console is open but minimized.
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Here are screenshots of the host utilization.
Image
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So in summary, for me, Blue Iris in a VM works, and works very well. You shouldn’t be scared of trying it if you want to get rid of some other power hungry machines in the house.
Last edited by sspeed on Fri Nov 09, 2018 9:35 pm, edited 3 times in total.

HeneryH
Posts: 295
Joined: Fri Mar 16, 2018 1:38 pm

Re: My experience using Blue Iris in a VM

Post by HeneryH » Tue Oct 30, 2018 6:55 pm

The only downside I can see for using a VM is not being able to take advantage of QuickSync acceleration which offers a pretty dramatic processing power improvement.

sspeed
Posts: 118
Joined: Fri Apr 13, 2018 11:05 pm

Re: My experience using Blue Iris in a VM

Post by sspeed » Tue Oct 30, 2018 8:07 pm

That's true. You could do hardware passthrough with the Display Adapter. People have done it with mixed results, I hadn't even tried it since I was getting respectable performance without it.

gazoo
Posts: 7
Joined: Wed Oct 31, 2018 1:00 am

Re: My experience using Blue Iris in a VM

Post by gazoo » Wed Oct 31, 2018 1:16 am

I too am using a VM. It's a Intel Core X5670 Supermicro server I picked up used on Ebay for $220! It has 6 core, but looks like 12 with hyper-threading. 24G RAM and 1TB. I'm using VirtualBox because I am familiar with that VM package more than others. It runs headless and I can manage it super easy because it has the IPMI management interface stuff where I can basically reboot it and actually see what one would see if you had hooked a monitor into it using the Supermicro software (like a virutal KVM type of thing). It has a management IP address where I hook into it for that function and two other Ethernet interfaces for data. I have about 13 cameras of which like 10 are 2mp+. It runs around 40% on the actual VM and 35% of the total physical machine. I've dedicated 6 (of 12) cores to the Blue Iris VM and 6GB RAM. The other major VM is a MythTV setup for a house-wide over the air TV DVR using android Kodi boxes as clients. That doesn't use hardly any CPU since it basically transfers what comes over the air directly to the hard drive in MPEG2 format. Other stuff I run on there is a minecraft server, a ventrilo server, and some odds and ends on Windows 10. You don't need to spend a lot for this performance. You can get Windows 10 pro licenses for like $30 at scdkey.com and it's legit. MythTV is opensource linux.

gazoo
Posts: 7
Joined: Wed Oct 31, 2018 1:00 am

Re: My experience using Blue Iris in a VM

Post by gazoo » Wed Oct 31, 2018 1:22 am

Here's one like it, but with less HD space: https://www.ebay.com/itm/UXS-Server-1U- ... Sw-ctbewfS

sspeed
Posts: 118
Joined: Fri Apr 13, 2018 11:05 pm

Re: My experience using Blue Iris in a VM

Post by sspeed » Wed Oct 31, 2018 3:55 pm

Nice set up, $220 sounds like a really reasonable deal. I'm envious of the IPMI functionality, that is one big thing I am missing when I need to update drive firmware or something and IP KVMs are price prohibitive.

A server didn't fit my space, sound and power requirements, but I did stuff the MB into the In-Win NAS type case so my drives could be hotswapped as needed. https://www.newegg.com/Product/Product. ... 6811108471

gazoo
Posts: 7
Joined: Wed Oct 31, 2018 1:00 am

Re: My experience using Blue Iris in a VM

Post by gazoo » Wed Oct 31, 2018 6:12 pm

This is true, it is loud-ish. I have it in an A/C cooled room in the garage in a wall rack.

alfa908
Posts: 21
Joined: Sat Aug 25, 2018 1:53 pm

Re: My experience using Blue Iris in a VM

Post by alfa908 » Wed Oct 31, 2018 9:11 pm

gazoo wrote:
Wed Oct 31, 2018 1:16 am
I too am using a VM. It's a Intel Core X5670 Supermicro server I picked up used on Ebay for $220! It has 6 core, but looks like 12 with hyper-threading. 24G RAM and 1TB. I'm using VirtualBox because I am familiar with that VM package more than others. It runs headless and I can manage it super easy because it has the IPMI management interface stuff where I can basically reboot it and actually see what one would see if you had hooked a monitor into it using the Supermicro software (like a virutal KVM type of thing). It has a management IP address where I hook into it for that function and two other Ethernet interfaces for data. I have about 13 cameras of which like 10 are 2mp+. It runs around 40% on the actual VM and 35% of the total physical machine. I've dedicated 6 (of 12) cores to the Blue Iris VM and 6GB RAM. The other major VM is a MythTV setup for a house-wide over the air TV DVR using android Kodi boxes as clients. That doesn't use hardly any CPU since it basically transfers what comes over the air directly to the hard drive in MPEG2 format. Other stuff I run on there is a minecraft server, a ventrilo server, and some odds and ends on Windows 10. You don't need to spend a lot for this performance. You can get Windows 10 pro licenses for like $30 at scdkey.com and it's legit. MythTV is opensource linux.
The power consumption on that unit makes it one of the worst options for a system that is running 24/7. You can buy something way more efficient for that kind of money. Considering the yearly cost savings, you can buy a really nice system and come out way ahead.

gazoo
Posts: 7
Joined: Wed Oct 31, 2018 1:00 am

Re: My experience using Blue Iris in a VM

Post by gazoo » Mon Nov 05, 2018 9:12 pm

It only uses like 80-125W and runs a few VM's so not that so much for the horsepower.

cmille34
Posts: 2
Joined: Tue Nov 06, 2018 7:40 pm

Re: My experience using Blue Iris in a VM

Post by cmille34 » Wed Nov 07, 2018 12:32 pm

Thanks for taking the time to share so much detail and your experience running BI in a VM on ESXi. It has given me the confidence to go ahead and upgrade my aging mediaPC at home that I run BI on with a newer machine running ESXi. Is the i7-6700 the best value for a home desktop CPU to run ESXi on right now? The primary load will be a windows VM running Plex Media Server and BI with 4 or 5 cameras but I'll likely also add a couple other lightly used Windows 10 VM's and an Ubuntu Docker server I'd rather not have to upgrade the CPU anytime soon so if i have to spend a few extra bucks now I will but if the i7 6700 is the way to go, Ill look for a deal on that.

Thanks again for making this post.

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