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What Makes An Audio PC Fast DAW Software
Old 27th December 2010
  #1
Lives for gear
 

What Makes An Audio PC Fast

This guide is designed to help gearslutz choose and upgrade PCs. Hopefully its not too long so people will actually read it


The speed of your audio pc is determined by the relationship between your CPU, RAM, and HD. The higher the bandwidth between these components, the faster they can communicate, and, as a result, the faster your audio computer will run. Your PC is only as strong as its weakest link.

Often, consumer performance PCs ship with:
Very Fast processor - latest and greatest
Slow Hard Drive - One drive
Medium Ram - One or two sticks
Fast Video Card - one generation behind


HD: Larger HDs does not mean a faster PC. An effective audio PC must have at least 2 HDs, preferably 3. In this layout one will be for the OS, one for programs, and another for audio data. Remember 3 hard drives are 3x as fast as one because the bandwidth is 3x larger. This component is most often the limiting factor.

Note: SSDs are currently very effective drives for the OS, due to their fast read speed. Regular HDs are effective for audio data due to their large size.


RAM: More GBs does not mean faster. 4GB DDR3 800 has a speed of 800. To maximize your RAM speed use all ram slots (usually 4) and use matched pairs to fully utilize dual channel mode. 4x 1 GB DDR3 800 is effectively four times as fast (800x4= 3200 total) as one 4BG DDR3 800 stick (800 total). They both total to 4GB but one is far faster than the other.
Another important spec is the timing (latency); the lower the latency of your ram, the faster the ram is.

Note: Pro Tools and other 32 bit programs can use a maximum of 4 GBs of ram, so more than 4 GBs of ram will have little or no effect on performance. The only way to use more than 4GBs is to run a 64-bit program on a 64-bit OS.


CPU: PCs are usually sold based on this number. People believe that more cores is always faster, or more GHz is always faster, but in fact it is not so clear. Benchmarks are the only way to determine speed. Often times one 3 GHz CPU will be faster than another 3 GHz processor with the same amount of cores because one chipset is faster than another. Because of this you cannot compare AMD and Intel processors based on GHz. The CPU is rarely the limiting factor in modern PC builds, since manufacturers consider this the flagship component.

Note: a 3GHz Quad core will always be faster than a 3GHz Dual Core, but it will not be twice as fast - the math is fuzzy and that's why we need benchmarks.


Video card: any video card will be effective as long as it isn't from 1992 - this will never be your limiting factor since you work in 2D.


I hope you learned that the speed of your computer is based on how fast these parts can communicate with each other. Lacking in any one will slow down your PC. I also hope you understand how HD and RAM size do not make for a faster PC.

Use your RAM slots, get more HDs, and don't forget to back up on an external.
Old 27th December 2010
  #2
Lives for gear
 

several things wrong with this post. but i am going to point out 1 very glaring error..

Quote:
RAM: More GBs does not mean faster. 4GB DDR3 800 has a speed of 800. To maximize your RAM speed use all ram slots (usually 4) and use matched pairs to fully utilize dual channel mode. 4x 1 GB DDR3 800 is effectively four times as fast (800x4= 3200 total) as one 4BG DDR3 800 stick (800 total). They both total to 4GB but one is far faster than the other.
umm wrong..

1) there are 2 current intel platforms (3 including Xeon but we will ignore that for now)

socket 1156 (dual channel)
socket 1366 (triple channel)

DDR3 800 (who in the world would have that try 1333 or 1600) has a max speed of 800 regardless of # of sticks.
bandwidth ability (which is not speed of the data but the amount of data per second) is changed with single vs dual vs tri channel.
however 4 x 800 is NOT 3200, not even close.

(not oc'ing)
a good dual channel system will push about 17GB/s
a good tri channel about 28GB/s
you can not change the speed or bandwith by adding ram
IE: 2x2gig vs 4x2gig.. they will benchmark the same.

before anymore says it, its no different on AMD.
Scott
ADK
Old 27th December 2010
  #3
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by jcschild View Post
several things wrong with this post. but i am going to point out 1 very glaring error..



umm wrong..

1) there are 2 current intel platforms (3 including Xeon but we will ignore that for now)

socket 1156 (dual channel)
socket 1366 (triple channel)

DDR3 800 (who in the world would have that try 1333 or 1600) has a max speed of 800 regardless of # of sticks.
bandwidth ability (which is not speed of the data but the amount of data per second) is changed with single vs dual vs tri channel.
however 4 x 800 is NOT 3200, not even close.

(not oc'ing)
a good dual channel system will push about 17GB/s
a good tri channel about 28GB/s
you can not change the speed or bandwith by adding ram
IE: 2x2gig vs 4x2gig.. they will benchmark the same.

before anymore says it, its no different on AMD.
Scott
ADK
Theoretically that is how it works - Dual channel is meant to double the data rate - and does double the theoretical POTENTIAL data rate, but your are limited by the speed of memory controller and how much you actually need to access it. Clearly you will not the be running 28GB/s all the time. The idea is to remove the potential bottleneck.

The guide is mostly for people who have trouble figuring out why their PC is slow and have some understanding of computers - it not a technical treatise on performance operation, i mean its pretty damn short and super simplified. Actual implementation gains are based on chipset limitations. But hey not bad for drunk at 4 am lol. I'd delete the thread but idk how haha
Old 27th December 2010
  #4
Lives for gear
 
Jeff Hayat's Avatar
 

"An effective audio PC must have at least 2 HDs, preferably 3."

Not necessarily true.

"Remember 3 hard drives are 3x as fast as one because the bandwidth is 3x larger. "

Huh?!?! lol

"Note: SSDs are currently very effective drives for the OS, due to their fast read speed. Regular HDs are effective for audio data due to their large size."

No - SSDs are more effective for audio data as well.

"RAM: More GBs does not mean faster."

True - it can, but not necessarily. See js's post.

"Note: Pro Tools and other 32 bit programs can use a maximum of 4 GBs of ram, so more than 4 GBs of ram will have little or no effect on performance. The only way to use more than 4GBs is to run a 64-bit program on a 64-bit OS."

Somewhat true, but if you are running a 32-bit app in a 64-bit host, you will NOT be able to use more than 4GB of RAM.

To your CPU bit - true, but be aware that an app has to be written to use multiple cores. If it isn't, having that 2nd core means nothing - at least in terms of that particular app.

You leave out one important point: bottlenecks - at the soundcard and at the FSB.

Cheers.
Old 29th December 2010
  #5
Gear Head
 

quick question, how much will the rpm affect the realtime of the machine? i'm looking at just the rpm as the "control*" for this.

*"control" in the context of science experiments, looking at just that factor. just being specific lol
Old 29th December 2010
  #6
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeff Hayat View Post
You leave out one important point: bottlenecks - at the soundcard and at the FSB.

Cheers.
damn i thought this thread died lol.

but you have peaked my interest - when is a soundcard a bottleneck?

and wouldn't you say the fsb speed is limited most by the processor? unless you mean the interconnection between the mobo chips as well


also 10,000 rpm drive is faster, but not by as much as you'd think. They are more expensive. there are tons of side by side tests on google, im sure.
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