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Martin's PCIe Article

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Re: Martin's PCIe Article

Postby *INACTIVE USER* » Thu Nov 17, 2005 9:51 pm

Right so. The decision to go with pci-e was taken before the first motherboards with it came to market.
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Re: Martin's PCIe Article

Postby Mook » Thu Nov 17, 2005 11:47 pm

Why release a PCI-E device when 32-bit and 64-bit drivers need to be written?

Don't you think the manufacturers will hold on until Vista is released so only one set of drivers need to written (and thus only one lot of support etc) - forcing us all to upgrade the OS in a big conspiracy! ;)
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Re: Martin's PCIe Article

Postby Peter C » Fri Nov 18, 2005 12:55 am

Hi,

You don't need to rewrite the drivers for PCIe - the drivers only see the device, not the connection to it.


AFAIK



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Re: Martin's PCIe Article

Postby Jim Y » Fri Nov 18, 2005 10:56 am

Esi WaveTerminal 192 and Juli@ use the Envy24HT. Maybe they're using the same solution as RME in the Maxio? Would they design their own for a new product with a max five years life in a niche market?

Although it's been claimed that PCIe devices look the same to the machine as old PCI, according to someone from Creative, there is a significant difference to the way transfers occur which makes timely transfer a problem (as I read it, I don't have a link).

The way soundcards currently communicate has always baffled me. It doesn't seem to work using buffer sized burst transfers because the cards don't have a buffer to match the DMA one used by the driver (although consumer chips do appear to have hardware buffers). Rather, it looks like one sample for each channel is sent together via the DMA controller as needed by the cards audio clock. That's a lot of little packages transfered very slowly compared to the bus speed. Wouldn't it be better if the entire DMA buffer was sent in one burst? The soundcard can sync it to the audio clock. The host program shouldn't care as long as samples are dealt with in the right order.

It also seems that there is no system to detect lost transfers as there is with video where you can have "dropped frames" reported. Should the user have to wait until a recordings played back to discover there's been gapping? This shouldn't even be able to happen, yet current technology allows it, which is surely crazy.
If anything, it's this that I'd like to hear a soundcard developer explain "Why doesn't your driver know it's lost samples?".

The opportunity to improve the efficiency and integrity of audio data transport is maybe there with PCIe, it will be a great shame if it isn't.
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Re: Martin's PCIe Article

Postby spjessop » Fri Nov 18, 2005 2:32 pm

Whilst it was an interesting article, I found the discussion on testing to be mildly annoying.

I find it amazing that these sort of products need mollycoddling at all. You pay a premium* for them, and then you find out it doesn't work in your new premium motherboard. But wait, your FW800 hard drive is coping with massive amounts of data, why all the fuss?

They seemed rather proud of their testing methods, yet people do still have problems getting these premium* products to work properly on some systems. We will see real progress when you plug a USB or FW soundcard into any current generation motherboard and it just works with minimal preperation of windows.

By minimal I mean disabling a few unwanted startup tasks, and setting priority to background services.

I think in an ideal world most mid-level soundcards should be USB2 or FW (which is more than enough throughput) to maximise compatibility, then those precious PCIe slots can be used for DSP and MADI where the real power is needed. Then Universal Audio and TC Electronic could (should?) supply you with a patcher that optimises any other settings needed to get them to run well.

Thing is this utopian situation won't happen. No-one is listening.

* by premium I mean compared to many serial peripherals we pay over the odds for audio equipment.
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Re: Martin's PCIe Article

Postby little person » Sun Nov 20, 2005 2:02 pm

PaulD wrote:Hi
Since the Mac world is already PCIe only for new models, and ProTools will have to be migrated to that to sell to Mac users, then no doubt others like MOTU will develop PCIe kit (all of which presumably will have to be useable in the next generation of Intel Macs).


We have G5s and Pro Tools HD at work and have a PCI expansion chassis connected to each system already.I agree, I think digidesign will pave the way for others to follow....
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Re: Martin's PCIe Article

Postby Wurlitzer » Sun Nov 20, 2005 2:39 pm

Peter C wrote:So nobody - but nobody - should still be buying PCI soundcards, or indeed a PCI anything if it costs more than Peter C0. A soundcard is an expensive investment, and typically lasts through two or three PC systems.

If you build a new DAW and use your existing soundcard, no problem. But if you are planning a totally new DAW including a new soundcard do you really want to invest in old technology?

Well, people have different attitudes to such things, but I personally would not have a problem with buying a PCI card now.

Some soundcards might last through three systems, many will not. While the soundcard itself might still be working perfectly well in seven year's time (with each system lasting say three years), it's highly likely that the user's needs will have developed to the point that they want to revise their audio setup as they upgrade their computer. It's also virtually certain that they will be using a different OS by that time, and highly probable their software configuration will have changed and developed, opening up new possibilities and imposing new demands. Will there even by drivers for the soundcard that work under the new OS, regardless of its connection protocol?

Personally I've long ago given up worrying about what will be compatible with what in that kind of time scale. It's hard to make systems that not only work together happily, but also fufill all one's musical needs with the best possible interface and workflow. By the time you consider everything that needs to be considered, you're doing well if you can just get everything right NOW. Worrying about how it will look in five or ten years' time just makes it impossible - there are too many variables.

Others may think differently, but if the right soundcard for my needs happened to be PCI, and that suited the rest of my system, I'd buy it. It MIGHT be rendered obsolete when I next upgrade my system, or it might not. PCI cards might still be around by then, or there might be a perfectly well-functioning bridge or adaptor that can do the job. I might want to replace the soundcard by then anyway, or my studio might have blown up rendering the whole question academic. Then there's the fact that there are no PCI-E soundcards on the market now, and when the first ones come out, we have no idea what they will be like or how well they will work. The cutting edge is not the best place to be when it comes to something as delicate and temperamental as computer-based audio.

Like I said, too many unknowns. PCI soundcards in known good mobos with PCI slots work now. That's good enough for me.
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Re: Martin's PCIe Article

Postby Jon Jon Jon » Sun Nov 20, 2005 8:54 pm

I have found a similar rant going on over here
http://forums.anandtech.com/messageview.cfm?catid=27&threadid=1701961

there is also a link to why EMU arnen't manufacturing PCIe cards.
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Re: Martin's PCIe Article

Postby *INACTIVE USER* » Sun Nov 20, 2005 9:16 pm

Some soundcards might last through three systems, many will not. While the soundcard itself might still be working perfectly well in seven year's time (with each system lasting say three years), it's highly likely that the user's needs will have developed to the point that they want to revise their audio setup as they upgrade their computer.


Lots of this depends on how you plan and invest. When I decided it was time for a new soundcard I went totally over the top. So after 6 years my rme 9652 is still more than ample.

But at the same time I regret buying a pci-x raid controller, I should have bought a pci-e one. This one might get a second live, but it won't get 3 like the soundcard.

So if I change soundcards, it will be usb, whatever version is then current.
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Re: Martin's PCIe Article

Postby ghr » Mon Nov 21, 2005 1:17 am

Meh, whatever, if they do bring out PCIe soundcards, then clearly the price of PCI ones will drop so much that we can buy for example, 3 M-Audio Delta 1010's, for around £50, and have them on our old Nforce 3 motherboards, and be well happy that everyone else is getting ripped off with PCIe and the latest stuff. Hey, we might even be able to get a current (as in current NOW) Protools HD system for not so much in the next few years. Bring on PCIe 8-) :headbang:
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Re: Martin's PCIe Article

Postby Peter C » Mon Nov 21, 2005 2:15 am

Hi,

Especially Wurlizer and Havoc.

I feel quite strongly about this, so I may have exaggerated a bit to make my points. On purpose.

That's why I put my oprignal post in [rant]...[/rant] brackets, which for some reason does not work in this forum. (aside: I'm sure Martin can fix that :))

Clearly the decision criteria I describe do not apply to everyone, and certainly not to everyone all the time; but I still think they are trends that will impact the market.


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Re: Martin's PCIe Article

Postby Martin Walker » Mon Nov 21, 2005 6:55 pm

Sorry Peter - I'm not in charge of SOS web site design, although I can certainly pass on your request to the powers that be ;)

I tend towards Wurli's view on all this - I already have perfectly good soundcards in my PC, and am perfectly satisfied with their performance. While like the majority of PC Musicians I can always find something to do with extra processing power, my audio interfaces stay put until seomthing significantly better comes along For instance, I was quite happy with my Echo Gina 20-bit interface until I'd reviewed the Echo Mia, when the improvement in audio quality was obvious. Nevertheless, I added a Yamaha SW1000XG because of its excellent MIDI functions, and similarly, I added an Emu 1820M to my system after I'd reviewed that, because its audio performance once again jumped up a notch. However, I haven't auditioned any other interface since that's made me want to get my credit card out again.

On the other hand, I almost have to upgrade to a new PC with PCI Express slots to cope with any future reviews of compatible soundcards, and even though I'd prefer to carry on with my three PCI cards I may have to abandon the Yamaha and Echo in the process. Most new trends in the PC world are driven by 'must have' features. However, in the case of PCI Express it seems at the moment as if many of us will have to go with it whether we want it or not. PCI is perfectly adequate for my current requirements.

However, I do agree with Jim that it's about time we got audio interfaces with drivers that could survive the occasional 'dropped frame'. I know the normal argument is about 'real time' transfers as compared those where repeated requests for the same bits of data can be accommodated, but most of us are well within bandwidth limits, so there should be plenty of time to cope with the odd click or pop 're-send' if it could be detected.


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Re: Martin's PCIe Article

Postby Frankii Elliott » Mon Nov 21, 2005 8:41 pm

Also keep in mind the following analogy.....

When MACS came out, they where the creative force for creative persons. The IBM on the other hand was used for offices.

Then gaming came out which drove the GPU cards to newer and faster limits...Mac tried to keep up, of course swithing to intel is a solution now.

That said, FW800 should be supported in Windows Vista as well as a similar audio codec like Mac's audio core, in addition, Vista will be geared toward multimedia, firewire, creative and so on, plus I have read faster Firewire devices and protocols to come out soon.

Only time will tell.
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Re: Martin's PCIe Article

Postby *INACTIVE USER* » Mon Nov 21, 2005 9:00 pm

However, I do agree with Jim that it's about time we got audio interfaces with drivers that could survive the occasional 'dropped frame'. I know the normal argument is about 'real time' transfers as compared those where repeated requests for the same bits of data can be accommodated, but most of us are well within bandwidth limits, so there should be plenty of time to cope with the odd click or pop 're-send' if it could be detected.


Problem here is the limited memory onboard of soundcards. If you had that then there was no problem. Detecting should be no problem, with linux I get that information from jack all the time, so it should be possible in windows as well.
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Re: Martin's PCIe Article

Postby jcschild » Tue Nov 22, 2005 3:22 am

Hey Peter,
well cant say i didnt tell you.

of the 6 manufacturers i asked they all said not now mabye later.

truth be told for the average guy a firewire interface is fine.

for more advanced studios a madi card etc is the answer.

however i agree PCIe is here to stay. and PCI will most certainly disapear quicker than ISA.

i think the big issue with alot of them is waiting on real PCIe spec to appear. or at least the real controller not PCI to PCIe bridge crap.

i think when Vista ships and has its first service pack you may see PCIe in force. remember the real PCIe requies a controller which requires a re-write of code, alot of re-write.

Ahhh it just keeps getting worse......

Scott
ADK

PS i will email you one of these days been very swamped
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