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Using PCI Passthrough to support old hardware that only has 32bit drivers

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Using PCI Passthrough to support old hardware that only has 32bit drivers

Postby therobyouknow » Wed Jun 26, 2019 11:03 pm

I'm doing some ongoing research into this and hope to follow up as and when I get outcomes (both negative and positive).

I have a desktop PC with hardware that will support PCI passthrough (A CPU - AND - motherboard both with Intel VT-d (directed IO/IOMMU).)

PCI Passthrough means that a guest OS (i.e. 32 bit Windows XP/7/8/10) running inside a Virtual Machine can see the hardware on the host machine. For example I have a Yamaha SW1000XG which only had 32 bit drivers written for it up to Windows XP. However, these drivers work with every 32bit Windows beyond XP, including Vista, 7, 8 and now Windows 10. I have tested with all of them.

https://www.soundonsound.com/forum/view ... 20&t=34405

Being 32bit, there are limitations - no more than 2 or 3Gb RAM can be supported (32bit = 4Gb address space, some of this taken by the OS and devices). I have a 32Gb Windows machine with 64bit Windows 10. I plan to install a 32bit Windows as a guest in a VM and use PCI passthrough to see the Yamaha SW1000XG and run the 32bit drivers on this 32bit Windows guest in the VM. That way - best of both worlds - powerful 64bit apps, 32Gb RAM and older hardware supported as well.

It's also possible to run 32bit Windows as a guest on a host running Linux and do the same. It may even be possible to not use Windows (and avoid the license cost) and instead use ReactOS (reactos.org) which is an open-source Windows-like OS. It's still in alpha but may be stable enough to work with the drivers.

Another virtualisation software called QEMU/KVM is available (for free) that may provide more success in doing the above rather than Virtual Box.

PCI Passthrough has been proven for Graphics Cards being visible to the guest OS so this is encouraging for sound cards.

Currently I have Windows 10 Pro 64bit, Windows 10 Pro 32 bit and Ubuntu 18.04 LTS as boot options on my Desktop PC. To use the Yamaha SW1000XG I boot into Windows 10 Pro 32bit, course, using the Windows XP drivers I installed there, so I know the card works - for comparison when working on PCI Passthrough.

If successful this might resurrect some vintage but good PC sound hardware, bring back some nice sounds, help people get more out of their tech, reduce landfill, good for the environment, good all round!
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Kit: Korg M1, Fender HMX electric guitar,  PC W10Pro / Ubuntu, SW1000XG,  MacBook Pro, Soundcraft Spirit Folio 12:2, 2 x Fostex PM0.4n speakers. Focusrite Scarlett Gen3.

Re: Using PCI Passthrough to support old hardware that only has 32bit drivers

Postby Sonic Pervert » Wed Jul 17, 2019 3:40 pm

Hey, I'm following this avidly as I have a SW1000XG running in an old Windows XP machine. I'm upgrading to Windows 10 and new mobo, processor etc but would love to keep the SW1000XG and also my M-Audio Delta 66 PCI sound card. I have also considered using a VM somehow but sounds like you're well ahead of me with the research! Please keep us posted!
Thanks,
Tony
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Re: Using PCI Passthrough to support old hardware that only has 32bit drivers

Postby ef37a » Wed Jul 17, 2019 3:53 pm

Sonic Pervert wrote:Hey, I'm following this avidly as I have a SW1000XG running in an old Windows XP machine. I'm upgrading to Windows 10 and new mobo, processor etc but would love to keep the SW1000XG and also my M-Audio Delta 66 PCI sound card. I have also considered using a VM somehow but sounds like you're well ahead of me with the research! Please keep us posted!
Thanks,
Tony

Pardon an old valve jockey interfering but, would it not be far easier to just keep the old PCI/XP/Delta rig going and buy/build a stonking W10 machine?
You can link them audiowise via S/PDIF, both ways.

Dave.
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Re: Using PCI Passthrough to support old hardware that only has 32bit drivers

Postby therobyouknow » Tue Jul 23, 2019 11:54 am

Sonic Pervert wrote:Hey, I'm following this avidly as I have a SW1000XG running in an old Windows XP machine. I'm upgrading to Windows 10 and new mobo, processor etc but would love to keep the SW1000XG and also my M-Audio Delta 66 PCI sound card. I have also considered using a VM somehow but sounds like you're well ahead of me with the research! Please keep us posted!
Thanks,
Tony

Great to hear from someone else with enthusiasm for solving this problem.

As in my original post, to do PCI passthrough, BOTH the motherboard and CPU need to support VT-d.

My motherboard is an Intel DQ67SW: https://ark.intel.com/content/www/us/en ... q67sw.html

My CPU is: Intel® Core™ i7-2600 (not 2600K variant).

I bought both off ebay and bought a great fan from quiet PC and I don't even know the PC is on.

Crucially, the Intel DQ67SW motherboard has a PCI port to accept the Yamaha SW1000XG as well as the VT-d support. It's a motherboard that straddles both legacy interfaces and modern ones - a nice combo to my mind!

I have 3 triple boot options installed on this PC: Windows 10 Pro 64bit, Windows 10 Pro 32bit, Ubuntu 18.04 LTS 64bit. This means of course, I bought 2 Windows licenses. There are good deals around online for genuine Windows from OEM kit sellers etc, rather than buying from well known high street outlets at higher prices. So booting into Windows 10 32bit Pro means I can use the SW1000XG as the XP drivers work on this, see my other post on SOS. But that comes with a limitation, that no more than around 2.5-2.9Gb memory available - and I have 32Gb. But still, it's an option to consider. And if you have another computer, like I do - a MacBook Pro then you can use that as your main DAW and control, via MIDI, the desktop with the SW1000XG. So that's an interim or maybe longer term solution to enjoy, while I work out the PCI passthrough in parallel. I'll update again when I know more!
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Kit: Korg M1, Fender HMX electric guitar,  PC W10Pro / Ubuntu, SW1000XG,  MacBook Pro, Soundcraft Spirit Folio 12:2, 2 x Fostex PM0.4n speakers. Focusrite Scarlett Gen3.

Re: Using PCI Passthrough to support old hardware that only has 32bit drivers

Postby therobyouknow » Tue Jul 23, 2019 11:58 am

ef37a wrote:
Sonic Pervert wrote:Hey, I'm following this avidly as I have a SW1000XG running in an old Windows XP machine. I'm upgrading to Windows 10 and new mobo, processor etc but would love to keep the SW1000XG and also my M-Audio Delta 66 PCI sound card. I have also considered using a VM somehow but sounds like you're well ahead of me with the research! Please keep us posted!
Thanks,
Tony

Pardon an old valve jockey interfering but, would it not be far easier to just keep the old PCI/XP/Delta rig going and buy/build a stonking W10 machine?
You can link them audiowise via S/PDIF, both ways.

Dave.

Indeed! I could see this as an option. In fact as an interim or maybe longer term one, myself, I'm looking at treating my desktop with the SW1000XG as a MIDI sound module, driven via MIDI from my MacBook Pro, running Ardour.

To go with the sound module theme, there are some nice solutions out there for dinky PCs - https://www.mini-itx.com/ and also from https://up-board.org/upcoreplus with https://www.amazon.co.uk/StarTech-com-P ... B0024CV3SA ( StarTech.com PEX1PCI1 PCI Express to PCI Adapter Card ). Though the latter would be very involved, but potentially achievable!
therobyouknow
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Tenor - London International Gospel Choir

Kit: Korg M1, Fender HMX electric guitar,  PC W10Pro / Ubuntu, SW1000XG,  MacBook Pro, Soundcraft Spirit Folio 12:2, 2 x Fostex PM0.4n speakers. Focusrite Scarlett Gen3.

Re: Using PCI Passthrough to support old hardware that only has 32bit drivers

Postby Sonic Pervert » Tue Aug 13, 2019 9:26 pm

OK so its a while since I wrote my post above but thought I'd give an update. I've made some good progress but have taken a different route to achieve a similar goal.

My 'old' music PC had an Asrock 4coredual-SATA2 mobo with E6600 processor, 2GB of DDR RAM and an assortment of small, old, spinny IDE hard disks and an old Matrox P660 dual-head AGP graphics card. As mentioned previously, the best bits, which I wanted to preserve, were the SW1000XG and M-Audio Delta 66 PCI soundcards.

I've basically kept the same motherboard but maxed it out with the best components it will take. Components that would have cost hundreds of pounds each when the mobo was new are now available for tens of pounds on eBay! So the old mobo now has a Q6600 processor, 4GB of DDR2 RAM (more on this in a minute), a small fast SATA SSD for OS duties and a big, fast SATA HDD for music storage.

I decided not to change the graphics card and, instead, access the PC via Remote Desktop. This means I can use my non-music-PC monitors, mouse and keyboard and save some desk space.

Like therobyouknow, I have a triple boot configuration as follows:
1. Original XP OS with Sonar 7, FL Studio, SW1000XG, Delta 66 and a ton of software that won't work on Windows 10.
2. Windows 10 (32 bit) OS with Sonar 7, FL Studio, SW1000XG, Delta 66.
3. Windows 10 (64 bit) OS with Cakewalk by Bandlab, FL Studio and Delta 66 but sadly no SW1000XG.

Its a shame Cakewalk by Bandlab is only available for 64 bit, otherwise I could do without the third boot option and use the latest version of Cakewalk with the SW1000XG.

Remote desktop works flawlessly when booting to Win10 but not so well with XP, since my monitors are different resolutions and XP only supports a rectangular remote desktop.

Biggest issue I had was the memory upgrade. Officially, the mobo only supports upto 2GB but I found out about an unofficial BIOS from the german pctreiber website that enables up to 4GB (3.5GB usable). It also has a couple of other goodies such as better (much quieter) fan control. Unfortunately, my first attempt at flashing the BIOS was only semi-successful and I ended up bricking the machine. It refused to boot from any of the devices I selected in the BIOS (tried SSD, HDD, USB, DVD but couldn't find a floppy to try) so I couldn't revert it back to the original working BIOS!! Fortunately, the mobo has a removable BIOS chip and I found somebody on eBay who would flash the original BIOS onto a chip and post it to me for £8. To my delight, it worked, and to my even greater delight my second attempt at flashing the pctreiber BIOS with '/-BC' option also worked! So it can now access 4GB of RAM and has a much quieter fan! So far, everything seems very stable with no BSODs (I am writing this post on it so touch wood).

I've written a little batch file that uses the 'bcdedit /default' to allow you to change the default boot selection and restart from Remote Destop, which means you don't need a keyboard and monitor attached at boot time, so I can reboot from Win10 (32) to Win10 (64) and vice-versa, Win10 (either) to XP but not (yet) XP to Win10.

Hope this gives another possible solution for anybody in the same position with old PCI soundcards! I haven't yet experimented with virtualisation and pass through but very much doubt that my old mobo supports it.

cheers,
Tony
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Re: Using PCI Passthrough to support old hardware that only has 32bit drivers

Postby Kubist » Wed Aug 14, 2019 2:39 am

therobyouknow wrote:There are good deals around online for genuine Windows from OEM kit sellers etc, rather than buying from well known high street outlets at higher prices.

Always best to check the future of your license - With Windows 10, a "high street" or retail license can be transfered between motherboards but with OEM license, the license may die with a major hardware change (mobo yes, hard drive no).

I came to W10 with a free upgrade from my Windows 7 (from Scan or Dabs) on a DVD and have recently transfered motherboard with ease.

I am interested in the plenty of quality old kit on Ebay which faded out due to lack of support for OS changes. It seems that W10 may be helping to resurrect these.

mLan was the future of music (for a couple of years) and it seems there is a W10 solution.
Any other kit in a similar position ?
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