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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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