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External sound card to help reducing CPU stress?
Katatsumuri
post Sep 20 2012, 17:13
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Hello. Hope to find an answer to this little problem of mine.
I sometimes run Ableton Live 8.2 on a Samsung laptop (windows 8 64bit). When playing above around 10 tracks with effects ecc (without "freezing" them) the CPU load indicator tends to go over 100% and everything is messed up. The bottleneck of this computer is clearly the CPU: it's and AMD A6 4455 "trinity"(dual core). It's clearly not a great processor but it's still brand new and I thought it could handle some more stress by Ableton.
Now, my question is:

Would an external sound card help taking off some CPU stress when processing audio? (Maybe dedicated drivers instead of Asio4all might help?)

In that case, what kind of external sound card should I buy? (I'd like to buy one anyways)

Thank you in advance.

PS: sorry about my goofy english!
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slks
post Sep 22 2012, 09:04
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To address the original question - No, a new sound card by itself won't reduce CPU load. While you may be able to get a high-end model that can do its own reverb and EQ, this only "reduces CPU load" in the sense that you would disable those effects in Ableton and do them in the sound card instead. But I'm guessing you're working with more than reverb and EQ.

At first glance, my gut feeling is that your hardware simply isn't powerful enough. I don't keep a close eye on new CPU benchmarks, so someone please correct me if I'm wrong, but - isn't the A6 a netbook-class low-wattage CPU? Mobile CPUs have come a long way, and they're perfectly adequate for what 90% of people do with a computer. The problem is that you're in the 10%. Doing multitrack audio editing and effects in real time requires power to spare.

Personally I'd go for a desktop system. You can certainly get powerful laptops, but the advantages of a desktop system are multitudinous. Cooling systems are better, there's more flexibility for upgrades later on, and a better ratio of bang to buck. IMO you should only be looking at a laptop if there's a real reason you need the portability, like if you're going to be doing shows on a regular basis. (Even still, a desktop computer doesn't take any longer to set up than a couple of turntables or tube amps...)


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washu
post Sep 22 2012, 15:51
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QUOTE (slks @ Sep 22 2012, 04:04) *
isn't the A6 a netbook-class low-wattage CPU?


I thought this had been addressed already, but I guess I wasn't clear enough. No, the A6 is not a "netbook-class" CPU like an Atom or Brazos. It is a low power chip with a Trinity core. While it has some performance reduction due to a lower clock speed and less cache, it has the same core design as AMDs current high end bulldozer chips. It's not top of the line by any means, but it's no slouch and much faster than the "netbook-class" CPUs.

CPU power alone should not be the cause of the issue here.
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slks
post Sep 23 2012, 21:46
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QUOTE (washu @ Sep 22 2012, 09:51) *
QUOTE (slks @ Sep 22 2012, 04:04) *
isn't the A6 a netbook-class low-wattage CPU?


I thought this had been addressed already, but I guess I wasn't clear enough. No, the A6 is not a "netbook-class" CPU like an Atom or Brazos. It is a low power chip with a Trinity core. While it has some performance reduction due to a lower clock speed and less cache, it has the same core design as AMDs current high end bulldozer chips. It's not top of the line by any means, but it's no slouch and much faster than the "netbook-class" CPUs.

CPU power alone should not be the cause of the issue here.


Haha, alright. I had my Atom N270 in mind when typing that post. That one could hardly handle YouTube.

I'm not familiar with Ableton, but is it possible it's just not very efficient with CPU usage? Or that it stresses that particular chip in a particular way? A bit of Googling has revealed that:

QUOTE
Although marketed as a dual-core processor, the A6-4455M includes only one module with two integer-cores and and floating-point core. As a result, the CPU is not a true dual-core processor.


IIRC effects are done with floating-point mathematics, so it could be that the chip essentially has only 1 core for processing audio.

The site also mentioned the chip has something of a "turbo" mode that bumps up the clock speed by a few hundred mHz. I'm not sure if it's triggered automatically under load, or if it has to be manually set. (My Atom required you to manually activate it with the system tray icon.) Short of getting new hardware, I'd look into that, and also the power-saving settings.


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Posts in this topic
- Katatsumuri   External sound card to help reducing CPU stress?   Sep 20 2012, 17:13
- - saratoga   QUOTE (Katatsumuri @ Sep 20 2012, 12:13) ...   Sep 20 2012, 17:20
|- - gymnos   QUOTE (saratoga @ Sep 20 2012, 17:20) QUO...   Sep 23 2012, 01:42
- - yourlord   You have some other issue.. That CPU should barely...   Sep 20 2012, 17:47
|- - dhromed   QUOTE (yourlord @ Sep 20 2012, 18:47) You...   Sep 20 2012, 18:48
|- - washu   QUOTE (dhromed @ Sep 20 2012, 13:48) Pret...   Sep 20 2012, 19:46
|- - Arnold B. Krueger   QUOTE (washu @ Sep 20 2012, 14:46) QUOTE ...   Sep 20 2012, 20:12
|- - washu   QUOTE (Arnold B. Krueger @ Sep 20 2012, 15...   Sep 20 2012, 20:24
- - Katatsumuri   Thank you for answering, you're really helping...   Sep 20 2012, 18:46
|- - saratoga   QUOTE (Katatsumuri @ Sep 20 2012, 13:46) ...   Sep 20 2012, 19:00
- - DVDdoug   Some effects can take lots of processing power. ...   Sep 20 2012, 18:50
- - Katatsumuri   QUOTE (DVDdoug @ Sep 20 2012, 19:50) A ...   Sep 20 2012, 19:04
- - yourlord   A single Bulldozer core, while not the greatest th...   Sep 20 2012, 20:55
- - Katatsumuri   The point is that I don't think the hard disk ...   Sep 21 2012, 08:36
|- - Arnold B. Krueger   QUOTE (Katatsumuri @ Sep 21 2012, 03:36) ...   Sep 21 2012, 13:06
- - yourlord   I'm not familiar with the program you're u...   Sep 21 2012, 15:57
- - RonaldDumsfeld   Ableton was a fantastic piece of software when it ...   Sep 21 2012, 17:26
- - slks   To address the original question - No, a new sound...   Sep 22 2012, 09:04
|- - washu   QUOTE (slks @ Sep 22 2012, 04:04) isn...   Sep 22 2012, 15:51
|- - slks   QUOTE (washu @ Sep 22 2012, 09:51) QUOTE ...   Sep 23 2012, 21:46
|- - washu   slks: You are correct about the A6 not being a tr...   Sep 23 2012, 22:44
|- - saratoga   QUOTE (slks @ Sep 23 2012, 16:46) I'm...   Sep 23 2012, 23:02
|- - washu   QUOTE (saratoga @ Sep 23 2012, 18:02) Sha...   Sep 24 2012, 00:24
|- - saratoga   QUOTE (washu @ Sep 23 2012, 19:24) By tha...   Sep 24 2012, 00:28
- - Katatsumuri   Ok I get the point of DSP processing of just EQ an...   Sep 22 2012, 10:25
- - punkrockdude   Try to increase your latency/buffers in audio sett...   Sep 22 2012, 21:54
- - Katatsumuri   QUOTE (punkrockdude @ Sep 22 2012, 22:54)...   Sep 23 2012, 00:06
|- - washu   QUOTE (Katatsumuri @ Sep 22 2012, 19:06) ...   Sep 23 2012, 00:27
- - phofman   It takes just a single coding blunder to make any ...   Sep 24 2012, 13:32
- - Gecko   What happens when you use the standard audio devic...   Sep 24 2012, 18:16
- - Katatsumuri   QUOTE (washu @ Sep 23 2012, 23:44) Katats...   Sep 25 2012, 00:47
|- - washu   QUOTE (Katatsumuri @ Sep 24 2012, 19:47) ...   Sep 25 2012, 02:35
- - Katatsumuri   Uninstalling the anti-virus software does not help...   Sep 25 2012, 21:40
- - [JAZ]   Mmm.. Are you using the same output samplerate on ...   Sep 26 2012, 19:46
- - Katatsumuri   I always work at 44khz. Definitely need OpenCL su...   Sep 27 2012, 09:25


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