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philmagnotta
10-02-2009, 12:31 PM
Dear Forum:

I have a general knowledge of PCs.
I am in the process of having a specialized or custom-built DAW or Digital Audio Workstation.
After spending a half a year researching this specialized field, as applies to: CPU, MoBo, HDs, RAM, Video Card, OS, Audio Interface (sound card), but in this case, an external firewire based Input/Output box with drivers, and the so-called Windows Tweeks, etc., I have come to the conclusion that this can be difficult to get a complete picture of the system as a whole.
Probably a lot has to do with the fact that custom builders are in business and thier advice differs enough that I thought I would step outside of that business and just ask for some technical advice.
1st. my configuration:
Intel i7 920.
Three, Seagate 500 gig, 7,200 rpm SATA-II, 32 meg cache.
6 Gig of Corsair Dominator RAM 1600 8-8-8-8-24
MoBo-unknown...this is common with these custom builders, as they claim it to be proprietary? I will be able to see it when it arrives!
NVIDIA fanless 9500 GT
Audio Interface MOTU firewire 828 mkIII
Enclosure Antec SonataIII w/500 watt Pwr supply
Windows Vista 64, striped down, no internet use is recommended, running a
a end-to-end audio production 64 bit application.
That is it.

My question is this. How much better is the i7 over the previous top ranked Intel cpu?
Is it true that that it is the application codeing that will determine whether
multi-core useage is leveraged, versus clock speed, versus memory bandwidth?
I have no choice about Vista right now as W7 is still in beta and I have to begin production as soon as possible.
Apart from the extra RAM useage provided with a 64 bit OS/motherboard, etc, what can I expect for performance over XP32/64?
Any comments will be greatly appriciated and thank you in advance

pctek
10-02-2009, 02:30 PM
How much better is the i7 over the previous top ranked Intel cpu?
Is it true that that it is the application codeing that will determine whether
multi-core useage is leveraged?


Lots.
Yes.

Chilling_Silence
10-02-2009, 02:32 PM
Welcome to PressF1!

Now, its basically all down to your application if its a 64-bit app, if it supports multiple cores / threads.

Unless the application itself is a 64-bit app, you likely wont see much improvement over a 32-bit OS with 3GB Ram to be honest, there's still other limitations. If you're doing 10 things at once, THEN you might need additional RAM, but otherwise to be honest its just a waste ...
IF the app is 64-bit, then the RAM might help, but I dont know of any audio editing apps that use more than 1.5GB Ram at a given time, unless you're editing say 3 hours of uncompressed audio ...

The i7 CPU's are nice, you pay a premium for some of them though.

The HDD's, you'd get better bang-for-buck with 2x 750GB's rather than 3x 500GB's.

The Fanless options are nice, but they get hot easy, so make sure your case in-general has good airflow or you'll cook it. Especially in weather like we've been having this week.

Even though Win7 is still in Beta, its possibly worth dual-booting if you can get your hands on it, try it out, see if you like it, you may be pleasantly surprised by the performance differences.

Cheers


Chill.

philmagnotta
10-02-2009, 03:25 PM
HI Chilling_Silence;754037:

Thank you for the quick reply!

In answer to some of your questions:
Now, its basically all down to your application if its a 64-bit app, if it supports multiple cores / threads.

It is 64 bit 'end-to-end' and supports mult cores/threads.
--------------------------------------------------------------------
If you're doing 10 things at once, THEN you might need additional RAM,

Cakewalk's SONAR Producer ver 8.0, which is the audio app I'll be using, generally will be called upon to do many more things at once.

For example, the following, would not be unusual:
30 to 40 stereo tracks (playback)@ 24 bit, 96 kHz.
Equalizer plug-ins perhaps on all tracks
Dynamics processors on 15 tracks
Reverberation and or Delay plugs on maybe 10 tracks
8-to-10 different Synthesizer plug-ins with a total voice count of app.200 voices
Orchestral sample libraries averaging 300-to-400 voices

As I understand it, used to be that sample playback used disk streaming, but now developers are designing them for heavy ram use over the former.
Synths are using cpu cores/threads mostly

The rest, I don't know.

Regarding the drives, most pro audio apps, such as this one, require one OS drive, one audio tracking/recording drive and one sample/sounds drive, in fact, the app will attempt to load those separate sections into those three drives by default.

About the video card, well the one I mentioned above is installed in many pro studio DAWs along with the aforementioned encloser/fan set-up, has proven over the last several years to work well and so this card/case/fan set-up for my system should be ok.
This combination is dirived primarily due to noise requirements when the PC must sit in the control room.



E=Chilling_Silence;754037]Welcome to PressF1!

Now, its basically all down to your application if its a 64-bit app, if it supports multiple cores / threads.

Unless the application itself is a 64-bit app, you likely wont see much improvement over a 32-bit OS with 3GB Ram to be honest, there's still other limitations. If you're doing 10 things at once, THEN you might need additional RAM, but otherwise to be honest its just a waste ...
IF the app is 64-bit, then the RAM might help, but I dont know of any audio editing apps that use more than 1.5GB Ram at a given time, unless you're editing say 3 hours of uncompressed audio ...

The i7 CPU's are nice, you pay a premium for some of them though.

The HDD's, you'd get better bang-for-buck with 2x 750GB's rather than 3x 500GB's.

The Fanless options are nice, but they get hot easy, so make sure your case in-general has good airflow or you'll cook it. Especially in weather like we've been having this week.

Even though Win7 is still in Beta, its possibly worth dual-booting if you can get your hands on it, try it out, see if you like it, you may be pleasantly surprised by the performance differences.

Cheers


Chill.[/QUOTE]

Chilling_Silence
10-02-2009, 04:06 PM
If thats the case, then you might see a bit of an improvement when you apply filtering and things to it (Post-processing) but if you're doing stuff in realtime it possibly might not make much difference.

The CPU will be crucial though.

All in all, for the cost of a few extra bucks, it sounds like its going to be put to good use, so why not :) It may not be a performance-increase, but more a 'future-proofing' of your system so you can grow and grow without worrying about if it'll keep up or not.

Blam
10-02-2009, 05:01 PM
Go with the i7.

It absolutely pwns the core 2 series in multi threaded apps.

You may not see the performance increase now, but when you start to run multi core supported apps, you will be at your knees with the incredulous speed.

Blam

philmagnotta
11-02-2009, 08:48 AM
Thanks to all who responded.
A few more questions please:

As I understand it, the i7 series will soon be used on systems like the Xeon, that is to say, server style mobo/sockets.
The MacPro, which is a server of sorts, being multi socketed Xeons, are probably going to go this route in 09.
Although the MacPro is a good DAW, the requirements for fully buffered DIMMS have, under certain audio apps, presented a bottleneck due to the FB DIMMs.
Is it true that using an i7 in such a muti cpu arrangement will not require those FB DIMMs?
I can imagine such a system would be a giant leap forward or is again, app dependant?

Apparently, mobo make a huge difference in Pro Audio systems and nobody designing these custom built systems will say what they use.
Of course, the customer eventually will see it, but it isn't revealed in presales discussions and it is amazing that the entire audio pro industry, on forums at least, respects this to such a degree that they comply.
Some knowledgable folks have stated that certain mobo use VIA chips and that those chips are not desireable for what ever reason.
Does anyone know what they are refering to and what specs, besides basic features/requirements a perspective shopper of mobo should know?