Time to upgrade the box


I suppose when my trusty P4 starts thinking it’s 1/1/02 every time I start it, it might just be time to upgrade.

So I have a question. I don’t really get all this dual core, quad core stuff. I was told today that when there are multiple CPUs, it only really helps when multiple programs are running, and that if I’m running one application - n-Track, say - it gets assigned to one of the cores. And the computers I was looking at are all 2.4 GHz CPUs. My old P4 is faster than that. I was told not to expect any real improvement. Is what I was told true?

You mat simply need a new motherboard battery.

Isn’t that reason enough to get a new everything-n-sight? :)

Ha - it is in my book…

Really, Just a battery? Shows you what I know…

BTW, Poppa, I have a badly done mando track for you. Look for it tomorrow. :)


Is what I was told true?

Yes and no. According to Flavio, (there's a post about it here somewhere...) n-Track is capable of utilizing more than one CPU core under some circumstances.

Search for that thread... it's around someplace.

If n doesn't use all of the CPU cores, there's always that other one that does. :p


EDIT: Here you go... http://ntrackforum.com/cgi-bin/ikonforum/index.cgi?act=ST;f=1;t=8126

One note about the posted results though... What would matter most to me is how well the app scaled across the cores while actually running, mixing and utilizing VST/DX FX and instruments. Cutting render time? Big deal... it's still faster than ProTools.

Low CMOS battery.


BTW, Poppa, I have a badly done mando track for you. Look for it tomorrow. :)

I'll be lookin' :agree:

My fiddle guy Daner is too busy plowin' - I'd like to get Arkansas finished while it's still a state, so I may see if my RealBand fiddle player fits.

Thanx Tom.

Long story short, multi core is essentially bundling multiple processors into the same chip. So in the past where we would have literally 4 separate CPUs in a box, now you would get a quadcore which is 4 processors smashed together into the same chip.

What you say is mostly true. You do need to have an app that is multi processor aware. Likely the VSTs are not multiprocessor aware, but certain apps are bright enough to cram the processing of each VST into separate cores. I am not sure how N work in this regard but that thread seems to show there is definite value.

I have an intel Quad core and an AMD Athlon dual core (64x2 4200+). The Athlon actually runs audio with less latency (practically non existant)- the Quad is only medium. In the post that Flavio said something to the effect that audio did not particularly benifit from Quad core. My experience is that most of my software does not use the Quad, but does work better with Dual core. Some testing (and my experioence) says that Quad may actually slow down some processes.
I’d suggest getting a quality dual core with a really good motherboard and memory - they are all cheap right now (check Frys, Newegg and TigerDirect online.) All have proved reliable for me. Now, is probably a good time to upgrade.
Oh, replacing the battery on the motherboard will fix the clock problem :)
Something I would advise if you do get the new motherboard and processsor, either get a new hard drive or wipe out the Windows on the one you have. The drivers, etc. are different for each computer and just using the old copy of Windows will give you heartaches!
YOu may want to just shop for a whole new computer - the last time I built one, it cost about what I could have bought one ready to go.

Hi Gents:


Would you have any suggestions as to some of the parts that can be bought through TigerDirect…
We got a T/D warehouse up here in the Toronto Area…

From Time-to-Time computer parts and hardware get blown out the door at rock bottom prices…

You may be right Gents…
Now may be the time for me to get out of the early '90’s with this computer hardware/stuff I have…


You should know a few things before hand. dpclat.exe is a program to check driver latency. Or better, how well you system can stream audio and/or video. It’s a great tool to tell how well you system runs for apps not just games. For example, if you read my Sig, I’m 4.0gz dual core, yup over clocked, aggressive cooling but very stable, and the tool dpclat.exe gives me all green across the board on this system. I have no issues running N-track and a good number of VST’s more than would normally be used as an example. However, I bought a LapTop because my main system makes too much noise and I needed a solution for my vocals, Build a box to sit in or buy a laptop that makes low noise, I chose the laptop. It came with Vista 32 bit, When I run the tool dpclat.exe I get very bad spiking, well into the red, I disabled wireless lan and this makes things better however, I have to disable much more to get the driver latency lower so the tool reports mostly green however I still get spikes well into 1000ms and above laptop/vista32. I also have to disable some graphical options in N-track in order for the program to function without skipping. The Laptop is Asus m50vm. Noticeable, the Asus M50sv with Vista32 bit installed runs the tool dpclat.exe in all green even with the wireless on, so go figure??. Anyways I installed WINxp Sp3 on the Laptop, disable the wireless lan and I get all green just like on my main system and it runs perfect without having to disable any of N-tracks features. For now I would recommend if you upgrade, stay away from vista unless you are able to run the tool dpclat.exe and get all green bars for at least 2 minutes with no spiking whatsoever.

Here’s a link to the tool.




dpclat.exe is a program to check driver latency.

Sort of... to understand the whole story read this page.


DPC = Deferred Procedure Call
DPC Latency = the time between processing the deferred procedure(s)

So technically, it's not checking "driver" latency.

Poorly written device drivers are just one of many things that can cause excessive DP calls. A system that has inherently low DPC latency will handle audio/video streaming apps with the same audio/video device driver that will fail miserably on a machine with excessive DP calls because of BIOS or MOBO driver issues causing the problem. So it's a bit tougher than just saying "Oh your device driver is poo."

Bottom line? Sneak dpclat.exe on a USB thumb drive into BestBuy or wherever, sneakily run the program on the machine BEFORE you buy it. If it reports really low DPC latency, you'll probably be good to go.

Dell has an entire range of laptops out right now with a serious DPC problem. Definitely check that out BEFORE you think about ordering a Dell laptop! I think a few desktop systems from Dell have been found lacking as well. Make sure you have a good return policy...

Also, it never hurts to Google your eyeballs out before dropping any cash on a system.


Excerpt from linked page:


Background information: Why drop-outs occur

Processing of streaming data in real-time is a very challenging task for Windows based applications and device drivers. This is because by design Windows is not a real-time operating system. There is no guarantee that certain (periodic) actions can be executed in a timely manner.

Audio or video data streams transferred from or to an external device are typically handled by a kernel-mode device driver. Data processing in such device drivers is interrupt-driven. Typically, the external hardware periodically issues interrupts to request the driver to transfer the next block of data. In Windows NT based systems (Windows 2000 and better) there is a specific interrupt handling mechanism. A device driver cannot process data immediately in its interrupt routine. It has to schedule a Deferred Procedure Call (DPC) which basically is a callback routine that will be called by the operating system as soon as possible. Any data transfer performed by the device driver takes place in the context of this callback routine, named DPC for short.

The operating system maintains DPCs scheduled by device drivers in a queue. There is one DPC queue per CPU available in the system. At certain points the kernel checks the DPC queue and if no interrupt is to be processed and no DPC is currently running the first DPC will be un-queued and executed. DPC queue processing happens before the dispatcher selects a thread and assigns the CPU to it. So, a Deferred Procedure Call has a higher priority than any thread in the system.

Note that the Deferred Procedure Call concept exists in kernel mode only. Any user-mode code (Windows applications) runs in the context of a thread. Threads are managed and scheduled for execution by the dispatcher.

While there is a pre-emptive multitasking for threads, DPCs are executed sequentially according to the first in, first out nature of a DPC queue. Thus, a sort of cooperative multitasking scheme exists for Deferred Procedure Calls. If any DPC runs for an excessive amount of time then other DPCs will be delayed by that amount of time. Consequently, the latency of a particular DPC is defined as the sum of the execution time of all DPCs queued in front of that DPC. In order to achieve reasonable DPC latencies, in the Windows Device Driver Kit (DDK) documentation Microsoft recommends to return from a DPC routine as quick as possible. Any lengthy operation and specifically loops that wait for a hardware state change (polling) are strongly discouraged.

Unfortunately, many existing device drivers do not conform to this advice. Such drivers spend an excessive amount of time in their DPC routines, causing an exceptional large latency for any other driver’s DPCs. For a device driver that handles data streams in real-time it is crucial that a DPC scheduled from its interrupt routine is executed before the hardware issues the next interrupt. If the DPC is delayed and runs after the next interrupt occurred, typically a hardware buffer overrun occurs and the flow of data is interrupted. A drop-out occurs.
Quote: (Dubious @ Jan. 13 2009, 4:43 PM)

Excerpt from linked page:


typically a hardware buffer overrun occurs and the flow of data is interrupted. A drop-out occurs.

Driver latency??? Are we not splitting hairs here??..The bottom line is, the tool will tell you yes or no. Dubious's plan to take a thumb USB version of this program into the store is great idea. It's like taking a test drive, the salesman says "this car can do 200 MPH" you take for test drive to see if it actually can. The best investment is knowledge!! When the salesman craps his pants at 200mph you found the right one. It's a great tool whether it's called a Driver latency checker or a Deferred Procedure Call information tool. Either way, it separates the chunky cows from the good working PC's. WinXP will provide better results because the driver support is better IMO. Like I said before, I saw a Laptop with Vista 32bit score all green in benches (with wireless lan on!!), so go figure. I hope this helps you,


Bill, as I mentioned in my post, the “pre-built” computer is starting what you can build one for. Yes, it’s still cheaper to build one, but it is ggetting harder to tell what you are buying. As was mentioned, the motherboard can be a drag on an audio system, and the wrong video, etc. It’s the way they fit together. That said, you just have to read enough reviews to begin to understand what is working in the current market. That can be hard because most of the reviews are on the sales site side.
Anyhow, the best prices are for motherboard/CPU combos. Compare AMD and Intel for pricing and AMD comes out a little head, for speed, probably Intel. Either way, I personally think dual core is the best buy. Go to Forums to read about the ones that interest you - www.tomshardware.com/us is one site.
Same with video cards - see if you can find people/forum talking about what works. There are so many choices. Power supply (get 500 watt) - I stick to Antex, fans - Zelman. Antec makes a very quiet case.


Are we not splitting hairs here??

Split them hares! *elmer fudd voice* Kill da' wabbit! Kill da' wabbit!

Oh... H.A.I.R.S. Maybe so PACO, maybe so... but hey if there's hair around to split, why not? :laugh:

The main point is shop carefully and do your research. :agree:


Kill da’ wabbit! Kill da’ wabbit -

Mmmmmnn - i will remember that D -



Wong wabbit!

Long live Looney Toons!

What's Opera Doc?


Can’t believe you found that! - lol - gonna be hard to get this one out’o my head today.
Maybe a mandolin part could do it.