System requirements

I wanted to go over some questions that I have in regards to audour, computer hardware, & audio hardware. I have some reponses from the chat room listed below and I could use any additional feedback you might have on the answers I received.

  1. Under “System Requirements” it says you should have a “disk subsystem” featuring atleast 7200RPM. Im not concerned about the RPM of the HD, but what is a “disk subsytem”? This flows into my second question:

  2. Under “System Requirements” it says firewire drives are likely to work very well. Is this directed toward the system HD &/or the second non-system HD?

Chat answers:

[00:31] jackbrown123: the basic story is that it doesn’t really matter unless you plan large track counts (lets say 12+)
[00:32] jackbrown123: a disk subsystem is everything involved in storing/retrieving data on a disk: the disk hardware itself, the interconnect (IDE, SATA, Firewire, USB), the drivers, the filesystem, the actual layout of the files on the disk

[00:32] jackbrown123: many people use ardour and other similar software on laptops with just a single system disk that runs at 5400rpm or 7200rpm
[00:33] jackbrown123: its only if you plan to record/play more than 12 tracks at a time that you even need to think about this stuff, and i should really edit that page
[00:34] jackbrown123: since that was written, the bandwidth of lower-RPM disk (e.g. 5400rpm) has increased dramatically, so that although the rotational latency is still not so good, they do not limit track counts in the same way as they used ot

  1. my previous two questions were more in relation to latency than to track counts. Ive had problems
    with latency with my current setup and i am trying to design a new system.

[00:45] “latency” is more to do with the audio hardware and the configuration of the operating system than the disks

  1. Do the “chat” responses above also mean that USB HD’s are now as good as Firewire or should I only use firewire when using a second drive for audio?

  2. Does the same thing hold true for the audio interfaces or do Firewire audio interfaces work better than USB, when considering “latency”?

@jackbrown123: you’re confusing two kinds of latency.

  • rotational latency (aka "seek time") controls the minimum time a disk takes to read arbitrary data. It is determined almost entirely by how fast the disk spins. For SSD's (Solid State Disks), its close to zero.
  • audio latency refers to delays in an audio signal path

These two things are absolutely, totally, fundamentally unrelated.

The bandwidth of USB HD’s has continued to improve with newer versions of the USB standard. USB1.0 HD’s still have notable less bandwidth than a FireWire drive. There is also eSATA these days, which is going to be as good as an internal drive, more or less.

PCI interfaces have the lowest latencies at present (theoretically Firewire could get pretty low, but its not achievable at present). If you need multiple channels (more than 2, perhaps 4) then USB is not an option; latency for USB1.0 audio is comparable to firewire; USB2.0 is a bit better but has no support on Linux.

btw, “chat” is “las” which is my nickname on IRC.