Updated Information on DAW Performance & Compatibility with Motherboards/Chipsets Featuring PCIe

©AGRONOVA/Anders Fahlén
2006-01-18 First edition

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Disclaimer: The author/RME cannot be held responsible for any eventual damages as a consequence of using the information found in this document. The author has done his best to cross-check and verify information presented in this document but there is no liability to guarantee against any eventual damages caused by the user. The user and reader are fully responsible for any eventual damages caused by implementing or misusing information in this document. This information is provided “as is” and may be subject to changes.

Any imperfections left in the document are solely the responsibility of the author. Readers who may want to get in dialogue with the author (e.g. to suggest improvements, corrections, etc). should make contact at www.agronova.se/music.html.

Intel chipsets:

Intel 975X

The Intel 975X chipset is having the same Southbridge (ICH7R) as the 955X. The changes are primarily represented by a modified Northbridge (82975X) with support for 800/1066 MHz FSB (Extreme Edition) and technology to split the primary graphic card’s connection into two x8 PCIe slots.

Intel is to release its new generation of single-core and dual-core CPUs based on 65 nm process technology, code names Cedar Mills (Intel 6xx) and Presler (Intel 9xx), in early 2006. While being new it is noted that this represents the last revision of the Pentium 4 architecture to be released. Approximately another 6 months down the road Intel will release its new CPU generation of single-core and dual-core CPUs, code names Woodcrest (server), Conroe (desktop), and Merom (mobile).

According to information the Presler and Cedar Mill CPUs will only be backward compatible with the Intel 955/945 chipsets and related motherboards. The Presler family of CPUs will have two independent processing engines on the same processing substrate whereas the Cedar Mills will feature one processing engine. The Presler clones will come with 2,8/3,0/3,2/3,4 GHz clock frequency, 800 MHz FSB (the Extreme Editions run at 1066 FSB and adds Hyper-Threading technology to the dual-core CPUs), and 2 x 2 MB cache. In fact, the increased cache size, up 2 x 1 MB, is the main architectural difference from Intel’s previous dual-core CPU (Smithfield).

From a performance point of view it can be predicted that the Presler and Cedar Mill will mainly differ from previous Intel CPUs, of equivalent architecture and clock frequency, as to what extent the larger cache size has significant impacts (core-to-core latency and L2 cache latency can be disregarded as they are in the same ball park, Smithfield vs. Presler).

For DAW users it may be just as interesting to note that Intel’s move to 65 nm processing technology means reduced power consumption and less capacity needed for CPU cooling and case ventilation. However, as long as the basic Pentium 4 CPU architecture is not changed the estimated thermal power dissipation, TDP, will not reach as low as with the current AMD 64 CPUs despite the reduced size.

For obvious reasons, as of this writing, it is too early to know how well the new Presler and Cedar Mill CPUs, will run in DAW configurations.


This chipset as implemented by Asus (Asus P5WD2 Premium), Intel (D955) and Gigabyte ( GA-8I955X Royal) is reported to work well with pro audio PCI/FW soundcards (Soundscape, RME HDSP PCI/Fireface 800, Lynx, etc.. There are also user reports confirming compatibility with UAD-1, Creamware Pulsar, Soundscape Mixtreme and TC PowerCore DSP PCI cards. These mainboards are further reported to work well with PCI soundcard/DSP cards seated directly to on-board PCI slots.

Users with the Asus P5WD2 may have to adjust the Vcore setting in the BIOS as this mainboard is known to have relatively high Vcore settings by default which may result in high CPU temperatures under load and increased thermal risks. Users with dual-core Intel Pentium 4 CPUs (specifically the D830 and D840 series with high heat dissipation values under load) are further strongly advised to install heatsinks/fans with improved heat dissipation capacity compared to stock units (including the additional support of extra intake/outtake case fans).

Its is further recommended that users install the latest Intel Matrix Storage Manager with improved SATA/RAID/AHCI support if you are using Intel 9xx Express chipsets and experience pops/clicks in playback mode.

Stress test data:

The Asus P5WS2 Premium, in combination with Intel D830 @ 3.75 GHz and RME Fireface (using on-board TI FW controller), is by user reported to run the Thonex II stress test (Nuendo(Cubase) down to some 64 samples latency setting without pops/clicks and with 75-80% CPU idle/load usage. The Intel D820 @ 2.8 GHz is reported to run the same test down to 128 samples latency settings at approx. 90% CPU load with M-Audio FW 410 soundcard.

The Gigabyte GA-8I955X Royal is reported to make the original Thonex/Nuendo 3 stress test down to 128 samples latency setting at 53-62% CPU load without pops/clicks with D830 @ 3 GHz Pentium CPU, dual channel DDR RAM, Matrox P650 PCIe video card, and Presonus Firepod/RME Fireface 800 soundcards.

Thonex/Nuendo 3 stress test data with Pentium D820, Intel 955X chipset, and either M-audio 410 FW or RME MADI PCI soundcards, show similar performance irrespective if PCIe Geforce 6800 or ATI X300 video cards were used. This indicates that the PCI bus and its effective bandwidth on this 955X-featured mainboard were not affected by low- or high-end PCIe video installed.

The Intel D820 @ 2.8 GHz is reported to run the Sonar 3 stress test with Sonar ver. 4.04 down to some 2 ms latency setting at 70% CPU load with E-MU 0404 PCI soundcard/driver without pops/clicks.








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