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Topic: Regarding GSIF Drivers

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2000
    Orcas Island

    Regarding GSIF Drivers

    Quote Originally Posted by dalek3;614270 in another thread

    My understanding about GSIF is it was necessary to allow Giga to operate at the kernel level, as ASIO is designed to work with regular user level applications instead of kernel level, and that is why they could not use it - so does this mean that you plan to take GS4 out of the kernel?

    During GigaChat today, we discussed GSIF drivers and whether to continue development of GSIF drivers.

    If I recall correctly, the first Gigasamplers did not use GSIF drivers and still operated at the kernel level. I remember my first Giga machine using a Soundblaster card. We have much code to examine to see how feasible this is.

    It would be better to open things up rather than requiring a select few cards. Also, if Mac support is going to be viable we need to look beyond GSIF. This is something we are exploring to see what is possible.


  2. #2

    Re: Regarding GSIF Drivers

    I recall reading somewhere that ASIO would not work with kernel level Giga which is why GSIF exists in the first place.

    I never used Gigasampler, having started with GS3, but the older Gigasampler ran on Windows 98, and WinXP/Vista is quite different in terms of it's architecture.. perhaps the method they used on Windows 98 to make it possible to have Giga run at the kernel level and still use the sound card was not possible with XP/Vista?

    Of course another question is whether kernel level Giga is really needed, as it increases the performance but decreases stability, and Kontakt and other samplers seem to do fairly well without kernel level operation.

    Edit: IMO, it makes a certain amount of sense to move Giga from the kernel to the user mode because then GVI and Giga could have more of a common code base - knowing what I know about programming, the same functions in GVI are at the moment probably written differently than in Giga due to GVI being user mode and Giga kernel mode.

  3. #3

    Re: Regarding GSIF Drivers

    Quote Originally Posted by Garritan View Post
    It would be better to open things up rather than requiring a select few cards.
    Gary, a best-of-both-worlds approach would be to run Giga in kernel mode with an interface that can shoot the audio back to the application layer and on to any old audio card. Customers buy Giga regardless of the card they own. Later, they can upgrade to GSIF, if needed.

    One thing for sure, I'd benchmark the poop out of Giga, GVI, Aria and your competitors' samplers before making a decision. If kernel mode rocks, keep it. If it's less than a 50% improvement over application mode, dump it.

    If you go with kernel mode, do these things:
    1) Make a free download demo that lets people benchmark their systems,
    2) Recommend specific hardware and driver version numbers,
    3) Make GSIF cards an optional upgrade that can be purchased at a later date. You make the sale first. The card vendors make the sale second. Not the other way around, and
    4) Include GVI-like code in the product. If Kernel doesn't fly on a given system, the customer can downgrade to application code and make music.

    In other words, remove all risk for the user, but let them fly high, if they build/buy the right machine.

    Quote Originally Posted by Dalek
    Of course another question is whether kernel level Giga is really needed, as it increases the performance but decreases stability.
    Dalek, this is not correct. GS3 and GS4 are supremely stable, but they don't run at all on systems that have the wrong combination of hardware and drivers. I can run my machine for weeks without a restart or reboot.

    The exception is if I overload the RAM. If I cram too many samples in, then it can go pop, but that's way up at the limit. It's the same with my car. If I rev the motor at 10,000 rpm for very long, it will go pop too, but I don't consider my car to be unstable.

    Anyway, Gary, benchmark kernel mode and you'll know if you have a gem or a dud. The benchmark information will come in handy when you either market kernel mode, or when you announce that you've killed it.

    It's good for your customers too. I want to have justification for building a killer Giga machine - or I want to know that it's just not worth it.

    Good luck with all the work!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2000
    Orcas Island

    Re: Regarding GSIF Drivers

    Hi Jon

    Excellent suggestions.

    We do plan to benchmark Giga GVI and ARIA. We've begun already but have more to do. (ARIA benchmarks very well in comparison to GVI).

    Removing risk to the user is essential. In the past, performance was based upon the right mix of hardware. Some people had no problems and everything ran perfect. And others experienced unacceptable performance. There are so many makes of PCs, motherboards, soundcards, etc and sometimes Giga did not like the mix.

    Predictability is where the Mac shines - people have roughly the same hardware and software, everything is in a tightly controlled ecosystem and it works. On PCs, there's also the issue of bypassing protections by going into kernel mode which could cause crashes and unpredictability.

    It could be kernel mode is worth pursuing. Or it may be it is best in an "authorized" dedicated system ("tightly controlled ecosystem"). Or it may be best to opt for the GVI approach. Snow Leopard and Windows 7 is around the corner and that may have an impact on our direction.

    More than anything else, users need predictability and that will be a priority for us.

    We will definitely put Giga through a battery of tests and decide.

    Thanks for your input.


  5. #5

    Re: Regarding GSIF Drivers

    Even if GSIF isn't supported, it would be nice to have a "GSx Console" mode where a standalone app published eight or so ports. GVI, and most VSTis, are very limited in standalone mode.

    Personally, I like the GSx model. I've used VSTis in a sequencer (Sonar) before and when something goes wrong, I've lost not just the instrument setup, but my whole sequence. Because of problems re-opening the VSTi with all it's goodies the whole thing is trashed. After having that happen a couple times, I always use a separate host. (Fast renders and freezing sure are nice though...)

    I'm a Bidule owner, and it's worked well when hosting GPO, but I end up spending way too much time hooking things up. It's flexible, but inefficient time-wise. To many darn clicks to route the midi channels, and insert effects.

    That's where GSx has shined for me. I separate my sequence from the sampler for safety sake, and everything I need from the MIDI port to the audio output is pre-wired. Load some samples, add a GigaPulse instance, point the sequencer to it and play.

    The standalone console is the right approach for a sample farm as well.

    In fact, if you can remove the need for a kernel soundcard driver and add a kernel Ethernet driver, that would be a great way to go. Why build a sampler farm with soundcards, when a Ethernet connection will do?

  6. #6

    Re: Regarding GSIF Drivers

    I second the kernel ethernet driver. That seems like a smart way to go for a farm PC.

    Mr. A.
    Nuendo 3/ Cubase 4.5 on XP sp2 QuadCore 2.66 Ghz VisionDaw Built DAW RME HDSP 96/52 into ProTools HD3 (digi192x6) on MacPro 3 Ghz... Farm PCs x (6) VisionDaw Machines PC Dual 2.66 Ghz w- Kontakt 3.5 w/ UAD Cards Midi Over Lan

  7. #7

    Re: Regarding GSIF Drivers

    Quote Originally Posted by JonFairhurst View Post
    Dalek, this is not correct. GS3 and GS4 are supremely stable, but they don't run at all on systems that have the wrong combination of hardware and drivers. I can run my machine for weeks without a restart or reboot.
    I've been using GS3 for years, so please do not tell me that is "not correct". My GS3 box has been quite stable, but it's been GS3 only running on the box. Whenever I try running anything on the same box as GS3, it didn't work. I originally bought GS3 under the expectation I would be able to use it on the same box as my sequencer and actually have it stable, and of course I know the rare individual is actually doing that and has it working, but I can tell you right now it wasn't stable for me on the same box. It was stable on that box, but only as long as the only thing running at the time was Giga, but Giga plus Cubase caused hangs and blue screens that neither one by itself had. Unfortunately Giga didn't do me much good without having Cubase running, I mean I was using the built in sequencer in my midi keyboard with the crappy interface it has and Giga was stable with that but I couldn't really work with that. Cubase worked fine too without Giga running, but then I only had the crappy synths it came with. After fighting with it for months with no help from tech support, I decided I needed to build a second system to run Giga with plans to use FX-max giga teleport to connect it. Then I tried giga teleport, but I found that the Cubase was not properly detecting the Giga teleport latency for some of the channels - it did on bank 1, but not the additional ones, resulting in some MIDI tracks playing notes at different times than others, from the same box. And Giga teleport MIDI was dropping notes to boot! Sometimes it would miss a note on message, so that a note wouldn't play, sometimes it would miss a note off message which would cause the note to be held forever. So I wound up with notes all over the place playing at the wrong time, not playing at all or beind held forever. FX-max support never responded to my email. I wound up then having to buy ADAT lightpipe cards from RME and midi-over-LAN to connect my second system. Cheaper interfaces would have worked but then I wouldn't have had multiple separate channels for routing. So finally, about $2500 later and 1.5-2 years of fighting I was finally able to actually use Giga and actually <gasp> write music, and it has been nice and stable!

    (This was all before GVI came out mind you, I have that running on my main box along with Cubase quite nicely but it's user mode not kernel mode - I don't think the performance is that bad at all.)

    It's been stable since then, but it shouldn't be this hard - and I'm a trained IT professional with 14 years experience setting up and troubleshooting desktops and servers!! I couldn't imagine regular users putting up with it as long as I did - they would have given up and moved to Kontakt or something. I have a lot of stability now, but the true requirements of Giga (being dedicated on a single box, RME lightpipe audio interfaces) were not indicated to me at the beginning, instead were only realizations I came across that that was the only way to keep GS stable.

    My feedback would be, if you keep GS kernel level, do it only on special GS appliances that people need to buy, like those made by VisionDAW, and do not even sell it to end users directly, only packaged with approved systems. That will at least save people from going through the mess that I did. Kernel mode operation makes Giga rickety as heck when there is anything about a system (other software, hardware) that it doesn't like!

  8. #8

    Re: Regarding GSIF Drivers

    There's another high-performance path to consider: Cuda processing on an nVidia graphics card.

    My understanding is that GS4's poly is more limited by CPU speed than HDD performance. I think that has to do with decoding the compressed samples. If the decoding can be split among many, many Cuda cores, it could be blazingly fast. As SDDs become available, the hard drive will no longer be the bottleneck anyway.

    So, maybe GSIF and kernel processing really aren't needed. The whole architecture of a top performance machine could be about to change. The sample heads can become much shorter as the samples are stored on a solid state drive. The drives are expensive, so compression is more important than ever. Decompression is done rocket fast on a Cuda-enabled graphics card. The card can also perform a huge number of effects and convolutions. Once the mixing is complete, the final audio is shipped out of a GIGAbit Ethernet card.

    Give us a recommended parts list for a moderate machine that can be upgraded to a fast machine and then a blazing machine, and you can recapture the high end market that Giga once owned. It also gives the GPU/Student buyer something to strive for.

  9. #9

    Re: Regarding GSIF Drivers

    Can GSIF help with platforms like Netbooks?
    Netbooks are coming in pretty cheap, running XP home, all seem to have 1GB of ram and usually slower hard drives.

    I can see dedicating a netbook to just playing samples. They're cheap enough. It'd be a big bonus if the GSIF connected to a USB sound card could offload the processor and let me run some quality sample libs.

  10. #10

    Re: Regarding GSIF Drivers

    Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Anxiety View Post
    I second the kernel ethernet driver. That seems like a smart way to go for a farm PC.

    Mr. A.
    And i would give my kidney for it

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