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View Full Version : What if ... EW samples on the same physical drive as WXP


chest
05-13-2008, 07:55 AM
BACKGROUND

Though I'm putting off buying a new PC (as long as possible), I'm probably going to replace a PC's HDD by a bigger one.

(This is mainly because, after I recently installed SP2 in one of its two WXP partitions, the PC wouldn't boot until I removed SP2, and I don't know why. I aim to experiment with WXP/SP2 on a new disc - then, if necessary, I can revert to the old disc with no harm done. But, for extra disc space, I'll probably permanently install the new drive, even if I can't make SP2 work.)


SOME SAMPLES ON CURRENT SYSTEM DISC. MORE?

The current disc has a 90 GB partition (after the two WXP ones) almost filled with sample libraries - not large-scale like EW's, - the Kontakt-1.5 sample lib, several PMI pianos and other PMI samples, GPO, JABB, and several other small libraries.

These all work OK (except running the most demanding PMI piano programs in K2, or a lot of strings in Halion SO) despite being on the same physical drive as the system - a practice that, according to what I've read, ought to be avoided.

A new HDD could easily accommodate a 300-500 GB partition in place of that 90 GB one, but I don't know whether that would make sense. Probably, the only way that amount of space would be truly useful is if I could run EW samples from there. And, cheap though HDDs now are, there's no point buying one a lot bigger than necessary - unless I just regard that partition as a place to keep a "spare/backup" HDD copy of the samples (a better source than snail-paced DVDs).


NEW DISC

The PC's HD interface is ATA 100.

Would it be hopeless trying to run, for instance, one of the four components of EWQLSO, or my new "2-for-1" Gypsy & Fab Four, from the physical drive that contains the WXP partition where Cubase and all the VSTs are? - bearing in mind that this PC is limited also by its RAM and CPU speed - sub-standard EWQLSO performance is the norm for this PC.

How different would it be if I replaced the PC's other HDD to create a large sample drive? - ie the same situation in all respects except that the physical drive would never be handling disc activity on the OS partition? (The immediate alternative is running EWQLSO from an external drive via Firewire 400.)

Is there any reason to be wary of big discs (eg reliability, robustness)? If not, perhaps I ought to consider simply paying the few tens of pounds extra to get a big disc, and then see what happens if I try to run EWQLSO strings from it?


WHAT'S THE PROBLEM, ANYWAY?

What, broadly, is the problem with having the samples on the same physical drive as the system? I've naively assumed that, once Cubase and the VIs/FX were all loaded, there wouldn't be disc activity on the OS drive during the playback of a Cubase project - is that wrong? (I do see why it's best not to record audio to the drive from which samples are being played back, but not the reason for keeping samples off the system drive.)

Jonathan Kranz
05-13-2008, 05:35 PM
WHAT'S THE PROBLEM, ANYWAY?

What, broadly, is the problem with having the samples on the same physical drive as the system? I've naively assumed that, once Cubase and the VIs/FX were all loaded, there wouldn't be disc activity on the OS drive during the playback of a Cubase project - is that wrong?

Yes, there is activity on the system disc, running the system!:p Partitioned or not a single drive can only use so much bandwidth.

As far as our VI's are concerned, most of these 'stream' samples in realtime from the hard disk that stores the samples, which is also a very intensive operation for a drive to handle. This is why we suggest using a dedicated samples drive.

Will it work on the system drive? Yes, but you'll get far greater results (lower latencies and higher polyphony) when using a dedicated drive for your samples.


-Jonathan

chest
05-14-2008, 04:55 AM
Thanks, Jonathan.

So, in other words(?) - someone please correct me if I'm misinterpreting...

1) Putting the samples on the same physical drive as the WXP partition isn't a "killer", in the sense that, inevitably and fequently, the system will seize control of the drive for long enough to cause catastrophic disruption of the flow of sample data, even when the use of samples isn't intense.

2) Rather, doing this will only mean that the max throughput of sample data is significantly lower than on a dedicated drive.

That means that, if you had the samples on both a dedicated internal drive AND a drive (partition) on the same physical disc as WXP, you could (subject to RAM & CPU limits) reliably get more polyphony than you'd get using just a dedicated sample drive?


So ...

It looks to me like - despite the recent step increase in the size of sample libraries - currently, HDDs big enough for several big libraries are inexpensive. While this remains true, it wouldn't be prohibitively expensive to have three copies of all your sample libraries: one on a dedicated internal drive, one on the same drive as WXP and one on an external drive. Then, for any Cubase project, you could pick up the samples from whichever combination of source drives was most suitable for the polyphony required.

Does that make sense?