Ableton CPU Overloading on High Spec Mac

Discussion of music production, audio, equipment and any related topics, either with or without Ableton Live
Machinesworking
Posts: 11074
Joined: Wed Jun 23, 2004 9:30 pm
Location: Seattle

Re: Ableton CPU Overloading on High Spec Mac

Post by Machinesworking » Thu Feb 14, 2019 12:14 am

portvaldes wrote:
Sun Feb 10, 2019 4:44 pm
Just got a macbook pro and this thing is a nightmare. Upgraded it to High Sierra when I got it.

Whenever I make a mere drum loop in a new set the CPU is hitting 50 -70% during playback, whole projects would max at 5% on my old laptop. 16GB Ram, i7 processor, nothing else installed on it. What do I do? Should I just sell it and go back to Windows, this is unusable
Getting back to this, you still haven't given us your system specs. A MacBook Pro can be from the last ten+ years...

The quickest explanation on any machine that's half decent would be Intels onboard GPU in i7's etc. So the chips themselves will be used for your graphics unless you tell it not to. In System Preferences under Energy Saver there's a selection for Automatic Graphics Switching. Apple and other laptop manufacturers will allow this because it saves battery life, at the cost of CPU/performance in Live etc. Turn it off, this could help with the high CPU use.

Like we have been blabbing about, it's also a matter of the way the performance meter in Ableton reads your realtime use, it's entirely possible that the meter is acting like it's maxing out, but you still can use more plug ins on your new laptop. That's why only to failure tests mean anything to me at all.

TLW
Posts: 72
Joined: Thu Aug 23, 2018 2:37 am

Re: Ableton CPU Overloading on High Spec Mac

Post by TLW » Thu Feb 14, 2019 10:20 pm

Machinesworking wrote:
Thu Feb 14, 2019 12:14 am
In System Preferences under Energy Saver there's a selection for Automatic Graphics Switching. Apple and other laptop manufacturers will allow this because it saves battery life, at the cost of CPU/performance in Live etc. Turn it off, this could help with the high CPU use.
You don’t have that setting on MacBooks (and presumably iMacs) which only have Intel graphics, for obvious reasons. :-)

The main issue with Intel graphics isn’t so much cpu useage but heat if the gpu is running hard. Though using a DAW usually isn’t exactly hard work for reasonably modern on-chip gpus. And in a laptop case, even one milled from a slab of aluminium that acts as a big heatsink, dedicated graphics can run pretty hot and noisy as well.

OP says they’re using a 2014 MacBook Pro i7 which is essentially identical to mine. I can certainly overload the audio engine easily enough if I go for a small audio buffer and some hefty plugins. Good DAW management of course means that’s a situation to try and avoid, even by freezing tracks if necessary.

So, a question for portvaldes.

What plugins do you have loaded to create your drumloop, or is it just a simple audio clip?

TLW
Posts: 72
Joined: Thu Aug 23, 2018 2:37 am

Re: Ableton CPU Overloading on High Spec Mac

Post by TLW » Thu Feb 14, 2019 10:40 pm

Machinesworking wrote:
Wed Feb 13, 2019 8:40 pm
In general the other thing I found kind of funny was his insistence that it's not just about CPU, but his explanation as to why something would glitch etc was that a bad component was taking the CPU offline more or less.
His stuff about cpu speed did make me blink a bit. You mean I’m spending money on i7s when I still have a perfectly good Pentium D cpu sitting in the attic? OK, he’s right in a way - if the problem is, as you point out, an overloaded system bus or deferred procedure calls from badly written drivers grabbing the cpu’s attention and not letting go of it fast enough a faster cpu might not help much, if at all. Which is a problem on some Windows machines, especially regarding wi-fi drivers for some reason. Which is why tools like latencymon exist.

Macs seem to suffer much less from that problem, at least they don’t usually suffer to the point they’re not usable for a DAW if input monitoring is required. Though their usually lower cpu speed means compromising in other ways, such as freezing tracks sometimes.

The days where the key thing in computer performance was brute cpu power ended a few years ago. Nowadays it’s getting the right balance of components to minimise all bottlenecks that matters. Though the trend towards more and more cores at the expense of per core processing speed isn’t always helpful where DAWs are concerned.

Machinesworking
Posts: 11074
Joined: Wed Jun 23, 2004 9:30 pm
Location: Seattle

Re: Ableton CPU Overloading on High Spec Mac

Post by Machinesworking » Thu Feb 14, 2019 11:55 pm

TLW wrote:
Thu Feb 14, 2019 10:40 pm
His stuff about cpu speed did make me blink a bit. You mean I’m spending money on i7s when I still have a perfectly good Pentium D cpu sitting in the attic? OK, he’s right in a way - if the problem is, as you point out, an overloaded system bus or deferred procedure calls from badly written drivers grabbing the cpu’s attention and not letting go of it fast enough a faster cpu might not help much, if at all. Which is a problem on some Windows machines, especially regarding wi-fi drivers for some reason. Which is why tools like latencymon exist.

Macs seem to suffer much less from that problem, at least they don’t usually suffer to the point they’re not usable for a DAW if input monitoring is required. Though their usually lower cpu speed means compromising in other ways, such as freezing tracks sometimes.

The days where the key thing in computer performance was brute cpu power ended a few years ago. Nowadays it’s getting the right balance of components to minimise all bottlenecks that matters. Though the trend towards more and more cores at the expense of per core processing speed isn’t always helpful where DAWs are concerned.
Agree, but IMO if you're using relatively recent mid range macbook pros you're circumventing all of that.
Ableton always will require brute CPU power, and decent components. In every test I've ever done there are three ranges for power in DAWs:
1- Freak applications like Reaper and VEP.
2- dinosaur DAWs like Logic, Cubase, DP, Studio One etc.
3- performance oriented DAWs like Live, Bitwig, MPC2 etc.

Roughly 100, 80 and 60% in terms of power. The middle DAWs tend to glitch the most when instantiating a plug in or editing while the timeline is playing, the performance oriented ones don't glitch much if at all. Every one of them is susceptible to badly written drivers. Cheap components can and will be a problem, but if you're sorted that way, then it's really about CPU and bus speed, there's no way around that.

The other elephant in the room is the way the OS and your DAW handles cores, some DAWs seem to be able to load balance cores, some do not, some of this is because of the OS and calls to bad drivers etc. but Reaper proves that a lot of it is due to the way a DAW handles latency etc. Diva also proves that there's plenty of room for improvement in this area. One thing he's really right about though is looking at CPU meters for information about a problem is only going to get you so far, since if it's being held up by a PCIe slot like he had issues with it's not reporting that. Basically though, these numbers on a decent machine are all pretty much constant, so blaming Live for using more CPU isn't going to change anything, performance oriented DAWs use more CPU. I also think for the way people work in Live compared to DP Cubase etc. faster i7's over monster Xeon setups makes more sense. Since the CPU hit is greater in Live, and people tend to write songs with less tracks but more plug ins per track.

Post Reply