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Windows XEON Latency/Lag

Posted: Sat Sep 29, 2018 5:14 pm
by kodaro
Hi all - I recently "upgraded" to a Dell Precision 7520 laptop running Windows 10 Pro (version 1709) and Ableton 9 and 10 Suite. I am having insane issues with CPU loads when compared to my previous PC (a few year old Dell Precision M4600 Laptop with a 256 GB SSD drive, 16 GB RAM, and a i7 Quad Core Extreme 2920XM processor, NVIDIA Quaddro 2000M (2GB Dedicated RAM), Windows 7 64 bit).

The specs of the new system is Dell Precision 7520, Intel Xeon e3-1575M v6@3.1 GHz with 64GB RAM (it also has dedicated NVIDIA graphics card and SSD drives). I am using a Lynx Hilo via Firewire as my interface. I also have a Console 1, a Push 1 and a Presonus Faderport 8 (all of which I can disconnect completely and they don't seem to affect this issue). The system literally only has Ableton related items on it (Waves Plugin Gold, Console 1 App, a few other VSTs). The main SSD drive (1TB) has the software and a secondary SSD (500GB) has sample libraries and file storage.

The new system will hang up (typically during playback), will not allow me to move a VST plugin window (which may be on the top of the ableton view) and may stutter and generate pops. I have played with the sample rates and frequencies without much luck. I have also tried Ableton 9 and 10 with similar results.

For example - The same session could utilize 50%+ CPU load (as per the Ableton CPU meter) on the new PC vs mid 30s% on the old machine. The old machine ran "just OK" and did have some issues with larger sessions and wanted to improve my input latency which was why I made the "upgrade". Typically I am recording a single instrument at a time (into 2 channels max) via a Lynx Hilo with Firewire.

Loading a plug in like Kramer Tape (Waves) will essentially add 12%+ of CPU load (as a fairly specific example) and Waves GTR with stereo amps and two (fake) stomp boxes will do essentially the same (~10%).

I was wondering if anyone else is experiencing these types of issues with a XEON system (if that is what the issue is) or if anyone has any advice. I performed some optimization on the machine already but didn't go nuts due to the higher tech specs...and the hope that I didn't need to.

Any thoughts would be much appreciated. I am at the point where I had to take a few weeks break from dealing with it due being so frustrated with it. Might end up reformatting the thing and trying again...or using it to hold up the short leg on my coffee table... :twisted:


Re: Windows XEON Latency/Lag

Posted: Sat Sep 29, 2018 10:34 pm
by jestermgee
WHat version of Live are you running?

What is your screen resolution? SOme issues have occured with larger displays and live 10.0.2

Re: Windows XEON Latency/Lag

Posted: Mon Oct 01, 2018 8:22 pm
by kodaro
Hi - Thank you for the reply. I am running Ableton 10 (latest update). I do have quite a large external display connected to the system.

It didn't cross my mind that could be an issue - I will try to remove it from the setup and see if that helps.

Some additional info - The CPU load is 30+ on some sessions even when paused...I haven't experienced that type of load before (with older computers) on a session when it isn't even running. If I turn on/off some plugins the effect can be as dramatic as 15% even though the session isn't running and no inputs are active. Seems crazy.

Thanks again.

Re: Windows XEON Latency/Lag

Posted: Mon Oct 01, 2018 9:06 pm
by jestermgee
Some plugins can cause extreme load. Would be an idea to note which plugins cause this load, but the issues you have are probably due to the display resolution being above 1920x1080 and I think the latest Beta fixes that.

Re: Windows XEON Latency/Lag

Posted: Mon Dec 24, 2018 6:00 pm
by kodaro
Ok. Been a while since I posted on this. No luck with removing all connected devices and the external monitor. About to literally buy a new computer (maybe a new Mac book pro i9 or something). Figured I'd post again and see if anyone had some thoughts.

Any ideas would be appreciated.


Re: Windows XEON Latency/Lag

Posted: Mon Dec 24, 2018 9:01 pm
by yur2die4
I guess the two things I would try first are to:

Increase the buffer size on the audio interface settings. This should relax the demands a bit.

Change your Windows power profile settings to ensure that your CPU is being used 100% at all times. This is important. If Windows is trying to do power-saving mode on the cpu, it might be reluctant to ‘wake up’ unless it has to. This sudden demand in performance might catch it unexpectedly and make it act really slow. For this, I suggest having one profile that is for casual use and one power profile that is for always just when you’re doing music.

Not sure if your hard drives would be causing any issues. It’d be hard to tell.

I’m not really familiar with Xeon mobile processors and how they’re expected to perform for music. CPUs are tricky business, and not all CPUs perform the way you’d imagine at a glance.

Re: Windows XEON Latency/Lag

Posted: Wed Dec 26, 2018 8:10 pm
by pottering

If you have a PCIe SSD drive, it may be affecting your computer's performance for audio

Re: Windows XEON Latency/Lag

Posted: Thu Dec 27, 2018 12:15 am
by H20nly
regarding CPU load... make sure to check the Task Manager, if you want the actual CPU load stats

Live's CPU meter is not the same thing.

Re: Windows XEON Latency/Lag

Posted: Tue Jan 01, 2019 11:05 pm
by kodaro
Hi - Happy New Year and thanks for the feedback. A suggested I watched the CPU meter running a set that runs super high CPU (on Ableton meter) and crackles during playback. Note that this is two audio tracks (recorded guitar and a looped sample) and 6 midi tracks (one of which is a drum set in a rack). There are VSTs on each channel (Console 1, a few Waves Plugins - via testing Kramer Tape on Master and GTR2 on Guitar running autowah and amp sim being the most hungry).

Crackling starts when Ableton CPU meter is around 55% and overall the track hits can go up to around 66% (Ableton Meter). My Task Manager is registering less than half of what Ableton is and is using around 3 GB of RAM. Doesn't go above 33%. Just idling tho my Ableton CPU is showing 46% and my Task Manager is showing 15% total (all programs).

Something seems off but maybe this is what it is...?

Anyway to get more paridy between Ableton and Task Manager? Also any thoughts on reducing "idling" CPU usage?


Re: Windows XEON Latency/Lag

Posted: Wed Jan 02, 2019 1:38 pm
by fishmonkey
a couple of thoughts:

firstly, the Live "CPU" meter will never have "parity" with the Task Manager, because they don't measure the same thing. the Windows Task Manager (or Mac Activity Monitor) more or less shows the CPU cycles being used on average, whereas the Live "CPU" meter gives an estimate of how well the system is coping with processing the next buffer load of audio before it is sent to your audio interface.

secondly, the key thing to understand is that audio processing requires solid real-time performance from the system. every buffer load of audio needs to be processed in less time than the duration of the buffer. the kinds of audio glitches you are talking about are most commonly caused by low-level drivers that grab or stall one or more CPU cores for too long (assuming you have done all the other basic system optimisations). that is why a computer can have low CPU utilisation yet still have audio glitches. i suggest you run a DPC latency checker on your machine:

also, have you have used one of the many guides that are available that take you through the basic steps of optimising a Windows box for audio work?

this video is a bit long-winded, but it explains in detail the distinction between CPU power and real-time processing:

Re: Windows XEON Latency/Lag

Posted: Fri Jan 11, 2019 10:16 pm
by kodaro
Thank you for the feedback. I watched the video (very well done) and ran the testing you suggested. I found that the issue is as you stated and relates to DPS issues related to a process called ACPI.sys.

Based on Googling around I found that ACPI.sys may be related to battery management and seems to plague laptops (not really an issue on desktops). My quest to resolve this continues but here is more info that may (hopefully) help others in their quests for lower latency.

Essentially - based on LatencyMon - I have ACPI.sys on Cores 0-2 with DPC execution at 1.4-1.6 ms. I did a bunch more research and have found that others with similar issues with DPS execution times greater than an acceptable level (to run real time applications) have used a program called Process Lasso (initial free download but then paid). This software lets you change the priority of different processes running on your machine and will allow you to select which cores you execute different processes on. A suggestion I found (that supposedly worked for some) is to assign the DAW related tasks to cores which are not bogged down by slow DPC processes. In my case I would route the Ableton to cores 3-8...I have tried this on my system without luck but will continue to test.

Figured it is worth sharing in the hope that it helps someone else! If I figure this out I will feedback the info!