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fabricioz
11-04-2006, 10:02 AM
1. There are five versions of Vista: Home Basic, Home Premium, Business, Enterprise and Ultimate. What are the (technical) differences between all the five versions (I couldn't find on the MS website) and which is more suitable for pro audio?


The system requirements for the Vista are pretty heavier for an OS than we used to see. The Mac OS X graphical interface is very similar and it requires a lot less resources than Vista. My questions about this:

2. Will the Vista have some kind of option to disable all of this graphic paraphernalia? If yes, how much will it improve the performance?

3. Is the system more optimized than XP? I mean, with the same hardware I have now, will the system run faster and more stable?

4. I don't know about the kernel, this kind of stuff, but generally, will the audio architecture be improved? We, standard NorthernSounds users, musicians and sound designers, shall move to Vista as soon as it arrives?

Thanks!

Pat Azzarello
11-04-2006, 10:29 AM
1. There are five versions of Vista: Home Basic, Home Premium, Business, Enterprise and Ultimate. What are the (technical) differences between all the five versions (I couldn't find on the MS website) and which is more suitable for pro audio?

I'm trying to find the Microsoft page with this information but can't right now. I'll try to update this thread with more information later.

The Ultimate and business versions support up to two physical/[b] processors. Home Premium supports one physical processor, but it can be dual-core or hyperthreaded. Starter Edition supports only a single, non-hyper/dual proc. I'm uncertain about Home Basic - another thing to check on.



[QUOTE=fabricioz]
The system requirements for the Vista are pretty heavier for an OS than we used to see. The Mac OS X graphical interface is very similar and it requires a lot less resources than Vista. My questions about this:

2. Will the Vista have some kind of option to disable all of this graphic paraphernalia? If yes, how much will it improve the performance?

Define paraphanlia :)

Yes you will be able to disable Aero, the new interface that is what most people talk about when they say "Vista UI". There are also situations where the OS will disable it for you (underpowered video card, low memory, etc.) as well as apps being able to turn it off.



3. Is the system more optimized than XP? I mean, with the same hardware I have now, will the system run faster and more stable?

I've seen some feedback both ways. I think the key is that, over time, applications will start to utilize some of the features designed to improve audio performance and you'll see a marked improvement in performance because of this.



4. I don't know about the kernel, this kind of stuff, but generally, will the audio architecture be improved? We, standard NorthernSounds users,
musicians and sound designers, shall move to Vista as soon as it arrives?

[b]Improved Architecture - Yes. We have a new audio API, with new "hooks" for getting better performance that app manufacturer's can start to use to lessen the number of glitches. We're in contact with many manufacturer's to help them take advantage of this, and they are providing some great feedback on their products to us so we can continue to evolve Windows to make it even better.

Moving to any new operating system is a decision that you should make based on the applications and hardware you utilize. We are in the final sign-off stages on Vista and there are some audio hardware manufacturer's who are lagging behind. I've seen copy protection dongle issues that have nothing to do with the music software cause problems.

My personal opinion (and a number of DAW manufacturer's) is:
Load Vista as a second OS on your machine (don't upgrade from XP), install your your applications, and give it a try. Yes, this is more work, but in most cases you don't need to reinstall things like libraries (just install the sampler applications and point them to the harddrive with your existing library and projects). I know a lot of people that add an extra hard drive for this purpose (I have my system drive partitioned because I load so many beta versions anyway, but you can't repartition unless you utilize a tool like Partition Magic). If you're worrying about license keys, give the help desk a call, let them know that you're going to move to Vista and ask if they can help with the license keys.

At launch (January 07) I would LOVE to see people using Vista and having a better experience than they do on XP, but their are many external factors (to you and Microsoft) that need to be considered. The most important thing is for you to be able to make music


Thanks!
You're welcome.

Although I'm a Microsoft employee, as a member of this forum my opinions and information should be considered personal and not that of Microsoft. Even so, I endeavor to give you the best information at my disposal, and often can get information and provide context beyond what you can find on web sites.

Keep the questions coming.

Haydn
11-04-2006, 05:59 PM
I've done some testing in my lab at work with the Vista version that is about the same features as Windows XP Pro. This wasn't using the Aero graphics feature. The performance was about the same as Windows XP running beta versions of Office 2007 and other similar apps in my Windows XP builds.

I'll probably test it on my home system but I'm more interested in the x64 version for music.

Jim

Richard Berg
11-05-2006, 03:40 AM
My very very unscientific attempt at apples-to-apples shows Vista x86 being slightly faster than XP x86, and the amd64 editions tied.

Houston Haynes
11-05-2006, 04:48 AM
I'm running Vista x64 on a separate partition, and aside from the snappier user experience (even with Aero on) I'm able to run 64-bit hosts like Bidule's Plogue and n-Track Studio. I've also managed to run Cubase 4 in that environment, but only as a 32-bit app. I've not done too much with running VSTi, since there aren't that many that run in a 64-bit host (and I've not done that much with C4 either), but I *can* tell you that out-of-the-box video playback is much smoother with Vista (I'm using an nVidia card that has a decent bit of GPU headroom - not the strongest card, but not the cheapest either). This will be a big deal for those of us that do a lot of scoring to film/video. I did some pretty nasty stuff like grabbing the video playback window and radically altering the size of the playback window while the project was playing (which was not much more than a few audio files and the video track) and the CPU meter barely even budged. In XP, the same actions would yield stuttered video playback and pops and clicks in the audio stream. While I haven't done extensive audio testing (yet) my sense of it is that Vista is indeed a very different animal - and as a platform for media development and playback, Microsoft is getting it right.

fabricioz
11-06-2006, 10:24 AM
Hi Pat,

Thank you for your explanation.


The Ultimate and business versions support up to two physical processors. Home Premium supports one physical processor, but it can be dual-core or hyperthreaded. Starter Edition supports only a single, non-hyper/dual proc. I'm uncertain about Home Basic - another thing to check on.

All right. I tried to find, but still couldn't find a comparsion chart between the versions. Of course, I'm interested in the best performance I can have, so I'm looking for Ultimate and Business, but I would like to know what the Ultimate have that the Business don't.


Define paraphanlia :)

I define it like that 3D effects, translucid windows, etc. I find the Aero to be beautiful, but for us it would steal much more performance than we'd like to. So I believe the best for us, pro musicians, is to have the cleanest OS as possible.

Although I know those resources use much from the GPU, it will use from CPU and memory either, won't it?



Improved Architecture - Yes. We have a new audio API, with new "hooks" for getting better performance that app manufacturer's can start to use to lessen the number of glitches. We're in contact with many manufacturer's to help them take advantage of this, and they are providing some great feedback on their products to us so we can continue to evolve Windows to make it even better.

I read some articles about it and saw some videos, but it wasn't clear for me what in the audio API was changed and what and why it will be better than XP. I know the XP audio API isn't marvelous, but I would like to know what exactly was improved and what wasn't. Why, for example, the number of glitches would be less in Vista than XP?


Moving to any new operating system is a decision that you should make based on the applications and hardware you utilize. We are in the final sign-off stages on Vista and there are some audio hardware manufacturer's who are lagging behind. I've seen copy protection dongle issues that have nothing to do with the music software cause problems.

My personal opinion (and a number of DAW manufacturer's) is:
Load Vista as a second OS on your machine (don't upgrade from XP), install your your applications, and give it a try. Yes, this is more work, but in most cases you don't need to reinstall things like libraries (just install the sampler applications and point them to the harddrive with your existing library and projects). I know a lot of people that add an extra hard drive for this purpose (I have my system drive partitioned because I load so many beta versions anyway, but you can't repartition unless you utilize a tool like Partition Magic). If you're worrying about license keys, give the help desk a call, let them know that you're going to move to Vista and ask if they can help with the license keys.

At launch (January 07) I would LOVE to see people using Vista and having a better experience than they do on XP, but their are many external factors (to you and Microsoft) that need to be considered. The most important thing is for you to be able to make music

I agree. Actually, I would love to try the Vista RC. Is this good enough already, or is it buggy, the audio API isn't ready, etc? Shall I wait for the final release?

BTW Pat, since you're a Microsoft audio guy, could you make some kind of guide, like how to make the best tweaks for audio, the hardware recommended (not the audio cards, but the rest)?

Thanks for your patience!

Houston Haynes
11-06-2006, 10:37 AM
I read some articles about it and saw some videos, but it wasn't clear for me what in the audio API was changed and what and why it will be better than XP. I know the XP audio API isn't marvelous, but I would like to know what exactly was improved and what wasn't. Why, for example, the number of glitches would be less in Vista than XP?

Maybe you missed this video - goes into great (and really accessible, in a geeky kind of way) detail on the hows and whys of differences in the Vista audio API compared to XP and previous versions.

http://channel9.msdn.com/Showpost.aspx?postid=145665


Actually, I would love to try the Vista RC. Is this good enough already, or is it buggy, the audio API isn't ready, etc? Shall I wait for the final release?

As he said in his previous post, it's up to your audio interface manufacturer and other vendors to provide Vista support for their devices before you'll get very far. If your vendor doesn't explicitely say that they have a driver to support Vista, you're more likely to be wasting your time.


BTW Pat, since you're a Microsoft audio guy, could you make some kind of guide, like how to make the best tweaks for audio, the hardware recommended (not the audio cards, but the rest)?

FWIW, I think the entire reason for the re-structuring of the Windows Audio API was to *avoid* having to make any tweaks for audio.

That said - the latest RC is ***VERY*** much a memory hog - just to boot up takes 700MB of system RAM. Given that I'm running with 2GB of high-speed ram (and have caching shut off) that's quite a hit to take. I'd like to know what can be safely shut *off* in Vista and still allow usage as a DAW. In Ultimate, all of the security features are turned on by default, which is a factor - but I can't imagine that would be all of it. Perhaps Aero comes into play there? [scratches head]

Since tweaking a PC as a DAW has as much to do with memory management as with audio resiliency, I'd like to figure out a way to configure services and devices that load when running the PC as a DAW, and then the "full" load of services when running as a desktop/office machine. Perhaps there's some way to configure profiles. [mental note: check this next time I sit down with Vista]

Pat - any advice on where to go/look inside Vista for memory/service optimizations for DAW users, and perhaps how to set up multiple configurations/profiles?

fabricioz
11-06-2006, 11:11 AM
Maybe you missed this video - goes into great (and really accessible, in a geeky kind of way) detail on the hows and whys of differences in the Vista audio API compared to XP and previous versions.

http://channel9.msdn.com/Showpost.aspx?postid=145665

Thanks, will watch it now.



FWIW, I think the entire reason for the re-structuring of the Windows Audio API was to *avoid* having to make any tweaks for audio.

Since tweaking a PC as a DAW has as much to do with memory management as with audio resiliency, I'd like to figure out a way to configure services and devices that load when running the PC as a DAW, and then the "full" load of services when running as a desktop/office machine. Perhaps there's some way to configure profiles. [mental note: check this next time I sit down with Vista]

Pat - any advice on where to go/look inside Vista for memory/service optimizations for DAW users, and perhaps how to set up multiple configurations/profiles?

Well, guess we're talking about tweaks here. Probably Vista will come with a lot of stuff, much more than XP, that we're most likely to never use. That's what I would like to know, what is coming with the system and what can I disable to make it light. 700mb of RAM to boot up is a lot of memory.

Haydn
11-06-2006, 09:18 PM
Houston,

That was a very informative video. It looks like Cakewalk Sonar and other audio apps will have much better latency and performance in Vista.

Jim

Pat Azzarello
11-07-2006, 01:41 PM
Hi Pat,

Thank you for your explanation.

All right. I tried to find, but still couldn't find a comparsion chart between the versions. Of course, I'm interested in the best performance I can have, so I'm looking for Ultimate and Business, but I would like to know what the Ultimate have that the Business don't.

Ultimate has a set of applications (Media Center, DVD Decoder, picture editor, etc.) that aren't in the Business editions.



I define it like that 3D effects, translucid windows, etc. I find the Aero to be beautiful, but for us it would steal much more performance than we'd like to. So I believe the best for us, pro musicians, is to have the cleanest OS as possible.

Based on the assumption that you have the "right" video card, the impact of running Aero is designed to be extremely small. Most of us audio types spend $$$ on audio hardware, but stay away from expensive video hardware. If you do this, turning Aero off is probably your best bet for success, but with many of the video cards I have in machines at work, I'm seeing negligible performance differences between Aero on and Aero off (but I'm only looking at a few apps and hardware configs). Your mileage will certainly vary.


Although I know those resources use much from the GPU, it will use from CPU and memory either, won't it?

If your video card uses shared memory (video and CPU use the PC's RAM), it will affect the CPU's memory as well -again the more powerful video cards will have their own onboard memory.




I read some articles about it and saw some videos, but it wasn't clear for me what in the audio API was changed and what and why it will be better than XP. I know the XP audio API isn't marvelous, but I would like to know what exactly was improved and what wasn't. Why, for example, the number of glitches would be less in Vista than XP?


The API is about helping developers get more out of Windows. Consumers won't see much of this until the developers implement the changes. There are a number of key features (again, I believe another thread has spoken to these in detail) like higher thread priority for audio and WaveRT support for low-latency.



I agree. Actually, I would love to try the Vista RC. Is this good enough already, or is it buggy, the audio API isn't ready, etc? Shall I wait for the final release?

There were some changes made post-RC1 that affect the enumeration of multiple, identical MIDI devices and some other things, but RC1 was pretty solid.


BTW Pat, since you're a Microsoft audio guy, could you make some kind of guide, like how to make the best tweaks for audio, the hardware recommended (not the audio cards, but the rest)?

We're planning to have some information on tweaking Windows Audio, but getting Vista done is my primary goal right now (and though we'll be done with the code very soon, we still have lots of loose ends to tie up with partners). I'm hoping to have some guidelines available by launch in January.


Thanks for your patience!

fabricioz
11-07-2006, 01:59 PM
Hi Pat,

Thank you for your reply. For what you said, it's ok for me, and I'll wait for the Vista to try it. Only one question:


Based on the assumption that you have the "right" video card, the impact of running Aero is designed to be extremely small. Most of us audio types spend $$$ on audio hardware, but stay away from expensive video hardware. If you do this, turning Aero off is probably your best bet for success, but with many of the video cards I have in machines at work, I'm seeing negligible performance differences between Aero on and Aero off (but I'm only looking at a few apps and hardware configs). Your mileage will certainly vary.

If your video card uses shared memory (video and CPU use the PC's RAM), it will affect the CPU's memory as well -again the more powerful video cards will have their own onboard memory.

Today, in my DAW, my video card is an ATI X550. I have no problem to get a more expensive video card, but those ones are primarily focused on gaming. I don't know if it'll affect the performance at all, because there are many factors in this like PCI lattency, fan noise, high power consumption, etc. That's the reason why, today, I rather stick with not so expensive video cards.

The video card with shared memory you said is the onboard, right? With this card I'm now, or with a GeForce 7800, will the performance be the same with or without Aero?

Nowadays, with Windows XP, if I have the Windows effects like the XP interface, shadows, fading menus and popups, it may not be perceptible, but when you're using 100% of your CPU and memory, every bit of processing and memory is valious. But it seems Vista will suck power from the GPU, not CPU. If the CPU and memory won't be affected at all, then it would be nice to stick with Aero.

Richard Berg
11-07-2006, 06:19 PM
AGP uses the PCI protocol, but it's on a totally separate port from the rest of your PCI devices. With PCI-Express, every device is effectively on its own bus. In other words, videocards affecting PCI latency is not an issue these days.

Fan noise - I hear ya, but even the latest bleeded edge cards can be cooled silently. (In fact, the current generation makes it a bit easier, thanks to shrinking die sizes). Reading a couple reviews should make it obvious which manufacturers pursue the silent route (Asus tends to be good). Worst case, you have to buy a $30 aftermarket HSF.

The XP effects you describe (a) are certainly GPU accelerated; more certainly than any 3D effect (b) don't happen unless you're messing with windows while recording, which nobody recommends. Still, it can't hurt to turn them off. If you do so with XP, then the arguments for doing the same with Aero are even greater.

Edit: oops, I didn't answer your question. The X550 is basically an overclocked X300. Strictly a budget part; not to be used for real 3D. Can't say whether it's enough for Aero (the bar doesn't seem to be very high) but getting at least a decent $50 part couldn't hurt. You might try running the Windows Performance Rating.