[ardour-users] Machine configurations

Joe Cooper joe at swelltech.com
Sun Feb 29 11:32:16 PST 2004

Ctirad Fertr wrote:

>>Is anyone here using Ardour with Mandrake, and if so, can they recommend a
>>decent motherboard to use?
> Generally, for linux I would use only Intel or VIA based motherboards. Both 
> are very well documented, stable and supported by plain linux kernel without 
> need of third party closed-source drivers. Also remeber, that for VIA KT600 
> and up, you need the 2.6.x kernel. 
> For AMD/VIA based mobos i reccomend anything from EpoX, Abit and Gigabyte.  
> Asus used to be a highend, but nowdays it is average and subaverage :(
> You also should learn yourself how to compile your own linux kernel. It´s not 
> important whatever distro you use, simply do it ;)  It´s not difficult at 
> all. The result will be tuned system which perfectly fits you hardware.     

I will add a data point:

I have a Gigabyte motherboard with a Via KT400 chip set (Athlon 2200+ 
and 1GB of DDR333 RAM), and I've tried for 8 months to make it play 
audio reliably without skips and have failed.  It can't even play an mp3 
or ogg with XMMS without skipping horribly when I open new windows or 
move large ones--it will sometimes pause for as much as two or three 
seconds.  I thought it was due to a lack of low lat kernel, but that 
proved not to be the case when the CCRMA kernel 2.4.23 was released (I'm 
not on 2.4.24 from CCRMA) and I was finally able to use one.  I also 
found several mentions of BIOS settings making a difference, but neither 
the "Optimized" or non-optimized modes makes any difference.  And I've 
recently seen mention of faulty memory causing this kind of problem but 
memtest86 doesn't complain about my RAM in either mode (I only did a 
single pass--maybe there are quirks that show up rarely, but I see 
problems a lot more often than could be accounted for by rare memory 
quirks).  BIOS has been updated to the latest version from Gigabyte.

In short, something about my hardware makes it unusable for audio, but I 
haven't a clue what it is at this point.  This weekend I'm going to move 
all of the PCI cards around to see if that makes a difference (I have 
most of the slots filled: M-Audio Delta 66, Tekram U160 SCSI controller 
for the 10k RPM system and 15k RPM home disks, NetGear NIC, and in the 
AGP slot a Radeon 9000 Pro).  After that, it's back to the drawing 
board, and hoping an Intel-based board will improve things.  I don't 
hold out much hope of getting this current board to work, as I've 
already tried disabling all devices except for the SCSI controller and 
the Delta 66 with no change.  I have confirmed that SCSI and audio 
aren't on the same interrupt, as well.

I might try replacing the RAM with DDR400 before finally giving up on 
this board, since if I do buy a new Intel-based motherboard, I'll need 
two DDR400 dimms anyway to take advantage of the 800MHz FSB.

Anyway, just thought I'd point out that things aren't perfect in 
Via-land.  At least not in my experience.  At the very least I would 
avoid this specific board (Gigabyte 7VAXP Ultra) for anything that 
requires sound.
Joe Cooper <joe at swelltech.com>
Web caching appliances and support.

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