[LAU] HDSP 9652+Win 7 == update flash - bye bye Linux audio & Alsa?

Mark Knecht markknecht at gmail.com
Tue Mar 16 15:02:34 EDT 2010

   I'd be happy to try to involve RME if there's some real chance that
a Linux developer will really work on the issues. I don't want to try
to pump them up and then not have anyone here to really look at it.
Are you the person that would do this work? You're so busy with Ardour
that for the good of the community you wouldn't be my first choice as
I think this is a smaller issue than Ardour. I know you have used RME
for years although I wasn't aware that you used an HDSP series card,
if you do.

   As for breaking compatibility, for a few years now I've had to keep
my HDSP 9652 firmware downgraded to get hdspmixer and hdspconf to
function in Linux. This has meant things like weird clipping light
operation in windows and other junk like that but since I did maybe
65% of my work in Linux I could live with 35% problems in Windows.

   I haven't downloaded the RME firmware updater yet but it will tell
me the current version of firmware if it is helpful.

   With older hardware going up in smoke I have new machines and
unfortunately you cannot load Win XP on these new machines easily. The
machines do not have floppy drives to load drivers during boot, don't
understand USB well enough to use something else as far as I can tell,
and the XP install disk cannot see the SATA hard drives via new
chipsets so it's all sort of a mess trying to stick with XP. Anyway
that led to Win 7 64-bit pretty quickly, which is working. However
when I got around to trying to load audio drivers I went to the RME
web site and they stated very clearly that the Win 7 drivers require
the newest firmware. I don't blame them. It's probably good stuff, but
it looks like it will finally break compatibility with the 'old
firmware to make Alsa drivers work' construct.

   If I'm incorrect about that then I'd love to figure that out.

   I'm copying what I think is the relevant portion of the RME readme here.


RME  Intelligent Audio Solutions

HDSP Series (AES-32, MADI, 9652, 9632, Multiface, Digiface, RPM)

HDSPe Series (PCI, MADI, MADIface, ExpressCard, RayDAT, AES, AIO)

Driver for Windows XP/Vista/7, 32 and 64 Bit

Important information: Driver version 3.083

This is the new HDSP(e) series WDM streaming driver, offering
additional features like WDM streaming, kernel streaming, 64 bit
support and full Vista compatibility. It supports all HDSP and HDSPe
series cards and systems simultaneously. The TCO can be operated with
the HDSP AES-32, the HDSPe PCI/MADI/AES/RayDAT/AIO, but not with the
HDSP 9632.

Notes on the driver

The driver requires a new flash/firmware in case driver 2.94 had been
used before. The new firmware and new driver routines offer these

- Lower system load on start of data transmission (start of record/playback)

- Better performance on playback. We added a small safety buffer of 32
samples on the playback side. To give some numbers from a typical test
machine, crackling starts at:

Old driver 64 samples 60%  128 samples  70% CPU load
New driver 64 samples 85%  128 samples  90% CPU load

So even if you add the 32 samples to the 64 samples, the new driver
still does a better job than the old one at 128! And the 32 samples
are on the playback side only, so throughput monitoring is even more
attractive. Because of this tremendous improvement we removed the
highest buffer size and replaced it with a 32 sample setting as lowest

- Secure Record Technique. This driver includes a new scheme for
handling record data. It guarantees all record data to reach the
application even when the computer is blocked with 100% CPU load for a
short time. We think this is a real killer feature, as there is
nothing more important than reliability when doing recordings.

- The driver does not support MME, and will never do. If you need low
latency MME for whatever reason, stay with the old driver. Note that
all older MME software will work with the new driver, but will show
more than 30 ms latency.

- This driver requires a newer version of DIGICheck, version 4.53.
Please download it from the RME website, section Downloads/Add-Ons.


On Tue, Mar 16, 2010 at 11:38 AM, Paul Davis <paul at linuxaudiosystems.com> wrote:
> How about forwarding to RME support as well? Nothing can be done to
> deal with the firmware upgrade unless RME supplies information about
> what they are changing. I'm also interested in how you came to the
> knowledge that the firmware upgrade will break ALSA support ...
> On Tue, Mar 16, 2010 at 2:10 PM, Mark Knecht <markknecht at gmail.com> wrote:
>> Hi all,
>>   Please excuse the cross-post to LAU and Alsa-User.

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