[LAU] Small instrument hardware module

Leonardo Gabrielli l.gabrielli at univpm.it
Wed Oct 22 11:06:52 UTC 2014

On 22/10/2014 11:45, linux-audio-user-request at lists.linuxaudio.org wrote:
> In my experience there's a greater risk of overheating without a fan and
> the ARM (allwinner) chipsets are prone to that. My bet is a low power x86
> processor/unit with a (quiet) fan will out perform and outlast an ARM
> chipset without.
I did some simple benchmarks on a Allwinner A20 board (cubieboard) 
recently. The benchmark consist of computing a bunch of sine oscillators 
(second order resonator filter), generally used for modal synthesis and 
other types of sound synthesis. The results I got from the A20 when 
clocked at 1GHz are suprisingly good: 1000 theoretical oscillator can be 
computed in a 128 samples period, while on my quad core-i5 I get 1500. 
On a 7-years onld Centrino Duo I get about 850. While this don't stand 
as a real-world benchmark (buffer transfers are not taken into account) 
and I haven't optimized for the architectures (but just let g++ go with 
-O2) you get the idea.

I didn't experience overheating on the A20 but the tests are not 
continuous as you would during a performance, so I won't bet it will 
last long. :)

I have a sensation that generally the kernel is also quite unstable on 
most platforms unless a silicon manufacturer is there to help (as it 
happens with some TI chips) and in general I would prefer Intel for 
reliable live performance. However as a researcher I am trying to 
squeeze ARMs to perform as musical instruments and I think they can work 
well if the industry supports kernel development. But I'm wondering if 
this will continue to happen, since the eastern mobile market is 
crushing the sales of the reliable manufacturers.

Going slightly OT: I really hate how the market is pushing on short 
products lifecycles, following the trend of the mobile industry. On one 
side the audio and music market is similar to the consumer market as 
users want to have ever new and fancy products with appeal. On another 
side it is similar to the industry/autmotive market as you need reliable 
products that last for years. What you should find inside is sturdy 
electronics with a support of >10 years and the possibility to find new 
pin-compatible ICs after those 10 years from the manufacturer. There's 
too much consumerism in the silicon industry following the mobile 
"revolution" meaning that everything contains electronics is destined to 
last less and die shortly. Or enter the market in pre-beta stage (which 
nowadays is considered a "feature"). The only way to get long term 
support is sticking to the old good silicon manufacturers, hoping they 
won't discontinue your MCU/CPU/DSP soon (as they are doing to cut costs).
I hope someday people will realize that not all electronic products are 
like smartphones.

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