RAM, how much is too much?

Recording Techniques, People Skills, Gear, Recording Spaces, Computers, and DIY

Moderators: drumsound, tomb

Post Reply
BusyBoxSt7
steve albini likes it
Posts: 340
Joined: Wed Apr 11, 2007 3:21 pm
Location: Dallas

RAM, how much is too much?

Post by BusyBoxSt7 » Sun Oct 04, 2009 2:08 am

I've always wondered, on a Mac Pro, running Pro Tools (HD, not sure that matters), almost entirely RTAS plugs, at what point is it sorta stupid to keep adding ram? I've always figured after a few gigs, it's just diminishing returns, a waste of money.

Those w/ experience, speak! Thanks :)

MY SYSTEM
Mac Pro 2.66 quad OSX 10.4.8 (delaying Leopard due to PT8 upgrade fees)
3 GB ram
drives (see above)
PT HD 7.3.1
HD1 accel pcie (rarely use TDM plugs)
Lynx Aurora16 ADDA
UAD2 Quad almost omni (runs as RTAS of course)
hopefully some outboard and a console soon..
Stephen Hudson
Search The Busy Box on FB (top notch marketing eh?)

User avatar
woodhenge
pushin' record
Posts: 285
Joined: Thu May 07, 2009 11:28 am
Location: Hangin' with Jake and Elwood @Bob's Country Bunker, Indiana

Post by woodhenge » Sun Oct 04, 2009 7:59 am

I have a 2.66 Mac Pro Quad similar to yours but running Leopard, and I've found that you can never have too much ram! I recently purchased 8GB from Crucial for under $300 for a total of 10GB, and have noticed performance improvements across the board.

I'm not a PT user anymore, but Logic 9's behavior since the upgrade has been stellar. Overall workflow (editing) is way smoother with way less beach balls when doing things to large projects or files. I also use a lot of sample-based VI's, and I've noticed a huge improvement with those as well. Logic may address ram differently than PT, so YMMV here... but it sure can't really hurt, either.

I was always told by my IT buddies that you should stuff in as much ram as you can afford... I think that turned out to be good advice!
insert witty comment here...

BusyBoxSt7
steve albini likes it
Posts: 340
Joined: Wed Apr 11, 2007 3:21 pm
Location: Dallas

Post by BusyBoxSt7 » Sun Oct 04, 2009 1:12 pm

THANKS.

Anyone else? Anyone on Pro Tools w/ experience past 3GB RAM?
Stephen Hudson
Search The Busy Box on FB (top notch marketing eh?)

AstroDan
george martin
Posts: 1366
Joined: Wed May 07, 2003 12:07 pm
Location: Avoca, Arkansas

Post by AstroDan » Sun Oct 04, 2009 2:41 pm

If computer processing advancements stay as consistent as they have since birth then it's safe to say 3GB is going to be like wristwatch memory in 10 to 15 years. So you can probably never have too much RAM.
"I have always tried to present myself as the type of person who enjoys watching dudes fight other dudes with iron claws."

BusyBoxSt7
steve albini likes it
Posts: 340
Joined: Wed Apr 11, 2007 3:21 pm
Location: Dallas

Post by BusyBoxSt7 » Sun Oct 04, 2009 4:48 pm

agreed, but how a current software / operating system handles the RAM may or may not facilitate much benefit... (i dunno, thus the post)

Others with experience?
Stephen Hudson
Search The Busy Box on FB (top notch marketing eh?)

Yosh
ass engineer
Posts: 46
Joined: Sun Nov 23, 2003 4:00 pm

Post by Yosh » Sun Oct 04, 2009 10:51 pm

I'm using Pro Tools 8 with a mac mini. I just upgraded from 1GB to 4GB. The difference was astounding. 6101 and 9128 errors seem to have almost disappeared. I'm able to run a much lower buffer setting with a lot more going on (even a VI and convolution reverb with 24 tracks and other plugs). Worth a lot more to me than the $80 I spent on it.

BusyBoxSt7
steve albini likes it
Posts: 340
Joined: Wed Apr 11, 2007 3:21 pm
Location: Dallas

Post by BusyBoxSt7 » Mon Oct 05, 2009 12:56 pm

Thanks Yosh. have you tried it w/ just 2 or 3 GB to know whether you're actually getting a ton more out of each one? (as in the jump from 1-2GB I'm SURE is huge) I'm just not sure at what point it's getting too tiny

ANY OTHERS?
(i'm still wondering people's results on a mac pro, going above 3GB)
Stephen Hudson
Search The Busy Box on FB (top notch marketing eh?)

Yosh
ass engineer
Posts: 46
Joined: Sun Nov 23, 2003 4:00 pm

Post by Yosh » Tue Oct 06, 2009 9:21 pm

BusyBoxSt7 wrote:Thanks Yosh. have you tried it w/ just 2 or 3 GB to know whether you're actually getting a ton more out of each one?
No, just went from 1GB straight to 4GB. Sorry, no extra info there.

L-ROX
alignin' 24-trk
Posts: 51
Joined: Wed Sep 23, 2009 2:33 pm
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Contact:

Post by L-ROX » Wed Oct 07, 2009 12:17 pm

I'm on Windows XP SP3, I can only use 3.5gb of RAM, even though I've got 4-1gb sticks installed.

What I've found is that Mac users still encounter an occasional error in PT; I also sometimes do as well, so for me, if there ever comes a time when adding say 10gb of RAM absolutely does away with any and all errors in PT when working on a Mac, that's when I'll be switching from a PC-based DAW to a Mac. The ideal thing for me would be if having X amount of RAM provides a 100% stable environment, and I don't think we're there yet. It may be that Macs are closer to getting there than PCs.

P.S. I also own a Mac for other things, so the above is not to be taken as a "mac vs. pc" thing as I am BOTH a Mac and a PC, lol.

User avatar
Gebo
suffering 'studio suck'
Posts: 421
Joined: Thu May 08, 2003 12:07 am
Location: Western Mass

Post by Gebo » Sun Oct 11, 2009 6:20 pm

I have the same computer as you do, and I have 8gb. What can I say other than its fucking fast and doesnt bog down.
As it was in the begining, so shall it be in the end...

User avatar
dcsimon
studio intern
Posts: 28
Joined: Wed Feb 27, 2008 2:08 pm
Location: Atlanta, Georgia
Contact:

Post by dcsimon » Sun Oct 11, 2009 8:47 pm

L-ROX wrote:I'm on Windows XP SP3, I can only use 3.5gb of RAM, even though I've got 4-1gb sticks installed.

What I've found is that Mac users still encounter an occasional error in PT; I also sometimes do as well, so for me, if there ever comes a time when adding say 10gb of RAM absolutely does away with any and all errors in PT when working on a Mac, that's when I'll be switching from a PC-based DAW to a Mac. The ideal thing for me would be if having X amount of RAM provides a 100% stable environment, and I don't think we're there yet. It may be that Macs are closer to getting there than PCs.

P.S. I also own a Mac for other things, so the above is not to be taken as a "mac vs. pc" thing as I am BOTH a Mac and a PC, lol.
These days the architectures are virtually the same(Macs are just an intell motherboard with a shiny case), the only difference (and a sizable one at that) being the operating system(Mac being based on unix and having a bit better organized/optimized model). RAM is a good thing. and more of a good thing is usually good. As digital pro-audio continues to push the sample rate and bit depth, the data alone can easily and quickly fill the short playback/record buffers that are required for low latency performance. When you factor in the continuing growth of processor hungry dsp (and of course the growing need for slick, memory hogging GUI's), one can see how important being able to access large amounts of cached information very quickly is a good thing in the digital realm.

I think that there is almost always a point at which you can meet the demand of your workflow with available hardware. Most of the time this can happen with little to no compromise in your workflow. I find it helpful allways start by assesing your needs. How many tracks to you need? How much 'plugin power' do you need, then of course try meeting those needs by finding and eliminating bottle necks in the system, if you've got a smoking CPU, perhaps upgrade the ram to keep up. If you've got a less than optimal drive for recording, upgrade with a faster one for higher throughput. One step at a time and don't expect miracles.
Problem? Sounds fine to me.

BusyBoxSt7
steve albini likes it
Posts: 340
Joined: Wed Apr 11, 2007 3:21 pm
Location: Dallas

Post by BusyBoxSt7 » Mon Oct 12, 2009 5:15 pm

So it seems pretty consensus that getting more ram would be good.

dcsimon,
when you say "less than optimal drive" do you mean something ridiculous like a USB drive or?? I'm about to put another SATA drive inside my mac pro and am debating between a quieter caviar green vs. black (louder, faster)... it would be a projects-only drive. At some point I will need to replace the system drive too which I'm guessing is the more crucial of the two (?) speed wise.
Thoughts?
Stephen Hudson
Search The Busy Box on FB (top notch marketing eh?)

User avatar
dcsimon
studio intern
Posts: 28
Joined: Wed Feb 27, 2008 2:08 pm
Location: Atlanta, Georgia
Contact:

Post by dcsimon » Mon Oct 12, 2009 7:58 pm

BusyBoxSt7 wrote:So it seems pretty consensus that getting more ram would be good.

dcsimon,
when you say "less than optimal drive" do you mean something ridiculous like a USB drive or?? I'm about to put another SATA drive inside my mac pro and am debating between a quieter caviar green vs. black (louder, faster)... it would be a projects-only drive. At some point I will need to replace the system drive too which I'm guessing is the more crucial of the two (?) speed wise.
Thoughts?
Yea, usb external drives can definately be a big bottleneck due to bandwidth limitations.

It sounds like you are aware of this and are doing the right thing by using sata. When it comes to hard drives, the important thing is speed (rpm and buss speed) When you consider the massive amount of information your computer must save while recording multiple tracks, you can easily see how important being able to reliably commit that data to disk quickly is. So if you are concerned about your disks slowing you down I would recommend upgrading your recording discs before you upgrade your operating system drives. This is mostly due to the fact that programs are stored in memory once they are loaded and usually require much less disk access once they are going (unless of course they run out of ram and have to store 'virtual ram' on the disc, but thats another story.) So to answer your question, i recommend you evaluate your needs + 2 years. If you are/plan heavy multi-tracking, then opt for the faster black drives. If you mostly work in small < 16 track sessions, one track at a time, then you can likely get away with the green drive.
Problem? Sounds fine to me.

User avatar
roygbiv
re-cappin' neve
Posts: 703
Joined: Sat Jun 16, 2007 6:02 pm
Location: Portland, Oregon

Post by roygbiv » Mon Oct 12, 2009 8:15 pm

dcsimon wrote:
Yea, usb external drives can definately be a big bottleneck due to bandwidth limitations.

It sounds like you are aware of this and are doing the right thing by using sata. When it comes to hard drives, the important thing is speed (rpm and buss speed)
I always heard that one of the most important things for hard drives in a DAW was the cache size - is that true for recording drives as well?

Also, how many tracks can one simultaneously record to an external USB drive? Up to 16? (I've never tried more than 8).

(I'm not being disputative, just curious) -
"Decisions by the Secretary pursuant to the authority of this Act are non-reviewable and committed to agency discretion, and may not be reviewed by any court of law or any administrative agency."

BusyBoxSt7
steve albini likes it
Posts: 340
Joined: Wed Apr 11, 2007 3:21 pm
Location: Dallas

Post by BusyBoxSt7 » Mon Oct 12, 2009 11:16 pm

i work on sometimes up to say 48 track sessions, never recording more than 16 tracks simultaneously... whether green, black or whatever, they're all going to be 7200RPM, 32mb cache and 3Gbit transfer (or whatever sata rate is)... Supposedly though a black is higher performance (not sure how they measure that) than the more tree hugger (less energy) quieter green caviar drives.

I never have "problems" per say until I get almost done w/ a very plug-intensive mix (UAD2 card, RTAS stuff). Get the 9128 "running out of CPU" error msg, guessing that can't be coming from the HD card (even if running up to near max voice count at times but not using any TDM), could be RAM though. Or I guess it could be actual native CPU although w/ 4x2.66 + UAD card doing almost all the plugs, that's a little hard to believe.... certainly never had problems tracking 16 tracks simultaneously on any drive I've owned, even at 88.2KHz using the system drive...

I think I may try the green drive and if I have issues reading off of it while mixing (and writing back during printing or bouncing), I'll just use it as a personal drive.

ROY G BIV:
why would you want to record to a USB drive? they're hardly any cheaper and file transfers take days... or do you just not have any free FW ports? thought of a E-Sata card?
Stephen Hudson
Search The Busy Box on FB (top notch marketing eh?)

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 21 guests