SDRPlay Performance

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Bill
Posts: 11
Joined: Wed Sep 28, 2016 10:29 pm

Re: SDRPlay Performance

Postby Bill » Sun Oct 02, 2016 5:09 pm

Thank you for the great info David. I can see that with my computer will be able to marginally run one VRX at a lower band width. With what I want to do with SDR's, ADS-B and so on, I will definitely need a lot more computer power. I do have a USB 3.0 card with Reneas chipset that I have connected to an external USB 3.0 hard drive. It looks to be a single processor model and didn't cost all that much. I have read that this chipset seems to work well in being backward compatible with USB 2.0. I will add the USB 3.0 card consideration to my list of what I will want in a new computer. I might as well get it right the first time. :) I was amazed at how poorly this computer performed and this is a great reason to upgrade. ;) I think that I recall doing a hard drive search a while back and was given the choice to turn on drive indexing for faster searches. That was a real performance killer when I obviously had little to spare. At least at the moment I can become familiar with the SDRPlay and SDRuno now. I will be ordering a new computer soon and be rid of this problem. :D

Bill

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dsalomon
Posts: 51
Joined: Sat Oct 10, 2015 1:50 pm

Re: SDRPlay Performance

Postby dsalomon » Mon Oct 03, 2016 1:31 am

I meant to give you a few examples when I wrote my post this morning, but didn't have time - had to run out to do some errands. So, now that I'm back, I'd like to to add a little bit of info/details, take a look at these cards as a few examples:

Typical USB expansion card: https://www.amazon.com/SEDNA-Express-Ad ... rd+renesas

The above card has 4 ports, but a SINGLE chip to handle traffic from all 4 ports. Therefore, you get 5Gbps of bandwidth SHARED between all 4 ports.

Here's another card, also Renesas chipset, but it has FOUR processors for FOUR ports: https://www.amazon.com/Express-SuperSpe ... b_title_ce

This card has FOUR SEPARATE USB3 processors, each of which can handle up to 5Gbps of bandwidth. The difference is that each port can handle the full bandwidth, so adding additional USB devices will not share the already limited bandwidth.

With devices that are designed for USB3, like the RSP, this may not seem like a big deal. However, that depends on what other USB devices you are attaching to your PC and how much bandwidth each requires. Many USB devices, like mice, keyboards, etc., use very, very little bandwidth. The big bandwidth hogs are devices like SDRs (no big surprise there) and hard drives.

So, my suggestion is to look at your system and what USB devices you have, and how much bandwidth each device requires, then decide if you need to spend the extra money on a card with multiple processors for multiple ports. BTW, I picked those cards somewhat at random, so don't look at those specific cards as recommendations. However, just FYI, I have 2 of the 4 port StarTech cards in my system. Since implementing those cards and disabling the motherboard USB3 ports, I've had zero bandwidth related issues with SDRs on my system. I do have a few SDRs that are USB3 and use every bit of the USB3 bandwidth on a port. My SDRs I'm referring to have bandwidth of 56MHz. I still use my motherboard USB2 ports, but for things like mice, keyboards, etc. Using a high end USB3 addon card for a mouse is quite a bit of wasted resource.

Also, the Renesas USB3 chipsets are known to do a good job with their downward compatibility to USB2. Before deciding what USB card to get, make sure you do some research to see what other people experienced with the particular card you are looking at with respect to its downward compatibility.

Another thing to note is that the bandwidth of the USB card / cipsets is not the only factor that should be considered when dealing with optimizing USB bandwidth. Different types of PCI Express slots have different bandwidth. While no one PCI Express slot should be a limiting factor, it depends on what other devices are sharing the PCI lanes. I know this is getting a little detailed, but not all PCI Express slots are created equal. In the documentation for your motherboard, you will see "PCI Express x1", and/or "PCI Express X8", and and/or "PCI Express x16". You may have to read the appropriate sections of your motherboard manual to understand how these differ and whether or not they may even have any impact in your particular configuration. Here's a decent reference on PCI Express: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PCI_Express.

Finally, and maybe the FIRST thing to check is make sure your drivers are up to date. Old drivers can have a performance impact vs newest drivers.

Your combination of a single core PC, running 32-bit Vista and only 4GB of RAM is going to be an issue with anything other than minimum bandwidth settings on the RSP. The general rule of thumb I've always heard is to get as much computer as you can afford. You don't want to buy a new one only to find you've maxed it out with increased bandwidth on the RSP. You want spare overhead if for no other reason than to not have to buy another PC a year down the road.

A few final comments. You mentioned an external hard drive in your post earlier. Do NOT run a SDR and a USB external hard drive on the same USB controller. That's asking for trouble because they're both high bandwidth devices. If you do get a PCI Express USB card, I'd suggest one with multiple processors, and a USB3 vs a USB2 - one processor per port if you can afford it (like the example I noted above). That will give you the most bang for the buck with respect to bandwidth processing. Next, if you have to make a tradeoff between a faster processor and more memory, more memory will give you more return. Next, when you're setting up your new PC, definitely DO READ THE MANUAL sections about the different PCI Express slot types, again, as I noted above. If you have an addon graphics card, it should go in the x16 PCI Express slot. If you do not, and are using graphics on the motherboard, and have an x16 PCI Express slot, use it for the addon USB card. That slot, vs the x8 or x1 will give you the best bandwidth and mitigate any potential USB data transfer issues (from the USB card to the motherboard).

Sorry (again) for the length of this post. I was trying to give you some additional detail to help you troubleshoot your issues and maybe help you with some decisions for purchase of your next PC.

Best regards - David

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Bill
Posts: 11
Joined: Wed Sep 28, 2016 10:29 pm

Re: SDRPlay Performance

Postby Bill » Mon Oct 03, 2016 5:41 am

David, please don't be sorry for the long post. I'm saving this to use in my search for a new computer. I'm going to go as 'Big' as I can to hold off that next upgrade as you mentioned. Years back I was tied in with a group that were big into flight sims and we were constantly upgrading to attempt to keep up with the latest sims and graphics updates. We would have people come to our group for hardware advice. Well I finally got burned out on the never ending chase and went on to other things. Now I'm surrounded by HF radios as I finally got my HAM license a few years back and I have fjust gotten around to SDR's. In the interim since the flight sim days I have definitely fallen behind on the newer computer hardware. I didn't realize how clunky my computer was until I got the SDRPlay. :) Actually I did have a bit of an eye opener when I maximized the screens of the SDR software when running my FC dongle and things would slow down some. I will probably keep this computer for those 'everyday' uses but I will get a new computer if for nothing else, then to use this SDRPlay to its fullest. :D Along that line I need more antennas to supplement my long wire antennas and a basic 2M antenna. I have ordered a Super Discone antenna and have the plans to build a QFH antenna. Again, thank you for the input and advice. I think that there are a lot of hardware reviews in my immediate future. ;)

Best regards,
Bill / N7IBG

Edit:
I see what you mean about the price of the multi-processor USB 3.0 cards, mine is pretty much the first example. :)

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DaveB
Posts: 129
Joined: Sun Feb 01, 2015 6:04 pm

Re: SDRPlay Performance

Postby DaveB » Tue Oct 04, 2016 8:28 am

Putting some specific numbers to performance.

I own a desktop PC running an i5-4460 processor with 8 Gb RAM and Windows 8.1. With SDRPlay at 8MHZ bandwidth when I run in HDSDR it uses around 16% cpu load according to task manager, with a total cpu load of 22-24%. When I run SDRUno or SDR# CPU usage is around 50%. If you open up task manager you can see that the SDR applications are all using roughly the same amount of cpu load (16-18%) but both SDRUno and SDR# require Windows system to run - and this requires another 25-30% of the CPU load. If I then run FM Suite frequency scanner in SDR# it adds another 20% to the cpu load taking the cpu load to around 70%.

Add a 2nd instance of SDR# running Airspy mini - the CPU load heads up to 75-80%. I can pull back a few % by running SDRPlay at 2 MHz sampling rate - as the max bandwidth isn't needed when running scanning software.

This is a combination I regularly use.

The i5-4460 is a 4 core processor and has a benchmark of around 6800 - so this should give you a starting point when you look at upgrading.

The SDRPlay does not need a USB 3.0 port - mine is plugged into a USB 2.0 port and I've run it on an older Win 7 laptop with a much slower processor in basic operating mode.

David

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Bill
Posts: 11
Joined: Wed Sep 28, 2016 10:29 pm

Re: SDRPlay Performance

Postby Bill » Tue Oct 04, 2016 10:15 pm

That is good information David. I have been looking and reading and I have about settled on an - ASUS Desktop Computer G11CD-WS51, Intel Core i5 6th Gen 6400 (2.7 GHz), 8 GB DDR4, 1 TB HDD, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 970, Windows 10 Home 64-Bit . This uses DDR4 Dram and has 4 USB 2.0 ports, 4 USB 3.0 ports and 2 USB 3.1 ports. PCI Slots Available - 1 Mini PCI-e, 1 PCI-e x1, 1 PCI-e x16. Other - 24X DVD+/-RW Drive, 802.11ac Wireless LAN and Bluetooth 4.0. It fits the budget and should be no comparison to my old PC (Understatement). I run a couple of sims in the winter time and they were fair to OK with this old PC so they should be more then fine with this one. With the H110 chip-set, this PC isn't overclock-able and I don't think that I interested in that anyway. I mainly want to run my sdr's and especially the SDRPlay and it should do that handily.
Your thoughts. :)

Bill

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F1BJB
Posts: 108
Joined: Wed Jul 15, 2015 4:24 pm
Location: Beauvais France

Re: SDRPlay Performance

Postby F1BJB » Wed Oct 05, 2016 9:48 am

Bill wrote:I'm new to this board and to SDRPlay and I'm having trouble getting my SDRPlay to work without choppy audio. My system is Windows Vista 32 bit, 4 GB of ram and a 2.40 GHz processor.

Hi
I never used vista but when I installed Windows 7 64 bits on my quite old PC I had for years problems with any application using audio.
Task manager told me that a process called audiodg.exe was ,at times ,using 100% of one of the two cores.
Google searching "audiodg.exe" told me that I was not the only one.
But none of the proposed solutions was of any use in my case.
So I stayed with WXP for most of my PC usage and one day I noticed that the problem magically disappeared.
I believe this was due to a very late update from Microsoft or installation of a software or update of a driver on this PC.

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Bill
Posts: 11
Joined: Wed Sep 28, 2016 10:29 pm

Re: SDRPlay Performance

Postby Bill » Wed Oct 05, 2016 2:10 pm

I stuck with Vista for a long time, obviously. :) I didn't want to get into the upgrade headaches. This time it turned out to be 'drive indexing', supposedly for faster searches. Once that was turned off the CPU usage dropped from running at 100% all of the time. I just checked Task manager and audiodg.exe doesn't show up under processes. It certainly didn't hurt to check though. ;) I'm finding that just about any thing will take the CPU usage high on this computer. The new computer will be 64 bit. I appreciate the reply. I'm anxious to be able to run SDRPlay at its full bandwidth.

Bill

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Bill
Posts: 11
Joined: Wed Sep 28, 2016 10:29 pm

Re: SDRPlay Performance

Postby Bill » Thu Oct 13, 2016 4:33 am

As a follow-up, my new computer system runs SDRUno just fine as I had hoped that it would. :) I can run full screen, multiple receivers and full band width, no problem. I was right, it was time to upgrade. ;)

Bill

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