Benchmark Results: DAW
Another way professional grade workstation get put to use in the digital content creation field is as digital audio workstations. DAW work requires a lot of CPU power for DSP functions, as well as for mixing audio streams together. Both of our DAW tests are run in Reaper v3.
Our previous DAW tests were performed using the onboard sound card, which severely limited the performance of the system. Echo Digital Audio supplied us with an AudioFire 2 to use for testing workstations, which has significantly improved performance in tests that are sensitive to the audio interface.
This is a custom-written piece that uses a combination of audio tracks (drums) and software synthesizers (brass, strings, pads, chorals) and measures the time to mix down to a two-track, 24-bit audio file.
Because of problems with some of the software synthesizers, this test underwent a slight revision in that one of them had to be exchanged for a newer version in order for the benchmark to run properly. Results should still be comparable within 10% (the replacement is about 10% more efficient than its predecessor).
Once again the results are consistent with the roughly 200% performance increase seen on other tests. I will stress that this test is almost entirely CPU-based, and is not affected by the latency issues of an audio interface.
DAWBench 2010 Universal
DAWBench is a designed to test the real-time DSP performance of a DAW, namely its ability to apply DSP effects and still produce a clean audio stream. It works and is measured by the application of specific effects to tracks within the DAW until the audio stream breaks up. The test is performed at three latency settings. We're using WaveArts MD5 as the effects plug-in.
It should be noted that we received guidance from the developer on adding additional instances of the plug-in. Normally, you just activate as many instances as you need, because the default 320 instances in the test file were not enough to test this system. It was mentioned that because of an audio interface/driver issue, the performance of the HP system was seriously hampered and it only achieved slightly more than half of what it should have produced.
A note to DAW aficionados out there: the onboard FireWire on this system’s motherboard is VIA chipset-based, not the TI chipset usually preferred for DAW work.