Trying to understand the AMD Ryzen 9 3900x latency issues.

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Oval
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Trying to understand the AMD Ryzen 9 3900x latency issues.

Post by Oval »

I am a composer active in various subgenres of electronic music (mostly the more experimental ones), but I also write songs, record vocals for them and play keyboards, acoustic and electric guitar. I should make clear though that I don't record more than one instrument at a time, that means no band, other musicians or other apparent reasons to arm-record more than two tracks at the same time, and I say two because sometimes, (not always even), I also record vocals. In any case, it's either a synth (audio or midi) or one guitar + vocals AT MOST.
Apart from my solo work, I am also trying getting into scoring for films, video art, theater plays and video games. That doesn't mean I'm Hanz Zimmer though of course, or that I am going to record an orchestra or something. I am very much dependent on vst instruments and Kontakt libraries so I'd like to be able to work with a couple of CPU-hungry VST instruments such as Omnisphere without hiccups.

So, initially I was going to build a system around the i9-9900K, because well… Intel is what where we've all started from... Then I got to know about Ryzen 9 and 3900x and decided to choose that instead, since it simply seems to perform better for less money and my budget is limited. I was (and still am) pretty confident it will cover my needs when it comes to cpu power but then I started hearing all those whispers about latency causing all kinds or trouble and saw this article
https://www.scanproaudio.info/2019/07/1 ... gic-number
(that I should admit I don't understand 100%), and I am worried whether purchasing a 3900x would be a bad choice.

When it comes to latency, the only time I had to worry about, was like 15 years ago with the “keys pressed on a midi keyboard – note playing delayed” latency, but I haven’t faced something like that with post 2005 Computers/audio interfaces, even with an old, poor i3 I used to work. So is the problem random stuttering, audio dropouts and crackles? That’s even worse if so/if true. I do understand it also has to do with buffersize but again, I don't quite understand whether I am gonna be affected. As I've said I am used in working with very weak equipment so I've only ever messed with buffersize trying to make a weak CPU, 4 GB or ram and 5200 rpm hard drive laptop (terrible, I know, that's why I am building a new system) stop giving me asio and cpu overload spikes. Of course that didn't solve the problems, cause the system is weak, but I'm just saying I've worked with a couple of tracks with a buffersize as high as 256 or even 512 samples (recording was fine, not being able to load as many plugins as I'd want wasn't, but again, I don't think that's a buffer/latency issue), so I am not even sure whether those latency issues occur in a level close enough to affect me.

1. Can a kind soul please explain, even by linking to sources for additional reading, what the problem is with simple words?
2. More importantly and even if 1). isn't possible, since I've explained my workflow and what I expect from my new system, can you tell me whether those latency issues is something I should be concerned of to the point I should simply stay away from the 3900x? Or is it something that will not affect me and I have nothing to worry about?
3. Since I understand that audio interface drivers may also have to do something with that, does anyone use UR22mkII along with a 3900x on Windows?

I could really use some help here, cause I stand confused right in between seasoned pros with expensive studios (who I respect of course, but I can't help but wonder whether those latency issues might be problem for them but not for my intended home studio workflow), and the AMD and Intel fanboys whose opinion should be taken with a grain of last at best…

TLDR: Do those documented Ryzen 3900x latency issues mean there's a good chance to ran into audio dropouts, crackling, crashes and all kinds of trouble if I just record two channels at the same time at most and I just want a powerhouse to handle a couple of CPU-hungry VST instruments/plugins on my sessions i.e should I simply avoid 3900x and choose i9-9900K instead?
Last edited by Oval on Sun Mar 08, 2020 3:13 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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MattiasNYC
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Re: Trying to understand the AMD Ryzen 9 3900x latency issues.

Post by MattiasNYC »

People also have issues with Intel, yet they're not "infamous Intel issues". Know what I mean? You shouldn't have to worry as far as I can see.

Scan has a brand new test out:

https://www.scanproaudio.info/category/test-labs/

In addition you can read about builds on Gearslutz.com in the "computer hardware" section where there's a thread called "Today we build a studio PC" or something like that. It's a very long thread so start from the end or search for "Ryzen" or "3900x" or "3950x".

I would say that the 3900x is confirmed to work, and the only thing you have to consider is if it does what you need it to do in terms of the amount of voices played back. Sounds like you should have no problems.
Nuendo 10.2.2 build 396 / Lynx TWO-B / Windows 10 Pro 64-bit / Ryzen 1700 3.6GHz (oc) / 16GB Corsair Vengeance DDR4@3200MHz / Radeon VII / ASUS x370-A mobo ::::: RX Post Production Suite 4 / DaVinci Resolve

Oval
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Re: Trying to understand the AMD Ryzen 9 3900x latency issues.

Post by Oval »

MattiasNYC wrote:
Sat Mar 07, 2020 9:12 pm
People also have issues with Intel, yet they're not "infamous Intel issues". Know what I mean? You shouldn't have to worry as far as I can see.

Scan has a brand new test out:

https://www.scanproaudio.info/category/test-labs/

In addition you can read about builds on Gearslutz.com in the "computer hardware" section where there's a thread called "Today we build a studio PC" or something like that. It's a very long thread so start from the end or search for "Ryzen" or "3900x" or "3950x".

I would say that the 3900x is confirmed to work, and the only thing you have to consider is if it does what you need it to do in terms of the amount of voices played back. Sounds like you should have no problems.

Thanks for your input!

Yes, I've been following closely that thread, there are definitely some people who seem to know their stuff there, and I've already got some useful ideas for my build. Btw, people there strongly recommend purchasing a motherboard with Thunderbolt headers in order to be able to connect an audio interface via Thunderbolt by adding an add in card, if necessary, at some point in the future . Thunderbolt implementation is limited to Asrock motherboards for now when it comes to AMD, they aren't exactly cheap and I think I could go for a better quality/brand motherboard without TB for the same or even less money. As I've said, the UR22mkII, for the time being at least, has served me fine, do you think thunderbolt support is something I shouldn't neglect in my new build based on my workflow?

Gave that article yet another read and the phrase "anyone working above a 128 buffer has little to no concern there as it appears to recover in full by the 256 buffer" along your post, have helped easing my concerns considerably. At worse case scenario, I think recording with a 256 buffer isn't that bad, not sure whether working with a 48 or 96 KHz samplerate also has a negative impact on latency and introduces crackles and pops though.
In any case, without expecting any crystal ball reading abilities of course, would you say fixing those latency issues at lower buffersizes is possible? I mean, since they are chip-related, I'm not sure how a software/driver or even bios update could help.
the only thing you have to consider is if it does what you need it to do in terms of the amount of voices played back.
I guess by that you mean the same thing seen in the same article as "DAWBench VI - Kontakt Polyphony count"?
http://www.scanproaudio.info/wp-content ... 19Q3-2.jpg
Does the "1900" number mean you could have multiple kontakt instruments opened playing 1900 voices/notes at the same time before CPU hits 100%/crackles appear? Or 1900 voices in the same project in general, regardless of whether they are playing simultaneously or not?

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Re: Trying to understand the AMD Ryzen 9 3900x latency issues.

Post by MattiasNYC »

Oval wrote:
Sun Mar 08, 2020 3:11 pm
do you think thunderbolt support is something I shouldn't neglect in my new build based on my workflow?
I don't think anyone else can tell you. I mean, do you foresee needing to connect anything with TB?
Oval wrote:
Sun Mar 08, 2020 3:11 pm
In any case, without expecting any crystal ball reading abilities of course, would you say fixing those latency issues at lower buffersizes is possible? I mean, since they are chip-related, I'm not sure how a software/driver or even bios update could help.
Again though, I wish people would stop calling this an "issue". It's not. I mean, did you look at the charts? Every chip performs less well the smaller the buffer is. Every chip. Does every chip have "issues"?

Generally speaking it seems that with OS updates and BIOS updates and microcode updates performance indeed does change. Sometimes Intel chips improves, sometimes Intel chips' performance gets worse. Same for AMD.

As for sample rates:

Higher sample rates = lower latency
Lower latency = higher 'stress' on the CPU

In other words, with a higher sample rate the latency is lower because the samples are processed faster. But since the buffer is filled by a number of samples, not a fixed fraction of a second, it means that the buffer empties faster as well. Since it empties faster the CPU needs to be able to process everything with a smaller margin (per second).
Oval wrote:
Sun Mar 08, 2020 3:11 pm
the only thing you have to consider is if it does what you need it to do in terms of the amount of voices played back.
I guess by that you mean the same thing seen in the same article as "DAWBench VI - Kontakt Polyphony count"?
http://www.scanproaudio.info/wp-content ... 19Q3-2.jpg
Does the "1900" number mean you could have multiple kontakt instruments opened playing 1900 voices/notes at the same time before CPU hits 100%/crackles appear? Or 1900 voices in the same project in general, regardless of whether they are playing simultaneously or not?
I believe it's 1900 total voices in the project playing back simultaneously.

PS: I can't recall if they test Cubase/Nuendo with ASIO Guard on or off, but generally performance goes up with it "on".
Nuendo 10.2.2 build 396 / Lynx TWO-B / Windows 10 Pro 64-bit / Ryzen 1700 3.6GHz (oc) / 16GB Corsair Vengeance DDR4@3200MHz / Radeon VII / ASUS x370-A mobo ::::: RX Post Production Suite 4 / DaVinci Resolve

Oval
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Re: Trying to understand the AMD Ryzen 9 3900x latency issues.

Post by Oval »

MattiasNYC wrote:
Sun Mar 08, 2020 5:03 pm
Oval wrote:
Sun Mar 08, 2020 3:11 pm
do you think thunderbolt support is something I shouldn't neglect in my new build based on my workflow?
I don't think anyone else can tell you. I mean, do you foresee needing to connect anything with TB?
Well, maybe I upgrade to a better audio interface at some point and I need the better latency results Thuderbolt supposedly provides over USB?
But I am not sure whether future Thunderbolt incarnations will render the current add in cards and/or more importantly the Thunderbolt headers on the ASRock motherboards useless. I am reading Thunderbolt 4 coming up this year and I don't think I am going to need TB so soon, so if there's a good chance I won't be able to connect a future audio interface with my motherboard via Thunderbolt in like, 2+ years from now, maybe it doesn't make sense to make sure my current motherboard supports it and get a better quality motherboard for the same or less money instead?
Or the high end audio interfaces from the likes of RME and Motu are more or less guaranteed to work with the current X570 motherboards with TB headers (ASRock's) for a good number of years anyway, independently of what happens with the Thunderbolt protocol?
Again though, I wish people would stop calling this an "issue". It's not. I mean, did you look at the charts? Every chip performs less well the smaller the buffer is. Every chip. Does every chip have "issues"?
I know. The author seems to highlight latency issues with the 3900x though. And people, as you've noticed, keep bringing this up. Along with the “single core/thread performance is more important for DAW performance and i9-9900K is better than the 3900x when it comes to that, as it’s the consumer CPU with the best single core performance right now” argument (there's probably some truth in this), and the "many plugins are not compatible with Ryzen / Ryzen has problems with audio interface drivers" argument (a quite abstract statement, I can link several examples - none of them mention any plugin in particular - when it comes to audio interfaces/drivers, UAD comes up).
Which as you can imagine, to a person who might not be up-to-date with the latest CPU generation and possesses significant less technical knowledge compared to the author of the article and some audio production forum gurus, like myself (and I haven't pretended otherwise), creates a mist of confusion.
As for sample rates:

Higher sample rates = lower latency
Lower latency = higher 'stress' on the CPU

In other words, with a higher sample rate the latency is lower because the samples are processed faster. But since the buffer is filled by a number of samples, not a fixed fraction of a second, it means that the buffer empties faster as well. Since it empties faster the CPU needs to be able to process everything with a smaller margin (per second).
That's interesting, thanks for explaining.

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Re: Trying to understand the AMD Ryzen 9 3900x latency issues.

Post by MattiasNYC »

Oval wrote:
Sun Mar 08, 2020 7:27 pm
The author seems to highlight latency issues with the 3900x though.
Where? I don't see it.
Oval wrote:
Sun Mar 08, 2020 7:27 pm
And people, as you've noticed, keep bringing this up. Along with the “single core/thread performance is more important for DAW performance and i9-9900K is better than the 3900x when it comes to that, as it’s the consumer CPU with the best single core performance right now” argument (there's probably some truth in this), and the "many plugins are not compatible with Ryzen / Ryzen has problems with audio interface drivers" argument (a quite abstract statement, I can link several examples - none of them mention any plugin in particular - when it comes to audio interfaces/drivers, UAD comes up).
Which as you can imagine, to a person who might not be up-to-date with the latest CPU generation and possesses significant less technical knowledge compared to the author of the article and some audio production forum gurus, like myself (and I haven't pretended otherwise), creates a mist of confusion.
Ok, no offense but, you keep using the word "issue" and then other people are going to see you say there are "issues" and they are going to think there are issues because they see people using the word just like you just used it yet none of you have any idea what it's about. You just keep repeating the word.

If you're worried about this then just pick Intel. A million people have problems with Intel CPUs as well but it's not called "issues", so whatever. You seem to have made up your mind that there are problems with AMD CPUs in general so just pick an Intel CPU.
Nuendo 10.2.2 build 396 / Lynx TWO-B / Windows 10 Pro 64-bit / Ryzen 1700 3.6GHz (oc) / 16GB Corsair Vengeance DDR4@3200MHz / Radeon VII / ASUS x370-A mobo ::::: RX Post Production Suite 4 / DaVinci Resolve

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