AET 2050 - DAW Production
3. Computer Systems for DAWs
The Computer Defined
The heart of the Digital Audio Workstation
A system that manipulates data, stores the data, and communicates with peripheral devices to accept commands or give out information.
Executes a given set of instructions (a program), accept inputs, perform processes, output results, and likely store or recall information.
Communicates with the outside world through interfaces or ports. The speed at which data passes depends on the application:
Key Components of the Computer System
OS (Operating System)
There are two primary operating systems in use today: Windows and Mac OS. Lesser-used systems include Unix/Linux and BeOs.
What system to use?
Choosing an OS is an important decision. Points to consider:
Block diagram of a basic computer system containing the basic functional blocks and the busses that interconnect them:
Computer architecture can be broken into three main categories or functional blocks:
- Interconnection of components
- Bus speed
CPU (Central Processing unit)
- Processor type or model
- Proc speed
- Proc design - manufacturer
- PCI - standard expansion
- Other families
- Electronic circuitry that holds data for use by the CPU
- Typically comprised of solid-state ICs (integrated circuits) - "SIMMs" for example
- Is directly accessible by the CPU
- Fast access - usually in the order of nanoseconds
- Types of memory
- "RAM" (Random Access Memory)
- "ROM" (Read-Only Memory)
- "Cache" - special type of RAM used by the CPU
- Virtual Memory
- Important tasks for the DAW
- Important parameters
- Video card
- Additional monitors
I/O and communication ports
- How data is moved into and out of the computer.
- Any interface to a computer is considered I/O.
- Some common types of I/O devices:
- Keyboards, mice
- Video monitors
- Video, audio cards and interfaces
- Hard drives
- Communication ports:
Digital Signal Processors (DSPs)
- Specialty CPU designed to perform specific math-intensive processes on data.
- Augments the main CPU, freeing it to perform more of the general system functions
- Designed to perform intensive mathematical functions and operations
- Found in specialty systems (such as audio workstations or high-performance video), often on proprietary cards
What is important for DAWs?
Consider the options that are needed (or not needed) for audio processing.
Desktop vs laptop