Topic: Working Cardbus or Expresscard Chipsets for HDSP


My post applies to RME owners who wish to use their HDSP gear on an 'affordable' laptop. I am not meaning to disregard the specialty laptop builders and high end Mac users, but I think many (likely most) people do not want to spend upwards of $1500 US just to get a compatible system when a modern $600 US laptop would provide an equivalent amount of 'horsepower'. Many of us already have fully equipped DAWs and would like the additional option of using our HDSP gear in a portable a reasonable cost.

After numerous searches on this board and others (SOS, KVR, Gearslutz), the only consensus approved chipset for the PCMCIA or Expresscard slots is the Texas Instruments version(s).

From what I've been able to determine, the TI cardbus chipset has not been used in a retail laptop since the Socket M boards of years past (Lenovo T60, T60p, Toshiba A9, M9, HP dv9000, Acer 5220 amongst others).

Even most Penryn laptops (4 years old or more) are too 'recent' by this standard.

Surely there must be 1 person on the planet that has a working HDSP(e) system on a retail laptop that dates from beyond 2007. Is there not a single Cardbus/Expresscard chipset that is being used successfully?




Re: Working Cardbus or Expresscard Chipsets for HDSP

The ExpressCard slot is connected directly to the internal PCIe chipset, like Intel ICH9 etc. AFAIR the same is true for the CardBus slot which is connected directly to the internal PCI chipset. You seem to be confused by chips used on FW cards that are then inserted into the ExpressCard slot. And I can assure you that retail laptops from before 2007 were mostly not usable for pro audio - no big change to today.

Matthias Carstens

Re: Working Cardbus or Expresscard Chipsets for HDSP

Hi MC,

I appreciate your reply.

I will clarify what I meant in my previous post...

I am a very satisfied Multiface II user (I have 2 on PCIe card DAWs). I was thinking about setting up a small (as in portable and inexpensive) mobile rig and am aware of the numerous problems laptop users are havng. I could only find posts of satisfied laptop users (see list in previous post) that were using TI firewire chipsets. For example:

These laptops have TI firewire chipsets yes, but they ALL have TI PCMCIA controllers (In the device manager it will indicate <Texas Instruments PCIxx21/x515 Cardbus Controller> or something similar). It took a lot of digging to verify this.

My conclusion was that the TI Cardbus controller MIGHT be the only proven controller for the Multiface II. This seems improbable, but I have not seen a recommended laptop otherwise.

Is there a more recent laptop that has been successfully used with the Multiface...and therefore a non-TI PCMCIA/ExpressCard controller? There must be...


Re: Working Cardbus or Expresscard Chipsets for HDSP

I think the issue is that almost all laptops use the same ricoh chipset, that has issues. I don´t think apart from the TI there are any alternatives.

Vincent, Amsterdam
Babyface pro fs, HDSP9652+ADI-8AE, HDSP9632

5 (edited by jcschild 2011-03-23 15:54:49)

Re: Working Cardbus or Expresscard Chipsets for HDSP

i can write 10 paragraphs about this but will try to keep it short and wont even bother with the chipsets thing.. as its pretty moot at this point. (the older cardbus on many better laptops the chipset used was TI, cheaper ones used others, things are a little different with Express but still have a bridge)

there are multiple issues with new laptops. they are designed for long battery life and pull every power saving trick in the book they can to get that long battery life
add to that the whole "green" nonsense..

add to that that windows itself is also guilty of the power saving nonsense.
part of the power saving is cutting voltages at every turn with windows even turning off usb ports not in use or that may have something plugged in but not in use.
the Express slot is oft times undervolted as well even when it has something active.

Cstates in the bios with all laptops/desktops they are all on by default these can and will cause issues for audio (DPC)
with desktops you can turn them off with most laptops you have no control

so 2 main issues lack of power/low power and c state.
all this turning on and off creates many issues.

added 3rd party chipset create even more with jmicron being one of the worst (and most commonly used)
Ricoh, o2r and others are not much better. (card reader, firewire if any, and other chipsets.)

then you have the manufacturer's expected end user use. most of them, particularly in the budget realm do not expect any laptop to used as a workstation but more as a get on the internet or do office work or oddly play movies or games.  far from a pro level audio device.
so the way they program the bios is lazy and sloppy.

you might get lucky and find a laptop that will actually work with an RME express card (rme has the best potential of anyone)
i have heard of a few people using name brand laptops with the Madiface.
not many, nor do i recall what models.

some things to try
disable ACPI battery, fingerprint thing if there is one
disable all wifi/lan (we had to physically remove the wifi card in 2 of our models as even disabling it didn't work)
ugly VGA mode for the video (last resort)
there is at least another 40 things... but without control over the bios or custom bios good luck with that...


Re: Working Cardbus or Expresscard Chipsets for HDSP

Hi Scott,

Thanks for taking the time to give your respected opinion. I've read many of your posts here and on the sites I listed previously.

I have a couple of stable MultiFace II DAWS in my studio. They are trouble-free...and allow me to spend my budget on mics and studio hardware.


I guess my inherent belief is that a laptop is not a durable piece of equipment nor a good investment. I love my laptops, but I've always purchased 2+ year old models (I'm typing this on a Toshiba A5) for those reasons. I've never paid more than $350 and I can usually get 2-4 years of use.  Obviously I've never used a laptop for pro audio.

It seems the huge increase in laptop horsepower corresponding with the dramatic decrease in costs (purchased a new HP I3/4mg/500gig/Nvidea for my wife last Boxing Day...$420...) would present a market for a low budget audio unit, but I guess the situation is getting worse instead of better.

If I manage to get more faith in the durability of laptops, and lay out more cash...I'd definitely consider one of your ADK machines.


Re: Working Cardbus or Expresscard Chipsets for HDSP

Unfortunately laptops are hit & miss. One reason people buy Macbook for audio is that many other musicians use the same thing. No one wants to be the guinea pig for the plethora of PC laptops out there.

That doesn't mean that Macbooks are anywhere near perfect though. The ExpressCard slot of the 2008/09 Macbook Pros was a POS, the 2010 one is better (new Intel chipset), no idea about the 2011 one yet. Fortunately RME HDSPes run rather good with all of them. Lack over "BIOS" options is another issue, that sometimes can be overcome via software though.

@Scott: You do know that Presonus published a Windows 7 power-profile that disables both Speedstep and Core Parking (should also work on Vista), don't you? Someone posted a little recognized thread on Gearsluts some months ago. It works on 2010 MBP running Windows, too, because the BIOS (emulation) now includes the EIST bit.

Re: Working Cardbus or Expresscard Chipsets for HDSP

HI Timur,
i recall seeing something about that i think we played with it but cant recall.. have you tried it? guessing its somewhat like coolbook?


Re: Working Cardbus or Expresscard Chipsets for HDSP

Sent an e-mail to keep this thread on-topic.