Topic: hdspe expresscard bluescreens/crashes computer

I am running a "new" (just purchased used) hdspe expresscard to use with my multiface.  I am running this through the "standard" Sonnet Echo, then the StarTech and into the thunderbolt2 port of a Dell Precision 7740 running the latest win10.

This chain (sort of) worked with the older hdsp cardbus and a cardbus->pciexpress adapter.  There were problems with that though (can't run more than two stereo output pairs at all, occasional crackles/glitches that might be related), so I understood that the expresscard would be a better option.

But now, when I plug in the hdspe expresscard, the computer appears to start loading it (activity in the system tray), then blue-screens.  If I boot with the card already plugged in, it errors and tries to "repair" during boot, and I am never able to get it booted all the way into win7.

Does this behavior sound familiar?  I do have one of the serial numbers listed here as "should be exchanged": https://forum.rme-audio.de/viewtopic.php?id=3263  Is my symptom related to that?

Given that, what options do I have at this point?  RME, do you happen to have any stock left to do the "exchange"?  If not, is there any other action I can take to try to get it working?

Thanks...

Re: hdspe expresscard bluescreens/crashes computer

Okay, I found and tried a second HDSPe expresscard, this time with a serial number that is not on the recall list.  However, it does the same thing:

+ when computer already booted:  StarTech (already plugged in to Sonnet with expresscard) crashes the computer a few seconds after being plugged in.

+ when booting with the whole chain already plugged in:  errors during boot, multiple boot tries, eventually just get a "repair" screen.  I never get a full boot into win10.

If I do the exact same thing with the hdsp cardbus in a cardbus/expresscard adapter (then through the same Sonnet and StarTech into thunderbolt2 on laptop) then there is no crash, and the interface works (not fully functional, but it does pass some audio and midi fine... it just crackles a ton when enabling more than a handful of I/O).  No windows crashes, and the interface largely acts like an interface, I can change buffer size parameters, Totalmix appears to act normally, etc.

Mattias, does this ring any bells?  I'm trying to decide if I have a case for returning the laptop to Dell as having a not-fully-functional thunderbolt port, but I can't tell if that's actually true.  I'm very confused that the cardbus in the expresscard adapter works... would that not indicate that the thunderbolt port is okay?  Yet, two different HDSP expresscards do the exact same blue-screen thing.

I'm confused, and not sure which item to consider non-workable and just thinking in circles now.  Return the laptop if possible?  It's a beast, other than this.  Or give up on the expresscard and assume the TB subsystem is probably fine for non-edge-case uses?

Thanks in advance for any thoughts or insights.

Re: hdspe expresscard bluescreens/crashes computer

And I managed to catch the error messages associated with the above:

+ When interface connected, then computer powered up, it never boots.  It blue-screens with SYSTEM_THREAD_EXCEPTION_NOT_HANDLED

+ When computer is fully booted first (without the interface), then the interface chain is plugged into the thunderbolt port, after a few seconds I get a blue-screen crash with DRIVER_VERIFIER_DMA_VIOLATION

Does this hint at anything?

Re: hdspe expresscard bluescreens/crashes computer

I am not from RME. But the cardbus and expresscard should both perform the same and 100% good. The fact that the cardbus has issues too points to a problem. But it can be the laptop and all adapters. Except when some worked in another system, then you know those  are 99.9% certain, ok.
Any chance to do a clean install of windows or even windows 7? That would at least exclude the OS as the source of the problem. Oh and do check the bios first! There might be TB related settings there that might help.

Vincent, Amsterdam
https://soundcloud.com/thesecretworld
HDSP9652+ADI-8AE  2X HDSP9632
Cubase pro10

Re: hdspe expresscard bluescreens/crashes computer

Thanks, it is a pretty clean win10 install.  I basically installed the OS, then macrium so I can image and experiment, then RME drivers, then Cubase so I can test.  That's about it I think.

Re: hdspe expresscard bluescreens/crashes computer

Regarding the crash errors:

SYSTEM_THREAD_EXCEPTION_NOT_HANDLED
DRIVER_VERIFIER_DMA_VIOLATION

I got a message from Dell suggesting a registry entry or two to check and possibly modify.  Will have at that when next home.

7

Re: hdspe expresscard bluescreens/crashes computer

This is exactly what I saw with my new XPS 15 7590. My former XPS 15 9550 does not show any problems. I will do some more testing today to check the current usability of the USB-C (TB) port on this newer notebook. I am pretty sure though this is a BIOS/driver problem on Dell's and Intel's side. The 9550 also needed a year to start working via USB-C. Every time they issue new hardware they seem to start at zero...

Regards
Matthias Carstens
RME

Re: hdspe expresscard bluescreens/crashes computer

Ugh... in that case is there anything to do other than wait for Dell/Intel to fix (or not)?  Unfortunately, the registry edits the Dell tech suggested were either not there for me to edit, or the one edit I did make didn't change the bluescreen behavior.

Just FYI, they suggested I try turning off DmaRemappingCompatible for asmtxhci and usbxhci.  I do not have any such settings available for asmtxhci under ControlSet001\Services, but the USBXHCI\Paramaters copy of DmaRemappingCompatible was set to 2, so I set it to 0.  After reboot, expresscard still bluescreens when plugged in.

Also, I tried taking "OFFLINE" out of the paths below (since I don't even have that) to see if I could find the asmtxhci settings, but it wasn't there either.  These two Dell suggested I change value to 0:

[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\OFFLINE\ControlSet001\Services\asmtxhci\Parameters]  "DmaRemappingCompatible"
[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\OFFLINE\ControlSet001\Services\USBXHCI\Parameters]  "DmaRemappingCompatible"

This is the location where I did change DmaRemappingCompatible:

Computer\HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\ControlSet001\Services\USBXHCI\Parameters

I'm definitely interested in the results of your investigation.

-glenn

9

Re: hdspe expresscard bluescreens/crashes computer

I have tested my 7590's USB-C/TB3 port with great (unexpected) success. USB 2  interrupt (UCX and others) and isochonous audio transmission (UFX II and others), USB 3 isochronous audio transmission (MF XT and others), Thunderbolt 2 via Startech or Apple adapter (UFX+) - everything flawless.

So I connected my Netstor TB3 chassis with first a HDSPe MADI inside, then a HDSPe PCI card (rev 1.2) feeding a first generation Multiface - everything flawless.

That leaves the exact combination that doesn't work for you, also not working for me: Startech or Apple TB3 to TB2, Sonnet Echo Pro, HDSPe Express Card, Multiface - Bluescreens, with error messages that seem to make no sense.

[Edit:] There is a newer Echo available with TB3 [not true]. My Netstor result might indicate that one would work with the ExpressCard/Multiface. But sorry, I won't test that.

BTW, I also have a Netstor TB 2 chassis which I connected via the StarTech and Apple adapter, with a HDSPe MADI FX inside. That one didn't work, it wasn't detected at all, like dead. Until I plugged it into my old notebook - works. That makes two current incompatibilities with the latest 7590.

Regards
Matthias Carstens
RME

Re: hdspe expresscard bluescreens/crashes computer

Is your feeling that the problem is likely to be the Dell, or the expresscard/drivers, or the adapter chain?  I know there's no way to state categorically, but I'm nearing a point where I need to decide if I want to try to argue with Dell that the Precision 7740 is in fact not suitable (as in, the TB3 subsystem is not compliant in some way that it should be).  The alternative is to just give in and go with the chain I have:

7740 TB3 -> StarTech -> Sonnet Echo -> cardbus/expresscard adapter -> HDSP-cardbus card.

This surprisingly works, even at 32-sample buffers, with a couple of caveats (big one being that at 5 audio outs activated it works, but at 6 it fails nearly completely).

I am still also dealing with occasional DPC latency glitches (I assume that's the cause), I think because small buffers are more sensitive.  But turning off C-States along with a number of other tweaks make those less frequent, and at this point they are 85% limited to CPU0, so I can turn off CPU0 affinity for Cubase and stay mostly away from audio glitches.

I have also managed to try a BabyFace Pro, and it has similar behavior with the occasional (every 1 to 3 minutes) audio glitches, and is similarly calmed by forcing Cubase cpu affinity.

The question I'm working with now is whether or not I am "trying too hard" with the 7740, and if I do indeed return that, how hard would it be to find something else that works.  Same issues I dealt with 11 years ago when I bought the last laptop... my how things don't change. :-)

11

Re: hdspe expresscard bluescreens/crashes computer

Dell is quite famous for their low latency expertise in BIOS programming (irony off). I use the 7590 as universal tool and tech study, so it's ok for me. I think for dedicated audio work one should get a laptop from specialized DAW vendors, which know what low latency really means.

Regards
Matthias Carstens
RME

Re: hdspe expresscard bluescreens/crashes computer

Ha!  Right.  Well, here is some interesting new information. I need further testing to confirm, but at this point a couple of things appear to actually make a difference.

1) Expresscard-over-Thunderbolt crashes computer: It turns out that if I edit two values in the registry, setting them both to 0, then the HDSP Express seems to work fine. The two values:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\ControlSet001\Services\pci\Parameters\DmaRemappingCompatible
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\ControlSet001\Services\USBXHCI\Parameters\DmaRemappingCompatible

That's it.  I don't know what the possible other ramifications of this are (less secure machine?  will future software, drivers, or updates fail to work?), but changing those two from "2" to "0" makes the expresscard-over-TB work, and work better than the cardbus-over-TB.

2) Infrequent but not non-existent audio glitches: As many others, I tried all kinds of BIOS and System and Power settings to get rid of the DPC latencies.  What finally seems to have eliminated nearly all of the medium-to-long ones off was to actually physically disconnect and remove the battery.

Since I tried many other things as well (C-States disabled, disabled onboard graphics, lots of Device Manager settings), I'd like to try resetting some of those back to default and see how much of the problems really have been just due to the battery.

What that means, I don't know.  Bad battery?  Or drivers that aren't getting (or ignoring) the message to stop paying attention to the battery when plugged in to mains power?

More extensive testing to confirm these results as soon as I have time.

As for whether I like either one of these as a long-term solution, I don't yet know.  I consider both to be hacky and probably not without their own risks or downsides.  But it's interesting anyway.

13

Re: hdspe expresscard bluescreens/crashes computer

Sorry for the late reply. I finally managed to check again and first confirmed the behavior reported in post 9 (despite Dell updating the BIOS two times and Intel updating the Thunderbolt firmware one time, the 7590 still BSODs with Driver Verifier DMA Violation after inserting the HDSPe Express Card into the Sonnet Echo Pro).

I then rebooted, edited the two above entries in the registry as per your instructions, rebooted again, connected everything and - Windows found a Multimedia Audio device but had no drivers for it (I had reset my Windows installation via Macrium Reflect after the former BSODs, so there is no HDSPe driver present). That gives an interesting insight: without the RME driver the HDSPe ExpressCard does not perform any DMA transfers. Why oh why why do we see DMA violations then?

Anyway, I installed the driver and voilà, the Multiface is up and running perfectly!

So these  two registry changes can restore HDSPe functionality via TB adapters on newer machines. Thanks for the info, I will add this to the Tips & Tricks section.

Regards
Matthias Carstens
RME

14

Re: hdspe expresscard bluescreens/crashes computer

And another follow-up: some updates over the last months, most probably BIOS updates, have worsened the low latency performance of the Dell XPS15 7590 to an unacceptable level. The infamous ACPI.sys stops the system for around 2 ms every few minutes, sometimes even higher. Dropout-free operation thus requires 1048 samples in single speed, 2048 samples in double speed. And yes, that's quite ridiculous!

Similar to glittle I tried a lot of BIOS settings changes and known tricks, to no avail. I did not disconnect the battery so far, though. But I disabled the two power supply/battery related entries in the Device Manager, a workaround that was helpful years ago with similar problems. Unfortunately it didn't change anything.

ACPI.sys is NOT a Windows (or Microsoft) problem, it is a BIOS problem! Thanks Dell, once again...

Regards
Matthias Carstens
RME

Re: hdspe expresscard bluescreens/crashes computer

Mattias, I am currently running a 32-sample buffer at 44.1k sample rate.  I *think* the three things I've had to do to make that work are:

+ The registry edits I described earlier

+ Disable ACPI battery in the device manager (turns out I don't have to disconnect it physically, if I do this)

+ *Disable* C-states in the BIOS

I am running a Precision 7740, with I believe the latest BIOS (will need to check that when home).  I hope your experience with BIOS updates does not portend problems moving forward!

Since I am at least annoyed that I am basically not able to use a battery I paid for, and because of the C-states disabling, my CPU frequency is topped out at 4.2ghz (out of 4.9ghz), I have been working with a Dell rep to try to duplicate this in order to look into it more thoroughly.  I want my .7ghz and battery back.  :-)  As an anonymous end-user though, I lack the leverage to convince them that the 1-2ms DPC latencies are in fact a serious issue.  They seem open to listening though.  Would you mind if I put them in touch with you?  If so, can you PM me a preferred contact address?

Thanks...

16

Re: hdspe expresscard bluescreens/crashes computer

The 7590 seems to have a battery control problem as well. This is my test: start Latency Monitor, unplug the power supply. ACPI.sys DPC will peak between 5 ms and 14 (!) ms. Same when resetting LM and plugging in the power supply.

When I do this test with my former XPS15 9550 NOTHING happens at all!

Disabling the ACPI battery control or the power supply (both in Device Manager under Batteries) and S3 states off doesn't change anything. At this time the XPS15 7590 is clearly screwed up.

Regards
Matthias Carstens
RME