Honestly, does Maschine really need Song Layer??

Discussion in 'MASCHINE Area' started by Frankknuck, Mar 19, 2019.

  1. Frankknuck

    Frankknuck NI Product Owner

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    On that note, saw this on CDM today: http://cdm.link/2019/03/dadamachines-doppler-fpga-open-music-hardware/

    I'm not a programmer and I have no real idea what this is or what it means for the future, but it reminded of your post so figure I'd drop that here. Is this along the lines of what you were saying above?
     
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  2. D-One

    D-One Moderator Moderator

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    No, i dont think so. That's a chip that works differently than the usuals CPU's, it allows a lot of stuff to be done at the same time, in parallel, instead of sequential code, it implements code in a weird way that I dont quite understand tbh. MIDI, OSC and normal controller protocols aren't demanding CPU wise, this is only relevant for more complicated things like digital synths, fx, etc... According to comments they are used in Novation Peak, or Ntellijel | Cylonix modules.
     
    Last edited: Mar 25, 2019
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  3. van Grieg

    van Grieg NI Product Owner

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    An FPGA is a broad term that defines a type of a chip that doesn't do anything predefined but rather is an array of blocks that can be programmed to do any logical/computational tasks. Historically, such chips were used for things like prototyping, were slower than purpose-designed ones, but now some of them are also very fast.

    Audio processing, a type of digital signal processing, is essentially a ton of floating point mathematical operations. While these operations are peanuts for modern general purpose CPUs or GPUs, the trick is to do a lot of them with minimum possible latency, without radiating much heat, and on chips that aren't deprecated every year or two - after all, digital signal processing is mainly used in military (radars and such) and industrial stuff. Traditionally and mostly up until now, the most common type of chip for this has been DSP - a type optimized for things like fast Fourier transform operations. These do a lot of parallel ultra-fast calculations, so FPGAs aren't about sequential vs parallel really. A few years ago, one leader in DSPs, Analog Devices, discontinued their high power DSPs called TigerSHARC, which were the most powerful by far, and everybody freaked out. FPGAs were considered as a possible substitute, but the problem with them is that you have to invest more into implementing things that DSPs did out of the box. Then, luckily, Texas Instruments saved the day and introduced even more powerful Keystone DSPs. Fractal Audio Axe-FX guitar processor is the first pro music device I know that switched to Keystone from TigerSHARC. UAD audio interfaces still use TigerSHARCs, IIRC, for onboard effects. Keystone seems to be the way to go now but porting embedded code is a massive endeavor for small pro audio firms. Some of them will probably switch to FPGAs, and some already use them (Antelope Audio, IIRC).

    So, to cut a long story short, an FPGA is essentially a clean slate chip that allows to program virtually anything computational. For a generic audio board that can do whatever you program it to do, FPGAs seem like the most fitting type of integrated circuit.
     
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  4. D-One

    D-One Moderator Moderator

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    Very informative, thanks for sharing. How do you know this, are you just a curious person or does this relate to your job?
     
  5. van Grieg

    van Grieg NI Product Owner

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    Partly both - I work in consulting, and we had projects with electronics manufacturers. But I also was reading some articles about the challenges manufacturers faced when AD announced discontinuation of their TigerSHARC DSPs because I was interested in the potential impact on pro gear industry. I also studied electronics engineering as an undergrad for a while, but that was in a life before the previous one, so probably doesn’t count. :)
     
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