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Thread: Static noise from soundcards encountered with Nvidia dual SLI graphic configurations

  1. #1
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    Static noise from soundcards encountered with Nvidia dual SLI graphic configurations

    Dear Sound Blaster users,

    Static noise from soundcards encountered with Nvidia dual SLI graphic configurations

    We have received feedback from many of our users regarding distortion with Nvidia graphics card in SLI configuration. The typical setup that we hear from feedback is Nvidia nForce SLI motherboard and 2 Nvidia graphic cards in SLI mode. Common feedback is audio distortion while playing trailers / videos, especially High Definition versions, audio popping and severe crackling while playing certain games, and audio distortion when DTS Connect or Dolby Digital Li've! is turned on.

    Other users have reported crackles when there is some sort of disk activity like copying and downloading large files and defrag. Most of the systems affected are SLI- boards with SATA drivers Raid enabled. Also mentioned are devices that really stress bus bandwidth like SCSI controller cards and the SkyStar2 DVB-S PCI TV Tuner card.

    In our investigations we were able to reproduce some of these problems. We have not seen this issue with the Intel X58 SLI Enabled motherboard that was launched recently.

    We have found that when this distortion occurs, the Sound Blaster X-Fi audio transport encounters severe cache/FIFO underflows and crackles are heard. This occurs if the audio card's accesses to host memory are denied for long periods of time, more than what the audio chip can gracefully handle. Typically this happens during intense graphics activity such as playing games/movie etc.

    We also noticed in such cases, Sound Blaster X-Fi's requests for PCI bus service are being "retried," or deferred, an extraordinary number of times, presumably while the graphics system is using system memory. The Sound Blaster X-Fi sound card can withstand up to about 450 bus retries on occasion, but in these cases we are sometimes seeing over 8000 bus retries for a single request (to system memory to read audio data to play), for a total deferral time of up to 2 milliseconds (240 nanoseconds per retry). We have seen these deferrals cause audio defects in non-Creative PCI sound cards as well. This problem is specifically related to the system so we do not have a definiti've solution for this problem, but here are some possible mitigations:

    ) In some cases using 2G of dual-channel memory mitigates the problem. Users are advise to refer to their motherboard manual to set the optimum configuration for their system RAMs.
    2) Flashing the BIOS or changing CMOS can cause the memory and PCI performance to improve or sometimes degrade. We do not know of any particular BIOS versions that are better or worse, but flashing the BIOS can cause the system memory resource allocation to change.
    3) From the forum, users have reported that sometimes removing one SLI graphics card, rebooting with X-Fi, then shutting down and reinstalling the second graphics card fixes the problem

    The use of two PCI-express graphics cards together to render the same image (SLI mode) means that access to system RAM will be delayed.. and together the two cards are using x6 PCIe! Thus, the system RAM bandwidth is strained by what is effecti'vely a 32-lane PCIe graphics card. If the system de-prioritizes PCI requests relati've to other peripherals like SATA HD's or PCI-e graphics cards, the Sound Blaster X-Fi will not get the bandwidth it needs in time.

    Motherboard manufacturers sometimes configure their systems this way so as to boost their performance numbers while saving cost, not realizing that not all PCI peripherals can handle being held off on the bus to such an extent. And we are not able to increase our buffer sizes because of audio latency restrictions.

    We have contacted Nvidia directly last year, with the intention of resolving these issues. This bug was logged with NVidia several months ago. Unfortunately, to date we have not been able to get any positi've or acti've response despite having sent several mails.

    In the course of our investigations, we also found the following:-

    a. SLI audio issues are not just specific to Creative audio cards. Non Creative cards also encounter distortions.
    b. Not all SLI setups will have audio problems. If SLI mode is disabled, the distortion goes away. We encounter distortions on 280 GTX SLI on XFX 790i Ultra Motherboard (Nvidia 790i Ultra chipset, but there were no distortions on Asus Rampage 2 Extreme (Intel X58 chipsest)
    c. Driver upgrades do help mitigate the problem. Bad crackling occurred when playing Crysis and Bioshock, using XFX 790i Ultra Motherboard chipset driver ver 9.64 with 9800 GX2 SLI video card driver ver 78.24. Crackling was much reduced when using the latest XFX 790i Ultra Motherboard chipset driver ver 5.23 with 9800 GX2 SLI video card driver ver 82.06.

    We understand the frustrations of users not being able to enjoy their movies and games. While it is unfortunate that we are not able to help fix the problem, we hope that the above information will help shed light on the issue and help users make a better informed decision. We will continue to work to find a solution to provide the best audio experience for our users, and we welcome user feedback as it is impossible for us to test all possible configurations.

    Thank you,
    The Sound Blaster Team

    Update: There is an announcement and a beta driver released to address the issue. Read http: //forums.creative.com/creativelabs/board/message?board.id=soundblaster&view=by_date_ascendi ng&message.id=40544#M40544
    Last edited by Loi-XCL-; 10-27-2011 at 09:55 AM.

  2. #2
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    XRe: Static noise from soundcards encountered with Nvidia dual SLI graphic configurationsv

    I am not gonna be mean here, I am just going too state the obvious.

    .) Through my testing the issue has nothing too do with SLI, removing two out of the 3 video cards from my system ( I run 3x280GTX Video cards ) results in SCP issues even using video card.

    2.) This is not an Nforce issue, if the thread found in SoundBlaster section of the forum were actually read through by Creative-CL's http://forums.creative.com/creativel...scending&page=?You would see people with X58 chipsets and various other chipsets do suffer from the SCP issue.

    3.) PCI-E does not suffer the latency issues that the old PCI soundcards had, this is incorrect too assume. It would make sense with SLI or Tri-Sli but would not make sense if you are not running SLI and are still getting the issue.

    4.) 2GB of memory was fixed in a driver release back some 2 years ago. Dropping back too even GB in single cannel mode does not even fix the issue.

    5.) This is not an Nvidia issue, AMD users have the exact same problem. Again I refer too the thread posted in Soundblaster forums, people use various configurations, AMD videocards, AMD chipsets, integrated video, intel chipsets, nvidia chipsets, raid, no raid etc etc. The single common peice of hardware in these systems is a Creative Soundcard.

    6.) DTS or Dolby has nothing too do with this issue, disabling all hardware dri'ven aspecst of the XFI card still results in SCP audio. Running a headset I get the issue.

    Again this post is misleading, in now way is the SCP issue an Nvidia or SLI related problem.
    Last edited by Loi-XCL-; 10-27-2011 at 09:56 AM.

  3. #3

    XRe: Static noise from soundcards encountered with Nvidia dual SLI graphic configurations?

    I was an owner of two rigs fitted with Asus Striker II Extreme motherboards, I couldnt even use my X-Fi Titanium Champions cards. Recently I made the upgrade to the i7 965 with Asus Rampage II Extreme motherboards, and I can say the cards work PERFECT in this motherboard. People getting all cranky at Nvidia, I was there!? I spent over 0k on two gaming stations, I had as much if not more reason to be ugly but when I found out the Xfi Titaniums work flawless in my SkullTrail, and BOTH Rampage II Extreme boards, I can say, Im not upset with Creative anymore, Im upset with Nvidia

    Didnt anyone else wonder why Nvidia isnt making a 366 based chipset for the new I7s?
    Last edited by Loi-XCL-; 10-27-2011 at 09:56 AM.

  4. #4
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    XRe: Static noise from soundcards encountered with Nvidia dual SLI graphic configurations

    TechAnalyst wrote:
    I was an owner of two rigs fitted with Asus Striker II Extreme motherboards, I couldnt even use my X-Fi Titanium Champions cards. Recently I made the upgrade to the i7 965 with Asus Rampage II Extreme motherboards, and I can say the cards work PERFECT in this motherboard. People getting all cranky at Nvidia, I was there!? I spent over 0k on two gaming stations, I had as much if not more reason to be ugly but when I found out the Xfi Titaniums work flawless in my SkullTrail, and BOTH Rampage II Extreme boards, I can say, Im not upset with Creative anymore, Im upset with Nvidia

    Didnt anyone else wonder why Nvidia isnt making a 366 based chipset for the new I7s?
    The people in the other thread would disagree with you as they are using X58 aswell and still get the issue. Your just one of the lucky ones. Until the SCP issue appears for you.
    Last edited by Loi-XCL-; 10-27-2011 at 10:03 AM.

  5. #5
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    XRe: Static noise from soundcards encountered with Nvidia dual SLI graphic configurations-

    TechAnalyst wrote:
    Didnt anyone else wonder why Nvidia isnt making a 366 based chipset for the new I7s?
    Because Nvidia decided to skip this socket and working on Sandybridges, Intel's next architecture,?which may not use the the same socket as i7.
    Last edited by Loi-XCL-; 10-27-2011 at 09:57 AM.

  6. #6

    XRe: Static noise from soundcards encountered with Nvidia dual SLI graphic configurations

    XRe: Static noise from soundcards encountered with Nvidia dual SLI graphic configurations? I have two systems with two Asus Rampage II Extremes, and I built a Skulltrail Workstation, none of the three show any signs of Snap/Crackle/Pop.

    Im using the latest (March Release) drivers, with the Audio Console, and DDL. This combination works perfect, my GF is playing Lord of the Rings Online, no issues, no lockups nothing, and I play Crysis/Warhead/Crysis Wars/Counter Strike: Source, Empire: Total War, Company of Hereos etc and Ive yet to experience an issue

    When I have my Nvidia based chipset id get static with everything (EVERYTHING), load screens, scrolling etc, it was retarded so I sold my PCI-E Titanium cards for $50 each :P When I rebuilt and upgraded all my systems I ordered three new Titanium Champions, they work without flaw.

    I use Astro A40s, Optical In, DDL and I hear no issues at all, sound is perfect, and thats three systems, NOT just one

    I also use Quad SLI all on three (Evga 295 GTX Plus's with added backplates) so SLI on an intel board works perfect as well

    Message Edited by TechAnalyst on 03-2-2009 06:36 AM
    Last edited by Loi-XCL-; 10-27-2011 at 09:58 AM.

  7. #7

    XRe: Static noise from soundcards encountered with Nvidia dual SLI graphic configurations?

    Seriously man think about that, it took nearly three years before intel started a launch of the 366 based boards, why would Nvidia just give up 3/4 years of money?

    After going through 6 Nvidia boards in three years I can state the chipset was a great overclocker, but the problems that was brought with them made the boards less than worthy. My 680i boards, all of them were total garbage, hard locks left right and center, wouldnt support the QX9770, I will state the XFX version was the only 680i I was able to get running without it crashing 2 times a day. The 780i was slightly better but after using MSI/Foxxcon/Asus/Gigabyte/EVGA again XFX was the more stable board.

    Then comes the 790i, awesome overclocks, but again Xfi cards would snap/crackle/pop, made the sound card total garbage, HD corruption, and three dead boards in three months.

    So re think the "Oh they want to make the next gen" they gave up, they want to make a better product in the future not now (This would be a couple years away)

    As a side note, most people come on here and complain to Creative because most people are not willing to admit fault of the rest of their system, in truth after playing with the champion cards, I can tell you they work very well on Asus Rampage II Extreme boards!? I have yet to have an Xfi Titanium on an nvidia board that didnt have problems.

    Im curious how people are setting theirs up on the x58s

    On the Rampage II Extreme the very top PCI-E x slot is suppose to fit the onboard, I dont use onboard and the Creative XFI cant fit there, so I have two 295s then in the lowest slot i have the Xfi, have no issues there.

    Message Edited by TechAnalyst on 03-2-2009 06:32 AM
    Last edited by Loi-XCL-; 10-27-2011 at 10:00 AM.

  8. #8
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    XRe: Static noise from soundcards encountered with Nvidia dual SLI graphic configurationsh

    TechAnalyst,

    ) As for why NVIDIA is not making boards for Corei7 CPUs -honestly, is not really a topic for discussion here, right?

    2)You said -> "My 680i boards, all of them were total garbage, hard locks left right and center, wouldnt support the QX9770"

    I own a 680i, 780i and a 790i - they are all brilliant! each?a great board for its time. Please get your facts straight before you make a comment:
    (i) 680i NEVER supported Yorkfield CPUs (Q9xxx or Q8xxx) at all. Neither did many of Intel's own chipsets.
    (ii) 780i officially supported all CPUs upto FSB<=333 i.e includes all Yorkfields Q9xxx or Q8xxx (except Q9770. Yorkfield @ FSB 600 was NEVER officially supported on 780i either, nor was it officially supported on P35 either, but hey - you could *unofficially* overclock as you please)
    (iii) only 790i supported FSB 600 .

    So, i guess many seem to have a vendetta against NVIDIA, and most of them haven't gotten the facts straight.
    That said, we should limit this discussion to the topic at hand - which is Creative blaming NVIDIA for the audio issue.

    Hey, it could be NVIDIA's issue too, but most likely not - cause there are a TON of people reporting audio SCP issues on other platforms as well.

    My 2 cents....
    Last edited by Loi-XCL-; 10-27-2011 at 10:04 AM.

  9. #9

    XRe: Static noise from soundcards encountered with Nvidia dual SLI graphic configurations U

    Get my facts straight? After spending close to 6k on mortherboards, I feel my opinion on the topic is quite valid.

    I only had issues on Nvidia series motherboards, I can point to many other forums (Die hard techies) where the 780i/790i has corruption issues left right and center. Note I did say my XFX 780i motherboards were the ones where I experienced the least amount of problems, performance wise it was an awesome board.

    (i) 680i NEVER supported Yorkfield CPUs (Q9xxx or Q8xxx) at all. Neither did many of Intel's own chipsets.
    Where did I say otherwise?
    (ii) 780i officially supported all CPUs upto FSB<=333 i.e includes all Yorkfields Q9xxx or Q8xxx (except Q9770. Yorkfield @ FSB 600 was NEVER officially supported on 780i either, nor was it officially supported on P35 either, but hey - you could *unofficially* overclock as you please)
    QX9770, being an owner of FOUR game system based on 790i and qx9770 cpus i can state that the CPU was NOT fully supported
    (iii) only 790i supported FSB 600 .
    and again where did I say it didnt?

    Also had numerous issues with other expansion cards with nvidia motherboards. Note I still bought 790i based motherboards (Asus Striker II Extremes a week after they came out). I liked how they overclocked, but the corruption that followed (HDs, burn through memory even though you were not overclocking it etc). So maybe you should check the more popular hardcore tech websites where most have forums on these problems (some with 000s of questions). I cannot find any forums providing such topics on the x58 platform.

    The facts are simple in most cases, people want to troll creative because they dont want to accept there something wrong with their Build, they spent 500 on their gaming gear, it has plenty of problems, so instead of working on a direct issue, they troll creative. Well Im one of those people that spends buys the best of every component for my gaming rigs, Im stating creative Titaniums dont have issues with the x58 platform, I cannot speak for creatives other cards, just for the Titaniums which work flawlessly.

    Message Edited by TechAnalyst on 03-2-2009 08:08 AM
    Last edited by Loi-XCL-; 10-27-2011 at 10:05 AM.

  10. #10
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    XRe: Static noise from soundcards encountered with Nvidia dual SLI graphic configurations?

    TechAnalyst wrote:
    Then comes the 790i, awesome overclocks, but again Xfi cards would snap/crackle/pop, made the sound card total garbage, HD corruption, and three dead boards in three months.
    side note:
    HD problems on 790i were related to the old bios - the Bios P08 in combination with the nForce 5.23 solves this issue (I know because I had to reformat and rebuild my HD 3x thanks to this issue.
    Last edited by Loi-XCL-; 10-27-2011 at 10:05 AM.

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