Why do you need memory?

The memory itself is localised data storage for the CPU. Whilst your hard drive or SSD plays host to data in the long term and keeps it safe when otherwise not in use, it simply isn’t fast enough to respond to the CPUs requests in real time without creating a performance bottle neck. When you load up a program or project the delay you may experience at this stage is the data being pulled off your storage drive and placed into the memory, ready for the CPU to make use of it. The CPU will grab this information, perform whatever tasks and calculations it needs to carry out the task and then will pass it back to the memory once more to keep stored until the next time it needs to work it, when it will retrieve the data again.

When a system runs out of free memory, it will start to pass any data it considers unimportant enough (normally the least accessed data currently being held in memory) back to the drive, in an attempt to create more space for it to work with. This means that any request for the data that has been placed back on the storage device will take longer to be recalled and this will cause a performance bottleneck and is something we aim to avoid.

Memory for Audio Workstations

Which type of memory do you need and why?

This will depend upon the platform you choose, as whilst DDR4 memory is currently the standard for all available systems, the RAM speed requirements for your audio setup will vary between system types.

Intel users will find that for audio having the RAM be simply fast enough will likely give you an optimum setup. The memory controller lives within the CPU itself to ensure the best performance and each chip will generally have an advised memory speed, so we always aim to match with the recommended RAM. Choosing faster RAM involves the system overclocking itself to support it and this can cause problems for some audio software in regards to overall stability. Whilst choosing faster RAM can offer reduced rendering times for video work, or offer the ability to unlock frames per second in gaming, for audio it offers us very limited gains and keeping within spec helps us ensure the most stable working environment possible.

With those looking towards the AMD platforms, we have found through testing that the current Ryzen generation performs at its best when matched with memory that can feed its internal memory bus quickly enough. The bus runs at 3733MHz and whilst packs of RAM at this speed are rare, although we have found that running 3600MHz RAM kits with Ryzen approved memory profiles tend to be more than capable of meeting this requirement and also prove to be far better value. Working with slower memory kits, even the commonly available 3200MHz packs suggested for gaming systems may see a loss of about 10% - 15% from the available CPU performance overhead when working with tight ASIO buffer settings, so this is one choice that can really pay off when optimizing your system

How Much Memory

How Much Memory do you Need?

As both windows and the various audio applications have grown in size over time, so has the recommendation for system memory. Today 8GB would be the minimum for a system purely multi-tracking audio, but as most users would look to do additional post-production work then a better baseline for most systems would be around 16GB point. This would be enough for basic track recording, editing and even smaller completely in the box sessions for musicians that do not rely upon large amounts memory hungry audio libraries and samplers.

Upgrading Memory

For users working with a number of big sample based sources like Kontakt, Spitfire or VSL libraries, the recommendation is to aim for larger amounts of RAM. When you load your project, these libraries will pre-load a certain amount of sample data into RAM and ideally, you want enough space so that we avoid the swap file being used and slowing things down. With most current systems capable of accepting anything up to 128GB or even 256GB in some cases, for orchestral composers working with large sample libraries these larger RAM capabilities can prove key to getting the most out of your setup.

Amount of Memory

This all of course comes down to how big you expect your projects to be. If you’re in the process of upgrading from an older machine then this can be simplified by simply loading your biggest project and checking the in session memory usage within Windows Task Manager, where you should be able to gauge if your PC is approaching or even exceeding that level with your current projects. If your current system is running above 2/3’rds system RAM usage, then it may be worth considering stepping up the RAM amount in your next system.

Physical memory is one of the components in your system where it can never hurt to have too much and your use is quite likely to grow over the years. Where possible, we always aim to leave half of the memory slots empty in any new system to ensure that you have a simple upgrade path and allowing you to ensure that you have a reasonable quantity at all times to do the job in hand and ensure that you get the best experience from your 3XS system.