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The system is designed for portability: the seven-foot pole breaks down into two sections, and the floor stand weighs in at only 35 pounds.
The system automatically reequalises itself when you plug the pound modules in, with the result that the sound remains tonally consistent, only louder. There are some interesting issues raised by not having a central mixing console under the control of a dedicated engineer.
Performers who are used to hearing themselves way up in their monitor mixes might have trouble getting used to dealing with a more balanced sound. If they turn themselves up too much, the audience will hear an off-balance mix, and the rest of the band might be tempted to crank their volume too. Jacob said that Bose has checked this out „thoroughly” in small- and medium-sized rooms. They say that when they’re playing acoustically they mix themselves without difficulty, and playing using our approach is the same thing.
Test groups were able to establish a mix that was superior to the vast majority of mixes created using the conventional triplesystem approach When someone solos, they naturally play louder and the other musicians modify their playing volume to make the solo more pronounced, something that acoustic instrument players have always done live naturally.
A crucial question, of course, is whether a system like this can be loud enough to be practical in the real world. In the nightclub-sized room where the demo took place, Bose’s band was able to get some very respectable levels going. Jacob said the systems were operating nowhere near capacity, and that the company has tested them with rock bands in seat theatres with foot throws.
Bose anticipates these systems will be used primarily in smaller venues — „There are a lot more of those than there are bigger ones” Jacob said — although he also noted that they would be appropriate for a larger hall as part of a hybrid setup: the band and the audience close to the stage could benefit from the Bose system, while a second, conventional system, pointing away from the stage, would project the sound to the rest of the audience. I asked about whether there could eventually be a smaller version, suitable perhaps for busking.
Although one engineer laughed at my subsequent suggestion of a batterypowered model — the units apparently consume a lot of power — Jacob says he’s interested in „extending the technology in both directions” — that is to say, larger and smaller. It’s going to take a lot more than a nicely controlled demo in front of a bunch of audio scribes to convince the musical world that these things can put up with the vagaries of travel — the dank, smoke-filled rooms they’ll be asked to perform in, and the A previous alternative to the 'triple-system’ unpredictable musical and social PA: The Grateful Dead’s vast Wall Of Sound behavior of musicians and fans alike.
Especially when you compare it to the traditional alternative: hauling around a Marshall stack whose output will get squeezed through a single SM57, then mangled by a Guinness-soaked mixer and shoved through suspicioussmelling power amps into a pair of grungy cabinets whose best days were before they left the factory, all of which are under the control of an engineer who would much rather be at home watching television.
Whether the company’s intriguing idea of using the system as a 'room within a room’ for larger venues is practical, or if it will pass muster with professional sound companies who, after all, are used to doing things quite differently, is still far from clear. But for smaller venues like clubs, theatres, school auditoriums, function halls, and the like, and for the musicians who play in them, Dr Bose and his minions may have come up with something worth looking at and listening to.
Once they get this flagpole up, we’ll have to see if anyone salutes Craig Anderton pros Vastly improved Console View. Rewritten audio engine with flexible bussing and 'gapless’ audio. Assignable console effects controls in Producer version. Confidence Recording shows waveforms while recording. No REX file support. Awkward but workable freeze function.
Lacks audio-for-video tempomatching options. Can’t save mixer configurations. Those talents, along with the inclusion of Cyclone DXi — a brilliant groove-oriented virtual instrument — not only kept existing Cakewalk loyalists satisfied but even induced some users particularly those into dance, hip-hop and other dance genres to switch sequencers.
But Sonar’s birth was not without difficulty. Audio interfaces with WDM drivers were slow in coming, and with a few exceptions such as those from Native Instruments, DX Instruments were initially rare as well. Considering that many users were also starting to switch to Windows XP, a lot had to be sorted out before you could begin making music in an optimised environment.
Plug-ins were added to accommodate various control surfaces, and although there were still some vexing omissions Sonar couldn’t output MIDI timing, nor did it give any visual confirmation that digital audio was being recorded , Sonar gained both market share and mind share in the sequencing community. It’s curious there’s no surround given the superbly redesigned buss structure, but the rewritten audio engine, Console View, and Producer’s extensive collection of plugins make this a must-have update for Sonar aficionados.
Now We Are Three Now we have Sonar version 3, a powerhouse sequencer that has a significantly larger feature set but retains the same superb, no-nonsense workflow.
We’ll get to the new interface — the single most obvious change — shortly. But let’s start in the depths of the program, with the rewritten audio engine. Prices include VAT. The 'gapless’ audio doesn’t achieve the level of Ableton Live 3, where it seems about the only way to interrupt the audio is to quit the program. But still, it’s a considerable improvement over what came before. Many operations adding busses and sends, inserting and deleting most processors, and so on are completely seamless, while others changing loop playback points, moving audio introduce a very brief pause or click.
Some of the more processor-intensive effects also add a click when inserted or deleted, but most of the time this is not an issue. You can see the track, buss, and output panels. Note the frequency-response plot thumbnails, the four assignable sliders below the FX slot, and the ability to add arbitrary numbers of sends and busses. You can do DSP on audio clips; for smaller clips the editing is indeed gapless. However, although the audio gets processed, the waveform will not be completely redrawn until there is a pause in playback.
Longer clips, or complex processing, may either introduce clicks while processing occurs, or in extreme cases, cause a dropout that pauses playback. The bottom line is that the 'gapless’ audio isn’t gapless enough for live performance, but in the context of working in the studio, any pauses or clicks are certainly brief enough that they don’t interrupt your workflow.
I have touched on the new bussing before in Sonar Notes, but its importance cannot be overstated. Busses are now freely assignable objects that can be created, deleted or reassigned at any time. Any buss can serve any function provided by any standard buss And you had better name it, so that you can differentiate one buss from another! However, you won’t find the buss you’re assigning among the list — a sensible move that prevents the possibility of feedback.
Busses can be multiple layers deep, with busses feeding into other busses, which in turn feed into other busses, and so on. If you’re into send effects, the buss structure is wonderful, as you can do a submix through a particular effect filter, distortion, delay, or whatever , then send that to a second buss with a different effect, while other signals can go directly to the second buss. Aux sends are also freely assignable: you can add or delete them at any time, and assign or reassign them to any buss.
This avoids 'knob clutter’ where you have to look at, for example, an aux control on every channel even if it’s only functional on one. As someone who uses aux busses a lot, and has never been very happy by the slavish emulation of hardware in virtual mixer buss structures, I’m very pleased with Sonar 3’s implementation.
Curiously, though, while this bussing structure seems like the ideal foundation for surround mixing, Sonar remains the only major sequencer that lacks surround support.
However, I assume these bussing changes were made partly, if not wholly, to accommodate surround mixing in future versions. New Mixing Methods Sonar 3 has two significant improvements for mixing, both from the Cubase playbook: a channel strip 'inspector’, and a configurable Console View that is light years ahead of the previous mixer, in terms of both cosmetics and functionality. With Sonar 2, I never used the Console View.
With Sonar 3, I use it all the time. First, it looks great. EQ has three possible states: hide, show one stage of EQ, and show four stages. Similarly, sends can be hidden, show two stages, or show four stages. If there are more than four sends, you can scroll to see the additional stages. Strips can also be wide or narrow, on a per-strip or global basis. Console automation works the same way it does in Track View: a parameter that’s armed for automation has a thin red line around its corresponding control.
Although you can view only four stages of EQ in each console channel, the underlying signal processor is the six-band Sonitus FX EQ, which I’ll describe in more detail later. Double-click on the EQ plot and the full EQ becomes available for editing, although you’ll still see only the first four bands in the Console itself.
These default to the first four parameters in the list of an effect’s automatable parameters, but are reassignable at any time. Some older plug-ins that lack the capacity to be automated don’t display controls, but most modern plugins do. A nice Sliding a panel’s splitter bar more to touch is that you can change the graph’s visual resolution. However, they host no plug-ins; that’s the job of any busses feeding the outputs. Also, they cannot be automated. It can show whichever track, buss or output is currently selected, or 'lock’ to one particular one until unlocked.
But the big picture is that there are now two main ways to mix. I generally use the Track pane plus Inspector when recording, overdubbing and editing, and the Console View for mixing, mostly because of the easy access it provides to the EQ and assignable FX faders.
You may find yourself using non-Sonar plug-ins less and less in any case, because it includes the most commonly used effects anyway. SpectraFX in action. The X-Y controller motion can be dragged to a particular shape more oval, more round, smaller, larger, change direction and sync’ed to tempo, but the X-Y motion is also freely automatable with envelopes or the recording of control movements.
Its main feature is a virtual X-Y controller that affects combinations of effects parameters. Some of the effects are indeed novel and unique, but one of them — Classic Wah — appears non-functional. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but be careful not to overlook its potential. However, the two big highlights in Sonar 3’s arsenal of processors are the Sonitus FX suite of effects and Lexicon’s Pantheon reverb of which you get the full version in Sonar Producer, but only a Pantheon LE version in Sonar Studio , so let’s look at those individually.
Also, Pantheon is a 'lite’ version compared to the one included in Producer. If you already have a capable sampler like Halion or Kontakt, and a good set of plug-ins, you may want to save a bit of money. However, having EQ integrated in the mixer, assignable effects controls, and the pro version of Pantheon might alone be sufficient to justify the Producer edition. Furthermore, you can add in a separate, single echo for the left and right channels an algorithm-dependent to ms; level is variable from off to 0VU.
These three echo options are in addition to pre-delay, allowing very complex, dense initial reflections. You can also just nuke the main reverb sound and use only the delays, to yield some wonderfully spacey effects with instruments like lead guitar.
Now if only you could sync the delay to tempo OK, I’ll pull out the calculator if needed. So how does it sound? For some material, particularly vocals, you can just dial up a preset and go — it sounds great.
The presets set the default mix to percent wet, so Pantheon’s expected role is as a send effect, but it isn’t too nasty about CPU consumption, so you can definitely throw a couple on individual channels. With other material, tweaking definitely helps. For instance, bright, staccato, highly electronic sounds such as arpeggiated notes can sound rough and metallic, and they benefit from increased diffusion and some added density.
Even if I wasn’t happy with an initial setting, I could always tweak the sound into something not only useable, but appropriate. Pantheon is an important, useful addition to Sonar.
Sonitus FX The Sonitus effects from the Norwegian company Ultrafunk were never known for dazzling feature sets, but for straightforward operation, efficient CPU consumption, and most of all, sound quality. It looked for a while as though they were going to be lost forever as the designer moved on to other things, so it’s good to see them resurrected within Sonar.
Running through the effects in alphabetical order, Compressor has all the expected parameters: Threshold, Ratio, Knee, Attack, Release and so on. Delay is a stereo delay, which offers tempo-sync’able delay time of up to 4 seconds per channel, crossfeed from one delay to the other, feedback loop highand low-pass filters, a Diffusion control that gives more of an early reflections effect to the delays, and a link button that can link Delay, Feedback, Crossfeed and Mix controls for both channels and attempts to preserve any offsets as they’re adjusted.
Gate is also fairly standard, with the exception of its frequency-selective gating option. For example, you can tweak the frequency for a low-frequency response, so that the gate opens only when the kick drum hits. This can be helpful for drum replacement. Modulator offers a flanger, ensemble with three non-sync’ed delays , 'string phaser’ that combines phase shifting and chorusing, sixstage phaser, stage phaser, and tremolo with adjustable phase difference between the left and right channels.
It won’t win any awards for extreme innovation, but it works as advertised and has a precise, clean sound. Multiband is a really sweet-sounding, five-stage multi-band compressor. Like the compressor, it has Limiter and Auto release buttons; you can actually get away with using it for buss compression to give a 'preview’ of what a mastered mix might sound like. The sound is exactly what you want it to be: neutral, transparent and efficacious. I find the multiband compressor particularly effective, but the others are also refined and useful.
Phase isn’t a phaser effect, but a utility that allows you to adjust phase. It also can do phase-related encoding, which I found exceptionally good for creating 'super-stereo’, ultra-wide sounds that handily survived being collapsed into mono. Is this the intended purpose? Beats me, but try it. Reverb is a fine, single-algorithm reverb. It’s been overshadowed by Pantheon, but Reverb’s frequency response options are more flexible. Don’t ignore this device just because there’s another plug-in with the Lexicon name; different reverbs produce distinctive effects with different source material — experiment to determine which sounds best.
Surround doesn’t do what you expect it to do, which is to provide surround panning within Sonar. It does encode panning information, but you need a surround-sound-capable decoder and, of course, a surround monitoring setup for this to do you any good. Then again, I initially thought the Phase module didn’t have any use as an effect, so maybe some secrets of Surround lie in the future.
Wah-Wah provides the ever-popular sound that powered a zillion hits in the ’70s. You can specify the filter’s maximum high and low frequencies, and control the filter frequency with LFO, envelope triggering and, of course, manually; and for all you bass wah fans, there’s a Mix control for balancing the straight and 'wahed’ sounds. Sonar Producer now also includes Speedsoft’s VSampler 3, which is a pretty happening sampler.
Its layout and workflow is not as compact or intuitive as devices like Kontakt, Halion or EXS24; the user interface is divided into several pages of controls and views, presented in a pseudo-rack format. But once you figure things out — it’s not that difficult — this is one powerful sampler.
It cannot stream samples from hard disk, but this is promised for a future and unfortunately, paid update. It’s no slouch with respect to processing, with four LFOs, four envelope generators, filters, step sequencers with tempo sync, built-in effects, the ability to use VST plug-ins, voice polyphony and 16 stereo outs. I had used an earlier version of VSampler and was not impressed by the stability, but now it is both solid and comprehensive.
One negative is that there’s no manual included, although one is promised. If you’re familiar with samplers you should be able to figure out most of the functions, but if this is your first virtual sampler you’ll find the on-line help frustrating in its brevity. Until the manual appears, you’ll have to use trial and error to get the most out of VSampler 3. Note the 'browser’ on the right for selecting files, and the plug-in settings dialogue box; VSampler 3 recognises a VST plug-in folder as well as its own bundled plug-ins.
Speaking of instruments, Sonar’s 'freeze’ function where you premix a track, then disconnect the soft synth from the CPU is unchanged since it originally appeared in version 1. With other programs now offering 'one-click’ instrument freezing, perhaps Cakewalk could streamline this function in a future revision. My favorites are MFX Session Drummer, which makes it simple to put together a backing track with incredible speed this compensates for the fact that there’s no audio metronome , and MFX Transpose, not so much because it does transposition, but because it lets you constrain notes to particular scales.
They’re still useful to have around, and if you find yourself fancying a particular plug-in, you can always spring for the full version. Cubase SX 2. Yet its bussing structure is far less flexible than Sonar’s, it can’t read Acidised WAV files, and it lacks a reverb on a par with Pantheon. In many ways, these programs are two different solutions for the same basic tasks, with Sonar having a better handle on loop-based music and Cubase on surround and video; personal preference, and the types of projects on which you work, will play a large role in determining which you prefer.
Acid Pro 4. It does '4. Unless you deal solely with loops and need surround, Sonar is far more versatile. Ableton Live 3. Those points are moot, though, because it can do Rewire as a host or client. Even though Cyclone DXi is sort of like a mini-Live module within Sonar — and I can’t praise that innovative virtual instrument enough — Live is still my first choice as a live performance, groove-oriented program. But as a generalpurpose recording program, it’s not as versatile as Sonar then again, Rewire the two and you have a tool of unprecedented power.
Pro Tools is Pro Tools, and if you need what it has to offer, then that’s what you need to get. What might surprise you, though, is the extent to which what you can do in Pro Tools is also possible in Sonar. Samplitude is an under-rated hard disk recording system with great sound quality and significant flexibility. Logic Audio 5. OK, how I can say this delicately Message to Windows Logic users: yes, it’s a great program, but at some point you’ll need to get a Mac, or find an alternative on Windows.
And for groove music fans, you can import Project5 patterns, and roll out MIDI clips just like Groove clips if you’re into looping. Also, every track — MIDI or audio — has an input monitoring button. Another 'it’s about time’ feature is 'Confidence Recording’, which allows you to see an audio waveform being drawn while you record.
If that uses up too much CPU power, you can have Sonar just draw a red band over the part of the track that’s recording. In any event, clicking on the Record button also tints the track so you have visual confirmation about which track will hold the recording you’re about to make.
Missing In Action In addition to the lack of surround support, however, there are a few other omissions. One is that you can’t rename the outputs in the console view, so if your card calls them 'BlurfleSound Bit Output 01′, due to space constraints you’ll probably see a cryptic combination of letters and numbers. Also, you can’t reorder the widgets as described previously in Sonar Notes unless you place the auxes last. This is a known bug, and Cakewalk promises a fix. One bug that hasn’t been fixed for a while is the 'arpeggiator changes all notes to one clock pulse when you render the effect to MIDI’ bug.
Not that very many people did, I suppose, but I never like to see features removed from an update Speaking of Cubase the obvious competition on Windows, given Emagic’s withdrawal into Mac-land , Sonar’s mixer is less flexible in that particular configurations cannot be Confidence Recording in Sonar 3: the saved as part of a screen Layout — waveform in red — an overdubbed vocal only the mixer 'footprint’ gets saved.
For example, if you show just the faders and meters so the mixer serves more as a meterbridge, save that as a Layout, hide the faders and show the EQ, then reload the Layout, the size of the mixer will be the same but you’ll see EQ instead of the faders originally showing when you saved the Layout.
I would really like to see a Layout remember the mixer configuration at the time of creating the Layout. Sonar is also lacking when it comes to video-specific features, such as marking hit points to create a tempo track that changes as needed to have audio track the visuals.
There’s no track for video thumbnails, but if you elect to import an audio stream, it will insert neatly into the Track pane. Another limitation is that Sonar can’t read REX files. Granted, that’s not a big deal given that it handles Acidised files so well, which are on average more flexible than REX files anyway Making Music If you’re a Sonar fan, version 3 is a must. The Console View is fantastic, and when you factor in the price of the Sonitus effects, Pantheon reverb, and VSampler3, the upgrade is quite a deal.
Sonar also retains its non-intrusive copy protection, with a serial number entered on installation. The most important feature you don’t see is the new audio engine, which makes working with Sonar much more seamless.
You can do a lot of things before the audio starts to stumble, and the full path compensation delay is essential when working with lots of plug-ins. I also really appreciate the new bussing and send structure, which allows manifold effects processing options, as well as real convenience.
Bugs are few the first patch squashed a few bugs associated with the plug-ins , and Cakewalk have a good track record of prioritising and fixing problems with timely updates. If you’re thinking of switching sequencers, check out the Sonar Vs Everything Else box. Choosing a sequencer is a personal matter, but trying to be as objective as possible, the reason why Sonar is my 'first call’ sequencer is because it fits my working habits like a glove.
There’s something about the program that makes it easy to get work done which is my bottom line. Cakewalk talk about workflow, and they have every right to: Sonar is easy to get around, easy to use, yet extremely deep if you want to dive below the surface. You don’t really have to think a whole lot when you use it, and that’s a real positive point with me.
Sonar remains a program that focuses with laser intensity on making music, and version 3 finds Cakewalk at the top of their game. Existing Sonar fans will be delighted, and I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see some new Sonar fans as a result of this latest version.
But does the promise hold true when running the most demanding music and audio software? Mark Wherry It’s perhaps a fundamental irony that as studios become ever more powerful, requiring the computing power of small corporate networks in order to keep up with user expectations, the demand to be able to produce the same music on a portable system has never been greater.
And while the idea of the laptop studio is nothing new, laptop computers themselves have many inherent flaws that particularly affect musicians, mostly because they concern the crucial issue of performance. Musicians need powerful computers to run the number of nativebased effects and instruments they’re accustomed to on the desktop; but in order to develop laptops, companies usually draw upon the same technology designed for desktop computers, and scale it down so it can basically fit in a smaller package.
The problem of using desktop-derived technology in a laptop can be summed up in two words: heat and power. The amount of processing power you require from your laptop is directly proportional to the amount of battery power that will be consumed, and the amount of heat that will be generated. Suddenly, cool is not the word to describe those sexy metal enclosures — conductor would be far more appropriate. In the past, Apple’s Powerbooks have generally fared better than their Intel or AMD-based counterparts, thanks to the fact the G3 and G4 processors traditionally ran slightly cooler than Pentium III or 4 chips, and required less power.
This fact has allowed Apple to produce Powerbooks that are powerful, but which still have reasonable battery lives and seductive form factors. Forgetting the heat issue for a moment, a G3- or G4-powered iBook or Powerbook with the exception of some of the most recent Aluminium Powerbook models has a typical battery life of around three to four hours, compared to around two hours for a typical Mobile Pentium 4-based system.
But if I was to tell you about a laptop that had been built using technology specifically developed for mobile use, which could give you around eight hours of battery life while still providing a similar level of performance to desktop and other laptop computers, and without frying your legs, would you be interested? Of course you would.
And if you haven’t guessed already, I’m talking about the new range of Windows-based laptops featuring Intel’s Centrino technology, which has been causing quite a stir in the computing world. However, while the Centrino statistics should be whetting the appetite of laptop musicians, and despite Martin Walker’s article comparing current laptop designs in the October issue of SOS www.
So in this article, I’m going to investigate the technology further and see if Intel have finally developed a solution to lure non-Logic users away from their Powerbooks. Unauthorised use not permitted. IBM’s T40 is a robust, fully-featured Centrino laptop that has one of the longest battery run times of any notebook. It might not be as pretty as Apple’s Aluminium competition, but with the cheapest model outperforming the most expensive Powerbook on the market, while weighing just 2.
In contrast to earlier scaled-down desktop designs such as the Pentium 4 Mobile, the Pentium-M processor is a completely new processor designed specifically to meet the demands of mobile users. Intel admit that, compared to the desktop market, the mobile market hadn’t been worth targeting until now; but with the continuing increase in demand for mobile technology, they decided that the time was right to directly target this sector.
Although based on a new design, the Pentium-M processor fully implements Intel’s IA32 instruction set, which has provided the backbone for x86 processors since the over 10 years ago — IA32 is also known as i, which, incidentally, explains why you’ll often find an i folder on your hard drive if you’re running an NT-based version of Windows.
The latter was first implemented in Intel’s Pentium 4 processor, and both contain commands that music and audio software developers can take advantage of to enhance their applications. This means that any application that’s been optimised for the Pentium 4 via support for SSE2 or the older MMX instruction set, such as Cubase and Nuendo, will already be optimised for running on a Centrino-based laptop.
Meet The Family While the power consumption of the processor is obviously an issue in a mobile system, it isn’t the only factor that affects battery life — or, in fact, the biggest factor. When developing the Pentium-M processor, Intel realised that it would only account for around 10 percent of the overall system’s power consumption, with the LCD screen being, perhaps unsurprisingly, one of the biggest culprits for battery This block diagram shows clearly how the various Centrino components are handled by decimation.
While graphics the series chip set and the ICH4-M hardware developers are looking controller. Centrino laptops are based around the chip-set family, which is available in two versions: the PM and the GM.
Cycle Races There are many areas of a processor design that affect power consumption, some of the most important being the clock frequency and the amount of instruction-level parallelism, which is to say the number of instructions that are executed in a single clock cycle. Previous Mobile Pentium processors introduced a technology called Speedstep, which allowed processors to run at two different clock frequencies: the maximum clock frequency, for maximum performance when the laptop was running on mains power, for example, or if it was required when using batteries; and a reduced frequency which effectively made the processor run slower, and which was great for saving power when running on batteries if you weren’t carrying out processor-intensive applications.
The G4 used in Apple’s current generation of Powerbooks features a similar two-step clock-switching technology.