Multi-core CPU handling FAQ

  • Live Versions: 9 - 10
  • Operating System: All

What is a multi-core CPU and what advantage does it have?

A multi-core CPU is a computer processor which has two or more sections. Each section of the chip executes instructions as if it was a separate computer. The actual processors are still on one chip. A dual-core processor is a multi-core processor with two independent microprocessors. A quad-core processor is a multi-core processor with four independent microprocessors. Multi-core processors allow more efficient simultaneous processing of multiple tasks, making them more powerful than single-core processors. Virtually all modern systems have multi-core processors as standard.

How do I enable multi-core support?

A multi-core processor is the minimum requirement to run Live 10, therefore it is always active by default. Live 9 can run on single core computers, but performance will be limited. In Live 9’s Preferences you can enable or disable multi-core support on the CPU tab.

What is a thread?

A thread is a sequence of instructions executed by a CPU core. A program can divide itself into several threads in order to be able to run on multiple cores. A thread in Live might typically constitute an audio clip playing, followed by an audio effect, then an output to the Master track.

What is multi-threading?

Multi-threading is the ability of an application or operating system to utilize multiple cores for processing. Live supports and utilizes multi-threading.

What is hyper-threading?

Hyper-threading is a feature of certain processors which allows them to further subdivide cores so that two concurrent threads can be handled per core. Hyper-threading is enabled by default in Live for computers with multi-core processors. In Live 9, if your computer only has a single-core processor, hyper-threading is automatically disabled in order to preserve the correct order of the threads to be processed.

How many cores and threads of a multi-core processor can be utilized at once?

On Mac up to 64 cores and on Windows up to 32 cores are supported.

Likewise Live supports 64 threads on Mac and 32 threads on Windows, across all cores.

How many threads are used per Live track?

Live uses one thread to process a signal path. A signal path is a single chain of audio flow. In tracks where instrument or effect racks are used, with multiple chains in parallel, Live may use one thread per chain depending on how CPU-intensive each chain may be. If two tracks are "chained" by routings, for instance by a side-chain routing, a track being fed to a return track or any tracks being fed into each-other, they are considered dependent tracks and count as one signal path. Any dependant set of tracks will use one thread each.

Why do I have high CPU load in a set with just one track?

Because Live uses one thread per signal path, a set with just one track could potentially result in high CPU load if the track contains, for instance, a CPU-intensive instrument followed by a large chain of CPU-intensive effects.

Which is more beneficial, a faster CPU speed or more cores?

Both are important. If your budget allows it we recommend getting the fastest processor and maximum amount of cores that you can afford (bearing in mind the maximum amounts that can be utilized: 64 Cores on Mac and 32 Cores on Windows). Here's a breakdown of the pros and cons of both:

More cores, slower clock speed

  • Pros
    • Live supports multi-threading, therefore the more cores are available, the more efficient it will be when working with larger sets with higher track counts, or when working with large instrument or effect racks.
    • You'll probably be able to run more apps in conjunction with Live without seeing performance drops.
  • Cons
    • Lower single-threaded performance than a higher clock speed processor.

Fewer cores, higher clock speed

  • Pros
    • Better single threaded performance.
  • Cons
    • Fewer cores to split between applications.
    • Not as strong multi-threading performance.

Further reading