Computer

 

 

 


 

System Requirements

This software is designed for Windows on the x86 hardware only, Windows on the Raspberry Pi is not supported. Although the software runs on older Core 2 Duo systems with 32-bit Windows 7, the recommended minimum system configuration is:

  • Windows 7 64-bit,
  • Intel I3,
  • 4GB RAM.

Recommendation

If you are buying a new computer then the recommended configuration is:

  • Windows: You must use Windows 7 or newer; Windows 10 is excellent - despite some initial roll-out issues it is a tour de force and is the recommended operating system. 64-bit is preferable.
  • CPU: The i5 has more than enough performance for the present demands of this software and should be powerful enough for any new features which will be developed in V3.
  • RAM: 8GB.
  • Disk: SSD.
  • GPU: The HD graphics or even better a dedicated graphics card ensures a good, 'fluid' experience. The software uses DirectX which makes full use of any graphics processing on your computer. If you are considering a graphics card NVIDIA is recommended as this card can be optionally be used for DSP processing.

    The GTX 1050 ti 4GB is an excellent choice. It can drive two 4k monitors with ease and has spare memory and power for DSP processing. Bigger cards are better but use more power (electricity).
  • Monitor: Use a HD monitor (1920 x 1080) or if finances allow a 4k monitor - if you buy a 4k make sure your graphics card will run a 4k monitor at a 60Hz refersh rate.

To ensure support for SDR solutions coming to market over the next few years at least a third-generation CPU such as i5-3570 or i7-3770 should be used as these new SDR receivers will offer bandwidths of 20MHz or more which in turn require significant processing power and internal bandwidth.

Newer computers generally use less power; have better processing and often a lower footprint.

Mini Atom 2GB+32GB

Surpisingly the software runs with acceptable (= usable) performance on the now quite common Quad-core Atom (e.g. Z3735F), 2GB RAM, 32GB disk systems with 32-bit Windows 10. For development the Azulle Quantum Byte Fanless Windows® Mini Desktop PC (no longer available) is used.

Performance is not staggering, but supports bandwidths of up to 1 MHz (sometimes more), the graphics quality and responsiveness is good but not great.

Don't expect to run the console and other demanding programs at the same time.

Please avoid using registry cleaners and system optimisers. These are pure garbage.

 

 

4k Monitor

The minimum recommended monitor size is HD (1920 x 1080), if finances allow buy:

  • A 4k monitor,
  • A graphics card will run a 4k monitor at least a 30Hz, better still 60Hz refersh rate.

The software uses Direct2D / DirectX graphics and scales well on 4k monitors. It has also been tested with an 8k monitor.

 

CPU Load

An important feature is the low CPU requirement, achieved by:

  • Using the Intel IPP library [Wikipedia],
  • Using hardware accelerated graphics (in this case DirectX) rather than the traditional GDI/GDI+,
  • Minimise memory allocation, recycle rather than allocate then free,
  • Attention to the code - every cycle counts.

The result of saving cycles during the processing is that it's possible to implement a more fluid and mature user interface, especially the spectrum and waterfall with opaque overlays.

 

Memory

You've bought RAM for your computer - this software uses it to cache the data:

  • Data recording - in the data recording options a cache is specified, this can be as much as 30 seconds.
  • FFT (waterfall) data is cacehed - as you resize or move the waterfall windows this data is reused to smoothly update the waterfall, all part of an enhanced user experience.

If you look at the memory used by browsers such a Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge you will see that these too can use considerable memory.

Memory Increasing

Every time a program loads a DLL or enables / opens a new window the process space will grow, but don't worry. Windows is intelligent - it manages RAM demand between programs. Unless there is a memory leak [Wikipedia] in the software there is nothing to worry about. As this software gets more mature any memory leaks are found and corrected.

The one situation where the commit size may continue to grow is when the CPU load is very high and the background memory collection / recycling cannot run.

  • Dynamic memory (strings, variables) is generally recycled within the process, but memory allocated for the executable code isn't recycled, so when you start new options you may see the commit size grow.
  • The Direct2D / DirectX driver will also use memory to enhance performance.

Don't worry about memory - you bought it, let the software use it.

Commit Size vs Working Set

In the Task Manager, Details page select the Commit Size column, this is value which shows the virtual size of a process is [Wikipedia]. Compare this to the Working Set is the physical memory used by the process [Wikipedia].

Note: the commit size will never reduce, it will only grow.

To select columns in the Task Manager:

  1. Select the Details page,
  2. Right-click on any column title: Name, PID, Status...,
  3. From the popup menu select Select Columns...,
  4. In the columns list select the columns to be displayed.

Reducing Memory

You can reduce the memory used to an absolute minimum by disabling the data cache. From the Tools pane in the ribbon pane select Options, from the Program Options select CPU, Memory. In this window uncheck Data Cache, Enable.

 

32-Bit vs. 64-Bit


The major problem with 32-bit versions of Windows is the reduced memory space for the SDR Console process.

The current memory used is shown in the bottom right of the display, with 32-bits the maximum is about 1.7 GB before the program has problems and has to stop.

Even if you only have 4GB of RAM 64-bit Windows should be installed to make most use of your memory.

 

NVIDIA CUDA

If you have a NVIDIA graphics card then this software will use the graphics card's processor for the CPU-intensive FFT processing (convert the SDR radio data to the waterfall and spectrum display). This

  1. offloads the processing from your CPU (Intel or AMD), and
  2. is advantageous when running radios with a bandwidth of ~ 2 MHz or higher together with enhanced resolution. Radios with higher bandwidths are Airspy, SDRplay, Ettus B200, LimeSDR etc.

It is not essential that you have a NVIDIA graphics card, but if you are going to buy a graphics card then buy NVIDIA with compute capability 3.0 or higher, for a list of NVIDIA GPUs: https://developer.nvidia.com/cuda-gpus . A good value for money card is the GTX 950, if you want a good budget card then look at the GT 730.

Note:

  • CUDA is enabled in the NVIDIA graphics card, there's nothing for you to configure,
  • The FFT processing uses the CUDA cores by default - if the graphics card has any that is!

 

Not Supported

The following are not supported:

  • Wine
  • Mono
  • Parallels

Only systems running Windows as the native operating system are supported. If the software runs with any of the above then you're lucky!

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