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Audio drivers in userspace = End of mac proaudio era ?
Old 31st March 2021
  #1
Gear Maniac
 
🎧 5 years
Audio drivers in userspace = End of mac proaudio era ?

Starting with big sur -apple closed access to the kernel for driver developers, new drivers can only work in userspace.

Currently, Rme offers a recovery hack -

«M1: On M1 computers (Apple Silicon) third party kernel extensions (like the RME drivers) are globally disabled. To enable them the procedure is as follows:
- Boot the M1 computer into Recovery mode (turn it on with the power button pressed until the screen shows the Startup Options are loaded)
- Select Options, then your language
- In the top menu go to Utilities -> Startup Security Utility. Select the system where the RME drivers will be installed.
- Continue with -> Security Policy -> Reduced Security -> Allow user management of kernel extensions from identified developers
- Reboot into normal operation mode.
- Install the RME driver. Before the reboot for finishing the driver installation open System Preferences, Security & Privacy, tab General. There should be a grey Allow button in the right lower area. Click the unlock symbol first, then confirm using the RME kernel extension. Finally reboot.»


But Apple has already warned that this opportunity will also be closed.

What this means for driver developers, they will no longer be able to make low-latency audio drivers .. because userspace is a low-priority safe environment, and audio is high-priority processes, and in the macos architecture - they can only work in the core .


In the user space, the developer will have to increase the minimum buffers (in order to avoid dropouts) - to values ​​incompatible with the concept of real time.

This situation is perfectly demonstrated - by the new UC drivers from presonus for m1, = - they work in the userspace - and the minimum buffer for presonus studio 24c - is insane 15 ms, instead of 6ms on windows 10



What does all this mean globally - apparently Apple is no longer interested in the pro audio market ... because this approach excludes professional work with audio - because low latencies is a critical thing ..
Old 31st March 2021
  #2
Lives for gear
 
🎧 15 years
Hard to imagine a company like apple
not taking latency into consideration.

I would say the opposite is the case.
Most likely they plan something revolutionary
with the upcoming MXX chips and what we see now
is just step 1 of many more regarding software latency.
Old 31st March 2021
  #3
Gear Maniac
 
🎧 5 years
Shaman

It seems to me that just the opposite is true - Apple does not care about the latency, and they are more and more interested in the growing audience of bloggers,instagrammers, and housewives, rather than the cramped and small (in the sense of big money, the pro-audio market).
If you don't know - , main finance income of the apple comes from the mobile business.
Their main audience is consumers of mobile phones .
And the guys with the Logic and PT are a drop in the ocean (in terms of money).



You apparently just do not understand how Macos is working - and why any (super chips) will not save the situation if the apple does not provide an opportunity to develop core extension drivers.

I'll try to explain in simple words - any device is queued to the processor, and audio drivers should be at the top of this queue, because if any of the devices - at the time of sound playing (or recording)- overtakes the audio driver, you will hear a dropout.

This queue is called the priority of the process.
and the lower the latency and buffer , the higher the priority should be
This can only be done through core extension ,because all processes in the userspace - have a much lower priority in this "queue" than the processes in the kernel (by default(and it cannot be changed) , - this is the root architecture of macos,(unix)

Apple declares that this is all for security reasons....
Old 1st April 2021
  #4
Lives for gear
 
🎧 15 years
Again - I can not imagine they do not care for us pro audio guys.

What sense would it make selling a DAW like logic pro x
and then not caring about latency ?

Lots of trust here for apple to sort this out
in the best way possible.
Using macs for 25 years + without any hassle for pro audio.

The most valuable brand in the world
cannot afford to loose the pro guys.
Old 1st April 2021
  #5
Gear Maniac
 
well, this seems pretty lousy. i hope they open up the kernel for driver installs. this will be a deal breaker for professionals.

i hope apple have something up their sleeves to solve this problem.

i'm still on mojave and don't plan to update to any newer OS any time soon.
Old 1st April 2021 | Show parent
  #6
Lives for gear
 
JCBigler's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Shaman ➡️
.
The most valuable brand in the world
cannot afford to loose the pro guys.
Lol, yes they can. They wouldn't even notice the drop in sales.
Old 1st April 2021 | Show parent
  #7
Lives for gear
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by JCBigler ➡️
Lol, yes they can. They wouldn't even notice the drop in sales.
This.

45% of Apple's revenue is from the iPhone line - and that % is increasing. They may care more about iPhone (and iPad) musicians than Mac musicians in the coming years.

Their Q1 2021 report lead with "iPhone, Wearables, and Services set new revenue records". You can see where their focus is (I personally believe Logic will be a subscription in the not distant future as that would maximize revenue).

Mac sales = < 9% of revenue in Q1 '21 and that was a great quarter for Mac revenue.

What % of Mac users are professional musicians? Very few. Many of those Macs are sold to schools....
Old 2nd April 2021
  #8
Lives for gear
 
🎧 10 years
Would this affect Pro Tools HDX? I can't see Avid letting Apple nuke the latency performance of a product that is designed to give the lowest latency possible at all times.

I'm just assuming this is one of those "good ideas" that will be allowed to be worked around for the people that need it and they'll get an earful from a few companies until they do.
Old 2nd April 2021 | Show parent
  #9
Gear Maniac
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Teej ➡️
Would this affect Pro Tools HDX? I can't see Avid letting Apple nuke the latency performance of a product that is designed to give the lowest latency possible at all times.
letting?.. apple has routinely done what it thinks is best for apple. they're massive company. beta testers and 3rd party developers have given apple an earful over the years about a great many things and it doesn't seem to have mattered all that much. sometimes yes.. sometimes no.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Teej ➡️
I'm just assuming this is one of those "good ideas" that will be allowed to be worked around for the people that need it and they'll get an earful from a few companies until they do.
i more or less think that's how it'll play out.. but wouldn't be surprised if apple creates a roadblock in the name of security. they've done it w/gatekeeper and routinely broken things with updates or dropped support of anything they want when they want.

it does seem a stretch to think they'd deal pro audio devs/users such a crap hand to play with but security is very important to apple or so they tell us it is.
Old 2nd April 2021 | Show parent
  #10
Lives for gear
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by dayyob ➡️
letting?.. apple has routinely done what it thinks is best for apple. they're massive company. beta testers and 3rd party developers have given apple an earful over the years about a great many things and it doesn't seem to have mattered all that much. sometimes yes.. sometimes no.



i more or less think that's how it'll play out.. but wouldn't be surprised if apple creates a roadblock in the name of security. they've done it w/gatekeeper and routinely broken things with updates or dropped support of anything they want when they want.

it does seem a stretch to think they'd deal pro audio devs/users such a crap hand to play with but security is very important to apple or so they tell us it is.
Gatekeeper is no problem though. You can still disable it fully with a Terminal command (tried successfully on M1/macOS 11.2.3)

By "letting" I mean without a fight. Clearly Apple has the final call, there's absolutely a universe in which they make a crappy choice here. However, considering a lot of the people with HDX rigs also spend 10k+ on their MacPros, if something Apple does adds milliseconds of latency to those machines, there will be noise and it will reach people in the right places.
Old 2nd April 2021
  #11
Gear Maniac
 
Doesn’t this only effect USB devices?

That’s what Apple has to say about Pcie/Thunderbolt drivers:

DriverKit extensions run in user space and require less effort to develop, debug, and deploy.
However, PCIDriverKit may not be an option in all cases.
If your device supports wireless networking or audio, or if it requires specific kernel resources, you must create your driver as an IOKit kernel extension.
Kernel extensions run in the kernel process space of the target Mac computer using the native architecture.
To support both Apple silicon and Intel-based Mac computers, build your driver as a universal binary.
Old 2nd April 2021
  #12
Gear Maniac
 
🎧 5 years
Jolosch


Now all kexts have deprecated status, regardless of platform and developer, thunderbolt or usb.

Uad and antelope audio offer the same recovery hack now for tb devices....
but this is a temporary action until Apple closed this opportunity.
Old 2nd April 2021 | Show parent
  #13
Gear Maniac
 
Just for reference this is the developer site I quoted:
https://developer.apple.com/document...derbolt_device

It would be helpful if you could also provide a an Apple statement supporting you claim.
Old 2nd April 2021 | Show parent
  #14
Gear Nut
 
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jolosch ➡️
Just for reference this is the developer site I quoted:
https://developer.apple.com/document...derbolt_device

It would be helpful if you could also provide a an Apple statement supporting you claim.
https://developer.apple.com/support/kernel-extensions/

https://developer.apple.com/forums/thread/117377
Old 3rd April 2021 | Show parent
  #15
Gear Maniac
 
🎧 5 years
somebody already did it ....
Old 3rd April 2021
  #16
Sry
Gear Maniac
 
I’ve tried finding more discussions about this both previously (since the first time I read about the issue with kernel extensions being removed and no good equivalent solution for drivers used by audio interfaces) and since I saw this thread yesterday and obviously I’m a terrible searcher but Shaman I’ve also had the idea that audio interface manufactures might just be slow or even lazy but I have become a lot more worried.
Even started to think about that I might have to move to Windows unless I hear any news about this soon because my current MacBook Pro is on it’s last legs and I’m not going to buy a new Intel Mac but still can’t wait for Apple to ones again realize the pro audience and prosumer audience is the ones that once saved them and the ones that still makes Macs cool in the eyes of the mainstream).
Old 3rd April 2021 | Show parent
  #17
Gear Maniac
 
Thanks for posting.
The first link describes which kext are deprecated and the discussion link gives some more clarification.
I quote from the discussion:

, there are still KEXT types that have no user space equivalent — the ones that immediately spring to mind are the remaining I/O Kit families and VFS plug-ins — and in that case the equivalent KEXT functionality is not deprecated.

What’s still missing is an Apple statement verifying that all kext are deprecated...
Old 3rd April 2021 | Show parent
  #18
Gear Nut
 
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jolosch ➡️
Thanks for posting.
The first link describes which kext are deprecated and the discussion link gives some more clarification.
I quote from the discussion:

, there are still KEXT types that have no user space equivalent — the ones that immediately spring to mind are the remaining I/O Kit families and VFS plug-ins — and in that case the equivalent KEXT functionality is not deprecated.

What’s still missing is an Apple statement verifying that all kext are deprecated...
The statement you're looking for is right there in the introduction of the first link:

Quote:
At WWDC19, we announced the deprecation of kernel extensions as part of our ongoing effort to modernize the platform, improve security and reliability, and enable more user-friendly distribution methods. Kernel programming interfaces (KPIs) will be deprecated as alternatives become available
This doesn't mean some specific kernel extensions, it refers to the general concept. It then elaborates on how this process of deprecation will play out: individual KPI's are deprecated over time as user space equivalents become available. The discussion you quote just gave some examples of KPI's that didn't/don't have user space equivalents yet.

I'm not sure how to make it any clearer than this. It was announced 1.5 years ago and has been common knowledge to anyone working in this area ever since.

It is, however, not a given that this will mean the end for low-latency audio. There's nothing preventing Apple from giving the relevant System Extensions the same level of execution priority as old Kernel Extensions. Whether they will actually do this is, off course, something that remains to be seen.
Old 3rd April 2021
  #19
Gear Maniac
 
🎧 5 years
Tangled Tales

Сurrently our drivers in userspace working with 63 priority (even windows manager - has a higher priority )

We analyzed last presonus usb drivers for M1 - same situation ....

from this, - we can conclude that this applies even to major developers, that is, all
Old 3rd April 2021
  #20
Here for the gear
 
Just another step along the way to removing the user's choice on how to operate their own computers. First SIP and rootless, then hardened runtimes, and now kext lockout and hashes of running binaries sent to apple servers to verify the program. They really are going to destroy their platform's well-known usability and stability for professional audio. It's all to do with the fact they expect their computers to be connected to the internet 24/7. If people were advised to keep their computer offline for security it would save having to deal with all this anti-user nonsense. Pros tend to know what they're doing, and are willing to take the risk, but now we're getting penalised because normies are naïve and constantly compromise their security and get scammed. So the few pay for the many, yet again. It's time someone seriously invested in a linux/unix open source audio platform OS.
Old 3rd April 2021 | Show parent
  #21
Gear Maniac
 
🎧 5 years
by the way, windows is taking steps in the same direction - from rumors about the new windows 10x - it is clear that there all applications are launched in virtual containers, from the point of view of real-time processes - it s a total mess ...
in addition, all this also slows down the system.

But thank goodness in the current version of windows - there are absolutely no problems either with access to the kernel or with the signature of drivers - everything is very simple ..

and it seems to me that these ideas with containers will not live up to release
Old 3rd April 2021
  #22
Gear Maniac
 
🎧 5 years
Unfortunately, apple's attitude towards developers is getting worse every year ...
and a snowball of problems keeps growing ..


longtimelurker

this is just a manic realization of the ideas of Jobs, when they quarreled with Wozniak on this basis)

"the user does not own his computer,phone or tablet" - primary goal of Apple )
all this is of course scary....
Old 3rd April 2021
  #23
Lives for gear
 
🎧 10 years
Maybe I’ll give Linux another go if this becomes reality. Mixbus keeps getting better. Linux keeps getting better. I can use my RME madi card. I can do some video work in davinci resolve, and I can use my vst3 plugins... pretty much ticks the boxes except for melodyne... and I’d have to give up Nuendo for mixbus, but I mostly do music these days and a few limitations can spawn lots of creativity!

Still not what I would call a mainstream solution at this point, but if Apple and MS do take steps that ruin the pro audio experience, I’d imagine interest in Linux for pro audio would blow up! Harrison has been using Linux as the basis for their digital consoles for years and years!

-B
Old 3rd April 2021 | Show parent
  #24
Here for the gear
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by artem bankin ➡️
all applications are launched in virtual containers
what a pointless waste of resources. treating a pc like a server/vps is ridiculous. there's an old, long proven method to stay safe using a computer. it's free to install, cross-platform, and can be verified by ordinary users without cs degrees... just keep your machine offline!

linux is going to be the only option before long. we've seen viable low-latency kernels running well for quite some time now. if more people were willing to address the platform by releasing linux binaries then the changeover would be easier. it will happen in time. at least for now there are some very decent options like bitwig, reaper, renoise, and ardour.
Old 4th April 2021
  #25
Lives for gear
 
🎧 15 years
Probably apple should hire you guys
to show them how things work

Maybe the resurrection of the 15ms rockabilly delay
is a postmortem easter greeting from Elvis ?
Old 4th April 2021 | Show parent
  #26
Sry
Gear Maniac
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Shaman ➡️
Probably apple should hire you guys
to show them how things work
You seem like a very optimistic person (wish I was too) either that you don’t understand this or you feel that this won’t affect you.

Are you an “IT-guy” or a developer or do you have knowledge about these things?
Because sure I work in IT (sadly not that much with Macs, and just have a very basic experience of programming) though I get really worried when Apple seems to decide to do something like this and once again move in the direction of locking us in, providing security for our Macs but not letting us decide wether we want this or not and makes us stuck with the consequences (making audio interface manufacture-drivers no longer work with low latency..).

I’m waiting for Apple to release the next set of computers with the new chips and for MOTU to be compatible with the latest Mac OS and Apple Silicon chips but they’ve not released anything for this yet and I can see why that is how and it scares me, I don’t like windows and haven’t used Linus in 15 years or so but that’s the route I’ll have to take care and what scares me is that Apple couldn’t care less if I and a large bunch of other pro/prosumer audio people did because it’s unlikely it will be seen in their revenue and I’m guessing Apple feels that they’ve filled their part in making Apple “cool” and popular amongst the mainstream crowd.
Yes a bit dramatic but the reason I went to Apple was for low latency and stability and I’ve spent a lot of money investing in their gear and it pisses me off that the future is unclear. If Apple abandons the possibility for low latency audio interfaces I’ll leave too and I could have started that process a year ago if I knew.
Regarding the topic, all Apple needs to do if I understand correctly is just not remove (some of) the kernel extensions or at least give the user a choice to unlock them, now and in future and just confirm it or if they prefer give a better alternative that will work just we good to use for the interface manufactures.


Do you feel that Apple has always acted in the best interest to both the majority/mainstream and the “minorities”?

I’m truely worried about this, sure I still have hope that Apple will figure out something that makes this a non issue but I don’t think it will happen unless they feel people are being really loud about it.
Just look at the butterfly keyboard fiasco, the MacBooks last couple of years not able to be connected to an external display without fan sounding like an airplane taking off, the flexgate + 5-10 other rather big issues that I’m not remembering right now etc. sure this is different but it’s still a few similarities, they’re a design flaws.
Apple has thought “if we do this we’ll gain that” but neglecting that they will also loose “this and that” which will affect user rather big.

Not untested in beginning a large discussion but just felt I don’t understand why you’re so calm about it. Maybe you know something that I/we don’t they you could share?
Old 5th April 2021
  #27
Here for the gear
 
I'm of the opinion it's time we started treating our computers as we would treat vintage audio gear. Start thinking about just sticking with what works, ignoring the new latest greatest, as long as we can keep using the tools we need and love. Getting to know the intricacies of the machine inside and out and how to service it when things go wrong, putting in a stock of spare parts/donor machines.

I've already made a start in this direction and am happy to stick with maintaining a stable mid-2012 macbook pro set-up, currently on 10.11.6. IMO it's the last good computer apple made, the last of the original unibody series before retina. Everything is user replaceable, and there are literally millions of used machines out there to grab for parts if needed.

Failing this, system76 machines look interesting. If linux gets up to speed on the audio side i'd be happy to give their products a try.
Old 5th April 2021 | Show parent
  #28
Sry
Gear Maniac
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by longtimelurker ➡️
I'm of the opinion it's time we started treating our computers as we would treat vintage audio gear.
Wish it was easier to do so. But computers break down and get dusty and sure the Mid 2012 MBP can be fixed (I did fix mine just a year ago) and there’s a choice to make about just staying on one OS and disconnect from the internet etc. but sometimes needs change, a specific audio interface might not be enough etc but even if freezing your computer is possible there’s often some improvements available if updated which you might want to take advantage of etc but sure it’s possible. It could also be a question about stability as in an old computer could break down randomly more easily than a computer you’ve used for a year, people with clients would have to keep a backup computer and check it’s functionality regularly to make sure he/she can continue working I’d such a thing happens.

I believe that vintage analog and some digital can be something that brings you something more (a certain sound that isn’t available anywhere else), while vintage/old computers often brings you less.
Could be a simple thing like an synthesizer editor isn’t available or for that old OS.
I do agree that it might be wise to stop chasing the newest thing all the time though.

Your post did actually make me feel quite stupid for feeling and putting this pressure on myself to go AS Macs in a few months.
Thing is that I sometimes would need the mobility and it seems there’s no laptop Mac that can be connected to an external monitor without getting very hot and noisy.
Otherwise I’d have nothing against buying a Intel Mac and try to freeze it in time (though not able to disconnect from the internet).

On topic, I’d really be interested in seeing what Apple and affected interface manufactures/developers have to say about this issue. Maybe Shaman is right about things will just work themselves out without us users ever noticing but not knowing at least makes me worried.
Old 5th April 2021 | Show parent
  #29
Lives for gear
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jolosch ➡️
Doesn’t this only effect USB devices?
I had to go through the same hoop-jumping as above to get my Thunderbolt Apollo working on my M1 Airbook, so I guess that mean it applies across the board.
Old 5th April 2021 | Show parent
  #30
Lives for gear
 
thedberg's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by longtimelurker ➡️
I'm of the opinion it's time we started treating our computers as we would treat vintage audio gear. Start thinking about just sticking with what works, ignoring the new latest greatest, as long as we can keep using the tools we need and love. Getting to know the intricacies of the machine inside and out and how to service it when things go wrong, putting in a stock of spare parts/donor machines.

I've already made a start in this direction and am happy to stick with maintaining a stable mid-2012 macbook pro set-up, currently on 10.11.6. IMO it's the last good computer apple made, the last of the original unibody series before retina. Everything is user replaceable, and there are literally millions of used machines out there to grab for parts if needed.
That approach is fine. As long as you’re willing to never have new plugins, never new DAW versions and have connected hardware that never breaks down. And of course, don’t expect support from vendors.

My approach is the opposite: always stay updated. Yeah, new stuff has bugs, but on average new stuff is slightly better. And none of the downsides above.

Side note: an alternative to Mac is (gasp) Win 10. Low latency drivers and support right here on GS 😊.
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