Which Ones Work: Using Expansion Chassis with UAD-2 DSP Accelerators

Back to UAD & Apollo Tips July 25, 2010 2:53:22 AM PDT

(Updated June 16, 2011 with Netstor models)

Hello, G'day. Bonjour, Guten Tag, nuqneH, Privet, Aloha!

Cyclone Expansion Chassis
Cyclone 600-2705 Expansion Chassis

Wow! I just realized that it has been almost two years since UAD-2 DSP Accelerator Packages were first introduced to the world. It’s been an incredible two years and we would like to send a big shout-out and thank you to all of the UAD-2 users around the world!

The introduction of the UAD-2 has expanded the options for many musicians and engineers, offering far greater plug-in capacity and functionality! More importantly, all of the new UAD-2 Powered Plug-Ins ROCK! The Manley Massive Passive EQ, FATSO Jr./Sr. Analog Tape Simulator and Compressor, EMT 250 Classic Electronic Reverberator, and Cooper Time Cube MkII Delay are just a few examples, and rest assured, there are many more on the way!

There is one question however, that our UAD-2 users have been asking Customer Support ever since the UAD-2 was released in August of 2008:

“How do I run more UAD-2 cards on my computer?”

The UAD software drivers will support up to four UAD-2 cards installed in the same computer; however, not all computers have four available PCIe slots. Mac Pro systems only offer three PCIe slots, for example. In this situation, the only option would be to use a PCIe expansion chassis. These expansion chassis are essentially external enclosures that have a number of PCIe slots. An enclosure is connected to the host computer via a PCIe host adapter card.

The following PCIe expansion chassis have been tested with UAD-2 cards on Mac and Windows* based systems:

*Note: These chassis were tested exclusively with UAD-1 PCIe and UAD-2 PCIe cards. Adding other 3rd party PCIe cards may or may not change performance. We have tested more heavily on Mac systems. Windows systems offer so many variables that we cannot guarantee performance on every single motherboard. However these PCIe to PCIe expansion chassis should work on most systems.

Magma Expansion Chassis
Magma ExpressBox7

Cyclone Microsystems

The Cyclone 600-2705 has been tested and rated with EXCELLENT performance.

Additionally, we have tested the Cyclone 600-2701, which also works well; however, the Cyclone 600-2705 has been tuned for lower latency and would be our recommendation over a different Cyclone model.

Magma - Mission Technology Group, Inc.

The Magma ExpressBox7 has been tested and rated with EXCELLENT performance.

There are other Magma PCIe expansion chassis that should also function, but please be advised that we have not tested them, and therefore they are not officially supported.

One Stop Systems

We also tested a huge, 19-slot One-Stop Systems chassis that has been rated with EXCELLENT performance. This One-Stop Systems chassis we tested comprises three components:

One-Stop Expansion Chassis
One-Stop Systems Expansion Chassis

One-Stop Systems Part Number: OSS-PCIe-BP-2022 (20-slot PCI express Gen 2-based backplane with 1 SHB slot and 19 PCIe I/O slots)

One-Stop Systems enclosure Part Number: OSS-PCI-4U-ENCL-VL-XX-400 (4 unit rackmount enclosure, 400W ATX PS, 20-slot capacity, metal locking door, three 5.25" drive bays)

One-Stop Systems Host -> I/O Expansion kit Part Number: OSS-KIT-EXP-1100 (PCI express expansion kit with a PCIe x4 host adapter card, a PCIe x4/x8 expansion link board, and PCIe cable).

Netstor Technology*

In our tests with the Netstor TurboBox (model NA210A-L) and its available ExpressCard/34 and PCIe host adapter cards, this expansion chassis performed extremely well. We were able to obtain maximum performance with three UAD-2 cards installed, achieving the maximum possible plug-in counts without any additional host load. UAD-1e cards performed similarly, although an optional add-on modification to the TurboBox is required to support 1.x Generation PCIe cards like the UAD-1e.

Netstor NA211A
Netstor NA211A

In addition, our testing of the most recent TurboBox revision (model NA211A) also showed the chassis performing extremely well, with Mac Pro desktop and Macbook Pro notebook systems via the ExpressCard/34 connection.

Most recently, we also qualified the Netstor TurboBox Mini (model NA221A) with Macbook Pro notebooks. Again, we saw no additional host load when using the UAD-2 in the chassis, and were able to achieve the maximum possible instance counts.

*Note: Windows/PC qualification of the Netstor chassis are still in progress, so currently these Netstor models are only officially supported with PCIe- or ExpressCard-equipped Mac systems.

Hopefully this information proves helpful to those of you looking to add more UAD-2 DSP Accelerators to your previously PCIe-challenged systems. Thanks for checking out the latest Universal Audio Support Report!

— Dan Becker

Read More