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Windows 7: Slow CPU speed reported by LatencyMon

29 Feb 2016   #1

Windows 7 Professional 64bit
Slow CPU speed reported by LatencyMon

I've been trying for some time to figure out why I get audio "drop-outs" during audio recording or playback. (I am a semi-professional music producer - in other words, people pay me to record and produce their music, so these glitches can be pretty embarrassing if they happen during a live recording session).

It doesn't happen all that often, but seems to have increased since I upgraded RAM from 8 to 16GB, and traded in my mechanical HD for a 1TB SSD (which I did hoping to improve speed - didn't seem to make that much difference). There may be no problem for hours or even days, then suddenly it starts happening repeatedly, and even re-booting doesn't cure it.

I recently discovered LatencyMonitor. It suggested updating drivers, so I updated all of them I could find (using Driver Booster 3), plus removed some I no longer needed. I also uninstalled EasyTune (though I couldn't figure out whether it was actually running). That has improved, but not eliminated the problem.

To the point: LatencyMon reveals 3 particular issues of concern, that I can't figure out what to do with, and I was hoping someone here could point me in the right direction.
1. CPU Speed - according to LatencyMon, "reported" CPU speed is 3093 MHz, but the "Measured" speed is only 1 MHz. I don't believe this can be accurate. Is there another utility I can use to measure CPU speed?

2. High Interrupt-to-Process Latencies - if I'm reading the report right, this seems to be coming from ataport.sys. I've seen dozens of references to this problem online, but no solutions that I haven't already tried.

3. High Pagefault resolution times - the most pagefaults, and the longest resolutions times, seem to occur it msmpeng.exe (Microsoft Security Essentials - grrr! you'd think Microsoft would've made their own antivirus program more efficient). Is there another AV solution that might work better (preferably cheap or free).

FYI, the entire LatencyMon report is appended below. Thanks for any help you can offer.

~kyle knapp

Your system appears to be having trouble handling real-time audio and other tasks. You are likely to experience buffer underruns appearing as drop outs, clicks or pops. One problem may be related to power management, disable CPU throttling settings in Control Panel and BIOS setup. Check for BIOS updates. 
LatencyMon has been analyzing your system for  24:20:46  (h:mm:ss) on all processors.

Computer name:                                        DRYCREEKSTUDIO
OS version:                                           Windows 7 Service Pack 1, 6.1, build: 7601 (x64)
Hardware:                                             Z68A-D3H-B3, Gigabyte Technology Co., Ltd.
CPU:                                                  GenuineIntel Intel(R) Core(TM) i5-2400 CPU @ 3.10GHz
Logical processors:                                   4
Processor groups:                                     1
RAM:                                                  16301 MB total

Reported CPU speed:                                   3093 MHz
Measured CPU speed:                                   1 MHz (approx.)

Note: reported execution times may be calculated based on a fixed reported CPU speed. Disable variable speed settings like Intel Speed Step and AMD Cool N Quiet in the BIOS setup for more accurate results.

WARNING: the CPU speed that was measured is only a fraction of the CPU speed reported. Your CPUs may be throttled back due to variable speed settings and thermal issues. It is suggested that you run a utility which reports your actual CPU frequency and temperature. 

The interrupt to process latency reflects the measured interval that a usermode process needed to respond to a hardware request from the moment the interrupt service routine started execution. This includes the scheduling and execution of a DPC routine, the signaling of an event and the waking up of a usermode thread from an idle wait state in response to that event.

Highest measured interrupt to process latency (Ás):   3155.740704
Average measured interrupt to process latency (Ás):   2.992244

Highest measured interrupt to DPC latency (Ás):       577.382689
Average measured interrupt to DPC latency (Ás):       1.052137

Interrupt service routines are routines installed by the OS and device drivers that execute in response to a hardware interrupt signal.

Highest ISR routine execution time (Ás):              186.454252
Driver with highest ISR routine execution time:       ataport.SYS - ATAPI Driver Extension, Microsoft Corporation

Highest reported total ISR routine time (%):          0.039398
Driver with highest ISR total time:                   ataport.SYS - ATAPI Driver Extension, Microsoft Corporation

Total time spent in ISRs (%)                          0.062850

ISR count (execution time <250 Ás):                   67931642
ISR count (execution time 250-500 Ás):                0
ISR count (execution time 500-999 Ás):                0
ISR count (execution time 1000-1999 Ás):              0
ISR count (execution time 2000-3999 Ás):              0
ISR count (execution time >=4000 Ás):                 0

DPC routines are part of the interrupt servicing dispatch mechanism and disable the possibility for a process to utilize the CPU while it is interrupted until the DPC has finished execution.

Highest DPC routine execution time (Ás):              634.975105
Driver with highest DPC routine execution time:       ataport.SYS - ATAPI Driver Extension, Microsoft Corporation

Highest reported total DPC routine time (%):          0.184231
Driver with highest DPC total execution time:         ataport.SYS - ATAPI Driver Extension, Microsoft Corporation

Total time spent in DPCs (%)                          0.298536

DPC count (execution time <250 Ás):                   205719655
DPC count (execution time 250-500 Ás):                0
DPC count (execution time 500-999 Ás):                6
DPC count (execution time 1000-1999 Ás):              0
DPC count (execution time 2000-3999 Ás):              0
DPC count (execution time >=4000 Ás):                 0

Hard pagefaults are events that get triggered by making use of virtual memory that is not resident in RAM but backed by a memory mapped file on disk. The process of resolving the hard pagefault requires reading in the memory from disk while the process is interrupted and blocked from execution.

NOTE: some processes were hit by hard pagefaults. If these were programs producing audio, they are likely to interrupt the audio stream resulting in dropouts, clicks and pops. Check the Processes tab to see which programs were hit.

Process with highest pagefault count:                 msmpeng.exe

Total number of hard pagefaults                       303967
Hard pagefault count of hardest hit process:          226374
Highest hard pagefault resolution time (Ás):          298159.409958
Total time spent in hard pagefaults (%):              0.040880
Number of processes hit:                              22

CPU 0 Interrupt cycle time (s):                       1469.370741
CPU 0 ISR highest execution time (Ás):                186.454252
CPU 0 ISR total execution time (s):                   220.344567
CPU 0 ISR count:                                      67931642
CPU 0 DPC highest execution time (Ás):                634.975105
CPU 0 DPC total execution time (s):                   1001.921223
CPU 0 DPC count:                                      181393239
CPU 1 Interrupt cycle time (s):                       126.334885
CPU 1 ISR highest execution time (Ás):                0.0
CPU 1 ISR total execution time (s):                   0.0
CPU 1 ISR count:                                      0
CPU 1 DPC highest execution time (Ás):                178.344973
CPU 1 DPC total execution time (s):                   10.581033
CPU 1 DPC count:                                      4103687
CPU 2 Interrupt cycle time (s):                       101.732955
CPU 2 ISR highest execution time (Ás):                0.0
CPU 2 ISR total execution time (s):                   0.0
CPU 2 ISR count:                                      0
CPU 2 DPC highest execution time (Ás):                146.540899
CPU 2 DPC total execution time (s):                   13.127845
CPU 2 DPC count:                                      7435390
CPU 3 Interrupt cycle time (s):                       160.728584
CPU 3 ISR highest execution time (Ás):                0.0
CPU 3 ISR total execution time (s):                   0.0
CPU 3 ISR count:                                      0
CPU 3 DPC highest execution time (Ás):                163.831555
CPU 3 DPC total execution time (s):                   20.99980
CPU 3 DPC count:                                      12787345

My System SpecsSystem Spec
29 Feb 2016   #2

Win-7-Pro64bit 7-H-Prem-64bit

As far as gauging cpu
You can try CPU-Z/ cpuid to do that
CPU-Z | Softwares | CPUID

I use Panda free it seems to be pretty low in resources but do a full scan after installing
FREE and lightweight antivirus - Panda Security

Here are some of the settings that can be adjusted
Anti-Virus with the lowest consumption of system resources.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
29 Feb 2016   #3

Linux (Mint is primary) / XP, Win7 Home / Win7 Pro, Ultimate / Win8.1 / Win10 archived VM

There may be multiple things contributing to the problem. Thinking aloud, I would look into and modify accordingly:

> Disable all but the most critical scheduled tasks via Task Scheduler. Your comment "There may be no problem for hours or even days, then suddenly it starts happening repeatedly, and even re-booting doesn't cure it" was a red flag to me. This will take some time and a little research as you need to follow dependencies. I guess is this step will make a major improvement.

> Check all startup applications and stop all that are not part of the OS, your hardware or software you deliberately launched.

> Turn off ALL software package auto update "features' as well as there access to the Internet. If you are on a network and don't need the network for your critical task, disconnect from the network. If you have ANY online apps such as MS Office 365, uninstall them as they will be a major drain just when you don't want it. Turn off anti-virus auto updates and all Windows update settings except "Never check for updates."

> Turn off the Windows pagefile.

I suggest setting up a dual boot system:
> Set one for normal business/office/home use
> Set up a second boot with critical audio applications only - NO office suites, "stuff" programs, nothing except what is required for your critical applications. Lock down Windows (especially Task Scheduler) tight as a drum and turn off the pagefile.

My System SpecsSystem Spec

02 Mar 2016   #4

Windows 7 Professional 64bit

Both replies, THANK YOU!
My System SpecsSystem Spec
04 Mar 2016   #5

Windows 7 Professional 64bit

CPU-Z (assuming it's fairly accurate) verifies that my CPU is running at about 3.2GHz - no idea why latencymon "measured" it at 1Mhz. So that's a relief.

I've found and disabled several programs in auto-startup. This seems to have helped significantly, but not completely cured the problem.

I do a lot of different things on this computer, so I have more software loaded on it than I should for doing audio recording. I should probably consider (when I can afford it) investing in another computer, and separating these tasks.

Starting to track down any programs that auto-update. Someone suggested to me that Google updater might be part of the problem, but that it's difficult to clamp down because so many different apps are affected by it. Any insights into this?

I looked at the Panda AV, but the reviews weren't impressive - by most accounts, MSE seems to be both better protection and more resource-efficient. Not sure how such reports square with actual experience. At times when my computer has been running the slowest, MSE seems to always be at the top of the CPU usage list in Task Manager. I may try turning off both AV and my network connection while recording. I think that's likely to help, but it's kind of a pain - if only I could find a way to do both with a single click...
My System SpecsSystem Spec
04 Mar 2016   #6

Win-7-Pro64bit 7-H-Prem-64bit

Not sure what reviews you're referring to but Panda seems fine to me considering most threats are malware and need additional protection for that of which i use malwarebytes premium for that which uses more resources than Panda does
Panda Free Antivirus (2016) Review & Rating |
My System SpecsSystem Spec
04 Mar 2016   #7
Layback Bear

Windows 7 Pro. 64/SP-1

These may be helpful from Brink.

Lots of thing to look at. Just pick the ones you want to use.

Optimize Windows 7

9. Disable or Remove Unwanted or Unneeded Startup Programs
My System SpecsSystem Spec
08 Mar 2016   #8

Windows 7 Professional 64bit

I followed a suggestion on the Steinberg Cubase forum. Cubase is the recording software I use. Deleting its "preferences" folder forces it to rebuild all its customizable parameters to default settings. I took me some time to re-tweak the UI to my preferences, but now Cubase runs much faster, and (so far) without any audio dropouts.

LatencyMon still reports reports high latencies (though not as high as before I disabled a bunch of start-up programs and auto-updaters - thank you to those who offered these suggestions), but it doesn't seem to be causing a problem now.

I'll go ahead and mark this solved.
My System SpecsSystem Spec

 Slow CPU speed reported by LatencyMon

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