Fractal confirms amplifier plugin - and no more TigerSHARCs?

Discussion in 'Digital & Modeling Gear' started by TimeSnow, Jun 3, 2016.

  1. TimeSnow

    TimeSnow Member

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  2. MKB

    MKB Silver Supporting Member

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    Being in a similar industry, chips going EOL is an incredible drag, especially these days that many ICs are becoming more specialized. I would guess that the really big user of the TigerSHARC stopped using them, and Fractal is not a big enough customer to warrant continuing manufacture of the part. If you want to buy enough of a particular IC, most all manufacturers are more than happy to make you a batch. But that number might be high. Another possibility is there is a step or materials in the manufacture of the IC that is no longer available, such as requiring lead in the leads (violates RoHS) or the factory that can make the silicon shuts down.

    Also it often happens that when a specific IC goes EOL, there are other manufacturers that will make similar/equivalent parts. But that may take a while. One can be sure that Fractal is hard on this issue and I would bet they will find a solution.

    The real problem is if an Axe-FX owner needs a replacement DSP. There may not be any available, and those available will be stupid expensive. It's also the kind of IC that could be counterfeited by foreign manufacturers; you'll buy a part that says it's a particular IC but it isn't. That practice is incredibly widespread and is a serious issue in the industry. So it would be unwise to buy replacement DSP's off say ebay or foreign sources unless you are 1000% sure of their supply chain.
     
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  3. JoeB63

    JoeB63 Supporting Member

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    How ironic is it that tubes are still being manufactured, but the key component of the leading "modern" digital amp is going end of life, without a replacement?
     
  4. Blanket Jackson

    Blanket Jackson ¿Qué Hiciste? Silver Supporting Member

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    I'm sure that Cliff was aware of this eventuality before the vendor website update. The processor is powerful, and Axe Fx is far from the only piece of gear using that chip. We may well find that the previous version is being phased out for a faster / lower latency new version, perhaps with larger package size?

    As the Admin pointed out, PC CPUs are not designed for these apps, and they are power hogs. There will be a replacement, rest assured.
     
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  5. phil_m

    phil_m Supporting Member

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    About as ironic as rain on your wedding day... as in, not very...

    I mean, at the heart of it a modeler is really more of a piece of software than hardware. The hardware is a big part of it of course, and without it, you can't use it. But the nice thing is that these models will still exist regardless of what platform they end up on. I suspect that Fractal probably has a few different options as far as hardware is concerned for future products. Yes, it would seem kind of suck if you would need a replacement chip down the road. Although, I would think the chip and board itself should have a relatively long life span on a unit like the Axe FX. It's usually the power supply components in electronics that tend to be the first point of failure.
     
  6. mbenigni

    mbenigni Member

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    Absolutely. I'm certain there will be some replacement processor capable of running this code base (or a simple adaptation) as well or better. They don't make these chips for one vendor/ application; if it were suddenly impossible to run a legacy code base, a lot of companies would be up in arms.

    More importantly, PC operating systems are not designed for these apps, and they are CPU (and memory and bandwidth and everything else) hogs. That's why a Fractal plugin would be really awesome, but surely not a game-changer in terms of replacing the purpose-built AxeFX hardware units.
     
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  7. TimeSnow

    TimeSnow Member

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    I'd wager that if you COULD buy a professional quality version of the AFX/AX8 as a PC/MAC app/plugin people would buy custom machines around them... for no other reason than it would probably be cheaper and more flexible for touring musicians than having multiple AFXIIs. Obvious caveats, etc. etc.
     
    Last edited: Jun 3, 2016
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  8. JoeB63

    JoeB63 Supporting Member

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    No, it's way more ironic than that.
     
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  9. mbenigni

    mbenigni Member

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    Yes, some people would. No question this solution would have its place in studios (mine for one!) As for touring acts... more flexible, perhaps. Cheaper is debatable, especially if you want to leverage that flexibility: you'd need audio/MIDI interface(s) and controller(s) to fit the bill. Almost certainly a recurring PITA for your guitar tech. :) I try to keep general purpose OS's out of my guitar signal chain now, but I know some folks are pulling it off.
     
  10. eriwebnerr

    eriwebnerr Member

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    I know nothing, but this article is an interesting read on what may be the future for audio DSPs - floating point FPGAs
    http://mil-embedded.com/articles/signal-processing-fpgas-with-hard-floating-point-no-compromise/

    I reference this and quoted you because I had the same thought, until I read this in the above article:
    "The days of high-end, general-purpose DSPs effectively ended a decade ago with the demise of Analog Device’s TigerSHARC roadmap after Texas Instruments (TI) had previously discontinued their high-end roadmap. Since then, TI has brought back some high-end parts for targeted applications, but they still have not presented a roadmap for increased performance."

    So according to this, it sounds like they have been dying for a while or at least had no real path forward and a change like this had to come eventually.
     
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  11. TimeSnow

    TimeSnow Member

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    It's like a free ride when you've already paid
     
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  12. TimeSnow

    TimeSnow Member

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    Most major tours are already mostly computer driven to some degree anyway... and custom music computer builders would LOVE to have access to these sounds... plus being able to scale up to a practically unlimited version of the AFX for cheapish would be a huge boon for studios...
     
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  13. eriwebnerr

    eriwebnerr Member

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    You beat me to it!
    [​IMG]
     
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  14. BoneSaw

    BoneSaw Supporting Member

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    I was thinking , more like a black fly in your Chardonnay.
     
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  15. Pietro

    Pietro 2-Voice Guitar Junkie and All-Around Awesome Guy

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    This is AWFUL!

    Same chip in Axe II, FX8 and AX8? or are the floor units still using a chip they can buy.

    I wonder how far into development the Axe III is?!?!?!

    Uh oh, that's not the same chip in Helix is it?
     
  16. TimeSnow

    TimeSnow Member

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    Seems like a great time for a group of music hardware developers to get together and design a new processor that they can all use... make it optimised for those applications and cheaper
    Or it's like ten thousand spoons when all you need is a knife
     
  17. TimeSnow

    TimeSnow Member

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    No... they use non-Tiger SHARCs. I can't answer if they're being phased out as well.
     
  18. ColdFrixion

    ColdFrixion Member

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    The AX8 uses two dual-core 450 MHz ADSP-21469s, and those aren't being phased out.
     
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  19. KenG

    KenG Member

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    While it's true Fractal will likely be able to find a new DSP they are very proprietary. Package Style, Pinouts, Core Voltages, IO, configuration files, clock speeds etc all drive the surrounding circuit design. More often then not we're talking single source for any given design.
    When it comes to code it can really depend on the programming language used and OS selected. If both devices can use a compatible OS and the code was compiled from a generic programming language then it's a matter of recompiling and bug tracing any issues that pop up if I understand the SW end of things.

    The real issue is Fractal being a small company, this will force them to likely drop the ongoing development of patches and updates for existing products in favour of following the development and continued support for the new product. Especially if they couldn't share code!
    This is one of the disadvantages of dealing with small companies, they can have a great product (as Fractal does) but don't have the financial power to do what a company like Line 6 can with it's resources.
     
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  20. phil_m

    phil_m Supporting Member

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    The FX8 and the AX8 (and the Helix) use the regular SHARC 450MHz ADSP-21469. I don't think those are being phased out anytime soon, as those seem to be used across a wide variety of products. The specific SHARC chip itself gets upgraded - that's what happened between the HD and HDX PODs, for instance. From what I understand, the TigerSHARC is a much more specialized chipset.
     
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