DMA: Enabling/Disabling

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Should DMA be enabled for an IDE/USB/FireWire recorder?

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Summary:
Some peripherals require data to be transferred between themselves and the memory at the fastest possible speed. On a computer these are usually the devices handling bulk data such as network cards, scanners, sound boards, video cameras, hard disks.

Usually all data has to be passed through the CPU, which ties up the computer's processing power and slows it down. The solution to this problem is a technique called DMA - direct memory access.

DMA is a method where data is transferred directly from memory to a device without the intervention of the CPU. If the device can take direct control of the bus, this process is called bus mastering.

Discussion:
In theory having DMA enabled allows for better data transfer rate to the recorder, which in turn should allow you to record at higher speeds.

In practice however, not all drives function correctly with DMA enabled. The problems can include "Drive Not Ready" errors when attempting to record, system locks up completely during recording, system crashes when starting GEAR with an "IRQ_NOT_LESS_THAN_EQUAL" error in HAL.DLL, .

If you are experiencing this type of behavior while and all other attempts at remedying the situation have failed, disabling DMA for the recorder may solve the problem.


Windows 2000 and Windows XP systems

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Summary:
Recording discs on an IDE recorder fails on a regular basis.

Solution:
Note: You will need to be logged in as Administrator before using the following steps.

  • Go to the Control Panel in the Start | Settings menu
  • Double click the System icon.
  • Go to the Device Manager on the Hardware Tab.
  • Expand the IDE ATA/ATAPI controllers entry.
  • Open either the Primary IDE Channel or Secondary IDE Channel, depending on which IDE bus your recorder is located.
  • On the Advanced Settings tab, select "DMA if available" as the Transfer Mode for Device 0 (master) or Device 1 (slave), depending on your recorder is configured.

Windows NT 4.0 systems

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Summary:
Recording discs on an IDE recorder fails on a regular basis.

Solution:
Note: You will need to be logged in as Administrator before using the following steps.

  • Download the DMA Check application (DMACHCKI.EXE) mentioned in Microsoft® knowledge base article 19774
  • Run DMACHCKI.EXE to extract the DMA Check application (DMACHECK.EXE).
  • Run DMACHECK.EXE. Depending to which IDE bus your recorder is attached, enable DMA for either Channel 0 or Channel 1

Windows 95, 98 and ME systems

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Summary:
Recording discs on an IDE recorder fails on a regular basis.

Solution:

  • Go to the Control Panel in the Start | Settings menu
  • Double click the System icon. (Windows Me users: select View all Control Panel options if the System icon is not shown)
  • Click the Device Manager tab.
  • Expand the CD-ROM device
  • Open the icon for your recorder.
  • On the Settings tab, uncheck DMA.
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