ExpressCard unuseable on late 2008 MBP?

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by Timur, Dec 11, 2008.

  1. Timur macrumors 6502a

    Timur

    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2008
    #1
    Hey ladies!

    I bought a Texas Instrument bases ExpressCard for Firewire 400 in order to make my RME Fireface work on the late 2008 MBP (the onboard LSI/Agere chip doesn't like the Firefaces).

    Result: It made OS X freeze out of the blue several times and it is not possible to install it on bootcamped Vista at all: "Not enough free Resources".

    I did some web search and found a post of someone who tried six (6!) different ExpressCards and all showed the same "no free resources" error when using Bootcamp.

    So currently I am left with a Pro laptop that comes with incompatible Firewire and unuseable ExpressCard. :apple:

    Fortunately the Fireface is useable via any Fireface Repeater: external HD, HUB, or in my case a simple Repeater Cable (aka cable with inbuild repeater).

    Time to call Apple support I guess! :cool:
     
  2. alphaod macrumors Core

    alphaod

    Joined:
    Feb 9, 2008
    Location:
    NYC
    #2
    Did you try installing drivers? Are you sure the chipset of the FW card is compatible with OS X?
     
  3. darwinian macrumors 6502a

    darwinian

    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2008
    Location:
    In R4, more or less
    #3
    There was a bunch of chatter about missing bootcamp drivers for the new MBPs ... could there be some missing drivers for ExpressCard stuff?
     
  4. Timur thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Timur

    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2008
    #4
    There is no need for special drivers for Firewire on Windows, they come out of the box. Because of that there are no drivers provided with ExpressCard and is says Plug&Play.

    Also the card (or likely the MBP) made OS X freeze several times and behaves erratic the other times: like not being detected, being detected as new second ExpressCard Firewire Network eventhough it is already in the list, not detecting that my Fireface400 is connected or disconnected.

    This is all very unpleasant, also because it seems that I get 20-30% more performance out of Ableton Live on Windows than os OS X. Maybe I should have taken the HP Elitebook instead, if only my bandmate hadn't just bought Logic. :confused:
     
  5. drichards macrumors 6502a

    drichards

    Joined:
    Nov 30, 2008
    #5
    HP is a no-go, you'd be kicking yourself for buying a shiny plastic turd if you had. I don't follow your logic here tho. Your mac has FW800, so you buy a FW400 card instead of a cable and maybe a hub, and your mac fails to boot into windows while using the FW400 card. But you're blaming the computer instead of the card? I don't get it.

    You'd need a cable like this to hook your roland directly to the MBP's FW800 port and then return the card that's making hassles.

    There's lots of documentation on bootcamp from Apple. Most people don't read it. It might say that you shouldn't have any expresscards in when you do the install.
     
  6. Timur thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Timur

    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2008
    #6
    I bought the ExpressCard for getting the RME Fireface400 running. I was looking for a Firewire HUB but they didn't have one in shop so I took the ExpressCard. I want to run the Fireface (professional Audio) and a HD on separate ports/busses, so I will need an ExpressCard anyway.

    I'd prefer eSATA, but seemingly the driver situation for eSATA on OS X is a bit fishy (no current Leopard driver for SIL based cards and Jmicron cards hard to find on the market).

    I'm blaming the computer to not allow my Fireface to connect to its internal Firewire port without using a Repeater/Hub inbetween. And I'm blaming the computer for not supporting ExpressCard on Windows and freezing when using it on Mac.

    I'd also suspect the card first, but after reading on the net that other people tried several cards with the same result on Windows (=no result) it seems evident that Bootcamp lack ExpressCard support (at least for Firewire cards).

    I do own two of those (one 4.5m Belkin and one 0.3m Lindy) and both don't work with the Fireface400. There has been the same kind of problems with several audio-interface of different manufacturers in the past when Apple build the LSI/Agere chipset into their early 2008 Macbooks (Pro). Later Apple changed back to Texas Instruments, but now they decided to go the cheaper route again.

    My bootcamped Windows runs better performing than OS X once I threw out Apple's KBDMGR (driver for using the F-Keys controls like brightness). I did not install it with the ExpressCard in. Like I wrote before: other people are experiencing the very same issues with other ExpressCards than mine.

    Don't take me wrong, the MBP seems to be a kick ass machine. But when specifically those features fail to deliver that distinguish the PRO from the non-pro Macbook (Firewire, ExpressCard) one may start to wonder if shoveling out over 2300 Euro was such a brilliant idea in the end. I paid that premium to get a system that just works for my PRO demands and it somewhat fails to deliver that promise.
     
  7. drichards macrumors 6502a

    drichards

    Joined:
    Nov 30, 2008
    #7
    Well that distinctly stinks. You should darn well be able to use your roland with just a damn wire... Have you rang Applecare? They tend to be awake early.
     
  8. iMacDragon macrumors 65816

    iMacDragon

    Joined:
    Oct 18, 2008
    Location:
    UK
    #8
    I've had exact same issue with an esata jmicron express card on windows, on Vista I get a code 12, no free resources on 32 or 64 bit. On XP, it does work, but hot plugging is totally broken.

    It does seem to work fine on OS X though.

    On researching this issue, it seems to be a BIOS ( or in macs case EFI BIOS emulation ) problem, needing an update to fix that re allocates internal resources differently. No idea on the hot docking though.. probably needs a bios fix too.

    What is clear is that they have not tested boot camp environment on new chipset properly with additional hardware, at all.

    Or indeed with the internal hardware, considering how crappy the touchpad driver is compared to OS X.

    I'm going to test on a Linux later, for curiosity.
     
  9. alphaod macrumors Core

    alphaod

    Joined:
    Feb 9, 2008
    Location:
    NYC
    #9
    Just because it says Plug-and-Play doesn't mean you shouldn't use specilized drivers.

    Case and point:
    Bought an ExpressCard Compact Flash reader. It says Plug-and-Play; it would crash my computer to no end. Then I installed the drivers and voilà, no more crashes.
     
  10. Timur thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Timur

    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2008
    #10
    Hot Plugging for my Firewire ExpressCard does not work properly on OS X. It only recognizes the Fireface to unplug/replug on the ExpressCard if I plug/unplug the Firewire Repeater on the buildin FW800 port. That may be a Fireface driver issue, but I'm not sold on this given how erratic OS X behaves with the ExpressCard (sometimes reporting the ExpressCard to be disconnected while it's still plugged in and the freezes).

    ExpressCard on late 2008 Macbook Pros seems to be a mess, but I lack comparison with other cards. Maybe some other people with working ExpressCards can give some feedback?

    PS to Alphaod: I know about Plug&Play and drivers, but just believe me that on Windows you don't need Firewire drivers (there is only one non Microsoft driver on the market and that does not work with RME Firefaces at all).
     
  11. cohenben macrumors member

    Joined:
    Dec 19, 2008
    Location:
    Midwest
    #11
    This is REALLY bad news. Is this something apple will likely fix with an update? Or will this be left up to the third party manufacturers to address?
     
  12. Timur thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Timur

    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2008
    #12
    Just to keep you updated. I did an installation of Windows XP and there are issues with the ExpressCard as well.

    First of all hot-plugging the card itself does not work properly. It wont show the ExpressCard in device-manager until you manually search for it and then, surprise surprise, it will show the same "No Resources free" error as on Vista. Upon restarting the MBP it will work properly.

    Plugging a Firewire cable into the card or unplugging the card froze Windows sporadically but several times now. It did the same on OS X and I suspect this to be an electrical problem. To my astonishment the card can be pulled out easily when it should be fixed inside the slot without pushing on it first to unlock it. That always leads to freezing!

    Even on OS X hot-plugging is somewhat problematic, but again this may be due to some electrical problems with the card not sitting right inside the slot!?

    Another problem happens with hot-plugging the Fireface: on OS X it only works if I keep my Firewire Repeater plugged in to the build-in FW800 slot. If nothing is plugged in there any change on the ExpressCards slots is not recognized until I plug the repeater back into the inbuild slot. On Windows the Fireface sometimes works and sometimes not.

    On OS X CPU load is about 3% higher when using the Fireface over ExpressCard compared to the inbuild FW800 port. This may not sound like much, but on a 2.8 GHz CPU this corresponds to quite alot (like an additional track full of effects in my DAW).
     
  13. macrem macrumors 65816

    macrem

    Joined:
    Mar 11, 2008
    #13
    There is your problem (in bold).

    This is probably a problem for Windows on notebooks in general.

    This is normal Windows behavior

    This has never happened to me. On which device did this occur?
     
  14. Timur thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Timur

    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2008
    #14
    Sorry, Macrem, but are your answers serious? And did you even read when I wrote that OS X freezes, too?

    This thread is not gonna be a fanboy Mac vs PC thread. Thank you! :apple:
     
  15. Timur thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Timur

    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2008
    #15
    Now this is a bit shocking:

    Having only inserted the ExpressCard leads to 10-20% CPU load (pure system load, not produced by any process) on XP as long as the ExpressCard driver is active (standard Windows TI Firewire driver).

    It completely vanishes once you load the CPU to maximum, but when using Ableton Live even over the inbuild FW800 port performance at least 30% lower as long as the ExpressCard driver is active.

    Even more disturbing the performance loss is happening because the actual CPU load of Live itself is alot higher with the very same load compared to not having the ExpressCard active! :eek:

    To underline the most curious fact about the latter: It also happens when the ExpressCard isn't even used, it's just inserted alongside the other FW port. :confused:
     
  16. iMacDragon macrumors 65816

    iMacDragon

    Joined:
    Oct 18, 2008
    Location:
    UK
    #16
    I can confirm a similar 30% cpu drop from my SATA express card on windows, which process explorer has indicated is being caused by hardware interrupts... though it does work fine at least in explorer.

    I'm sure it must be related to the same resource conflict that prevents it working at all in Vista, and not being entirely happy in XP it seems..

    nevertheless it is VERY clear that apple need to issue some form of update to fix this, whatever exactly is wrong in the bootcamp environment setup.
     

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