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Anyone add a CA-10 to a Core5 system for performance reasons?


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I have a pretty big system (over 2000 drivers, apparently) using a Core5 as main controller and also an EA-5 to provide digital audio to a remote building with several zones there.   In my original design (before Core5 released), C4 local installer and regional rep recommended a CA-10 and two EA-5s.    Since the Core5 is supposed to be so much faster, I asked if I still needed a CA-10.  They kind of shrugged, so I skipped it.  Fast forward 1.5 years and I am trying to work through several issues.  When we escalate, C4 support consistently says "with a system this big, we recommend a CA-10--- that could cause issues."   But they won't say exactly why or provide hard specs.  And CPU/Memory on Core5 don't seem to be under stress.

I'm probably going to relent and just put in a CA-10, but is it known how much additional performance (if any) the CA-10 has over the Core5?  I get the point that the Core5 would offload media processing (although my problems don't seem related to when I have multiple media sessions going).  And using Core5 just for digital audio seems like a pretty expensive streamer box (I know it does more, and I will continue to use for Zigbee and I/O-- but still...).

Anyway, anyone have any experience with (or thoughts on) CA-10 performance versus Core5 or with this sort of upgrade helping with resolving glitches ?

Thanks.

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If your issues are not CPU / memory related, you may not need the CA10.

The CA10's CPU is faster than a Core controller, and as you said, one of the benefits to using a CA10 on the system is that it only runs non-IO processes (no audio endpoints, contacts, relays, serial, zigbee, zwave, on-screen, etc.), which allows for your Core controllers' Zigbee and streaming to not have any impact on Director.

Director for the most part (other than network threads) is single-threaded, so any increase in raw CPU power on processor cores running Director is good for the whole system.

I think the main reasons to consider a CA10 are:

  • Large number of (10+) touchscreens or app navigators (iOS and Android), load times on Navigators and apps are much reduced on a dedicated CA10, and servicing Navigators is a heavy lift.
  • Many independent streaming sources (audio3server also runs on the CA10, and buffers the audio provider with the Control4 streaming end devices).
  • Other controllers (EA / Core) providing on-screen.
  • Large projects / many drivers / 3rd party drivers.

RyanE

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Thanks, @RyanE.   I'm going to go for it.

I guess I'm just used to having access to objective benchmarks to compare performance.  I understand that every project is different, etc.  But it would be great to know that running the "standard stress-test project" on Director on ABC device yields XYZ "C4-Marks."   Cynically, I suspect that, for most people for most installs most of the time, even the entry level controller's capabilities are pretty overkill, which info might be bad for business if freely available. 

Although I imagine hardware failures are rare, maybe I'll get some extra comfort from the CA10's high availability features, too

 

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15 hours ago, cnicholson said:

I guess I'm just used to having access to objective benchmarks to compare performance.

Not only is every project different, the CA10 and EA/Core controllers are different CPU architectures, and run different sets of daemons.

It's not just an Apples and Oranges comparison, it's Apples and Limited-slip Differentials.

There's no guarantee the CA10 will make your system faster, but it definitely won't make it slower.

:)

RyanE

 

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3 hours ago, lippavisual said:

What are your problems?

Main annoyance right now is that my AppleTV controls are very flaky.  Constantly getting "Control 4 Connected" / "Disconnected."   Takes a while to start working (if it ever works) and sometimes it double or triple "works"-- meaning each click on aT4 or iOS app yields 2,3 or 4 cursor movements in AppleTV interface, rendering it totally unusable.  Using native iOS Apple TV control widget (or native Apple silver remotes) always works perfectly.    I have ~20 TVs, each with an AppleTV, but Control4 support has not indicated any known issues from "too many Apple TVs" so not sure if a factor or not.

Relatedly (maybe?) I want to get a bunch of Halo remotes, so got two to test and they have *never* worked reliably for voice control, and they share the same problem for Apple TV button controls (generally flakiness and multi-click).  Also I'm seeing a lot of network disconnects.  The Halo stuff might possibly be WiFi related (Unifi), so I don't want to 100% blame Control4 yet.

I'm also having problems controlling Modern Forms (WAC) fans.  There is a new driver, but trying to update drivers bricks the Core5 (will not reboot, need to do the factory reset procedure and roll back to backup project).   

Another issue is that the system sometimes has a 5-10 second delay responding to the first click of the day (lights are lutron panelized homework, using mostly C4 wall keypads via bridge gizmo--Lutron keypads were backordered for 6-9 months when we needed them).    Maybe CA10 will help with this.  IDK.

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Sorry can’t help with your ATV issues.  I don’t own one nor have installed the latest ATV drivers for anyone.  Not a fan of the extra hoops required for the driver but also don’t like Apple in general for many reasons.

I’m a Roku fan and always have been.

Instead of updating the Fan driver, have you tried to just add it in?  Could be the driver that’s causing the crash.

Your Lutron issue is unusual.  Only times I’ve seen delays from C4 keypads to Lutron, is when the zigbee mesh was weak or not setup right.

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I have been following this thread with interest (as a user with 2 really large systems and a CA10 running each).  Both must be touching the 2,000 drivers and devices number. They were both way over 1,000 last time I checked (a few years ago).

A few comments for what they are worth:

1. Sounds like you have various issues that are not necessarily inter-related;

2. While I don’t have as many Apple TVs as you have, they work perfectly on the latest native driver for me.  Your comment about the remotes connecting and disconnecting regularly sounds like a faulty driver causing some sort of C4 refresh (a good dealer should be able to diagnose the root problem - unlikely, in my view, to be the Core5 or the AppleTV driver themselves that are causing this.

3. I moved from an EA5 to a CA10 as my Director (in both houses) and the difference in performance for a large system was exponential.  I hear you that a Core5 becomes a very expensive OSD, IO extender and music box… I had 2 EA5s and multiple EA3s and EA1s in both houses and replaced one of the EA5s and it did feel costly for what I was getting but I still did it… 

4. the big advantages I got out of moving to a CA10 was much faster project load times, much faster navigator refresh times (even though they are slow with my large setup) and noticeable General performance improvements.  The redundancy features were a nice bonus that have never been used but make me feel better about things!  I have only good things to say about the CA10.

good luck

 

 

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On 7/4/2023 at 4:03 PM, cnicholson said:

Main annoyance right now is that my AppleTV controls are very flaky.  Constantly getting "Control 4 Connected" / "Disconnected."   Takes a while to start working (if it ever works) and sometimes it double or triple "works"-- meaning each click on aT4 or iOS app yields 2,3 or 4 cursor movements in AppleTV interface, rendering it totally unusable.  Using native iOS Apple TV control widget (or native Apple silver remotes) always works perfectly.    I have ~20 TVs, each with an AppleTV, but Control4 support has not indicated any known issues from "too many Apple TVs" so not sure if a factor or not.

Relatedly (maybe?) I want to get a bunch of Halo remotes, so got two to test and they have *never* worked reliably for voice control, and they share the same problem for Apple TV button controls (generally flakiness and multi-click).  Also I'm seeing a lot of network disconnects.  The Halo stuff might possibly be WiFi related (Unifi), so I don't want to 100% blame Control4 yet.

I'm also having problems controlling Modern Forms (WAC) fans.  There is a new driver, but trying to update drivers bricks the Core5 (will not reboot, need to do the factory reset procedure and roll back to backup project).   

Another issue is that the system sometimes has a 5-10 second delay responding to the first click of the day (lights are lutron panelized homework, using mostly C4 wall keypads via bridge gizmo--Lutron keypads were backordered for 6-9 months when we needed them).    Maybe CA10 will help with this.  IDK.

We had that issue w appletv and native ip driver. Started and got worse over probably a year. No idea why and it went away completely. I wish I had answer but we’re on latest os now and perhaps that will help or uninstall and reinstall driver. Another thing we did during they time was we found that the appletv had static ip after it stopped connecting. I removed all static ips on Apple TVs and all worked perfectly after. Just don’t recall if the remote issues went away then but giving you a possibility. I know removing static ip is the opposite of what dealers would tell you but they should work without static….Re CA10 we’ve two houses w them and they’re very zippy/snappy. That said we don’t have Core5s but don’t intend to given issues we’ve had w Core1 bugs (even post OS3.3.3 upgrade). 

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OK, so CA-10 going in tomorrow morning.  The proof will be in the pudding in terms of user-perceptible "snappiness" improvements, but anyone have any benchmark ideas I can do as before/after of Core5 versus CA-10.   So far I've timed loading project in composer (Composer host PC constrained?), backup time and refresh navigators.  Anything else worth testing?

I also noted Core5 CPU use at idle (15%, so not a lot of CPU pressure).   RAM usage 4122 MB (out of 6GB?  graph seems about 2/3 full-- but 6GB is a weird amount of RAM).  

Since loops require delays (I believe), not sure if I can do any meaningful CPU saturation tests, but I'm going to play around anyway right now. 

Edit: Counting to 10000 with While loop with 1ms delay takes Core5 121 seconds (so 111 seconds net of delay?)!!!  Much much slower than I thought.  We'll see how CA-10 does.

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17 minutes ago, cnicholson said:

... any benchmark ideas I can do as before/after of Core5 versus CA-10.   So far I've timed loading project in composer (Composer host PC constrained?), backup time and refresh navigators.  Anything else worth testing? 

As I mentioned before, since they're entirely different CPU architectures, it's difficult to compare apples to apples as far as CPU usage, RAM / RAM speed, etc...

The main thing I noticed were that Director restarts were a *lot* faster, Navigators started up faster, and system upgrades (which I do a lot for beta) were also faster.  Navigator / Neeo responsiveness a bit faster, but less noticeable because they both cache a lot of system data.

I hope it helps with some of your odd / lingering system issues.

RyanE

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Wow!  CA-10 is super fast.   Migration clean up stuff still in process, but refresh navigators is more than 6X faster and my "count to 10,000" test is 2.7X faster.   I have 32 cameras and they pop up about as fast as I can scroll, and I thought the Core5 on current software was already pretty fast.  I'm impressed.

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22 minutes ago, cnicholson said:

Wow!  CA-10 is super fast.   Migration clean up stuff still in process, but refresh navigators is more than 6X faster and my "count to 10,000" test is 2.7X faster.   I have 32 cameras and they pop up about as fast as I can scroll, and I thought the Core5 on current software was already pretty fast.  I'm impressed.

Great feedback. Thank you.

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1 hour ago, cnicholson said:

Wow!  CA-10 is super fast.   Migration clean up stuff still in process, but refresh navigators is more than 6X faster and my "count to 10,000" test is 2.7X faster.   I have 32 cameras and they pop up about as fast as I can scroll, and I thought the Core5 on current software was already pretty fast.  I'm impressed.

Great to hear!

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General navigation on T4s seems faster, like switching to "listen" page all the sources populate faster-- and I assumed all this stuff would be cached on the T4.  Switching rooms much faster.   And media stuff seems faster too, like time from selection to music starting and adding/removing zones from session.  Again, stuff that I did not expect to be faster is still faster.   

I'm sure that, in a week, it will just feel "normal," but at the moment it feels like I just replaced a three year old iPhone with the fresh model.  Not an argument that everyone should run out and get one, but definitely noticeable.

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44 minutes ago, cnicholson said:

General navigation on T4s seems faster, like switching to "listen" page all the sources populate faster-- and I assumed all this stuff would be cached on the T4.  Switching rooms much faster.   And media stuff seems faster too, like time from selection to music starting and adding/removing zones from session.  Again, stuff that I did not expect to be faster is still faster.   

I'm sure that, in a week, it will just feel "normal," but at the moment it feels like I just replaced a three year old iPhone with the fresh model.  Not an argument that everyone should run out and get one, but definitely noticeable.

We have CA10s in two houses. The controllers are zippy but C4 should really offer speed comparisons. For example our dealer is v good and high volume but the most they can said is “you should use CA10 in a big house or big project.”  I get the logic but very very surprised C4 doesn’t offer more meat to the argument (CA10 vs EA5 or now Core5). Don’t care if processors/architecture are different — we deserve more color and I think it would benefit c4 to provide it. 

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6 minutes ago, penn65000 said:

We have CA10s in two houses. The controllers are zippy but C4 should really offer speed comparisons. For example our dealer is v good and high volume but the most they can said is “you should use CA10 in a big house or big project.”  I get the logic but very very surprised C4 doesn’t offer more meat to the argument (CA10 vs EA5 or now Core5). Don’t care if processors/architecture are different — we deserve more color and I think it would benefit c4 to provide it. 

I think Control4 trusts it's dealers with when to spec specific hardware.

Giving some kind of 'color' to it doesn't necessarily help, being every client and every dealer have different expectations of what works 'best', and every system is fairly unique.

Networking X # Touchscreens X 3rd party drivers X Lighting X Streaming Audio X  Remote Access X etc...

Change one requirement, the controller *may* merit an upgrade.

RyanE

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1 hour ago, cnicholson said:

General navigation on T4s seems faster, like switching to "listen" page all the sources populate faster-- and I assumed all this stuff would be cached on the T4.  Switching rooms much faster.   And media stuff seems faster too, like time from selection to music starting and adding/removing zones from session.  Again, stuff that I did not expect to be faster is still faster.   

I'm sure that, in a week, it will just feel "normal," but at the moment it feels like I just replaced a three year old iPhone with the fresh model.  Not an argument that everyone should run out and get one, but definitely noticeable.

You are taking me back 3 to 4 years when I felt (and loved) all of these improvements after moving an EA5 to a CA10 in 2 houses.  I will also say that within a few months this simply felt normal and now, a couple of years later (I am sure that) everything has slowed down considerably (probably back to where I was with my EA5 as Director 4 years ago).  I am assuming this is because my project has continued to grow (significantly) and the OS is using more resources… your iPhone example is a good one.  I am upgrading from an iPhone 12 to an iPhone 14 plus tomorrow and am hoping that my C4 app will become more zippy with the upgrade as it has slowed down significantly again in the last couple of months (primarily the last app update or two).

On the topic of iPhones, another big improvement I noticed when I upgraded to a CA10 was the iPhone App loaded way faster.

Edited by South Africa C4 user
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9 minutes ago, penn65000 said:

I get the logic but very very surprised C4 doesn’t offer more meat to the argument (CA10 vs EA5 or now Core5).

Agreed.  But, as a cynical capitalist, I suspect the real situation is that too much raw data would convince a lot of people that they should step DOWN to a cheaper product and not step UP to a more expensive one, which could be bad for business.   It seems like C4 has a pretty efficient design and even a small controller would not face CPU pressure the vast majority of time.  It's just idling waiting for event driven requests and then dispatches those requests essentially immediately.   It's only for "batch" operations that you really notice the speed.

CA10 seems like it is a niche product to begin with, but it would be ideal for me if they offered something (maybe call it a "Media-8" box) that did not run Director, but could be paired with a CA-series (no I/O or Media) box and offered more I/O and media performance/channels than the Core5 but at around the same price as a Core5.  But I don't expect them to further clutter the line-up just for edge cases.

 

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