The CPU & Memory Panel displays the CPU, polyphony & memory usage for the project. See the CPU Panel videos here.
The values shown in the CPU panel are not RAM, they are memory address space. If that's confusing, read on: The amount of physical RAM your PC has does not restrict how much memory programs can use. Adding more RAM to your PC does not give FL Studio more memory to play with. Each program is allocated working memory address space by the operating system where it can save and retrieve working data. 32 Bit programs max out at 4 GB per program (although there are workarounds, see 'FL Studio 32 Bit Memory Management' below). 64 Bit programs can access up to 8 TB per program. If there are 4 programs running, there could be 16 GB (32 Bit) to 32 TB (64 Bit) of memory in use between them. As noted, the amount of RAM your PC has nothing to do with this. But there is a catch:
Why we need RAM - If there is not enough RAM to hold the data in working memory data, the Operating System shares the available RAM among the active programs and makes up for any shortfall by putting the remaining data in a file, on your operating system disk/SSD drive as an extension to RAM. If this happens the working memory for FL Studio may be located on your physical RAM (winner!), disk/SSD Page File (loser) or a combination of the two (win some lose some). It should be clear that the more physical RAM you have, the more likely it is FL Studio will always win the RAM allocation 'lottery' and have all working data stored in RAM. As physical RAM is much faster than the hard-drive, FL Studio will run faster and be less likely to experience buffer underruns as audio data is swapped (slowly) off the SSD/disk. See a video on this topic here. NOTE: RAM (20 to 50 GB/s) is still many times faster than an SSD (0.5 to 1 GB/s), so page files still lose.
Why show 'available' memory for FL Studio 32 Bit and not FL Studio 64 Bit - As 32 Bit programs have access to 4 GB of memory, it's quite possible you will exceed that amount. In this case, available memory would drop to 0. If this happens FL Studio will probably crash or start behaving unpredictably, so it matters. FL Studio 64 Bit has access to 8 TB of memory (8000 GB). You will never use that much memory. It's not useful to know that you have 7.936 TB available (64 GB in use). We do show how much memory is used so you can compare that to how much RAM you have, for the reasons discussed above.
If you open the Windows Task Manager and examine the number of cores used and their relative loading you may wonder why your CPU seems to be under-utilized. This may come as a surprise since some marketing departments make a lot of noise about their multi-core 'optimizations'. What controls core assignment? - The Windows Scheduler is responsible for the core assignment, not FL Studio. To complicate matters, logic dictates that many tasks can't be processed in parallel. Let's look at the FL Studio CPU meter vs the Operating System CPU meter in some more detail by considering Metrics and time-scales:
Let's think about the logic of audio processing. There are often long lists of tasks that must be processed in sequence, they logically can't be simultaneously multithreaded. For example: Plugins must wait for instructions from the Piano roll and Playlist before they make sound. Effects must wait for the audio stream from an instrument plugin before they can process it. Further, it's not possible to parallel-process instruments and FX on the same Mixer channel, or even in the same Mixer routing pipe-line (when one Mixer track is linked to another and another, even FX processing has an order). Then, the Master Mixer track must wait for every instrument > mixer track > effect to be processed before it can process the audio through the Master effects. So logically, there is a lot of waiting that is a natural part of music processing. This means the CPU may not be particularly busy when compared to what it could be doing, yet it runs out of time to fill that tiny 5 ms audio-buffer because so much of what happens must be processed sequentially. TIP: It should be clearer why fast single-core CPU performance is still key when audio processing. When buying a CPU, look for the fastest single-core performance scores, in a package with at least 4 or more physical cores.
So what can you do to minimize 'CPU waiting' and improve multi-core performance? - Make sure that your highest CPU using plugins are routed to independent Mixer Tracks without shared 'Send' Channels. Multi-core CPUs need computational tasks that can be run simultaneously and so split across cores. Each Mixer Track represents an 'opportunity' to create these independent, parallel, processing paths. Each unit in the audio chain from the instrument through to the Mixer track and the effects must be processed in sequence on the same core. If one mixer track is linked to another, then all the instruments and effects on both Mixer Tracks now have a dependency and can't be split across cores efficiently. Symptoms of this situation are audio glitches as individual cores max-out and cause underruns while the overall CPU load still appears to be low. In summary, here is how multi-threading works:
Testing - If you are testing and comparing CPU loads it is the number of plugins and/or effects that can be processed without buffer underruns. The FL Studio internal CPU meter best reflects this measure (see above). Don't obsess about how cores are used, particularly at low CPU levels, since the Scheduler will try to reduce power consumption by parking (switching off) cores at low CPU load and then turn everything on and even out this distribution as CPU load approaches 100%. See some more information here.
See the tutorial video here.
To use the 64 Bit version of FL Studio, run the ..\FL Studio\FL64.exe executable file. We recommend using the 64 Bit version of FL Studio if you have made the switch to a 64 Bit VST library and or you have projects using more than 4 GB.
NOTE: - Ideally you should restrict use of 32 Bit plugins to FL Studio 32 Bit and 64 Bit plugins to FL Studio 64 Bit. In practice we know this isn't always possible, but keep in mind that bridging adds a small CPU load and the bridge can be another point of failure where a plugin can crash. If you have trouble with a 32 Bit bridged plugin, please report it to Tech Support and try to use the 64 Bit version if one is available.
NOTE: You must be using Windows 64 Bit to run FL64.exe. The 64 Bit executable is installed to '..\Program Files (x86)\Image-Line\FL Studio\FL64.exe' rather than '..\Program Files\Image-Line\FL Studio\FL64.exe' as is usually the case for 64 Bit programs.
If you are using the 32 Bit version of FL Studio, the options below will allow you to use more than 4 GB of memory, according to your Windows version:
'Keep on disk' and 'Bridged mode' will significantly lower the memory required by FL Studio. Together they will allow you to run projects to the limits of your PC's capability and operating system (32 or 64 Bit).
NOTE: Ideally you should restrict use of 32 Bit plugins to FL Studio 32 Bit and 64 Bit plugins to FL Studio 64 Bit. In practice we know this isn't always possible, but keep in mind that bridging adds a small CPU load and the bridge can be another point of failure where a plugin can crash. If you have trouble with a 64 Bit bridged plugin, please report it to Tech Support and use the 32 Bit version if one is available.
Increasing FL Studio working memory allocation - There is an 'FL.exe' file in the FL Studio installation directory. Using this to start FL Studio after making the following changes to your Windows operating system will give FL Studio access to 3 GB or 4 GB (up from 2 GB) depending on your OS:
NOTE: From FL Studio 11 onward the 'FL (extended memory).exe' has been renamed 'FL.exe' and is the default executable after installation.
Open the ..\FL Studio\FL64.exe executable file and load your project. The 64 Bit version of FL Studio has no memory limitations, apart from those that apply to 64 Bit Windows. 32 Bit plugins will be automatically bridged to 64 Bit, although we recommend using 64 Bit versions of plugins in the 64 Bit version of FL Studio, where possible. NOTE: If you are using Windows 32 Bit then FL Studio 64 Bit won't run on your computer.