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OK, thanks again for the help. i set up RTIRQ_NAME_LIST as you suggested, though left in the 'HDA Intel' after "firewire" for keeping the internal soundcard up in real-time priority for when i am working without the FireWire interface.

i did notice that the rtirq script seems to be finding the various "firewire_xxxx" modules/etc. and decrementing the RTIRQ_PRIO_HIGH counter, even though these modules have no corresponding IRQ/tasklet handlers. thus, for my rtirq status, you can see that the decrementing real-time priority used by rtirq skips a few numbers:

Setting IRQ priorities: start [rtc] irq=8 pid=740 prio=90: OK.
Setting IRQ priorities: start [firewire] irq=17 pid=13815 prio=88: OK.
Setting IRQ priorities: start [HDA Intel] irq=22 pid=9391 prio=82: OK.

not sure if it is meant to be this way, or, as you indicated, the string matching is finding "firewire" in "firewire_ohci", "firewire_core", "firewire", etc. and decrementing the counter though there is nothing to do for some of these.

to get things more like they are recommended by FFADO , i made the following changes to RTIRQ_HIGH_LIST:

RTIRQ_HIGH_LIST="hrtimer timer tasklet sched"

so far, things seem to be running stable with less XRUNS, but i have not tested much yet. will update this thread if anything changes.

thanks again for your help.