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amungus
Premium
join:2004-11-26
America
Reviews:
·Cox HSI
·KCH Cable

[WIN7] Media Center stutter bug - fix?

I've just about had it with the frame rate stutter in WMC
(see: »support.microsoft.com/kb/2658140 - and »experts.windows.com/w/experts_wiki/71.aspx)

Person of Interest, for example, (on CBS) is painful to watch via my Media Center.

Wondering if anyone else has run across this "bug" in their HTPC, and had "better luck" with an nVidia Geforce 430.
Currently have an ATI 3450, which is fine for HD playback (except for this stutter on certain TV channels/shows)

Not wanting to throw money at this without some assurance that it helps.

Since Microsoft seems to be content ignoring this problem, I'm not hopeful that they will bother fixing it any time this decade. It seems that the only "solution" is to try another GPU, so I'm just seeing if anyone else with an HTPC / WMC has seen this and has experienced a true improvement with a better graphics card.

(rant)
For the record, it still pisses me off that MS acknowledges this "bug" and refuses to do anything about it (note that their article is even up to date as of this year with no resolution). Seems quite likely that this is the result of DRM chaos in the "video pipeline" which checks for the potential of a person being "an evil pirate" every few milliseconds. (see: »www.google.com/search?q=vista+dr···lisecond) This started in Vista, and is obviously still in 7....
...Could they not just adjust the "pipeline" checks to be less frequent, at LEAST for, ahem, their own software (WMC), and fix this for good?

I mean, their own Xbox has zero stutter on the same content, with a rather outdated GPU... It's not a hardware problem. I'm also not about to wastefully place a 360 right next to my main media center...
(/end rant)

---Moderator note--- if this fits better in the A/V forum, please move. Thanks.


Octavean
Premium,MVM
join:2001-03-31
New York, NY
kudos:1
I’ve come across a number of stutter problems in the past and I have used every version of Media Center released from the first version to the current one. One cause was an AMD chipset driver issue if I recall correctly but most others were codec related. In some cases installing some video editing software would cause problems due to the codecs it installed. There was a Microsoft utility that helpt you sort the decoders being used by Media Center.

Anyway, my point is I have seen a number of different causes of stutter and it isn’t necessarily a Microsoft problem. At least nothing like a black screen coming out of standby mode.

What I find perplexing about your cited issue is that you say it only occurs on “certain TV channels/shows”. That’s odd,…. Intermittent issues aren’t easy to deal with,….

For what its worth I have a Sapphire HD 3470 in my living room Media Center system with no stutter on 1080i / 720p Clear QAM live TV and recorded TV. It also handles 1080i / 720p H.264 / AVCHD based live TV and recorded TV (.wtv) which are more demanding. I don’t think the ATI 3450 is likely very different but not sure of the specs. My bedroom Media Center system uses an nVidia 9500GT which was fairly cheap and handles the same .wtv files just fine.

What is your entire hardware configuration,….?

amungus
Premium
join:2004-11-26
America
Reviews:
·Cox HSI
·KCH Cable
It's an AMD, X2 something-or-other, 2GB DDR2, win 7, ATI 3450, Hauppauge 2250.. had issues since day 1 on clear QAM, but only certain channels/shows.

I've seen the exact issue as shown on the youtube clip that's seen in the 1st link. For content that appears to flicker between 29.9/59Hz, there is visible stutter in the video, live or recorded.
Sports, for example, don't have this problem.
It's only on content that is from 24fps source material - commercials, and most TV shows. Generally, by the time it's broadcasted, it gets converted to 1080i. Something about the way that it is re-encoded during this process, to whatever bitrate/resolution/framerate/etc. causes the decoder in Media Center to sort of freak out.

I can see your point on not blaming Microsoft entirely, but when a freshly built machine, with current drivers, and no extraneous codecs has this problem, and Microsoft themselves report it as "known" then I have to place the ball in their court on this one.

Sure, the broadcaster may have some blame perhaps (due to some quirk with their encoder not handling 24fps content in a perfect, pristine way), but their content doesn't seem to affect anything else other than Media Center on a PC running Windows, and that has to mean that the problem is ultimately the responsibility of the software in between the source (broadcast), and the final display. When the video data gets passed to an Xbox 360 (as an extender), there is zero issue, because it's already "trusted" and doesn't monitor its "video pipeline."

...at least.. that's the only conclusion I can reach which would explain why Microsoft has yet to address this in a meaningful way... They fear admitting that this may be the problem, and are reluctant to introduce such a change in the "guts" of their re-vamped system.

amungus
Premium
join:2004-11-26
America
Reviews:
·Cox HSI
·KCH Cable
reply to Octavean
Found it...

From: »www.cs.auckland.ac.nz/~pgut001/p···ost.html

With the introduction of tilt bits, all of this designed-in resilience is gone. Every little (normally
unnoticeable) glitch is suddenly surfaced because it could be a sign of a hack attack, with the required
reaction being that (from the spec) “Windows Vista will initiate a full reset of the graphics subsystem, so
everything will restart”. According to Microsoft this will only take a few seconds and will only affect
the graphics subsystem (so it's not a complete restart of Vista), but the true impact of this mechanism
remains to be seen.
In addition even if it's relatively quick, systems with high availability requirements
probably won't appreciate the overhead of periodic soft-reboots of the graphics subsystem. So the effect
that these tilt bits will have on system reliability should require no further explanation.

...it just seems like this has to have some bearing on the situation...

In any case, I guess I'll consider trying a GeForce 430 to see if it helps.


Octavean
Premium,MVM
join:2001-03-31
New York, NY
kudos:1
To be honest, I’m still not entirely sure of your platform configuration but I can tell you this. When I was beta testing Windows 7 and even later when Windows 7 went gold I found my AMD Athlon 64 X2 4800+ and X2 3200+ based system to be too unpredictable in behavior under the new OS. It worked sure but it never seemed quite right so I abandoned the platform for something newer. The motherboards in this case were an Asus A8N-SLI Deluxe and an Asus A8N32-SLI Deluxe.

Anyway, even a well document problem may not be very widespread. For example I don’t think I have ever come across it as a root cause personally (that may be neither here nor there though). Still if a new video card will address the problem then it might be worth a shot, especially so if the video card is cheap. Generally speaking though, I may have seen a momentary skip lasting a fraction of a second when the resolution or possibly frame rate changes but no stuttering after that. Most transitions probably go unnoticed.

As for tuners I have four Silicondust HDHomeRun units for Clear QAM (HD / SD). I also use a Hauppauge HD PVR USB unit and a Hauppauge Colossus PCIe card (bedroom / living room respectively) for premium HD recordings off the cable box(es).

amungus
Premium
join:2004-11-26
America
Reviews:
·Cox HSI
·KCH Cable
Sorry for incomplete details on the platform. I'm going from memory.

The mobo on this thing is some odd MSI I was given, can't remember the model # off the top of my head... AM2 platform...
Never had issues with my other AMD X2 rigs, except for one that had a ECS board (those have never been good IMO).

I know my media center box isn't "top of the line" by any means - it was built (ahem, "thrown together out of old misc parts" except for the tuner card) at first to see if it'd be a viable solution, and since it performed adequately, I've basically left it alone...

Couple updates here and there as I cycled through parts etc. (bigger hard drive, better power supply, newer optical drive), couple tweaks for things like larger pause buffer was one of the 1st, couple other registry tweaks for misc. things, codecs added later for FLAC audio, and then some video ones. Otherwise I don't play with it much.

One nifty program that I can't say enough good about - "Input Director" - pretty cool to control it with a laptop on the couch when needed. No need for a separate keyboard/mouse ...supreme lazyness

It's basically been "rock solid" for what it is...
Someday, I would like to build a "nice one," but what started as an experiment has done fine for the past year + now, and I feel like I should get some more usefulness out of it before moving on and spending any significant money on something nicer/newer.

Anyway, yeah, I think the new card route is where I'm headed. $30 after MIR is worth a shot

Always wanted the HD PVR, those are nifty!

amungus
Premium
join:2004-11-26
America
Reviews:
·Cox HSI
·KCH Cable
reply to amungus
GeForce 430 to the rescue.

Zero frame rate stutter.

Had to tweak one setting though, as there were some odd blanking issues where stutter once was. It seemed like a split second of blank screen in places.

Still see the diagnostic screen showing the frame rate changes, but video now appears smooth, where it was once unbearable.

Media center response is also smoother, and it was worth the purchase.

Now I just have to convince myself that a 550Ti (or better) is next for my main desktop