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678 posts

Ultimate Geek
+1 received by user: 57


  Reply # 605886 5-Apr-2012 20:57 Send private message

huckster: Well, 8500GT seems to bite the dust whenever I stress it out, so I've order one of the ASUS cards mentioned previously.


Which one have you ordered?  The corruption is still hit and miss to be honest, one reset it works... The other it doesn't..  I don't believe the 5450 I have is powerfull enough with decoding.  Should I move to nvida or should I still with AMD?  Either way, suggestions would be great!  

871 posts

Ultimate Geek
+1 received by user: 21

Trusted

  Reply # 605889 5-Apr-2012 21:08 Send private message

I for one am still interested to see your logs, even if you think they are irrelevant. It is a two minute job to collect them...



678 posts

Ultimate Geek
+1 received by user: 57


  Reply # 605891 5-Apr-2012 21:16 Send private message

Ah sorry mm, completely forgot about that.  I've got time tomorrow morning as the gf is at yoga meaning I can get the HTPC plugged back in (currently on sky box for her use).

147 posts

Master Geek
+1 received by user: 9


  Reply # 605899 5-Apr-2012 21:36 Send private message

Benoire:
huckster: Well, 8500GT seems to bite the dust whenever I stress it out, so I've order one of the ASUS cards mentioned previously.


Which one have you ordered?  The corruption is still hit and miss to be honest, one reset it works... The other it doesn't..  I don't believe the 5450 I have is powerfull enough with decoding.  Should I move to nvida or should I still with AMD?  Either way, suggestions would be great!  


The ASUS 430GT Silent thing. http://www.asus.com/Graphics_Cards/NVIDIA_Series/ENGT430_DC_SLDI1GD3/

As mentioned previously, this is for the non-living room HTPC where I have tended to run a MediaPortal client although it does have a TV Server too - I often switch between the two.

The main one is an AMD-based thing - onboard HD3200. The Mrs is watching a movie at the mo so I'm going from memory here - think I use the Cyberlink codec for H.264 and a pretty old version of Catalyst. Once I stumbled across a set of codecs/drivers that worked, I never touched them again. I don't use the MS ones (it's Windows 7 64-bit).

When I get a chance, I will confirm both.



678 posts

Ultimate Geek
+1 received by user: 57


  Reply # 606073 6-Apr-2012 12:29 Send private message

mm1352000: I for one am still interested to see your logs, even if you think they are irrelevant. It is a two minute job to collect them...


Hi MM, I've got the logs from the TV Server app: https://skydrive.live.com/redir.aspx?cid=aabfbfafb9bfa035&resid=AABFBFAFB9BFA035!2263&parid=AABFBFAFB9BFA035!122&authkey=!AICRWAuPH-8PBzc

Have a look at them.  I honestly think after playing with the system that it is GPU related.  SD channels are fine genearally, perhaps a little more interlacing options would help but they play smoothyl.  The HD channels are not corrupted any more, just you can see the interlace from frame to frame which I think means the 5450 is not quick enough.

While I'm here, is there anyway to get MediaPortal to display the now and next like Windows Media Centre?  I prefer the mini-tv guide option with 4 channels as this gives greater clarity regarding what is on...

Thanks!   

871 posts

Ultimate Geek
+1 received by user: 21

Trusted

  Reply # 606104 6-Apr-2012 13:37 Send private message

Hi again Chris

Cheers for the logs. The only issue I can see there is when you tuned Sky Movies 2 on 12644H at about 10:30 - looks like you may have had signal interference issues at the time. That frequency can sometimes be affected by ~1.8 GHz DECT phones. The MediaPortal client logs obviously aren't available, so I don't have the full picture...

While I'm here, is there anyway to get MediaPortal to display the now and next like Windows Media Centre?  I prefer the mini-tv guide option with 4 channels as this gives greater clarity regarding what is on...

Not sure what/how WMC shows, but try pressing [enter/return] or the [y] key.

mm



678 posts

Ultimate Geek
+1 received by user: 57


  Reply # 606136 6-Apr-2012 15:30 Send private message

mm1352000: Hi again Chris

Cheers for the logs. The only issue I can see there is when you tuned Sky Movies 2 on 12644H at about 10:30 - looks like you may have had signal interference issues at the time. That frequency can sometimes be affected by ~1.8 GHz DECT phones. The MediaPortal client logs obviously aren't available, so I don't have the full picture...

While I'm here, is there anyway to get MediaPortal to display the now and next like Windows Media Centre?  I prefer the mini-tv guide option with 4 channels as this gives greater clarity regarding what is on...

Not sure what/how WMC shows, but try pressing [enter/return] or the [y] key.

mm



Ahh sorry, thought you wanted the TV server ones.  I've set the client to verbose logging so when I next power the system up I will get the logs.  There was an issue where I wasn't actually running Oscam but didn't realise it and MP just states no signal where as there was but it wasn't being decoded.


The mini guide for WMC7 looks like this:




This is how I prefer the now/next screen rather than the standard MP one that all skins use.  Is it possible to skin MP to act in this way?  If so, I might have a go at creating a skin that is simple like WMC7 but contains all the decent stuff that makes MP so much better.  

871 posts

Ultimate Geek
+1 received by user: 21

Trusted

  Reply # 606137 6-Apr-2012 15:44 Send private message

There is no skin that I'm aware of that uses that particular layout. The y button shows you now/next for the current channel; the enter button gives you now/next for 7 channels; then you've got the full guide. You can put MP into an overlay mode where the guide is transparent - try the second button from the right (the square thing) on the top bar (hover your mouse near the top of the screen). Not sure if there is a hotkey for that.



678 posts

Ultimate Geek
+1 received by user: 57


  Reply # 606141 6-Apr-2012 15:47 Send private message

Cool thanks, saves me having to spare looking for one!  I might have a go at creating one then...

13 posts

Geek


  Reply # 606142 6-Apr-2012 15:47 Send private message

I have to say I definitely prefer the Mediaportal miniepg (Enter key) over the Windows one. I reckon the seven channels it displays gives greater clarity regarding what's on (In StreamedMP atleast).



678 posts

Ultimate Geek
+1 received by user: 57


  Reply # 606144 6-Apr-2012 15:51 Send private message

I guess the problem is it just shows now and next, not now, next and after or a particular time slot.  I'm used to this layout from the UK Sky boxes, and WMC7... It's not bad, I just think it is not very elegant.  Of course this is a personal opinion :)



678 posts

Ultimate Geek
+1 received by user: 57


  Reply # 606359 7-Apr-2012 11:40 Send private message

Hi MM,

Here is a link to the Client logs:

https://skydrive.live.com/redir.aspx?cid=aabfbfafb9bfa035&resid=AABFBFAFB9BFA035!2264&parid=AABFBFAFB9BFA035!122&authkey=!APwkkfrGmUzIOwM

Hopefully this will contain everything you wanted to see?

871 posts

Ultimate Geek
+1 received by user: 21

Trusted

  Reply # 606392 7-Apr-2012 14:00 Send private message

Hi again

Cheers for the logs.

It is obvious from the TsReader (transport stream file splitter) and EVR (video renderer) logs that frames are getting dropped left right and centre because they are arriving late to the renderer. In my experience, the most common cause of that is that the video codec is struggling to keep up decoding the stream... and that could reflect CPU or GPU overloading, or more rarely a general issue with the codec handling the particular stream type.

The HD channels that you tested are broadcast with h.264 video and AC3 audio. Decoding the audio is not going to be the problem here; if it was, you'd most likely get silent playback. The video decoding on the other hand is quite a compute intensive process.

Getting smooth h.264 video playback is an issue of managing the load on the CPU and GPU. When I say "managing", I mean choosing codecs that use (or can be configured to use) specific hardware to decode the video to avoid overloading either the CPU or GPU. In most cases with modern GPUs I would recommend using the GPU's hardware accelerated video decoding (DXVA) capabilities. The dedicated hardware that is used to implement DXVA is probably going to use less power to perform the decoding than a general purpose CPU would, and using the GPU frees up the CPU to handle other tasks. However in some cases it is necessary to force the CPU to decode the video because the GPU is not powerful enough or doesn't support DXVA.

So it becomes a question of hardware utilisation and codec choices.

Can your HD 5450 decode 1080i h.264?
Stating the obvious: the HD 5450 supports DXVA for h.264, which is a good start. From reviews we expect that the answer should be yes, with a few conditions:
- display output resolution is not greater than 1920x1200
- post-processing effects are disabled

Note that this assumes that you don't have some kind of crippled (lower core or memory clock, narrower memory interface) version of the HD 5450. Clocks on passive cards are often dropped to meet thermal constraints, and that can be a problem.

Can your 2.8 GHz Phenom 2 CPU decode 1080i h.264?
I would suspect from what you've said that the answer is no. Especially since you have the additional overhead (~30% CPU???) from MDAPI/FFDESCA to consider. I'll come back to this point later.

Based on the answers to the above questions, my goal is to ensure you are using codecs that are going to use your GPU to decode the video.

So let's talk codecs. Your current TV codec settings (as per MediaPortal.xml) are:
<entry name="audiocodec">LAV Audio Decoder</entry>
<entry name="videocodec">LAV Video Decoder</entry>
<entry name="h264videocodec">ffdshow MPEG-4 Video Decoder</entry>
<entry name="audiorenderer">AMD HDMI Output (AMD High Defin</entry>
<entry name="aacaudiocodec">LAV Audio Decoder</entry>
<entry name="ddplusaudiocodec">Microsoft DTV-DVD Audio Decoder</entry>


Given the channels that you're having problems with, the most important settings here are the h264videocodec ("H.264 Video decoder") and audiocodec ("MPEG / AC3 audio decoder").

I've already said that I don't think audio is a problem - the LAV codec should do a fine job on that front. On the other hand, the ffdshow video codec is not a choice I would recommend for you. Why? Because it can't use the GPU to help to decode the video. There is a version of ffdshow that can utilise the GPU, but it looks like you haven't got that version installed.

Let's take a step back for a moment. The options that you have based on the currently installed codecs on that system are:
- Microsoft
- LAV
- ffdshow
- CoreAVC

Of those, only the Microsoft and CoreAVC codecs *may* actually use your GPU to help decoding the video. Those would be the codecs I would suggest you stick to.

Getting back to the ffdshow codec: I've said that I don't recommend it in this case because it doesn't use the GPU, but actually that is only half the story. I can see in the logs that MediaPortal is determining that it can't actually use the ffdshow codec and is falling back to using the CoreAVC codec.

So what you're seeing is CoreAVC failing to decode the video. Does that indicate your GPU is overloaded? Maybe. The CoreAVC codec allows DXVA support to be turned on or off. By default I think it is off, which would mean that it is not using your GPU (which I would not recommend for you).

My first suggestion would be that you first fire up MediaPortal configuration and switch to using the CoreAVC codec (that is assuming that the Microsoft codec is not working for you).
My second suggestion would be to find the CoreAVC configuration (there should be a "CoreCodec\CoreAVC Professional Edition" folder in your start menu with a "Configure CoreAVC" shortcut), and ensure the "acceleration" setting on the "options" tab is set to "DXVA".

If those two suggestions don't help, then the next thing to confirm is that the GPU is actually being utilised in that context. Open up task manager (ctrl + alt + del) while running MP and viewing an HD channel, and check what the CPU load is. It may be of interest to try that in both full screen mode and windowed mode (press alt + enter to switch between modes).

If the CPU is clearly peaking out then we assume the GPU is not being utilised. You can check Catalyst Control Center to confirm. In this situtation I would download and run DXVA Checker (http://bluesky23.yu-nagi.com/en/#DXVAChecker) to ensure the version of catalyst that you have installed supports DXVA (which it should - this is just a double-check really). Troubleshooting beyond that point requires checking codec installation and DirectShow graphs, which is out of scope at the moment.

If the GPU is overloaded then we need to consider how to reduce the load on the GPU or improve the GPU's performance. I'm talking deinterlacing algorithms and GPU overclocking here.

If the CPU and GPU are not overloaded then we need to consider things like display refresh rate. Ideally source frame rate should match the display refresh rate.

----------------------------------------------------------------------
Some final comments that don't really fit into the above discussion...

1. If we open the field to codecs that you don't have installed, then I could suggest the following codecs (in order of recommendation):
- Cyberlink (from Power DVD) [OEM software can be useful for getting free versions of this codec]
- ffdshow DXVA [free!!!]
- Arcsoft
- DivX [free!!!]

2. Why does ESPN HD work better when the other channels don't?
Because the video stream is 1280x720p which is easier for your CPU (or GPU) to decode than 1920x1080i. Lower resolution and no deinterlacing required. The difference in processing required for 720p vs 1080i could certainly tip your CPU (or GPU) into overload territory.

3. I recommend you check your deinterlacing settings.
Deinterlacing can usually be performed by either the CPU or GPU, just like video decoding.

CoreAVC (see the CoreAVC configuration - options tab under "deinterlacing" on the right) allows you to specify "none (weave)", "single field", "bob" or "hardware" (with an "aggressive" option).
MediaPortal allows you to specify a "fallback de-interlace mode" in the "TV" section of MediaPortal configuration ("none", "bob", "weave", "best").
Catalyst Control Center allows you to specify a deinterlacing algorithm (eg. bob, motion adaptive, vector adaptive).

From an image quality and power efficiency perspective I would recommend using the HD 5450's hardware deinterlacing capabilities if it is at all possible. To do that, set CoreAVC to "hardware", MediaPortal to "none" (I think you currently have it set to "best"), and after that the control in CCC should allow you to specify the algorithm. Generally, the further you can move the slider to the right (towards "vector adaptive"), the better. If we find that your GPU is being overloaded when decoding and deinterlacing 1080i then you can try using a simpler algorithm (for example, "motion adaptive"), or you may be forced to set CoreAVC to do the deinterlacing [using the CPU].

mm
PS: sorry for the length - I hope the comments help though. 



678 posts

Ultimate Geek
+1 received by user: 57


  Reply # 606536 7-Apr-2012 23:01 Send private message

Wow thanks for the response MM, much appreciated.

Now I've got to formulate a response!

Firslty it appears that the logs I gave where when I was running the FFDshow codec, rather then the CoreAVC ones, so that should be the problem with the cpu stuff but anyhow on to that now.

Lets talk about the CPU.

The system is an AMD Phenom II tri-core at 2.8Ghz with 4Gb RAM.  I reselected CoreAVC from the list and with Sky Movies HD running I had an average usage of 21% CPU across all three cores as shown below:



The CPU even when running MP on an HD channel with an HD Youtube running never went above 40% CPU. and occupied around 1.8Gb of RAM. 

I 've gone through the settings as you suggested and removed all software interlacing where I can, including the CoreAVC stuff, enabled DXVA and gone in the CCC and set it to the lowest options there.  I'm still getting rendering issues.

Reading through your initial words, when you state that the frames are being dropped I don't believe it is the CPU as the office PC when connected to the TV Server can stream HD channels fine and tghe HTPC doesn't use more than 10% for Mdapi/FFDecsa/ACAMD.  I'm firmly of the believe that the 5450 just does not have the grunt.

I was using a core2duo before the Phenom II and that did have issues as it was corrupting the screen with blocks, in addition to the interlace issues... This new setup has no problems at all in that regard, just the annoying frame rate/interlacing!

I also think the 5450 is a gimped version... I think it is the 'green' passive one with the 64bit bus interface and slower memory/core...

I'm now looking at a GT430 as I know they are better for what I need (extensive reviewing and reading has shown that to me) but I'd be curious to know if you have any further thoughts?  I can get the system running again and grab the logs with DXVA enabled and running if you want?  I really do appreciate the help, I'm still new to the HTPC scene so learning about the best configs/codecs as well as software to use!

Cheers,

Chris         

147 posts

Master Geek
+1 received by user: 9


  Reply # 607065 9-Apr-2012 15:03 Send private message

FYI my AMD-based HTPC uses Cyberlink as the H.264 decoder.

430GT has arrived and in the other PC is working just fine with ffdshow. Yet to test others.

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