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Topic # 64295 12-Jul-2010 23:30
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Hi,

I am running Windows 7 Media Center as my HTPC solution, got an EPG working  and in general am pretty happy with it. I have one annoying problem when watching TV however and that is when I skip forward 30 seconds I often find that one of the following occurs:

* The sound and picture freezes for anywhere from 2-30 seconds
* Audio starts playing but video doesn't playing for 10-30 seconds
* Audio and video stutters for a while

In each case the sound and video eventually returns and starts playing normally.

I have a 3Ghz Core 2 Duo processor and a GeForce 8600 GT graphics card. During playback of any channel including HD channels the CPU usage tends to almost be nothing indicating that the GPU is doing the h.264 decoding.

The problems occur on all channels - both HD like TV/2TV3 and SD like C4/Prime, however I have notices the CPU spikes a bit on TV3 (30-40%) but doesn't seem to on C4 or Prime.

Anyone else having these sorts of problems?

Based on watching the Performance Monitor the box doesn't seem to be CPU starved, so would a high-end graphics card fix the problem?

I am running Microsoft's latest drivers for the 8600 GT?

Any suggestions would be appreciated.

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  Reply # 350646 13-Jul-2010 13:31
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How much RAM and what kind of HDD have you got? From another thread there are some issues with the Green drives not keeping up.







Media centre PC - Case Silverstone LC16M with 2 X 80mm AcoustiFan DustPROOF, MOBO Gigabyte MA785GT-UD3H, CPU AMD X2 240 under volted, RAM 4 Gig DDR3 1033, HDD 120Gig System/512Gig data, Tuners 2 X Hauppauge HVR-3000, 1 X HVR-2200, Video Palit GT 220, Sound Realtek 886A HD (onboard), Optical LiteOn DH-401S Blue-ray using TotalMedia Theatre Power Corsair VX Series, 450W ATX PSU OS Windows 7 x64



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Geek


  Reply # 350658 13-Jul-2010 13:55
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I have 4GB of ram and are running Windows 7 64 Bit.

Re the hard drive, Media Ceneter is recording to a 1 TB drive which I don't think is a green one, but I also have other drives that store video etc which are 2TB and are green drives. From memory the disk is 7200RPM.

The hard drive is an interesting point which I hadn't thought of.

Is there a way I can by software messure in a definitive way the amount of load on the hard disk which would prove that it is to blame?

The interesting thing is that the problem still occur which SD channels which would have a far lower data rate.

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  Reply # 350978 13-Jul-2010 17:57
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How full is the video disk? Could be very fragmented if it's kept full and that combined with being a green (5400?)...But it does sound like a disk issue.






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  Reply # 351023 13-Jul-2010 19:10
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I own PerfectDisk 10 and I got it to check the HD and it was a little bit fragmented but wasn't bad. The disk in question is 1TB in size and about half full.

I did a test where I watched disk activity with the Resource Monitor app (on the Performance Tab in the task manager) and watched the disk activity graph.

I then proceeded to play some TV shows and skip forward and back a lot to see force the problem to occur. I found the was a direct correlation between times where the playback halted or spluttered and the disk activity spiking very high and returning to low again at the exact same time that playback returned.

So it looks like the HD could definitely be the source (or at least part of) the problem.

I am currently defragging the disk, but might try and buy a really fast high performance disk to see if that fixes the problem.

Thanks for your help and suggestions.

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  Reply # 351118 13-Jul-2010 21:46
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One thing to also keep in mind although it sounds like you have it setup that way already is to keep the OS and the recording location on different physical disks. I was having issues when I tried to just use on big disk which went away as soon as I moved the OS to a separate disk.

As for which disk to get does not need to be too extreme just a middle of the road 7200RPM disk should be enough.







Media centre PC - Case Silverstone LC16M with 2 X 80mm AcoustiFan DustPROOF, MOBO Gigabyte MA785GT-UD3H, CPU AMD X2 240 under volted, RAM 4 Gig DDR3 1033, HDD 120Gig System/512Gig data, Tuners 2 X Hauppauge HVR-3000, 1 X HVR-2200, Video Palit GT 220, Sound Realtek 886A HD (onboard), Optical LiteOn DH-401S Blue-ray using TotalMedia Theatre Power Corsair VX Series, 450W ATX PSU OS Windows 7 x64

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  Reply # 351215 14-Jul-2010 08:27
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Not sure what other w7 features you might be able to turn off to get better performance on the disk. System restore? One other test you could do is make a really short record like 5mins and and see if it has the same problem seeking in it. I guess with Freeview HD you're dealing with pretty big files and maybe the green disk just can't keep up I would be surprised though.






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  Reply # 352758 17-Jul-2010 17:58
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Well, I picked up a new HD on Friday and swapped it over my existing recording disk. It was a Western Digital Caviar Black 7200rpm 2000GB drive which is pretty much as high end you are going to get.

Any I transferred all the previously recorded TV shows across to the disk and did some simple timing tests and the new disk was indeed faster than the previous disk. Sadly however it did not fix my issues with audio/visual spluttering after skipping forward in Media Center.

Sometimes when I skipped forward it would start playing instantaneously, but other times it would get stuck spluttering for up to 30 seconds.

I am now thinking that the problem must be the graphics card or the CPU not being fast enough.

Thanks for the suggestions though - I can always use a fast HD and the extra space.

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  Reply # 352893 18-Jul-2010 09:10
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Sorry to hear that did not fix it.

It is not the video card unless there is a fault with it. There are many people out there using that card with no issues. Ditto with the CPU.
I used to run a 8500GT and that had no issues what so ever with Freeview|HD.

However if it is not the HDD I am a bit stumped as to what could be causing it. Just throwing out ideas here. Have you tried disabling your anti virus software temporarily or excluding the recording folder? I have never had a issue with that myself but something is causing it.







Media centre PC - Case Silverstone LC16M with 2 X 80mm AcoustiFan DustPROOF, MOBO Gigabyte MA785GT-UD3H, CPU AMD X2 240 under volted, RAM 4 Gig DDR3 1033, HDD 120Gig System/512Gig data, Tuners 2 X Hauppauge HVR-3000, 1 X HVR-2200, Video Palit GT 220, Sound Realtek 886A HD (onboard), Optical LiteOn DH-401S Blue-ray using TotalMedia Theatre Power Corsair VX Series, 450W ATX PSU OS Windows 7 x64

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  Reply # 353077 18-Jul-2010 19:47
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Play-ready uninstalled? Kill it if not.



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  Reply # 353085 18-Jul-2010 20:02
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To my knowledge Play-ready is not installed. My windows installation is pretty clean.

The disk I am recording to is 2TB in size of which 1TB is free. It's currently not fragmented at all (I have PerfectDisk so I can view the state of the disk). System restore is not turned on for the drive.

I disabled the virus scanner resident protection and I did notice an improvement. Most of the time I found I could skip forward and it was almost instantaneous, however there was a couple of times where it spluttered - sometimes even when I hadn't skipped forward (i.e. it was playing back fine and then it spluttered for 20 seconds and then came right again, and I hadn't pressed any buttons).

As I continued testing I noticed that the spluttering suddenly got worse - and then I noticed that Media Center had started recording 2 programs to it's understandable that the disk was now under a lot more load.

I will test again when all recording has ceased.

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  Reply # 353354 19-Jul-2010 12:54
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Have you got the mainboard manufacturers chipset drivers installed? When W7 Installs, it uses the bog-standard MS ones, which are fine, but for issues like yours, where it looks like disk throughput is causing an issue, then the manufacturers chipset drivers may make a difference.

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  Reply # 353379 19-Jul-2010 13:33
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I was also going to suggest make sure that the any IDE/SATA chipset drivers are also installed.
What MOBO does it have?







Media centre PC - Case Silverstone LC16M with 2 X 80mm AcoustiFan DustPROOF, MOBO Gigabyte MA785GT-UD3H, CPU AMD X2 240 under volted, RAM 4 Gig DDR3 1033, HDD 120Gig System/512Gig data, Tuners 2 X Hauppauge HVR-3000, 1 X HVR-2200, Video Palit GT 220, Sound Realtek 886A HD (onboard), Optical LiteOn DH-401S Blue-ray using TotalMedia Theatre Power Corsair VX Series, 450W ATX PSU OS Windows 7 x64



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Geek


  Reply # 353425 19-Jul-2010 14:47
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Hi, thanks for the suggestions.

My PC is a Dell Inspiron Desktop 350 that's a couple of years old.

I recall doing a bios update when I installed Windows 7 - 64 Bit because it was only detecting 3GB of ram, and after the update I was able access all 4GB.

I checked the Dell support website with my service tag and the BIOS hasn't been updated since 2009, and the Intel chipset hasn't been updated since 2007.

I don't know the exact revision of the Intel chipset that I am running.

I was doing some testing last night and noticed some interesting things. The program I was testing with was the two episodes of NCIS LA from a week or two back so the recording is about 2 hours long.

Anyway I found that sometimes I could skip thru it with no problems at all with the occasional spluttering if I tried to skip too much (eg 6 times in a row to skip sn advert break). If however, I press stop and then select the option to restart from the beginning it spluttered each time I tried to skip.

My theory is that a lot of the file had been pre-read into the memory disk cache, and when I returned to the program start it effectively flushed the cache and so OS had to start over reading the file. Of course I may be totally wrong - I'm just guessing from limited information.

As an asside, according to the Resource Monitor app, Media Center seems to be reading at < 1 MB/s when playing back normally, and the highest I got it to go by skipping ahead was 11 MB/s. But I have doe tests with the drive and it can read a lot faster than that so I can't see why any of this would be a problem.

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  Reply # 353463 19-Jul-2010 15:59
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Slightly off topic but you can press a number and then skip to jump that many 30second blocks.. very useful.







Media centre PC - Case Silverstone LC16M with 2 X 80mm AcoustiFan DustPROOF, MOBO Gigabyte MA785GT-UD3H, CPU AMD X2 240 under volted, RAM 4 Gig DDR3 1033, HDD 120Gig System/512Gig data, Tuners 2 X Hauppauge HVR-3000, 1 X HVR-2200, Video Palit GT 220, Sound Realtek 886A HD (onboard), Optical LiteOn DH-401S Blue-ray using TotalMedia Theatre Power Corsair VX Series, 450W ATX PSU OS Windows 7 x64



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  Reply # 353529 19-Jul-2010 17:54
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That's something I hadn't known and is very useful - so thanks.

I used it for some more testing and found mixed results:

Sometimes a skip of 3 minutes (6 x 30) would cause Media Center to splutter with choppy video and broken audio for 5-15 seconds and I tended to find the next time I skipped the same would happen again.

Then other times it would start working perfectly - I could skip ahead in large jumps and each time the audio and video continued with virtually no delay at all - and I could do it over and over and each time it was perfect.

So I'm a little puzzled by the contrary results.

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