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Windows 7: Gadget speed problem in Windows 7

13 Oct 2009   #1
ButzYung

Windows Vista
 
 
Gadget speed problem in Windows 7

I wonder if anyone here experiences any abnormal slowdown of Sidebar gadgets, or some abnormally high CPU usage by the sidebar.exe process itself...?

I have been working on a gadget called "System Animator" (can be found on my Windows Sidebar Gadget Gallery) which is focused on animations and flashy eye candies (yeah, a rare use for a gadget). It runs perfectly fine on Vista. But in the past few months, I have been receiving reports from Windows 7 beta users saying that my gadget runs very slowly on Windows 7. The latest report (from someone using RTM) notices some abnormal CPU usage by the sidebar.exe process besides some sluggish animation performance (in his case, an idle animation still uses 15-20% CPU, and quickly jumps to 40% when the animation is running at like just 1fps, while in Vista it is 0% when idle, 5% average when the animation is running at the full speed of 10fps). Some of these users have CPU much faster than mine, so it can't be a system speed issue. My gadget basically just uses the standard HTML elements and native Sidebar JavaScript API (g:background, g:image, etc) with no Flash, Java or any external ActiveX controls used, so I don't see why there is such a significant performance difference on Windows 7.

I have been working with one of the users who reported the problem, and so far I have found out that any kind of screen updates on a g:background object with a stretched image (even if it is just a dummy transparent image) cause an abnormal amount of CPU usage. The size of the image used as the g:background also matters. In general, Windows 7 sidebar is just SLOWER than the Vista version.

I appreciate any comments or expriences that you guys can share on this matter.


My System SpecsSystem Spec
.
13 Oct 2009   #2
zigzag3143

Win 8 Release candidate 8400
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by ButzYung View Post
I wonder if anyone here experiences any abnormal slowdown of Sidebar gadgets, or some abnormally high CPU usage by the sidebar.exe process itself...?

I have been working on a gadget called "System Animator" (can be found on my Windows Sidebar Gadget Gallery) which is focused on animations and flashy eye candies (yeah, a rare use for a gadget). It runs perfectly fine on Vista. But in the past few months, I have been receiving reports from Windows 7 beta users saying that my gadget runs very slowly on Windows 7. The latest report (from someone using RTM) notices some abnormal CPU usage by the sidebar.exe process besides some sluggish animation performance (in his case, an idle animation still uses 15-20% CPU, and quickly jumps to 40% when the animation is running at like just 1fps, while in Vista it is 0% when idle, 5% average when the animation is running at the full speed of 10fps). Some of these users have CPU much faster than mine, so it can't be a system speed issue. My gadget basically just uses the standard HTML elements and native Sidebar JavaScript API (g:background, g:image, etc) with no Flash, Java or any external ActiveX controls used, so I don't see why there is such a significant performance difference on Windows 7.

I have been working with one of the users who reported the problem, and so far I have found out that any kind of screen updates on a g:background object with a stretched image (even if it is just a dummy transparent image) cause an abnormal amount of CPU usage. The size of the image used as the g:background also matters. In general, Windows 7 sidebar is just SLOWER than the Vista version.

I appreciate any comments or expriences that you guys can share on this matter.

any chance we can get your system specs filled in (lower lef corner of your posts) so we know what hardware you have.

Then, is this an upgrade, or clean install? 32bit or 64? and can we get info on the affected gadgets?

thanks

Ken
My System SpecsSystem Spec
13 Oct 2009   #3
ButzYung

Windows Vista
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by zigzag3143 View Post
any chance we can get your system specs filled in (lower lef corner of your posts) so we know what hardware you have.

Then, is this an upgrade, or clean install? 32bit or 64? and can we get info on the affected gadgets?

thanks

Ken
I don't have the exact specs of that user right now, but roughly speaking it is a system with an Intel Core 2 Quad, 4GB RAM, and Windows 7 64-bit. I will try to update with the full system specs when available.

You can download the gadget in question (System Animator) on this page. For convenience, here is the direct download link.

http://www.animetheme.com/sidebar/at...ator_v3530.zip

On the settings panel, "Folder for animation images" part, select "Demo 07 - MacFace 01" and leave the other settings at default. Run like 6 instances of System Animator gadget under the same settings. Try to trigger some CPU actions on your computer if those cartoon faces don't change. On Windows 7, you will probably notice some significant CPU usage on the sidebar.exe process, while it is almost ignorable on Vista.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
.

16 Oct 2009   #4
ButzYung

Windows Vista
 
 

With the help of a patient Windows 7 user, I think I have already solved the majority part of the Windows 7 sidebar slowdown problem.

As expected, the major cause of slowdown is the g:background object. The problem becomes very obvious if:

1) The gadget/background is big.
2) The background image is stretched
3) The gadget updates the screen fast (more than a few times per second).

Accidentally, I have found out a nice workaround: set the opacity of g:background as 0 (even if your background is already a dummy transparent one, you still have to do it to avoid the slowdown bug). This will render the g:background object practically useless, but you can simply move its task over to the g:image object. So now, basically you just load a dummy bg as g:backgorund, set its opacity as 0 (the most important part), and move everything else to g:image or conventional IMG.

Note that even if you apply this fix, the overall rendering performance of Windows 7 sidebar is still slower than the Vista version, though it is already much better than before. There are simply some underlying performance issues on the sidebar.exe itself which can't be overcome by users. We can only hope that Microsoft will release an actual fix on this (if they ever will).
My System SpecsSystem Spec
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 Gadget speed problem in Windows 7




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