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Windows 7: Audio/Video stutter during games, videos. Suspect ethernet driver

13 Jul 2012   #1
DanielBlakemore

Windows 7 Professional x64
 
 
Audio/Video stutter during games, videos. Suspect ethernet driver

I first built this desktop last May and immediately played Crysis on it to test the graphics and whatnot. I occasionally noticed some audio stuttering and the game would freeze up for a split second, then it would be fine. I knew the hardware could handle it (my system spec but with an AMD Phenom II X4 965 Black Edition and an M4A89GTD PRO/USB3 motherboard), so it must be a software problem.

It turns out that Windows Update installed some bogus driver for my onboard Realtek Ethernet controller. So, I rolled the driver back, installed the version on the motherboard CD, and that was that. No more stutter.

Well, now I have a new processor, motherboard, and Windows installation and I've found myself in the same boat, except I can't fix the problem the same way. This is especially annoying since I don't even use my ethernet at all (not by choice, just no wiring). I have an ASUS PCI wireless card (which I was using on my previous computer when I fixed the problem) and I have updated the driver for that too (after trying the one on the disk). I have also updated the HD audio driver and the ethernet driver after reinstalling from the motherboard disk didn't help. I got the drivers from Biostar's website, not through windows update.

I've read that there may be interrupt line conflicts between the graphics card and the ethernet controller (IRQ conflicts), but if those are shared, they are supposed to be (at least as far as my experience with embedded systems programming has taught me). Either way, I can't change them in the bios, so it doesn't matter.

Does anyone have any clue what could be causing this problem?


My System SpecsSystem Spec
.

13 Jul 2012   #2
stormy13
Microsoft MVP

Win 7 Ultimate x64
 
 

Seeing as you're not using it, have you tried disabling the onboard ethernet controller in the bios and see if the problem goes away?
My System SpecsSystem Spec
14 Jul 2012   #3
DanielBlakemore

Windows 7 Professional x64
 
 

I'll try that now and report back with my findings.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
.


14 Jul 2012   #4
DanielBlakemore

Windows 7 Professional x64
 
 

No luck. Disabled it in the BIOS, and I still get the stuttering.
Anyone have any ideas or experience with this issue?

For now, I am going to experiment with the beta driver for my card (if there is one).
My System SpecsSystem Spec
16 Jul 2012   #5
DanielBlakemore

Windows 7 Professional x64
 
 

No luck. The driver had no effect on the stuttering.

Any insight would be appreciated. Thanks
My System SpecsSystem Spec
16 Jul 2012   #6
solarmystic

Windows 7 x64 Professional SP1
 
 

Hello Daniel,

Just a shot in the dark.

Try downloading this DPC Latency checker from the link below, run your videos/games in windowed mode to induce the stuttering, run the software, then take a screenshot of the the software after 1 - 3 minutes while the stuttering occurs and upload it in your next reply please.

http://www.thesycon.de/dpclat/dpclat.exe

How to snip the screenshot:-

How to Use the Snipping Tool in Vista - Vista Forums

How to upload the screenshot:-

Screenshots and Files - Upload and Post in Seven Forums

Thanks for your cooperation.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
16 Jul 2012   #7
DanielBlakemore

Windows 7 Professional x64
 
 

First, I should clarify. The stuttering is not so much an -ing, as it is single stutters separated by ~5 to ~15 minutes. They last less than a second and seem to have no correlation with system load. The only reason I specified games and video is that that is when they are most annoying or noticeable. But they also happen on startup (sometimes the Windows startup noise is interrupted) and when chatting in Mumble (like Ventrilo: VoIP).

Anyway, I ran DPC Latency Checker and before I even got a game running, I saw this spike:
-unprovoked-spike.png

Then while I was playing, I saw several like these:
-bf3-spike.png
-bf3-spike-2.png
All separated by several minutes.

I also saw this twice:
-yellow-no-stutter.png
Once out of nowhere, once when snipping tool froze (i suspect this was unrelated, but included it here just in case).


My System SpecsSystem Spec
17 Jul 2012   #8
solarmystic

Windows 7 x64 Professional SP1
 
 

Thanks for your reply Daniel.

Tracking down the source of your spikes as shown in the DPC Latency Checker would be quite tricky since the spikes occur between long intervals of time.

The usual procedure i would recommend is using xperf to analyse and track down the source of the spike(s), which is a command line based tool from Microsoft's Windows Performance Toolkit as in the following post:-

fresh build with ATI 4350 gives high CPU on SVCHOST

But in your particular case, the ETL files produced would be enormous (in the GBs), and data sifting would be unfeasible as the tracing would have to be in a period of 5 - 15 minutes (not the usual 1 - 3 minutes).

Instead, what we'll do next is to use this free tool called LatencyMon:-

http://www.resplendence.com/download/LatencyMon.exe

Download the software, install it and run it.

When you're ready to go, press the green play button above the report tab.

It's also best to have a DPC Latency Checker Window open simultaneously to have a point of reference.

Click on the Drivers tab, and sort the results by Highest Execution count (ms) (scroll the screen to the right if you can't find it)

Take a note of which Driver file(s) is reporting the highest numbers, and report back in your next reply (with some screenshots if appropriate), especially when a spike occurs in the DPC Latency Checker window.

Thanks for your patience, and we hope to hear from you soon.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
17 Jul 2012   #9
Kevin Ismail

Windows 7 Ultimate x64
 
 

Hi Daniel

Just as another shot in the dark.
Try to download the latest codec and install it (K-Lite ver. 5 will do), and see if it works.

Hope that helps.

Kevin
My System SpecsSystem Spec
19 Jul 2012   #10
DanielBlakemore

Windows 7 Professional x64
 
 

I have found the culprit. Thanks to LatencyMon, I was able to correlate the spikes in DPC Latency Checker with the long execution time of calls made by iaStor.sys. This is the Intel Rapid Storage Technology driver. Intel Rapid Storage Technology is software that allows me to do SSD caching (since I have an SSD and a Z77 chipset motherboard).
SSD Caching originally came out on the Z68 chipset, so it has been around for a bit.

I tried rolling back the driver to the version on the Intel site (10.8.0.1033-11/11/2011) which had no effect. I then reinstalled the version from Biostar (11.0.0.1032-16/03/2012) and I still have the problem.

Here is a screenshot of the lag occurring while being monitored by both latency programs:
-iastor_spike.png

And here is the driver list:
-driver_list.png

I'm not sure where to go from here. On a hunch, I have changed the caching mode from "Maximized" to "Enhanced" (fastest to less fast).
Now that I have it in the slower mode, I saw a similar spike, but there was no corresponding long execution of iaStor.sys calls. Instead, it just says that the spike was kernel timer latency.
Here is a screenshot:
-kernel_latency.png
The slow DPC call was a Network Driver Interface Specification (NDIS 6.20) driver delay, and was only yellow on DPC Latency Checker.
The iaStor.sys driver is behaving "normally" now.

Any thoughts?

Also, I'd rather not leave it in Enhanced mode since the real performance gains are in Maximized, and the lag happens anyway.


My System SpecsSystem Spec
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 Audio/Video stutter during games, videos. Suspect ethernet driver




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