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Present & Future of Intel Driver

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  • #31
    Originally posted by Wyatt View Post
    Is not disabling extraneous stuff the first step in troubleshooting a problem? Graphical user interfaces and compositing window managers fall into this category.
    Just a little update as I had the chance to sit down and have another play with Ubuntu and the GMA X4500HD.

    Disabling any visual effects from the "Appearance" section seems to disable all compositing. When there's none of that going on the video is almost smooth, there's still a few "hitches". What's interesting is that the mplayer status line in the console only shows a couple of dropped frames when the video is started, it doesn't increment when these hitches happen. Reported CPU usage for the video decoder over the entire video is between 40 and 45%.

    I installed the compiz settings application and ran the benchmark plugin. At the composited desktop with nothing running it barely managed 30fps. With the 720p video running it drops down to 20-22fps. Dragging the video window, and having it wobble, drops the FPS into the high teens.

    Using either the gl or gl2 mplayer output plugins increases the CPU usage greatly. mplayer reports that the "video out" cpu usage is around 35-40% and the video is very jumpy. The dropped frame count only increments occasionally, despite the jumpy video.

    I re-ran the same tests on the GeForce 7600GS. I know it's a far more powerful GPU, but I figured it couldn't hurt.

    FPS at the bare desktop was reported as being between 45 and 50 and nothing would cause a drop. I played with multiple compiz effects, even ran additional OpenGL applications, but it wouldn't budge. The video stayed smooth throughout.

    I wondered if the Intel problems might have been related to the fact that the onboard GPU was only getting 32MB of the system memory allocated to it. The xorg log showed it was gaining an additional 256MB, but I went into the BIOS to try and change it anyway.

    There were 2 settings related to video RAM.

    PAVP Mode:
    This could be set to "Lite" or "Paranoid". When set to "Lite", no matter how much memory was allocated, the X server and Intel driver would segfault on startup, immediately after trying to initialize UXA.

    When set to Paranoid, the X server would hard-lock the PC. It became unresponsive to keyboard input and stopped replying to network pings. Hitting restart was the only option.

    This setting directly affected the RAM allocated to the agpgart, nothing else.

    I don't know what else to test and I can't explain why the video performance is so different between the GPU's. Yes the 7600GS is more powerful, but surely as the CPU can decode the 720p video with no problems it can't require that much GPU power to display it on the screen. It's not like I'm resizing it or anything, it's playing 1:1 in a window.

    If it weren't for the huge price difference, and general difficulty in finding a laptop with a 9300M GS / 9400M in, I'd have given up already =(

    Thanks again all


    • #32
      Oh yeah, I just remembered...I think I've heard that the 2.6 driver series currently performs better than the 2.7 for the Intel drivers. I can't rightly verify that right now, but I think it's been though the grapevine.


      • #33
        Originally posted by Wyatt View Post
        Is not disabling extraneous stuff the first step in troubleshooting a problem? Graphical user interfaces and compositing window managers fall into this category.
        Not in this case. If you have to disable compositing every time you want to watch a 720p movie, then it's still broken. All you're doing is finding a work around for the poor consumers who bought Intel graphics. In this case, Nexx is just trying to determine if Intel is a suitable product for his needs.


        • #34
          Originally posted by Wyatt View Post
          Oh yeah, I just remembered...I think I've heard that the 2.6 driver series currently performs better than the 2.7 for the Intel drivers. I can't rightly verify that right now, but I think it's been though the grapevine.
          I use 2.7.1-1 in Debian and get better results than with 2.6.

          I just now went from kernel 2.6.29 to 2.6.30, and updated several xorg files to 7.4+2, and now when I play the same 1080p Canon 5D MkII file, xine or vlc still hover between 60% and 94% (with one spike over 100%) but xorg stays low at 10%, much lower than before. And the video looks better, more smooth.
          If I use the following command in a console I do not get any slowdown when the player reaches 100%:
          mplayer -lavdopts threads=2:fast:skiploopfilter=all nameofthevideo.mp4

          I am also getting much higher frames per second in Torcs. Between 15 and 30 at 1280*1024. When I bought this mobo, Torcs was so slow and so many frames were dropped (entire seconds were dropped at at time) that it was unplayable even at 800*600.
          So yes, there are good reasons to trust Intel developers to improve the performance of their chipsets a lot.
          Last edited by DebianAroundParis; 06-10-2009, 07:09 AM.


          • #35
            Thanks to VLC 1.0.rc2 and all the latest codecs in Debian Experimental, I get no more slowndown and no more dropped frames or glitches in the middle of that 1.8 GB file from the Canon 5D MkII, a huge file with a very high bitrate since it lasts only 6 minutes!
            And this with more software running at the same time.
            Getting better all the time!
            Last edited by DebianAroundParis; 06-13-2009, 01:13 PM.


            • #36
              Well, I decided to take the plunge and bought a laptop with a GM45 chipset and the GMA 4500MHD. I do like Intels open source stance and that they're contributing so much to Linux as a whole. I was prepared to take the leap of faith

              I'm probably going to have to learn how to compile the necessary bits from git for Arch Linux, but I'm confident with the command line and am always willing to learn ^^

              Thanks to everyone who contributed, I really appreciate all your advice.


              • #37
                Keep us informed how things are going!


                • #38
                  Hi Nexx.

                  I had do decide the same thing some months ago, and i decided to go the Intel way. I am currently sitting at my Inspiron 1525 with a GMA X3100, using the latest Intel drivers, GEM and KMS. Acceleration Method is UXA, and i am running KDE on Gentoo.

                  Originally posted by Nexx View Post
                  1) How is performance with the Intel driver these days? I'm thinking of maybe using a composited desktop, can the 4500MHD handle that without massive slowdowns?
                  Composition is one area where it really can shine. Since you worried about Video playback and things, i am right now watching 3 videos, one of it a fullhd one. No lags or problems while switching between Desktops and Applications, everything feels smooth. 2D drawing performance is good (openttd runs, lol ) and 3D is working like it should. Right now, the drivers arent using 100% of what the GMA can deliver, but its enough to play Warcraft 3 here and even Nexuiz does work here (at Medium settings).

                  Originally posted by Nexx View Post
                  2) How well does the 4500MHD power-save under Linux? Battery life isn't the most important thing, but a couple of hours would be great.
                  It uses certainly less power than a dedicated card. A friend of mine had bought his Laptop 1 month after mine, and he got a 13" XPS with an nvidia card. Even though he has the smaller screen (13" vs 15") and LED backlight, i am using less watts while surfing etc. Playing 3D games, his power usage increases much more than mine (but he has way more FPS too ). So i would say power-save works really great.

                  Originally posted by Nexx View Post
                  3) Is there any plans to expose the HD decoding engine of the 4500MHD under Linux? I know it's available under Windows, but who wants to use that? ^u^
                  While i cant say much about the HD decoding engine except that intel planned something some time ago, and that HD decoding will be accelerated with Gallium-drivers, there are no problems with HD-Movie playback in Linux. Most work will have to be done by the CPU, but i dont think that this will be a problem for a Laptop bought nowadays. (except netbooks )

                  Originally posted by Nexx View Post
                  Any other thoughts would be appreciated!
                  Well, i just can say here that i am happy with my decision. I have more 3d power than i expected, have a really low power-usage and everything does work like it should. Also, i expect the driver to be much much nicer with the next release.

                  I hope i could help.



                  • #39
                    A little update ^^

                    My laptop arrived. I ordered a Fujitsu Siemens Amilo Pi 3525 with a Core2 Duo T6400, 4GB RAM and an Intel GM45 chipset (GMA 4500MHD). So far everything is going great. I took a backup of the pre-installed OS, just in case I want it in the future (unlikely).

                    I've done some quick testing using the very same Ubuntu disk I used when testing my desktop G45 board. The compiz benchmark sits at a solid 60fps and desktop usage is -very- smooth. Both the HD videos I tried on the desktop board previously played without problem.

                    Overall I'm very impressed. There is a slight issue with the laptop when trying to run a 64bit OS, whether it be Linux or Windows, but I knew about that prior to purchasing it. I only plan to run a 32bit Linux desktop and the little RAM I loose won't be missed.

                    Hopefully soon I can get Linux actually installed, instead of just running from a live environment. I'll make sure to update as things progress.

                    One thing I did notice however, was an error from the DRM module complaining about an MTRR region type mismatch. The laptop is shut down now, I'll post the exact error in the morning. Despite the warning, everything still seemed smooth, so I guess it's not a major problem.


                    • #40
                      Good news!
                      You are not supposed to lose any RAM, especially if you use a so-called "bigmem" kernel. Just do a search for "bigmem" in aptitude!


                      • #41
                        Unfortunately, GEM won't work with -bigmem


                        • #42
                          As of 2.6.31 GEM now works with HIGHMEM64G (aka PAE) at least


                          • #43
                            YES! Finally!