Issues with Hulu streaming? (choppy video) - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 25 Old 06-23-2009, 10:15 AM - Thread Starter
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Well I just finished assembling my HTPC and everything is working perfectly except for watching Hulu videos.

No matter what I do the playback is fairly choppy especially when I attempt to run them full screen at 480p.

I know that it's not a throughput issue with my ISP as I can run the same content from my desktop rig and it plays flawlessly.

The HTPC's components are:

- Nmediapc micro-atx case w/ 300w PS
- AMD Athlon X2 64 7850 (retail box w/HS)
- Gigabyte GA-MA78GM-US2H (w/ integrated ATI 3200 video)
- 2 two gig Corsair DDR2 800mhz
- D-Link wireless G adapter
- 1tb WD intellipower caviar drive
- Windows 7 RC

While the desktop PC is:

- Coolmaster case w/Antec 550w earthcore PS
- AMD Athlon X2 64 5200
- ECS Geforce 7050-M mainboard
- Galaxy Geforce GTS 250
- 2 one gig Corsair DDR2 800mhz
- Netgear wireless G USB adapter
- 250g Maxtor drive
- Windows XP Home SP2

Based upon the stats of the two computers the only area in which the desktop rig surpasses the HTPC is in the video card but I would find it odd if that is where the problem is in the HTPC as it has been able to handle downloaded 1080p content from other sites without any issues at all.

The only other thing I can think of is that perhaps the Adobe Flash player isn't implemented well in Windows 7?

Any other ideas?
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post #2 of 25 Old 06-23-2009, 10:20 AM
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Is the ATI integrated video up to the task?

I use the Hulu app (love it!) and it plays flawlessly on my laptop - Intel GM4500x integrated graphics.
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post #3 of 25 Old 06-23-2009, 10:34 AM
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post #4 of 25 Old 06-23-2009, 10:53 AM
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luclin...,
Are both computers about the same distance from your wirless router so that they should be getting the same wirelesss signal strength, bandwidth and wireless error rates?
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post #5 of 25 Old 06-23-2009, 11:06 AM
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Which Catalyst version do you have installed for your HD3200?

It's quite a hit and miss finding the right version to use as stuff are broken and fixed randomly each release. I don't know about Win 7 but Catalyst 9.6 & 9.5 under windows XP SP3 are awful whit flash video players, basically useless. Catalyst 9.4 works best, then though I do not know if earlier versions may have even less problems.

I suggest you try a few different releases off Catalyst to try and find out if it's just that version or such that gives you hassles.
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post #6 of 25 Old 06-23-2009, 11:08 AM
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What graphics drivers are you using with windows 7 rc? are you outputting at 1080p?
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post #7 of 25 Old 06-23-2009, 11:15 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by walford View Post

luclin...,
Are both computers about the same distance from your wirless router so that they should be getting the same wirelesss signal strength, bandwidth and wireless error rates?

Typically, no.

However I moved the HTPC to the router and plugged it in directly with a network cable and had the exact same choppy video (and then immediately ran the same video flawlessly via wireless to my desktop) so I believe I have eliminated the connection, server and bandwidth as potential sources of the problem.

That leaves the video chipset, OS and possibly the hard drive cache speed as the only other possible problem areas I can think of.

(After spending all day yesterday getting Windows 7 loaded and running on that machine, I am loathe to wipe it and load XP, so that will probably be the "last resort" attempt to solve the problem.)

I suppose that the next thing I'll try subbing the on-board video for a 9600GT I have lying around. That means I'll have to wipe all of the ATI drivers and load the Geforce ones (and then potentially swap them back if that doesn't help).

I am also a bit concerned that the 300w PS in the HTPC won't be up for running the 9600GT so there may be an issue there as well.

Wish me luck...
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post #8 of 25 Old 06-23-2009, 11:20 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nighthog View Post

Which Catalyst version do you have installed for your HD3200?

It's quite a hit and miss finding the right version to use as stuff are broken and fixed randomly each release. I don't know about Win 7 but Catalyst 9.6 & 9.5 under windows XP SP3 are awful whit flash video players, basically useless. Catalyst 9.4 works best, then though I do not know if earlier versions may have even less problems.

I suggest you try a few different releases off Catalyst to try and find out if it's just that version or such that gives you hassles.

Quote:


What graphics drivers are you using with windows 7 rc? are you outputting at 1080p?

That is something I hadn't looked at.

Right now I am running the Cat 9.5 drivers at 720p (the resolution of TV in my living room) and have been testing it at 1080p as well on my desktop's monitor.

I'll try a few other versions of the Catalyst drivers and see if that helps before replacing the video.
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post #9 of 25 Old 06-23-2009, 12:46 PM
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You should be able to install your 9600 card an then set your BIOS to use your PCI connected card as primary instead of your onboard chip and you can get Win7 drivers for it at the Nvidia Website.
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post #10 of 25 Old 06-23-2009, 12:55 PM - Thread Starter
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I've tried the Catalyst 9.4 and 9.3 drivers and saw a small improvement over the 9.5 set but the overall framerate is still probably around 20fps at best.

Watchable (sort of) but not up to the quality I had hoped to see from a HTPC (on a 50" display).

Conversely, Netflix streaming video (using Silverlight) looks smooth and clean.

Worse, after taking another look at the 9600GT, it's just a little too big to fit into the Nmediapc 100b, microATX case which means if I want to test the Geforce option I'll have to hunt down a low profile 9400 or 9500 card. So if I order one on-line today I probably won't see the card until next week.

Right now, I'm very disappointed as Hulu streaming was one of the major reasons I put this system together for.
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post #11 of 25 Old 06-23-2009, 01:41 PM - Thread Starter
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It's the ATI chipset/drivers that are causing the low framerate issues.

I disassembled the entire HTPC and rebuilt it outside of the case, spread out on my dining room table.

That gave me the room I needed to be able to plug in the 9600GT.

As soon as it booted up, Hulu was running beautifully at 480p full screen using just the default drivers Window 7 has for Nvidia. (wireless connection about 40 feet away from the router, through a wall).

Now I just have to purchase a low profile 9400 or 9500 card (that will fit in the case) and once I have that everything should be good to go.

If other people are having similar issues with Hulu video then I would have to wonder if their problems aren't tied up in the ATI chipset/drivers as well.
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post #12 of 25 Old 06-23-2009, 03:56 PM
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works fine on my 3200 with lower cpu than you on the 9.6. also works flawlessly on my $25 ati 4350
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post #13 of 25 Old 06-23-2009, 04:29 PM
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Disabling the hardware acceleration for Flash at least should take the video card out of the equation. Plus it may help with the choppiness, though you'll get fullscreen tearing if you're running XP.
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post #14 of 25 Old 06-24-2009, 02:59 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bighick View Post

works fine on my 3200 with lower cpu than you on the 9.6. also works flawlessly on my $25 ati 4350

That may work for you but I just swapped the system back over to the on-board 3200 chip and Catalyst 9.6 drivers and I saw a noticeable decrease in frame rate in both Hulu and Amazon playback with some tearing appearing in the Amazon HD content (which didn't happen with the Nvidia card).

You don't mention what OS you are using but if it isn't Win 7 (Which I am running) then it is possible that the Adobe flash program and ATI chipsets may work better together in XP and Vista than they do in 7.

Quote:
Originally Posted by SteelWill View Post

Disabling the hardware acceleration for Flash at least should take the video card out of the equation. Plus it may help with the choppiness, though you'll get fullscreen tearing if you're running XP.

I've tried turning the Hardware acceleration on and off when using both the 3200 and the 9600 and frankly neither chipset showed any change at all in playback whether it was turned on or off.

Now from what I understand, the option for hardware acceleration has to be set into the media when it's encoded and if it is not then turning it on in Flash has no effect. So if that is true, then it is probable that the clips I was seeing didn't have the acceleration enabled in them. (The latest episodes of Burn Notice, Merlin, & Royal Pains were what I was using as test media).

Based upon my tests, it looks like my problems will be solved with a low profile Nvidia 9400 or 9500 card. Hopefully I'll be able to find one locally tomorrow or else I will have to order it from the Egg and probably won't see it until late next week some time.
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post #15 of 25 Old 06-24-2009, 04:44 PM
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The media has absolutly no idea what is being used to decode it anymore then a TV broadcast knows if a TV or a PC tuner is receiving it.
The selection to use hardware or software decoding is totally determined by the program that is "playing" the program and is based on what the drivers for the graphics card are able to provide.
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post #16 of 25 Old 06-24-2009, 08:39 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by walford View Post

The media has absolutly no idea what is being used to decode it anymore then a TV broadcast knows if a TV or a PC tuner is receiving it.
The selection to use hardware or software decoding is totally determined by the program that is "playing" the program and is based on what the drivers for the graphics card are able to provide.

Well if you are correct then currently Adobe flash makes zero use of the hardware acceleration capabilities of either the Nvidia or ATI cards in Windows 7 because neither show any change at all whether the setting is enabled or disabled on my system.
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post #17 of 25 Old 06-25-2009, 05:08 AM
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The only thing it definitely does is enforce vsynch in fullscreen in XP. Anything else Flash's HA does or doesn't do is a mystery.
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post #18 of 25 Old 06-26-2009, 05:09 AM
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Something not yet mentioned is how much ram did you allocate to your HD3200 card in BIOS?

Could be that it just was given to little ram? I know the ram has huge difference on the performance off the HD3200 if it doesn't have enough. I had some games that didn't go all that smooth whit 128-384Mb. Had to allocate all 640Mb and lots off things started to click into place.
Many things today are design to need at least 512Mb graphics ram.
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post #19 of 25 Old 06-26-2009, 09:39 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nighthog View Post

Something not yet mentioned is how much ram did you allocate to your HD3200 card in BIOS?

Could be that it just was given to little ram? I know the ram has huge difference on the performance off the HD3200 if it doesn't have enough. I had some games that didn't go all that smooth whit 128-384Mb. Had to allocate all 640Mb and lots off things started to click into place.
Many things today are design to need at least 512Mb graphics ram.

512mb of system RAM was allocated for the video.

The 9500GT also has 512mb of dedicated RAM on the card.

Both the system RAM and the memory on the video card are DDR2.

The difference in watching Hulu and Amazon streaming between the on-board 3200 chip and the 9500 isn't huge but it is noticeable. Not a lot, but enough to smooth out the playback and eliminate the visible frame skipping. (which was very noticeable on my 50" screen at 720p with the 3200 chipset).

Now the 3200 had no problems at all playing back MKV files in 720p and 1080p with media player and Netflix streaming through Silverlight looked fine as well. Only media streamed using the adobe flash player seems to have shown an improvement in using the Nvidia card over the ATI chip.

Now this may be an issue with the chipset or simply a poor implementation in the ATI drivers for Windows 7. Since I haven't tried running any other OS on my HTPC I really can't say. All I do know is that I tried the following ATI drivers for Win7:

Catalyst 8.612
Catalyst 9.3
Catalyst 9.4
Catalyst 9.5
Catalyst 9.6

And of all of them I saw the best performance using the 9.3 set. That set gave me roughly 20fps. The worst was 9.5 which looked to be closer to 17-18 fps in Hulu.

The difference in performance using various driver versions seems to confirm that the issue may in fact be rooted somewhere in the software rather than being a hardware problem.

Perhaps the situation will improve as Win 7 moves closer to final release and the ATI drivers for that OS mature but for now, using the 9500gt has solved all of my playback issues and gotten me up and running to the point where an episode of Leverage, streamed in HD from Amazon last night looked to be of the same overall quality as my Uverse HD content.

Which is enough to make my wife happy, so I'm happy.

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post #20 of 25 Old 09-27-2009, 06:42 PM
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Interesting development here - although I realize this thread is old, it seems the topic is not dead as I have the same problem. (Windows 7, 4GB ram, Core 2 Duo @ 3 GHz)

Hulu 320p plays smoothly in the player and at fullscreen. The 480p video is fine in the player and horribly choppy full screen. I've just found out that if you "pop out" the video and maximize it, it full screens just fine. It's something to do with the way Hulu goes to full screen. It also seems to depend on the encoding of the movie somewhat - certain videos (the Flash Forward premiere for example) are fine full screen. Others (Fringe) are perpetually choppy. Just posting to add to the discussion with more information.
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post #21 of 25 Old 12-29-2009, 04:58 PM
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Right click on the flash player for the flash player settings and disable hardware acceleration. Choppiness goes away. It worked fine on SVIDEO on my laptop from 2004, so there's no reason why it should be choppy on a brand new desktop. after searching and seeing similar problems i got my problems to go away!
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post #22 of 25 Old 12-29-2009, 10:47 PM
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Do folks with ATI graphics have choppy Hulu playback while folks with Nvidia graphics have smooth Hulu playback?
.
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post #23 of 25 Old 12-29-2009, 11:04 PM
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i have a 4830, 4850 and a 4350 and all are outputing either 720p or 1080p and all play Hulu 480p no problem.

wonder what is going on here....
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post #24 of 25 Old 01-02-2010, 11:40 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Skylark View Post

Do folks with ATI graphics have choppy Hulu playback while folks with Nvidia graphics have smooth Hulu playback?
.

I'm not sure how current this article is but it seems to indicate that ATI based boards do not support flash hardware playback (Hulu for one) as well as Nvidia based boards do. Maybe someone with more knowledge in this area can comment.

http://www.anandtech.com/video/showdoc.aspx?i=3678&p=3
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post #25 of 25 Old 01-02-2010, 11:49 AM
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Stop. Just stop. Install Flash player 10.1 This will fix alot of those full screen jitters. Google to find it (it's still in beta).
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