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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I am hoping someone out there can help me with the following... Let me preface the question with some hardward/software information:


HTPC

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PIII 1 ghz

Windows 2000 Pro

Radeon 7500

Maudio 24/96

PowerFile C200



Media Server

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Athlon 1ghz Tbird

Windows XP

Promise SX4000 Raid 5



Networking gear

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SonicWall Soho2

3com Hub


The 2 computers are connected via 100 Base-T ethernet


My problem is as follows:


I have copied some of my DVD's to the media server raid array without incident. The problem arises when I play back a movie. I seem to get, at random times, micro-stutter of ~1 sec duration. The video and audio both stutter the same amount, and are not out of sync at the time this happens, but it is clearly a noticible stutter. If I take the actual DVD and play it directly on the HTPC, I get no stutters.


My DVD playback is using TheaterTek (most recent version)


Please! Any help is appreciated! Where is the likely bottleneck? What's causing these micro-stutters? Is it hardware? software? networking?


Any help is appreciated!


-L
 

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Have you tried moving the files (or portion) to the playback PC? Start diagnosing little by little and take factors out of the equation...


Pablo
 

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Hello Lido,


I had similar problems with a network card that was running at half duplex.

I would recommend you check that everything is running at full duplex.


You should try to get a software like QCHECK to analyze the ACTUAL speeds between the server and the htpc.


Something else to consider is video card drivers...


If you check the network and everything is fine there, then we can try to troubleshoot other areas, one at a time.


-video card drivers

- ressource sharing

-services running in the background that are ressource hogs...

-etc...


I think that the actual network throuput will be a good start.


Arno
 

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Go to the media server and in the TCP/IP properties, go and uninstall the QoS Packet Scheduler, then try it, your stutter should be gone.


Jim
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
vfrjim et al-


Thank you for your responses! I will start with the QoS deletion tonight and work from there. That would be fantastic if it is truly that easy to fix!


-L
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I removed the QoS, and I still have persistence of the stuttering.


I have installed Qcheck - and with 1000kbyes data size, I get anywhere from 60-70Mbps throughput.


I am now in the process of copying one of the movies to the local HTPC and seeing if I still have persistance of the stuttering. If this goes away when playing on the local machine, then I will be stumped, as I can't imagine that 60-70Mbsp throughput is considered inadequate...


Any other thoughts?


-L
 

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Lido,


I think that this is enough throughput. :)

BTW, Did you test both ways, FROM the server and TO the server?

Let me explain...


One thing that I did not ask:

You do not happen to have a REALTEK network card by chance?


I had the exact same problem and it took me a while to pinpoint the problem.

I had a realtek card that could download really fast but would upload like $hit in my file (media) server.

I finally realized that my realtek card was not running at full duplex, even though it was setup for it...


I changed it to a NETGEAR and all my stuttering problems went away...

I will never buy REALTEK again...


Your test in local should help us to find out if the network is at fault...



Something else to consider is the ATI drivers.

I am not a pro here but I know that they can be the cause of a lot of problems...


Keep the faith... ;)


Arno
 

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OK, so you made sure that QoS is uninstalled on both machines, next you could try using NetBEUI, you need to install it manually off the WinXP CD. It is located here: "D:\\VALUEADD\\MSFT\\NET\\NETBEUI" , give it a shot, just make sure both machines have it installed. In my experiences, this protocol works best for file sharing accross a MS network.


Jim
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Thank you all for your guidance:


Yes.. I did uninstall QoS on the WinXP machine (file server). The HTPC is Win2k and does not have QoS to uninstall.


I have already installed and been using NetBEUI protocol - I have been using that for months now, as TCP/IP for local networking, as you mentioned, is a nightmare (esp. with different windows os's).


My network cards are both LinkSys cards 10/100- The speed is set to autosense on both.


As far as the speed transmission - I did the test from the server->HTPC, but did not reverse it ... I will do that tonight when I get home, but I can't imagine it would be any different the other direction given they are both the same cards.


Although the ATI drivers are certainly a possibility, I canm't explain why the stuttering does not occur when played from the acutal DVD in the HTPC.


The tests I will do tonight include (but are not limited to:)


1) Check QCHECK from the HTPC->Server

2) Verify if the stuttering occurs when playing back the file on the local

harddrive as opposed to the RaidArray media server


Any other tests that might be helpful?!


Thank you!


-L
 

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Try to see if there are any updated NIC drivers available, I've had that problem before. Also, you may want to eliminate your router/hub and connect them directly using a crossover cable to eliminate the rest of your network.


Jim
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Well, I think we've figured out the location of the problem.


Last night I ran Qcheck from HTPC->Media Server and

Media Server->HTPC. Both showed throughput from 60-70Mbps.


I verified there are no new drivers available for the NIC's


I then played the DVD from the local hard drive. It worked great!


Sooooo.... The bottleneck appears to be in the networking. My guess would be the switch. My switch is a 3Com OfficeConnect....


So I see my options as two fold:


1) Replace the switch (I guess my first question would be... am I correct to assume this is where the hangup lies?) - I am considering changing to a Cisco 2912EN switch - but don't want to shell out $250-$300 unless it truly will make a difference


2) Install a 2nd NIC in the HTPC, and wire the media server directly to the HTPC with a crossover cable. - Ideally I would like to keep this computer on the network, as I often VNC to it from other computers in the house... So I would likely end up buying a 2nd computer just to house the raid array and directly wire that.


Any recommendations/thoughts??


Thanks!


-L
 

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I use a SMC Barricade Router with no issues whatsoever, depending on the model (4 or 8 port) it is relatively inexpensive.


Did you verify that the wiring is done correctly? I finally broke down and bought a cat5 tester when I was having similar problems and found out that I had some incorrect connections, well worth the ~$50 or so $$ for the tester.


Jim
 

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Next Question now that we know that the network might be the issue.


-Do you have an antivirus or a firewall setup on that machine?


An inexpensive router (Netgear) would be fine and should not affect the bandwidth from the server enough to limit it...


Arno
 

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When you played it from the HTPC, you played the file (and not the disc), just like you originally tried, yes?


Are perhaps your network card and your video card on the same IRQ?


Or perhaps your server occasionally runs something (screen saver, antivirus, whatever) that causes the periodic dropouts? Can you tell from your network testing that it's a nice constant rate, or do your tests show dropouts as well?
 
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