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Mark Russinovich On Vista Network Slowdown 423

Posted by kdawson
from the nuts-and-bolts dept.
koro666 writes "In his latest blog post, Mark Russinovich analyzes the network slowdown experienced by some users when playing multimedia content. 'Tests of MMCSS during Vista development showed that... heavy network traffic can cause enough long-running DPCs to prevent playback threads from keeping up with their media streaming requirements, resulting in glitching. MMCSS' glitch-resistant mechanisms were therefore extended to include throttling of network activity. It does so by issuing a command to the NDIS device driver... [to] pass along, at most 10 packets per millisecond (10,000 packets per second)... [T]he networking team is actively working with the MMCSS team on a fix that allows for not so dramatically penalizing network traffic, while still delivering a glitch-resistant experience.'"
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Mark Russinovich On Vista Network Slowdown

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  • Aaah (Score:5, Funny)

    by caluml (551744) <slashdot&spamgoeshere,calum,org> on Tuesday August 28, 2007 @08:11AM (#20382311) Homepage
    Aaah, it's those pesky DPCs in the MMCSS. It's so obvious really.
  • Failed engineering (Score:4, Insightful)

    by setagllib (753300) on Tuesday August 28, 2007 @08:11AM (#20382313)
    Once again, over-complication and stupid engineering lead to a humiliatingly bad operating system. It's obvious it didn't receive a modicum of real testing.
    • by morgan_greywolf (835522) on Tuesday August 28, 2007 @08:18AM (#20382377) Homepage Journal
      Almost, but not quite. Really, it's Microsoft's drive to appeal to the least common denominator. Dumb end-users aren't likely to notice a speed decrease in their network throughput -- not even a significant one. So maybe they did test it, but ignored any performance feedback about the network because it was ignored as smart power users being 'overly picky', since their target customer requires that the CD cases be printed on drool-proof cardboard.

      • by blahlemon (638963) on Tuesday August 28, 2007 @08:29AM (#20382453)
        On the other hand (and I'm not disagreeing with you) maybe when they were testing the media functions of the operating system they didn't look at the network traffic performance cause they've got nothing to do with each other. Kinda like hearing a noise in your engine; you're not going to check the drivers side door hinges. On the other hand, you're right about the least common denominator. Fortunately we've come to expect Microsoft to play to the least common denominator.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          On the other hand (and I'm not disagreeing with you) maybe when they were testing the media functions of the operating system they didn't look at the network traffic performance cause they've got nothing to do with each other.
          They have nothing to do with each other -- until you're listening an Internet radio station or a webcast of the keynote from [insert your favorite conference here].

          • by blahlemon (638963)
            Yeah, I was thinking about that as I typed the comment but neglected to mention it. Actually, I need to correct my own post, a closer look at the article reveals that it is throttles network traffic by design, an effect that *shouldn't* be noticed in a 100 mb environment. In theory. Sorta. Cause no one needs more then 100 mb.
            • by morgan_greywolf (835522) on Tuesday August 28, 2007 @08:48AM (#20382583) Homepage Journal

              Cause no one needs more then 100 mb.
              Yeah, I seem to remember Bill Gates saying something like "A 100 megabits ought to be enough for anybody!"

              Err...or was that something else? ;)

              • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

                by Bartold (1030602)
                Actually, this has nothing to do with failed engineering or Microsoft and everything to do with all of you cheap end users that don't want to shell out money for hardware accelerated audio. Software audio solutions require fine grained timing in order to minimize the mixing latency. Hardware solutions only require big buffers of data to achieve virtually zero CPU usage. I just want to know how many of you suckers out there paying more $1000 out there for a 5% faster CPU instead of $50-$75 for a sound car
            • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

              by T-Bone-T (1048702)
              You've already been made fun of for saying it, but I would like to add a qualifier that I can't believe nobody ever uses.

              Cause no one needs more than 100mb, YET. I don't care that my network is slowing down, it won't slow down enough to hamper my internet connection.
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            Or you're one of maybe 100 million office workers who play MP3's they have on the workstation with Windows Media Player or Winamp through headphones while they're working on files over the local office network.

            I can just understand Microsoft not being aware of that scenario - except you can guarantee that EVERY SINGLE MICROSOFT EMPLOYEE just does that. So nobody thought to test that scenario - that was just dumb of Microsoft.

            The real question is why the engineers involved didn't understand the size of the i
        • by Brian Gordon (987471) on Tuesday August 28, 2007 @08:40AM (#20382529)
          They specifically said they throttled network speed. It's not like something they should have tested for and never found, it's something they did themselves.
          • And then again... (Score:5, Insightful)

            by Spy der Mann (805235) <spydermann.slashdotNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Tuesday August 28, 2007 @09:17AM (#20382901) Homepage Journal
            it was an IMPOSED, HARDCODED limit WITHOUT ASKING the user. They could just add a registry entry of "maximum network packets per millisecond when playing multimedia files" or something.

            Microsoft has a long history of hardcoding stuff without thinking of power users. Remember the 10-limit for open TCP connections per program? They did this because viruses and malware open many TCP connections. "Hey, what about P2P?" "What's P2P?".
            • by Lonewolf666 (259450) on Tuesday August 28, 2007 @09:59AM (#20383363)

              They could just add a registry entry of "maximum network packets per millisecond when playing multimedia files" or something.

              Better yet, allow "throttling as needed if multimedia buffers run low". That would allow unimpaired network performance in systems with enough CPU power.

              But then again, that would have required early planning to include the necessary feedback in audio and graphics drivers. I speculate that the problem was discovered late in the development of Vista, and since nobody wanted to be responsible for another delayof Vista's release, some quick hack was applied ;-)
              • Re:And then again... (Score:4, Interesting)

                by AaronW (33736) on Tuesday August 28, 2007 @11:48AM (#20384901) Homepage
                I had to implement something like this to dynamically throttle packets back based on the load in a router type box. It's not rocket science. I think Linux (if it doesn't already do this) could do it fairly easily with their NAPI networking interface, since the OS can slow down polling and assign a higher priority to audio and video.
            • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

              by Laebshade (643478)
              Remember the 10-limit for open TCP connections per program? They did this because viruses and malware open many TCP connections. "Hey, what about P2P?" "What's P2P?".

              You're almost right. The limit is for half-open connections: these are connections in the process of being made; however, this can effectively limit your amount of connections for things like bittorrent, because you connect slower than other peers. When you're constantly disconnecting and reconnecting to new peers every second, it becomes a p
            • by Xtravar (725372) on Tuesday August 28, 2007 @01:16PM (#20386531) Homepage Journal

              it was an IMPOSED, HARDCODED limit WITHOUT ASKING the user.
              Not to start a flame war, but isn't this exactly what people find so great about Macs - that the OS designers made all the decisions for them?

              Most coders don't want to add a registry setting. Most users don't want to touch it.

              There's obviously just something wrong with their big picture view if they can't get this shit straight. It's probably because the network and multimedia teams are separate and don't know what the others' doing.
          • by TubeSteak (669689) on Tuesday August 28, 2007 @09:19AM (#20382929) Journal

            It's not like something they should have tested for and never found, it's something they did themselves.
            After reading your post, the parent post and the grandparent post (and every other +3 post in the thread) I feel like I'm the only one who made it to the end of TFA:

            The throttling rate Vista uses was derived from experiments that reliably achieved glitch-resistant playback on systems with one CPU on 100Mb networks with high packet receive rates.
            Things they apparently didn't bother to test for:
            • Multiple NICS
            • Gigabit NICS
            • Multiple CPUs/Cores
            Those things just seem like glaring oversights, especially considering how many people have wifi in addition to the mobo's onboard NIC.

            One thing I don't get is how he managed 41.61% CPU utuilization [technet.com] while transferring a file. Did he have the ethernet equivalent of a winmodem?
        • by daeg (828071) on Tuesday August 28, 2007 @08:56AM (#20382659)
          On the contrary, network and media playback have a lot to do with each other. Don't forget Microsoft has a home media server coming out soon. What good is great media playback if you can't play it over the network?
          • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

            by Rude Turnip (49495)
            The decoding of the sound takes place on the receiving end (ie xbox, media receiver)...
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by dave420 (699308)
      So by your logic various flavours of Linux are even more humiliatingly bad than Vista, as I've had a slew of problems on Linux that make this bug seem like desired functionality. If you're going to troll, at least try and do it logically!
      • by setagllib (753300) on Tuesday August 28, 2007 @08:49AM (#20382595)
        Various flavors of Linux can take a flying leap. The mainline Linux kernel is generally in very strong shape, and I say this after spending years loathing many bad choices in Linux. Many mainstream distributions are doing very well too. Most of all, Linux does not compromise basic performance for "rights management", which Vista does.

        Vista's worst engineering decision is to make a system optimized for restrictions and money-farming, not for user experience. The WGA breakdown is the best example. The legitimate users who paid a ridiculous sum to use Vista's 'ultimate' features (you know, the ones which are free in Linux and at least standard in MacOSX) had their systems crippled, and the pirates who bypassed WGA were not even affected. The whole feature does exactly the opposite of what it was supposed to do. That's failed engineering, any way you look at it.
        • by cliffski (65094)
          have you used vista?
          it's a far better user experience than windows XP. if they did put some DRM related stuff in there, I haven't noticed, nor will 99.99% of its userbase.
          • by grasshoppa (657393) <skennedyNO@SPAMtpno-co.org> on Tuesday August 28, 2007 @09:20AM (#20382955) Homepage
            have you used vista?
            it's a far better user experience than windows XP. if they did put some DRM related stuff in there, I haven't noticed, nor will 99.99% of its userbase.


            Jesus, have *you* used vista? The user intended user experience could be orgasmic, but I'll be damned if I can get the thing stable given the state of drivers for my vista approved hardware.

            In a year it may be better than XP ( and at best, marginally so ), but right now it's hit and miss.
        • by dave420 (699308) on Tuesday August 28, 2007 @10:00AM (#20383371)
          So you don't have any idea what you're talking about. This issue has nothing to do with rights management or money farming. It was a mistake that is being rectified. As for the WGA breakdown - that didn't affect anyone negatively for more than a day or two. Microsoft issued help to get it fixed for those hit, and all is well.

          Linux isn't in strong shape on the desktop. It doesn't have the application support it needs, its drivers aren't able to perform as well as their Windows counterparts, which means it's constantly making excuses for not being able to use 100% of the computer its on. But then everyone knows this.

          I'd rather have an OS that runs every bit of software I want (including games, video editing, office suites, open source apps, etc.) and may have occasional problems, than one that doesn't run everything I want, and still has occasional problems.

          I admire your spirit, though :)
      • Forum.Post(structures.Forums.SlashDot,(bug.OS == structures.OS.Windows ? "windows is engineered by stupid monkeys" : (bug.OS == structures.OS.Linux ? "It'll be fixed in no time, as expected" : "In sovjet russia " + bug.OS + " bugs you!")));
    • by gladish (982899) on Tuesday August 28, 2007 @09:08AM (#20382805)
      As a long-time Linux user (over 10 years) I was always in the "Windows Sucks" camp. Recently I decided to really understand windows at the level of my understanding of Linux. I just finished a 5 year stint doing Linux systems level programming with the latter 2 years doing more on BSD. After reading "Windows Systems Progamming" by Johnson Hart, I was astonished at the complexity of the windows api (win32). Things that are really straight forward with posix programming are a genuine mess with win32. The nubmer of synchronization mechanisms is overwhelming. But after a while you begin to appreciate the flexiblity that the system provides. I decided to move on and buy "Microsoft Windows Internals" by Russinovich and Solomon and am currently reading that. Again, they expose some nasty details of windows and again you'll be saying to yourself, "Oh my god, they over engineered the shit out of this thing." But they continually bring up what the design goals were and again you begin to appreciate what Microsoft has accomplished with windows. Of course you can't expect the system to be flawless. Linux certainly isn't. If you're a windows user, just be glad there are people like Russinovich who can actually understand the windows kernel enough so that Microsoft can continue to make improvements. If you couldn't care less about windows, then I'd still reccomend either book. If you're into Linux (or any posix-like) systems level programming, check out Johnson Hart's book. It's audience is unix converts. If you're just interested in the windows kernel or are a sys admin, check out Russinovich's book. It's really interesting.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        This would be the same Mark Russinovich who set up his own company to sell the tools he wrote to find out why windows was so bad and to fix the holes and mistakes in Windows, and so he could write books telling people how to work around the flaws in windows (sysinternals)

        And when Microsoft found out people were listening to him... they bought it and hired him to be a Microsoft Advocate, but don't seem to have listened to him ?

        The Windows kernel (NT Kernel) was designed by Dave Cutler (ex of DEC) who designe
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Z0mb1eman (629653)
        >But after a while you begin to appreciate the flexiblity that the system provides

        >you begin to appreciate what Microsoft has accomplished with windows

        I've always assumed there's more to it than just "Windows sucks", but I've never had the time to learn about how Windows and Linux work more in-depth so I can meaningfully compare them (nor will I anytime soon).

        Care to give an example or two of things Windows gets right?
  • Okay... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by WhatAmIDoingHere (742870) * <sexwithanimals@gmail.com> on Tuesday August 28, 2007 @08:12AM (#20382321) Homepage
    So why can my Windows 98/95/2000/ME/XP computers play mp3s without this happening?
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Reverend528 (585549)

      So why can my Windows 98/95/2000/ME/XP computers play mp3s without this happening?

      Slower Network Cards.

      • Re:Okay... (Score:5, Interesting)

        by KiloByte (825081) on Tuesday August 28, 2007 @08:18AM (#20382375)

        So why can my Windows 98/95/2000/ME/XP computers play mp3s without this happening?

        Slower Network Cards.

        Then why exactly XP can handle the music just fine on the very same network card on the very same computer on the very same network?
        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          MMCSS is the Multimedia Class Scheduler Service, which a new feature in Vista -- it is not in 98/95/2000/ME/XP. That's why.
          • Re:Okay... (Score:5, Insightful)

            by rudy_wayne (414635) on Tuesday August 28, 2007 @08:36AM (#20382495)
            "MMCSS is the Multimedia Class Scheduler Service, which a new feature in Vista -- it is not in 98/95/2000/ME/XP. That's why."

            Winodws XP -- can play an MP3 file and video file at the same time with no reduction in network speed.

            Vista -- same computer, same hardware, -- major reduction in network speed.

            In other words, Microsoft tried to "fix" something that wasn't broken.
            • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

              In other words, Microsoft tried to "fix" something that wasn't broken

              Well, on some machines and in some environments, heavy network traffic can cause an XP machine to slow down, particularly on older/slower hardware. Geeks tend to run stuff that, even if it's not the latest, is amongst the top performers for its generation.

              My wife had an e-Machines 1.2 GHz Celeron machine (purchased before we were engaged) with an el cheapo Intel 810 chipset. When she was still running Windows XP, she'd complain all the time about audio dropouts -- I found that these occured during high p

            • Re:Okay... (Score:5, Informative)

              by rbochan (827946) on Tuesday August 28, 2007 @09:01AM (#20382731) Homepage

              ...In other words, Microsoft tried to "fix" something that wasn't broken.

              No, in other words, Microsoft/**AA tried controlling something they weren't in control of before.
              Where do you want to go today, indeed.

      • by Kokuyo (549451)
        So the interesting question would be this: Does this happen only on Vista machines in gigabit environments or also on 10/100 cards?

        I was of the impression that it happens with both types. But trying to remember what leads me to believe that I'll have to admit that I obviously only assumed it to be so. So is there anyone who can give us a definite answer to this?
        • by Johnno74 (252399)
          You didn't read the article did you. The rate that the network throughput is throttled to is normally greater than the bandwidth of a 100MB card - if it wasn't for an unfortunate bug where the throttling factor is applied for each network card in your system.... 3 network cards (most laptops - wired, 802.11, bluetooth) and you have the throttle applied 3 times.
      • by billsf (34378)
        So why can my Windows 98/95/2000/ME/XP computers play mp3s without this happening?

        Slower Network Cards. ...but today we have faster LANs, "Gigabit" (400MB/s with 'PC arch') is standard and 10GB is moving in. Therefore:

        Higher Bus bandwidth...

        BillSF

        (Troll warning: redundant)
        Crappy software aside, 32bit x 33MHz is rather limiting compared to the 64bit x 133MHz standard that has been with us for awhile. IMO, it appears Microsoft has failed to keep up with the hardware. If MS had put less energy in the hoax call
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Because they're not Vista. Think of Vista as the operating system that the movie and music industry produced.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by HalifaxRage (640242)
      Stop living in the past! Sure you can put your old "XP" records on the jukebox, grandpa, but this is 2007! It's the future man! Now I'm off to take the flying car to dinosaur island!
    • by the_arrow (171557)
      Or, for that matter, almost any other operating system?
    • So why can my Windows 98/95/2000/ME/XP computers play mp3s without this happening?

      Because they don't have the Multimedia Class Scheduler Service that Vista has, which ups the thread priority, which in turn causes a throttling of network traffic because heavy network traffic interrupts might disrupt playback to the end user? (Only a bug caused WAY too much throttling) You didn't read the article, did you? :)
      • Re:Okay... (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Opportunist (166417) on Tuesday August 28, 2007 @08:43AM (#20382557)
        The question stands, though, why is an older system capable of playing multimedia content without throttling the network throughput on the same hardware? We're facing the same silicon, so whatever Vista uses to schedule or priorize, it has to mean Vista is less performant than its predecessors. If it was not, there would be no throttling, since said previous versions are capable of playing MMC without throttling the NIC.

        There are two possible scenarios now:

        1. Vista is actually less performant and the inferior system.
        2. We're just plain lucky that we get to play MMC on XP and 2k without interruption, and the system throttles network performance on a "just in case" basis. In this case it's a bug that should be fixed.
  • Oblig (Score:4, Funny)

    by phasm42 (588479) on Tuesday August 28, 2007 @08:12AM (#20382323)
    10,000 packets/second ought to be enough for anyone.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 28, 2007 @08:13AM (#20382331)
    I have [Cancel][Allow] no idea [Cancel][Allow] what slowdowns they [Cancel][Allow] could possibly be [Cancel][Allow] talking about!
  • Can't wait until the "glitch-resistant mechanisms" migrate throughout the rest of the Vista. It's gonna be awesome!
  • Dumb dumb dumb (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 28, 2007 @08:21AM (#20382395)
    "MMCSS' glitch-resistant mechanisms were therefore extended to include throttling of network activity. It does so by issuing a command to the NDIS device driver, which is the driver that gives packets received by network adapter drivers to the TCP/IP driver, that causes NDIS to "indicate", or pass along, at most 10 packets per millisecond (10,000 packets per second).

    Because the standard Ethernet frame size is about 1500 bytes, a limit of 10,000 packets per second equals a maximum throughput of roughly 15MB/s. 100Mb networks can handle at most 12MB/s, so if your system is on a 100Mb network, you typically won't see any slowdown. However, if you have a 1Gb network infrastructure and both the sending system and your Vista receiving system have 1Gb network adapters, you'll see throughput drop to roughly 15%."


    That is one of the dumbest things I have heard in a while. Let's see:

    • It's a poor solution to begin with.
    • It's incorrect. Did no one even bother to calculate the drop-off? Was there not one single engineer amongst them who ever said "Hey, you know, Gigabit is pretty popular these days."?
    • It should be unnecessary. Why does standard media playback and networking require so much power that there is not enough time to schedule both of them correctly?
    • It is wrong. Why is media playback is more important than network performance? If the network is heavily loaded, well gee, maybe there's a reason for that?

    What an over-engineered non-solution to what should have been a non-problem in the first place. Microsoft is supposed to employ some of the smartest engineers in the world: can none of them optimise their code?
    • Laughable...

      Do they have 15 year olds designing their operating system?

       
    • Well, depending on what the machine is used for, it could actually be that playing back the MM content is more important than the network traffic (e.g. when you're dumping the torrents you leeched while watching a movie to ... erh... I mean... when you're watching important promotional videos while transfering your holiday movies).

      But shouldn't I, the user, get to decide what's more important?
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by rbochan (827946)

        ...But shouldn't I, the user, get to decide what's more important?

        Apparently not, if you use Microsoft products.

    • Re:Dumb dumb dumb (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Jose (15075) on Tuesday August 28, 2007 @08:55AM (#20382657) Homepage
      Because the standard Ethernet frame size is about 1500 bytes, a limit of 10,000 packets per second equals a maximum throughput of roughly 15MB/s.

      And this seems like a strange conclusion to jump to...especially coming from Mark.

      maybe I am just confused, but the NDIS driver handles sending and receiving of pkts, so is the pkt rate limited to 10,000 pps coming and going? (he mentions packets received by network adapter drivers, but I am still curious). if it is limited to 10,000 pps in either direction...then you the theoretical limit comes down by quite a bit.

      Even at that, he is assuming full sized packets, which is a bit of stretch, there is a good chance that not all of them will be the full 1500 bytes, factor in broadcast traffic, and other crud which may be running...and you start seeing a noticable drop even on a 100mbit connection.
    • It's incorrect. Did no one even bother to calculate the drop-off? Was there not one single engineer amongst them who ever said "Hey, you know, Gigabit is pretty popular these days."?

      10Gb is starting to get out there too. Granted, it's not likely to be hitting end-user boxes for a while, but you'd think somebody at Microsoft might've stopped to do the math on that one.
  • Wow... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Kr3m3Puff (413047) * <me.kitsonkelly@com> on Tuesday August 28, 2007 @08:22AM (#20382399) Homepage Journal
    I find this totally interesting. It goes to the heart of what is wrong with Microsoft these days... All seperate groups of folks, not talking to each other, to try and do "what is best" for the user, and then totally stomping on each other. Instead of really looking at thread management and optimising the kernel, they cludge together something to make multi media work by simplying saying "in certain situations, I can't guarentee the thread because of a crappy kernel, so I am going to tell everyone else to slow down".

    It is these sorts of things and things like the teams and teams debating the "Shutdown Menu" in Vista that are really showing Microsoft needs to really change if they are going to survive. It amazes me how a bunch of open source developers with all their own agendas do a better job then a bunch of folks all paid by the same company. Of course then there is Apple of an example of a group that shows you can pull it off and still all look like the same organisation.
    • ....it's got to be the biggest let-down of all time.

      The shut-down menu, that is... :D

      "Bill, Bill! I'm sorry! I didn't mean it! Come back!"

      *repents*
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by TeknoHog (164938)
      It's interesting to note how Unix philosophy ties in with this difference between Microsoft and open source. With unix, there's no single defined 'user experience' to be optimized, because the components can and will be combined in various ways. Then it's the individual components and the interfaces between them, that will be tweaked and optimized.
    • All seperate groups of folks, not talking to each other, to try and do "what is best" for the user, and then totally stomping on each other.

      I totally agree. For example, look at the cross-purposes of those working on DRM vs. those working on every other part of the OS.

    • There was something about Bill Gates and Microsoft at the end of one of Jared Diamond's books (Gun Germs & Steel I think) and how they implemented one of his theories about geographical fragmentation and state power. Something about how China stagnated while Europe flourished, and there being an optimum group size when tackling problems, a technique which MS chose to implement in its software development. Looks like they've overshot that balance. Kinda like the US Intelligence community in recent times.
  • What I took away from that was "Windows has to go slow to work." Shocker.
  • While I'm pretty sure his explanation is correct, does anyone else find themselves reading Mark Russinovich's explanations with a healthy-sized grain of salt ever since he went on MS's payroll?
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      No.

      Have you ever seen a talk by Mark?

      While he might be on the Microsoft payroll, he is definitely NOT one to sell-out.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by LordSnooty (853791)
        I think it's right to at least pose the question, though. Before, Mark was a Windows expert working independently, and was able to voice opinions as he saw fit. Now he's a Windows expert being paid by the company that makes Windows - the very success of Windows Vista will dictate how long his job lasts. He now has an interest in assuring customers and investors that things aren't as bad as they might be. Now, it's all about the bottom line. Of course, he's built up a lot of trust amongst the community, trus
  • Vista is a turd (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anita Coney (648748) on Tuesday August 28, 2007 @08:29AM (#20382451) Homepage
    Why should Vista have any problems playing audio and videos?! I have an ancient 550Mhz PIII with only 256 megs of ram running W2K and it plays MP3s and video (divx and xvid) much more smoothly than my wife's Vista system (2600+ AMD, GeForce 6800XT 512MB 256-bit GDDR2, 1.5 gigs Ram). My wife's system used to run XP Pro and it rocked for everything, including games. Now even old games such as Sonic Heroes will barely run on Vista.

    I gave it an honest chance, but Vista is a turd. If it can't play decades old MP3 technology MS should really give it up.
  • by Cyberax (705495) on Tuesday August 28, 2007 @08:39AM (#20382521)
    Microsoft should hire Con Kolivas to fix their Completely Unfair Scheduler :)
  • by Ancient_Hacker (751168) on Tuesday August 28, 2007 @08:49AM (#20382587)
    Okay, I probably would have applied this patch to my software, at 2Am, with a mental note to remove it in the morning and do the right thing, smarten up the task scheduler, perhaps with an app callback saying "I'm falling behind, could you boost me up a bit?".

    As goes without saying, arbitrarily throttling one particular task, at some arbitrary level, is the wrong thing.

    Perhaps this could go in Wikipedia under "Kludge"?

  • Have you heard anyone under the age of 40 who uses the word 'glitch' to describe undesirable behavior in machinery? Everyone over 40 remembers the modem days so bandwidth issues aren't a big surprise, either. Just another sign that Microsoft is truly the proverbial dinosaur.

    (says the guy who just turned forty)

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by DannyO152 (544940)
      Oh fuss and bother. Another apparent glitch in my plan to pass as young. It's back to the drawing board to get out the slide rule and adding machine.
  • by Spad (470073) <slashdotNO@SPAMspad.co.uk> on Tuesday August 28, 2007 @08:55AM (#20382653) Homepage

    The throttling rate Vista uses was derived from experiments that reliably achieved glitch-resistant playback on systems with one CPU on 100Mb networks with high packet receive rates. The hard-coded limit was short-sighted with respect to today's systems that have faster CPUs, multiple cores and Gigabit networks
    "Today's systems"? Vista's only been out for a year, just how fucking short-sighted are they?
    • How short-sighted? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by wild_berry (448019)
      I'd had two CPU's and Gigabit Ethernet for three years by the time that Vista was on sale to the public. That's not simply "short-sighted with respect to today's systems", that's a total let down to businesses who have high-performance workstations.
  • by IgD (232964) on Tuesday August 28, 2007 @08:57AM (#20382685)
    I think this is a great example of why the open source development model will lead to better outcomes. Microsoft apparently tweaked Windows for profit instead of to improve efficiency or user experience. This design flaw would have been identified immediately in the open source world and would have been rightly discarded.
  • It does so by issuing a command to the NDIS device driver... [to] pass along, at most 10 packets per millisecond (10,000 packets per second)... [T]he networking team is actively working with the MMCSS team on a fix that allows for not so dramatically penalizing network traffic, while still delivering a glitch-resistant experience.

    In the interest of getting a fix out quickly, I have carefully considered the problem and suggest changing 10 to 11 or maybe 12.
  • Oh, I see now. Lovely. This is like turning on your headlights and dropping down to 30 mph.

    OK - well that was how those old 6v Beetles worked...

  • by zerofoo (262795) on Tuesday August 28, 2007 @09:32AM (#20383083)
    While I was a consultant years ago during college, a co-worker had an old 486 machine and had Winamp playing a file off of a 3.5" floppy disc and it worked perfectly.

    Sure, video (especially HD content) has much higher bandwidth demands, but local video playback has NEVER been a problem on any machine I've owned in the last 10 years. I remember IBM thinkpads with PII 266 processors that could easily play DVDs.

    The only explanation for Vista's media playback design decision must be to compensate for the huge processing overhead that Vista creates. Poor fundamental design decisions necessitated hacks like this prioritization scheme.

    -ted
  • by farbles (672915) on Tuesday August 28, 2007 @11:04AM (#20384209)
    I used to play mp3s with no stuttering on a 486-100 using DosAmp. I cannot play mp3s or video without stuttering on Vista with a dual core 2.4 GHz CPU, 4 GB RAM, 500 GB SATA drive. I can put my XP SP2 drive on the same computer and play media flawlessly while (gasp) multitasking. Like the man says, Vista is a turd.

    When my old XP HD crashed I was forced to use Vista exclusively for several weeks. It was like my computer was sick and in the hospital. No TV from my ATI x800 All-in-Wonder (though I did get the FM radio working after a week or two), sucky video game frame rates, unstable network card and sound card drivers and crap multimedia playback. P2P kept crashing the network stack.

    Some people say that this isn't Microsoft's fault, it's those third party driver writers to blame. I say fuck that, these folks can write good drivers for the exact same computer in several other operating systems. It's Vista's fault.

    MS fanboys will all come out and say their systems all work perfectly. Horseshit. I've now had hands on with more than two dozen Vista machines ranging from laptops to upgrades and in every single case, that's 100% MS fanboys, not 99%, not 80%, all of them had stuttering media playback.

    There is no excuse for this sort of crap. My goodness it was such a relief to get an XP install back. My computer was perkier and all of a sudden everything worked again.

    If Microsoft does not fix this with the mother of all service pack releases rewriting Vista from the core out then my next post-XP os will not be Windows. My best guess is Vista SP1 will be lipstick on a pig rather than the thorough cleaning out that poor excuse for a beta release really needs though.

  • by Coward Anonymous (110649) on Tuesday August 28, 2007 @12:48PM (#20386053)
    Back when sysinternals was still independent, Mark provided real information with real criticism when things were wrong. Apparently, things have changed.
    His "analysis" here is not much more than a series of rationalizations and excuses:

    "Network DPC receive processing is among the most expensive, because it includes handing packets to the TCP/IP driver, which can result in lengthy computation. The TCP/IP driver verifies each packet, determines the packet's protocol, updates the connection state, finds the receiving application, and copies the received data into the application's buffers." (emphasis mine)

    The issue at hand is related to gigE NICs. Please find me a single gigE NIC that does not support TCP/IP checksum offload (even the lowly Realtek does).

    His graph showing 40% CPU utilization during a file copy must be a joke or an admission of a dismally performing network stack. There are only 2 possible explanations for that number:
    1. His file copy was saturating a 1gigE link - if you've saturated the link, 40% is not great but is decent. However, the test is not applicable to most people who've seen the issue. It also means there is another 60% of the CPU for processing audio - that should be plenty.
    2. His file copy was nowhere near saturating the link and Vista's network stack is horribly inefficient. My experience with pervious incarnations of Windows (2K, 2K3 and XP) has shown that under ideal conditions a single file copy will max out (because of inefficiencies in CIFS but that's another story) at ~35MB/s (roughly 1/3 of a gigE link in one direction). If Vista performs at roughly the same rate, then 40% CPU for 35MB/s is terrible. No wonder there is a degradation problem that required network throttling.

    Looking down further to the NDIS packet graph, it appears that it is indeed explanation 2 that is correct. Peak throughput through the system was 24.6MB/s (17215*1500). If this test was similar to the CPU test for the previous screenshot, we are seeing 40% for 24.6MB/s. It appears the system will saturate its CPU at 50MB/s half-duplex?!? That's horrible. Or Mark is showing different numbers from different tests. I'm not sure which I want to believe.

    Something appears to be very wrong with the network stack in these experiments. I don't have Vista. Can anyone test this?

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