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Hyperthreading / ACPI / Audigy 2 problem

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July 12, 2003 12:12:18 PM

Okay, here is the log from a chat session with Creative about the problems i have with my Audigy 2 card. They dont have an answer for this! The short version of the log below:

I have a hyperthreading board with hyperthreading processor, Windows XP Pro labels the computer as an "ACPI Multiprocessor PC". Creative's solution is make it a "Standard PC", but i'm convinced i will lose HT functionality if i do that (Sisoft Sandra says i got HT but it is not enabled, when i set it to Standard PC). Hyperthreading relies on ACPI and ACPI dumps most equipment on virtual irq's (including the Audigy 2). Creative's drivers do not work well on virtual irq's, so it sends me crashing to a Driver_IRQL_NOT_LESS_OR_EQUAL blue screen. The only way for me to have stability is to turn off Hardware Acceleration for the soundcard to almost completely off (making it a software accelerated hunk 'o junk essentially).

Now i've got a dilemma:

1. Turn off HT and have fun with equipment on normal IRQ's by making it a 'Standard PC'

or

2. Stay with my current "Hardware Acceleration to almost OFF" setting.

Please read the entire log below to get a good idea of my problem, and if you had the same problem and made it a "standard pc" then you are basically running a HT board without HT.

Oh... the driver cd they sent me is just the 5.12.1383 version but as a full cd and not as an upgrade.

Regards,

SKiNNY

P.S. If anyone knows of a soundcard from another brand that DOES work well with ACPI, please reply to this thread. Thanks!

=========================================
New Conference with Anders
from CLE
Friday, July 4, 2003 5:28:20 PM GMT+02:00
=========================================

Anders : Thank you for contacting Creative Interactive Chat. How can I help you?

You : Hello Anders

Anders : Hi

You : I've spoken to Urszula earlier.. its about the Driver_IRQL_NOT_LESS_OR_EQUAL problem i have when playing games

Anders : Ok, whats been done so far?

You : Well.. its like this.. this is a new system with Hyperthreading that relies on ACPI (no ACPI means no HT).. the problem is that because of ACPI, it puts the Audigy 2 on a Virtual IRQ... I believe thats where the driver problem comes in

You : soundblaster drivers arent too great with hardware on a virtual irq

You : if i turn off hardware acceleration in Windowsxp (of my soundcard) the problems go away

You : but because it is off, i lose a lot of functionality on the card.. plus the load on the processor is getting bigger because it runs in software emulation

Anders : Have you tried as " Standard PC"?

You : thats the problem right there

You : if i do that... set it to standard pc, i will lose hyperthreading functionality

You : so its a lose-lose situation... i basically got 2 options: 1. disable acpi and set it to standard pc, losing hyperthreading

Anders : What about Advanced configuration and power interface (ACPI)?

You : or 2. keep the hardware acceleration to off, making it a low end soundcard

You : ACPI is an integral part of Hyperthreading... i cant turn off ACPI and still have HT

You : and because of the HW acceleration slider.. i'm convinced its the soundblaster driver that cant handle a virtual irq

You : Urszula asked me to look up the driver version.. its 5.12.1383

You : what i need is a driver that can handle ACPI and Virtual irq's... this soundcard is basically useless if it doesnt get fixed

You : and ofcourse, turning off acpi is no option either because i didnt buy a hyperthreading board and processor so i can turn it off

You : i've done a lot of research on the internet before starting this conversation... read somewhere that using /pcilock as a boot switch would enable me to force the soundblaster to a non-virtual irq (preferably 5), but that doesnt work on this system

You : i just cant set it on a non-virtual irq

You : --

You : pretty complex problem i've got here :) 

Anders : Very complex. Which drivers are you running?

You : 5.12.1383

You : latest non-beta drivers

Anders : Ok, just a sec.

You : Talking it over with the others? :) 

Anders : Sorry about that. Which motherboard is it?
What other h/w do you have?
And could you provide the IRQ list if possible.

You : okay... here goes

You : Asus P4C800 Deluxe, Intel P4 2.8 Ghz Hyperthreading, 2x Corsair 512mb 400Mhz, 2x SATA 120Gb Drives RAID 0 config, SMC nic 100Mbit

You : Nvidia Ti4200 128mb

You : IRQ list.. hold on

You : System Information report written at: 07/04/03 17:56:42 System Name: MOLENWIJK1 [IRQs]

Resource Device Status
IRQ 9 Microsoft ACPI-Compliant System OK
IRQ 16 NVIDIA GeForce4 Ti 4200 OK
IRQ 16 Intel(R) 82801EB USB Universal Host Controller - 24D2 OK
IRQ 19 Intel(R) 82801EB USB Universal Host Controller - 24D4 OK
IRQ 18 Intel(R) 82801EB USB Universal Host Controller - 24D7 OK
IRQ 23 Standard Enhanced PCI to USB Host Controller OK
IRQ 23 WinXP Promise FastTrak 376/378 (tm) Controller OK
IRQ 22 3Com EtherLink XL 10/100 PCI For Complete PC Management NIC (3C905C-TX) OK
IRQ 20 Creative SB Audigy OK
IRQ 21 OHCI Compliant IEEE 1394 Host Controller OK
IRQ 0 System timer OK
IRQ 8 System CMOS/real time clock OK
IRQ 1 Standard 101/102-Key or Microsoft Natural PS/2 Keyboard OK
IRQ 13 Numeric data

You : woops.. its a 3com nic :) .. not smc

Anders : Thanks, discussing again. Bare with me.

You : roger

Anders : Which pci slot is it in?

You : 4th pci slot

You : putting it in another wont get it to a normal irq though

You : perhaps to 19 instead of 20, or perhaps to 21

Anders : Have you tried them?

You : yes

Anders : All of them?

You : yep

Anders : What does it say under computer in device manager?

You : i'm guessing the driver just cant handle the virtual irq's very well.. hence Driver_IRQL_NOT_LESS_OR_EQUAL... which goes away when i turn HW acceleration off

You : ACPI Multiprocessor PC

You : because its a HT system

You : HT will always show as a multiprocessor system, and there is no other way then the ACPI way to use HT

Anders : Discussing again.

You : must be great to have such a problem presented just before the weekend starts eh? :) 

Anders : Where did you get the drivers from?

You : soundblaster site

You : didnt get it from a third party site

Anders : Did you have any previous soundcards?

You : no, this is a fresh install

You : with dx9a

Anders : Ok, I will send you a cd with the latest drivers. Once you have this uninstall the card and then reinstall with the cd Im sending you.

You : is that a newer version ?

You : or the same as i have now?

Anders : The ones on the cd have not been released yet.

You : ok.. that sounds great

Anders : Can I have your Name and address.

You : is there any way you could upload it to me?..

You : i can give you a temp ftp account on my server

Anders : its 603 MB so I have to send it.

You : okay :) 

You : my OS and drivers are english (i know you're going to ask that once you see my address:) 

You : Robert XXXXXXXXXXX

You : XXXXXXXstraat XXXX

You : XXXX XX XXXXXXXXX

You : Holland

Anders : Ok Got it. Will send it on Monday. Post is gone already.

You : roger.. well thanks a lot for all the help and braincrunching :) 

You : and i hope my problem will find its way to the programmers of the drivers

You : perhaps it can help them in some way

Anders : Im sure it will.

You : oki .. have a great weekend Anders

Anders : You too Robert, thanks

=========================================
DEPARTED CONFERENCE
=========================================


SKiNNY
July 16, 2003 5:33:02 PM

Hmmm.. just ordered that card and it should arrive today. I have the same motherboard. Was there a reason you installed XP in Multi-processor mode and not as a uni-processor. I installed mine in Uni ACPI mode. I also have the 2.4 chip with 800mhz FSB. I'll let you know how I make out tonight if I have any problems. This will be my only PCI card though. Did you try other PCI slots?

Are you the friend who works on computers? :cool:
July 16, 2003 5:34:22 PM

Oops I see you tried other PCI slots.

Are you the friend who works on computers? :cool:
Related resources
July 16, 2003 10:06:11 PM

Interesting, I had not heard of the ACPI limitation in regards to HT. As I have an Audigy card, I am all too familiar with the problems the Audigy has with ACPI. However I don't like the idea of my devices all sharing a common IRQ anyway, so I did not hesitate to disable it on my Athlon PC, and it works fine now.

I decided to investigate the HT/ACPI issue. I found several Linux forums that seemed to concur with your findings. Then I came across the document at one of Intel's developer sites (not sure why I found the one in Russia, but it's in English):

<A HREF="http://developer.intel.ru/download/eBusiness/pdf/ar0246..." target="_new">http://developer.intel.ru/download/eBusiness/pdf/ar0246...;/A>

The interesting bit is on page 9, which explains how HT is implemented:

"Pentium 4 Processor with HT Technology-based systems
have implemented changes in the platform BIOS so the system
recognizes the logical processors. During the system boot
process, the BIOS counts and records the number of logical
processors available in the system and records the information
in the Pentium 4 processor’s Advanced Configuration and
Power Interface (ACPI) table. The operating system then uses
this table to schedule threads onto the logical processors."

So you are absolutely right. No ACPI = no HT! What a huge drawback! In the afore-mentioned Linux forums I read some <A HREF="http://news.gw.com/freebsd.smp/2274" target="_new">discussion</A> about a fix to this dilemma. However, its mostly greek to me. It seems they are modifying something called the "MP table" without regard to the ACPI table. However this of course is a Linux patch, so it won't work with Windows, but it does seem to suggest that such a patch <i>could</i> be made for Windows.

<font color=white><b>_________________________________________________</font color=white></b>
Armadillo<font color=orange>[</font color=orange><font color=green>TcC</font color=green><font color=orange>]</font color=orange> at Lanwar and MML
July 17, 2003 9:17:02 PM

Hey man, I have the same motherboard, only with a P4 3GHz 800FSB processor, 1 gig of ram. I am a computer tech and have been for some time now. There was somthing I learned back when the 1st live cards came out, and that was to always install creative labs pci sound cards into the 3rd pci slot from the AGP slot. Also, I'm assuming you disabled the onboard sound? I haven't had a problem yet with creative cards since I started doing that. Good luck man.

<P ID="edit"><FONT SIZE=-1><EM>Edited by tech311 on 07/17/03 05:18 PM.</EM></FONT></P>
July 17, 2003 9:25:25 PM

Thanks for checking things out and helping me prove that this is a valid case concerning Soundblaster cards (i'm betting the same will be true on an Audigy 1 and SB Live).

I think the only thing that needs to be done is a set of drivers that actually do work well with ACPI. When thats made, both creative and a gazillion people in the community will be happy (not to mention the money creative could save on techsupport).

I did have another question in my first post too: Are there soundcards on the market that does work well on ACPI enabled computers/OS'es and that does work well on virtual irq's? Also has to be a same generation card (no old stuff).

Thanks!


SKiNNY
July 17, 2003 9:34:45 PM

To tech311:

Funny, we posted a message almost exactly at the same time :p 

Well, the Driver_IRQL_NOT_LESS_OR_EQUAL doesnt show up all the time and in every game/program.

There are currently 2 games that i know of where i can wait for the crash to happen. The games are: EVE Online and GTA3 Vice City.


GTA3 Vice City: Core drivers and EAX drivers - EAX setup in the game configuration.

I can 'force' a crash in GTA3 really quick when i start shooting up the place (cars etc) with a minigun mayhem-style, its a matter of minutes and then it all crashes to a blue screen.

This is a really good test!
--

EVE Online:

Crashes at will... can be 3 times in 20 minutes, but can also be once a day.

--------

The current cure for me, is to almost disable HW Acceleration for the soundcard.

SKiNNY
July 18, 2003 9:58:37 AM

Well AFAIK just about any card other than a Creative Labs card will work with an ACPI system and have no problems. I haven't really looked into it though so I could be wrong here.

But if you do go with a non-Creative card, you would be giving up EAX 3.0, otherwise known a EAX Advanced-HD. Currently no non-Creative cards support this. Then again, if you are turning the hardware acceleration all the way down, you are turning off that support anyway. 6 one way, half a dozen the other I guess. If it were me, I'd go ahead and take whatever small performance hit disabling ACPI/HT would cause me just to keep EAX 3.0, until someone creates a fix to this situation. But I wouldn't hold your breath for Creative to come up with a fix. ACPI has been a thorn in their side ever since the Audigy was first released. When it first hit the market, they didn't even have a WinXP driver! Took them months just come up with a <i>beta</i> driver for XP. If they are even working on a fix for the ACPI problem, no telling how long it could be. By the time they come up with one, they might be selling Audigy 4's.

In fact when I first got my AUdigy, I contacted Creative support to ask why they did not have XP drivers for one, and why it did not work with ACPI. I don't have a transcript of what was said, but basically what I remember is they said ACPI is bad technology (which I completely agree with), and their product is simply too intense and high-performance to work with a system that has everything sharing a single IRQ. Left me with the impression that they thought the ACPI problem was one they shouldn't <i>have</i> to fix. People should just not use ACPI. Of course I didn't want to hear it at the time, and demanded a refund for having been sold a product that did not work as advertised.. of course that went nowhere.

But really, they do have a valid point. ACPI does suck, and the Audigy cards have a lot more processing power than just about any other PCI card you might find in a standard system, so of course they are not going to want to share an IRQ with anything. In fact we may <i>never</i> see an Audigy ACPI fix, because it simply might not even be possible.

I think Intel should find some way of implementing HT without having to use ACPI. Even if I didn't have an Audigy and I could use ACPI with no problems, I still wouldn't want to. The Linux geeks have found a way around it (see my previous link to the forums), so we know it can be done.

Oh and BTW, great games!! I beta tested for Eve, and I loved it. But at the time it went live, it was still much much too buggy for me to want to go live with it. I would warp into a belt, and by the time Eve finished drawing all the asteroids and what not and actually started to respond to commands, I would be dead from pirates. Did they ever fix that nonsense?

<font color=white><b>_________________________________________________</font color=white></b>
Armadillo<font color=orange>[</font color=orange><font color=green>TcC</font color=green><font color=orange>]</font color=orange> at Lanwar and MML
July 27, 2003 9:22:19 PM

Well, as much as Creative may dislike ACPI, it is still a standard. If you're right and they dont do anything about fixing this problem then they surely will lose a lot of ground on the market because more and more systems will rely heavily on ACPI in the future. Also, their "fix" to disable ACPI isnt a fix at all! They just get away with it now, because people with the same problem dont know they are actually disabling their Hyperthreading that way (like buying a ferrari and putting in a lawnmower engine).

I'm thinking of mailing some producers of cards and ask if their hardware DOES work with ACPI and buy one of those, EAX3 is nice.. but i really wanna keep my HT.

EVE is gr8 btw :p  Expected more players, but 5000 players online generally so its nice and cozy :)  Got a great setup for the cruiser i'm flying atm.

SKiNNY
July 28, 2003 2:24:53 AM

Is it only in games that use EAX3 that you have this problem? I just built a system for a friend that has a P4 2.6C and an Audigy 2. I played UT 2003 with EAX enabled without problems, but I didn't try any games with EAX3. I think I read that Vice City uses EAX3 is that correct? Also, the Audigy 2 is the only PCI device in that computer. I'm just curious because I'll probably be building the exact same thing for myself soon and it would suck to have to disable hardware acceleration. I'll have to try Vice City on my friend's computer.
!