A BIG thank you goes out to Killersneak of DNA-Drivers for his effort

Recently I submitted several posts to people who specialize in “homebrew” ATI video drivers. Specifically, Omega, DNA, and DHZeroPoint.

Killersneak, of DNA drivers was kind enough to respond to my post and lend me some assistance on this issue. He was nice enough to re-release a reworked Catalyst 4.6.6.8 Beta. It has some memory optimizations specifically for the xpress 200m. I have always liked his drivers, and run them on more than one system.

You can access the forum post and the Beta driver link from here:

http://www.dna-drivers.com/forums.php?m=posts&q=1508

After installing his drivers, I did notice a performance substancial improvement, but nothing that can make KOTOR or any of the other OpenGL apps remotely usable. Killersneak did do a fantastic job, however, as performance improvements can be measured to be anywhere from 100-200 percent better in certain tests. Unfortunately for the xpress 200m, a one to two hundred percent increase is only about 1-2 additional frames per second. Given how bad the frame rates are, the performance gains need to be in the 1000s of percent range to make any real difference. I went into this fairly convinced that this is entirely a hardware limitation (aka Video FIRMWARE problem), but I wanted that final nail in the proverbial coffin.

Just to give you a notion of what kind of improvement is needed here, take the 1-2 frames per second performance we get now as a baseline. At 1fps. 100% better is 2fps. 1000% better = 10fps. 2000% better = 20fps = barely playable) On average an optimized driver can improve performance but definately not at the level that is needed here. This proves beyond most measure of doubt, that no amount of software optimizations or tweaks can help this problem. This means if it looks, smells, and walks like a duck… it is, well, a duck. Duck, in this case, meaning a Hardware issue.

Feel free to download the driver, some OpenGL benchmarking programs and give it a whirl for yourself. I have come to the conclusion that this is without a doubt, a video firmware issue. However, even with this amount of proof I doubt HP, or any other hardware manufacturer, will do much about it.

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15 Responses to A BIG thank you goes out to Killersneak of DNA-Drivers for his effort

  1. Angela says:

    I have a Compaq PresarioV5000. It also has the Radeon Xpress 200M. My new notebook will play games like Sims 2 and The Movies better than my older notebook did (eventhough it had a faster CPU). My computer meets all the RECCOMENDED specs for KOTOR 2 (except for the video card–because the card did not exist when the game came out), yet the game plays like shit. The character can hardly move before they just freeze up midstride. I added more memory to my computer (now I have 1024), but it didn’t help at all (WHICH DOES NOT MAKE SENSE). I know my machine is not a gaming computer, but it isn’t even working as well as it is supposed to. I will try the bios update you posted. I’ll let you know if it helps, but if not–add the V5000 to your list. I only purchsed it as Fry’s back in June too.

  2. ragedookie says:

    Just a heads up, but I only intended to post that BIOS link as an example, or proof if you will, that HP/ATI/etc. know darn well this issue does in fact exist.

    Do not, I repeat, do not flash your BIOS with that file if your laptop doesn’t support it. You will “brick” the thing, requiring you to send it to HP for a new motherboard.

    Back to the KOTOR issue… yes it sounds like you have the very same issue everone else does reagrding the Xpress 200m and OpenGL.

    Here is your issue in greater detail:

    Keep an eye on your processor usage when firing up KOTOR or any other OpenGL 1.4 or above app. Anythinig that requires heavy Vertex and T&L operations are offloaded to the processor and spike its usage to 100%. It bogs the system down so much that is why the fps sucks so bad.

    In DirectX apps this problem does not seem to happen. It has to do with the Video Firmware and its lack of proper OpenGL hardware T&L and Vertex operations. It is 100% a video firmware issue.

    Feel free to research it on your own and draw your own conclusions. I can even send you all of the links I’ve compiled if it helps.

  3. Brandon Shatley says:

    I posted a couple days ago mentioning I might have the same problem in an Acer laptop. I can confirm it now. Unreal Tournament 2004 runs perfectly smooth in Direct3D mode, but is entirely unplayable in OpenGL mode. Furthermore, any game based on the GPLed OpenGL Quake engines (Q1, Q2, Qfusion) runs like total crap. Nexiuz is unplayable, despite being based on Quake 1. Warsow runs at 45fps, which sounds good, and is in fact better than most OpenGL games, but it runs at 150-333 fps on a normal graphics card. It is Qfusion (Q2+) based, so maybe there’s some unintentional partial workaround in that engine?

    This is all on an Acer Aspire 5102WLMi with ATI Xpress 1100 video, which is the same 1/2 X300 that the 200m is based on.

  4. ragedookie says:

    Acer Laptops…. nice machines. I just bought myself a 5672WLMi with a core duo and a mobility x1600 last week. Awesome machines, except for the “bloatware”, but nothing a new partition and reformat can’t cure.

    To be honest, I haven’t had the opportunity to test OpenGL performance on the newer Xpress 1100m IGP. I am not suprised, however, that you are having the same issue. I have begun to dig a little deeper on this and have actually ventured into testing a pcie x300 card to see what type of performance the foundation for the 200m and 1100m technologies have.

    Rest assured, I have compiled much info about it already and I am so far not very encouraged at all. It will actually be the subject of the next blog post.

  5. Brandon Shatley says:

    Heh, be careful reinstalling the Acer. Make sure you make your backup disks first, and don’t delete the restore partition. The only thing I’ve gotten out of customer support with Acer is that they refuse to even talk to you about your problems if you are not running the same version of Windows that came with the computer. If you don’t have a backup disk, they’ll offer to sell you one for $40 and you’ll have to raise Hell and demand a manager several times before you get that 2 cent piece of plastic under warranty.

  6. ragedookie says:

    When it arrived i booted it up, saw all of the “bloatware” (just like I read from the reviews on newegg) and promptly inserted a DVDRW and created a Master Restore DVD in case I ever sell it and need to restore it to factory spec.

    After that I wiped the drive clean using my own utility I created to wipe a hard disk clean to the point of factory-brand-new, then installed XP Pro. Got all of the drivers off Acer’s website beforehand and saved to a USB Flash drive,

    Everything works great at this point.

  7. Brandon Shatley says:

    Yeah, there’s no reason it shouldn’t work with XP Pro. But if you have any problems and have to talk to the support people, don’t tell them you’ve changed the OS, because they’ll use any excuse they can get to keep from actually helping you. No matter how dumb it is to say, “I’m sorry sir, we can’t support you because you have modified the product and that is not allowed in the warranty.”

  8. ragedookie says:

    Hopefully I will never have to call Acer for support. The only time I see needing to do so is if the laptop suddenly “bricks.” I certainly hope that doesn’t happen.

  9. sid says:

    I purchased an Acer 5102, didnt mind the MCE too much, actually love it because of its library feature. If you have a collection of media movie/music, then you will love MCE. Anyways back to the subject at hand. Acer supports not bad.. guess I just got lucky, first thing I did when I got the laptop was to install Vista RC 2 4xxx build. Vista runs perfectly fine on it, but is a b*tch if there are compatibility issues. Decided I didnt want Vista anymore and forgot to make backups, so I just called Acer support – long story short, I didnt tell them I installed a new OS (void warranty) and they sent me 7 backup disks ^^ for free, got them in 2 days. When I got the disks I remember I did make a back up on 2 dvds, lol.
    For 2D gaming, its great e.g. MTW, Civ III…
    3D wise I basically play only Direct3D. I can play AAO with 12×8 res, with medium details w/o much lag, not bad for an IGP. HL 2 & CS:S I can do 12×10 resolution high detail. But when it came to FEAR, only thing I could do was 6×4 res, with medium details – what surprised me was that the game still looked pretty good (console graphics) and was very playable even during fire fights.

  10. Levi says:

    Hi all. I have a Toshiba Satellite A100, combines a Celeron-M with the 200M radeon. I read somewhere that the issues are (somewhat) alleviated if you have Vista, and have done a little research. Vista (with the default install) includes a layer that translates *all* openGL calls into Direct 3D. As we know, the radeon xpress 200M *can* do direct3d graphics in a somewhat playable fashion. So Vista’s layer can allow you to play opengl games, like KOTOR 1 and 2 etc.

    Now all we need is an OpenGL-to-Direct3d layer app for windows xp, so we don’t have to go buy Vista just to play a few games. Unfortunately I have no idea how to implement such a thing… any ideas?

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  13. Dennis says:

    Killersneak is a really big fucking ass… Hi kickt and bannd me from his fucking server burorse he thinks im cheating.. Hahahaha Killersneak are you that fucking bad that that you cant take that a swe farmer boy kick you ass :D hahaha too bad for you. If i meet you agen I will kick you ass iven harder :P

  14. Hi there, I found your website in a new directory. I dont know how your site came up, must have been a typo, Your websitelooks good. Have a nice day

  15. Mac says:

    Link for DNA drivers is broken. Anyone know which version was or could post a new link?

    Thanks

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