Improving 6300 video performance on your INTEL/NVIDIA GPUs laptop

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EDIT: I moved this from a response to an old thread to a new Post so it might a get a bit more visibility.

Dear OMs,

I recently purchased a Flex 6300 and was at first disappointed with the performance of the waterfall display and panadapter. I had to lower the speed and FPS way down to avoid the lines the OP was referring to.

I was very surprise by this because my laptop is an Intel Core i7 with 8GB of RAM and a dedicated 2GB Nvidia GT550M video card. 

I am running 2 24" LCD monitors off the laptop, one on the VGA port and one on the HDMI port.

After some research online I discovered the culprit of my performance issues.

By default, desktop applications use the integrated graphic card, in the case of this laptop, an Intel HD 3000. While this card is perfectly capable of running a couple of monitors and display 2D content, it does struggle with games and GPU intensive apps such as SmartSDR.
It is only when you run a computer game, that the default setting on the Nvidia card will kick in, utilizing the more powerful Nvidia card to run the graphics.

All of this time I was running SmartSDR on the integrated Intel HD 3000 card instead of taking advantage of the better video card.

The following are the steps to change it if you happen to have a similar configuration to mine, with an NVIDIA video card.

First go to NVIDIA Control Panel. You can easily do this on Win7 by right clicking an empty area of the desktop and selecting "NVIDIA Control Panel" on the context menu.

On the top menu options "File | Edit | Desktop | 3D Settings | Help" click on "Desktop". Once there, select "Display GPU Activity Icon in Notification Area". This will add a little square icon on the bottom right of your task bar. If it doesn't have any color, you are not running any program through the NVIDIA GPU engine. You can also hover the icon and it will tell you the number of programs running on the video card.



Next, we need to make sure SmartSDR uses the better video card.

Inside the NVIDIA Control Panel you can see a list of Tasks on the left column. Open the 3D Settings group and select "Manage 3D settings".



Inside the "Global Settings" tab you can select the option to Always run the "High-performance NVIDIA processor" instead of the default "Auto-select".



You can also select the "Program Settings" tab and individually add the programs that will use the NVIDIA card versus using the integrated intel HD GPU.

You can add "smartsdr" and that will make a world of difference! It did on my laptop.



I hope this helps!

My waterfall and panadapter are buttery smooth now.

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EA4GLI - 8P9EH - Salvador

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Posted 5 years ago

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k0eoo

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Thanks Salvador, very helpful post!  I have the GT635, CP display was a bit different but found the appropriate settings....  Thanks again!!  Dennis, k0eoo
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Walt - KZ1F

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That was very useful Salvador, thank you!
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DrTeeth

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SSDR 1.3.8 runs just fine on my Intel HD 3000 card. The performance is no different at all to that when run using the nVidia 630M card - all settings maxed out in both cases. It could be that in this case, the extra performance of the nVidia card is making up for a PC that is not efficiently configured.
(Edited)
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EA4GLI - 8P9EH - Salvador

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How many monitors are you running and at what resolution? I am pretty sure the laptop I have is fairly competent to handle SmartSDR and the 6300. In my case the stuttering I had with the Intel HD 3000 is completely gone by using the NVIDIA GPU instead. I am sincerely curious as to your laptop specs to know what could be the bottleneck on mine. Maybe I think I fixed it and I am still missing something... would you care to elaborate about your settings and specs? Thanks in advanced!
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Walt - KZ1F

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I think, just to be clear, the stuttering problem was acknowledged by Tim, if not shortly after being reported by those that did, just the other day. Since it was introduced post 1.3.0 it is something that can be addressed, as Tim indicated was, at least, a reason for 1.4 delay. That does not diminish the value of your initial post which, at the very least, is a way to help the NVIDIA software remove itself from the decision as to whether graphics should be handled by the direct-x or the GPU. That was still a very thorough and informative post.

Certainly, if a user is happy with the performance they see from their hardware, excellent, more power to them. Someone's happiness with there existing system does not diminish from the thoroughness and informativeness of the post.
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DrTeeth

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I have not had any stuttering problems in any version of SSDR I have ever used. A ham here (forget his name) got us to run some benchmarks and the Intel 3000 HD was deemed quite capable of running SSDR.

If somebody has to use a more powerful card than another to get better performance, it generally means that there is something not efficiently set up on the affected PC. What else can it be?. It's a bit like tuning a car engine to get the expected performance rather than simply turning off the handbrake (i.e. fixing the problem), hi hi.

@ Salvador. I run my PCs in a very clean configuration with no programs autostarting that I do not need. I regularly clean out my TEMP folders, defrag my hard disk* and run disk clean every few months. I also scan for malware occasionally. The first time one does these clean ups, one can easily get well over 10 GB of rubbish cleared out.

The prefetch system occasionally fails in several ways and I keep an eye on that and fix it as required.

*I don't use the stock defragger.
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Raf

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@ Walt. "Certainly, if a user is happy with the performance they see from their hardware, excellent, more power to them. Someone's happiness with there existing system does not diminish from the thoroughness and informativeness of the post."

Could not have said that better, well put.

@Guy.

Not everyone drives a Ferrari, so the guys with the Kia will have to go with some bigger injectors, advance the timing and modify their fuel maps to compensate ;o)

If someone is using a half decent PC which meets the basic CPU requirements for SSDR to run but has a crappy video card, an upgrade with better graphics accelerator, more memory, processing speed etc., will make a difference.

Yes on the flip side some nuts, myself included, used to run water cooled video cards back in the day when the power demands for games and simulators was running ahead of what we could keep up with.

At the end of the day Sal has posted a tip which has helped a few and his input, no pun intended, is what makes the HAM community happier and this forum better. :O)
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EA4GLI - 8P9EH - Salvador

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Guy,

I was referring to your computer specs. Is it a desktop or laptop? SSD Drive? How much RAM? How many monitors are you running? What size monitors? What resolution? etc...

If I run just SmartSDR through the laptop 15 inch screen at native resolution I am sure it might run smoother, but I find that running a Flex radio requires you to use at the very least 2 large monitors (better that a bigger single one) and ideally 3 monitors.

I run the 2 x 24" LCDs at 1920x1080, and that was too much for the Intel HD 3000.

By the way, I think regular maintenance and upkeep of windows helps quite a bit, so thank you for pointing that out. I try to keep mine in top shape.
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Walt - KZ1F

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@Gary @Raf

I, honestly, don't want to belabor this point but I do not believe, nor do I have any indication of this, that the users on here are using old Pentium 1 processors in a laptop with 1GB of ram. For myself, which at the end of the day is the only thing I can speak authoritatively about, I run SSDR on an XPS 15Z.

I7 SandyBridge processor. Standard 2.8GHz Boast to 3.2GHz, 8 processors
8GB 64 bit memory
Gaming Graphics 6.6 rating for 3D business and gaming graphics

What brings down my score from what should have been a 6.6 to a 5.9 is the disk transfer rate. SSDR is not dependent on disk transfers so this is a non issue, is is degree of disk fragmentation. That is the case with FAT drives, not NTFS2 drives.

What I believe happens is, and this is especially true for laptops is using 3D graphics through the NVIDIA GPU software, is not favored due to the extra drain on the battery. Since SSDR does not do 3D this is not a huge issue.

The bug I reported about hyperactivity appears to be when SSDR receives a power event notification (monitor going to sleep) aside from not drawing it also stops draining the UDP ports, so what happens when the laptop monitor wakes up there is a flood of old data events that get painted so there is a hyperactivity on the bandscope as well as waterfall. When the backlog is drained behavior returns to normal. This really won't affect laptops that stay awake all the time, not the default behavior and desktops that don't go to sleep at all. For those buying business class machines that is not the default behavior, as UPS will tell you 'business never sleeps'.

Panadaptors are expensive. I had 4 panadapters open and the thread count shot to 133. With one open there are 26 threads.That's huge. No, that doesn't mean one needs dual quad core Xeon E8400s as it is not clear how many of those 121 threads were waiting for some even. That is still a lot of context switching which is non-productive cpu time consumed.

With 4 panadaptors open the datagram/sec count goes to 600, with one open it drops to 390. I made the stmt in another thread that if FRS came out with the 6300 first, there would be precious few 65 or 6700's sold. How many people actually standardly use more than one panadaptor and perhaps two slice receivers for main and sub on split? That doesn't take much in the way of resources, compared to running 2 or 3 or 4 (or 5 or 6 or 7 or 8).
Oh, even using the GPU, with 4 Pans open, I could see a lag.
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Raf

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@Walt

Since my 6500 is en-route, I have some time to work on a PC. From all that I have read, I am leaning towards my PC tower or commercial desktop workstation as opposed to a laptop.

Cons with these two is added fan noise and size, but there are ways around that. Its great reading all the feed back and what you guys are experiencing.

Salvador is of great help, a wealth of knowledge and not too far...so I am lucky in that respect. Have been taking his advice, hence the 6500's journey to my home ;o)
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Walt - KZ1F

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@Raf My 'main' machine is a Q6600 processor in a tower type form factor, 4 disks sda, sdb, sdc, and sdd. Currently I am really only using sda. It runs Linux as Linux is faster than Windows, 17.68% faster. Besides, with Windows you need all the anti-virus crap. What's funny and maybe others will identify with this, is this machine has been my main development machine (I write commercial software) for the better part of 12 years. The four processors run 2.4GHz. I got the laptop, which also runs Linux, predominately, as this machine tethered me to my desk and sometimes I use that laptop in the family room. So I dual boot to Windows when I want to get on the air. Used to be I only did that when I did taxes. Both PC and main Linux box take almost the same time to boot but what I like about my iPhone is less about the phone and more about the apps, financial, weather, news, ConsumerReports, banking, etc. It comes on as soon as I hit the wakeup button. But, as a browser it kind of sucks and it's too small form factor wise) to run a panadaptor. However, since I got the Nexus 9, that browser works fine. The Nexus 9 uses the 64 bit Tigra K1 chip and uses the Kepler GPU architecture. Here is what NVIDIA says about it:
And because we built Tegra K1 on our Kepler GPU architecture – which powers some of the world’s fastest gaming PCs and supercomputers – the Nexus 9 supports all major graphics standards. That includes the new Android Extension Pack in Lollipop, bringing state-of-the art graphics to Android for PC and console-class games.
So, once I re-retire in a month, writing a Java based SmarterSDR will be my full time job, that and being a gym rat. This will allow me to do voice to CW on the tablet and have multiple Panadaptors spread across different monitors. It will support integrated AMP control, rotor control and dxcluster that will drive logging. On Linux (or perhaps even WIndows) all of these subunits will be able to span multiple monitors as they will all be child windows of the Desktop, not main app window. What this means on the tablet is multiple panadaptors will need to be swiped in or out. It'll also do WAN remote, even though it initially will need a local proxy to appear like a local user. What's the main challenge? Replicating the look and feel or something close to it. I have to have a conversation with FRS on that however. I think that'll do it, instant on and my radio travels with me. Do they have wifi at Dayton? I am not really happy with the hit rate of DM-780 so even though it's open source (v5) I am not sure it will make the trip to tablet land.

Is the 6000 series a really nice radio? Absolutely it is. However, for me, if I have to get a $10,000 business class machine to run it on (Xeon E8400, error correcting memory, 16 processors) that would be one bridge too far and I'd be looking at alternatives. So when I push back on those who (inadvertently) make others feel self conscious that theirs isn't as big. That is why. I don't want people to think they need the Tesla when, that 4 year old Kia will do just fine, or theirs  has to hit some magical arbitrary size to be considered an equal.

I'll reiterate though, people should get the biggest machine they are comfortable buying. It's one thing to get it because you can and another to get it because of the mistaken belief SSDR requires it.

 BTW,  I am not the boss of you. It's a hobby, it's supposed to be fun.
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Raf

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WOW Walt, quite interesting and thanks so much for the detailed explanation and insight. You are quite a talented guy I see. After taking a look at my 7-8yr old tower which was a top of the line machine back then, I decided its time for an upgrade.

I had not used that machine much within the last 5 years or so hence it being neglected. As a matter of fact I used this machine for a while as a server to host two phpbb forums back then.

Consulting with Salvador a bit we looked at some options and I might be going for a 4 GHz quad core machine with 8 Gigs of ram and maybe the ATI Radeon R9-280.

Since I fly RC aerobatic airplanes, my aerobatics training sim will run on the same machine along with my racing sim too. It will be my machine for the HAM Shack/ toy room.

Yes I have seen the speed with Linux, booting up and simplicity for what I was doing. I have used it when I overhauled an Echo Link / IRLP node here.

I am excited about receiving my 6500, thanks to Salvador EA4GLI - 8P9EH for introducing me to it, building a new PC, getting a new 7 Band Hex Beam, AMP and a new shack.

Salvador is single highhandedly "launching" Flexradios here for free. He takes his time to demonstrate and help local HAMS to see the fun and practicality of SDR's here.

Its a huge investment but well worth it I think. Its great to know that there are smart and great individuals like you here on the forums, who help and share making the HAM community a happier and more exciting environment.

Thanks again Walt and look forward to continued correspondence here and on the air.

73

Raf
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Walt - KZ1F

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@Raf, et tu? When I found myself in involuntary retirement last spring I decided I wanted to get into model RC planes. Acrobatic would be even more fun, Are you on your 6500 yet? What's your email. I'd like to discuss more the RC aircraft, which is out of scope on this forum. BTW, I also hold a commercial multi-engine pilot license.I think the only way that will help with RC is with a nose mounted camera.
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Raf

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@walt
Walt you would totally enjoy the RC airplane hobby especially since you are a HAM and a full scale pilot. Up to the mid 90s HAMS were into RC planes and vice versa.
Wow must be nice to be a licensed commercial multi-engine pilot. RC flying is the next best thing to full scale flying, aerobatics makes it more fun exponentially. I would love to share any RC info with you, you can email me @ 8P9RRHAM@gmail.com
Yes many of my friends who fly full scale too says its a lot easier for them when they fly FPV camera with the models.
I would definitely encourage you to get into RC flying. BTW, I had written a reply and thought I had uploaded it, lets try this again lol.
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WA6FXT Mike

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Thank you for an excellent "tip". Thank you.