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WHS to Media Center Jerky playback.


shollz
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I am having an issue from time to time where playback of videos from the WHS on Media Center results in Jerky/skipping playback. It is most noticeable with recorded TV (SD or HD) and sometimes with DVD playback fro m mymovies.

A quick rundown of my setup. 5 HTPCs of various specs all on Win 7. A Dlink gigabit network and D-link gigabit router with cat6 cabling and my WHS (specs in sig.)

I have not looked into this as much as I should have, which is why I am throwing the question out here. I have looked at CPU and network utilization on the server and PC at the time of the jerky playback. Everything is in the single digit utilization percentages each time it happens. The problem occurs on every HTPC. It does not happen often, I may watch recorded TV for 2 hours before it happens or it may happen in the first 3 minutes.

I wish their was a way to increase the buffer for media center on the streaming end. Increasing media players streaming buffer did nothing for the issue.

I also changed the flow control on the NICs which is Microsoft's suggestion for extenders with this issue, even though I have no extenders. I read that demigrator.exe on WHS could also cause issues like this with it taking some IO bandwidth.

I appreciate any help,

Thanks
Craig

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shollz,
You should not have to make any of those changes with that kind of hardware. What kind of hard drives do you have in your server? Any EARs by any chance? There is definetly something wrong. I have a similar setup to yours and I can play 3 blu-ray streams at the same time. I am guesssing based on your server capacity that you have some of the new WD EARS drives. If not, any add-ins in

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Craig,

I heard your emails read on another podcast. Are you still having this issue? After listening it does appear that you have the dreaded DE issue although you seem to have it worse than anything I have seen. I almost do not see it anymore. Are you running antivirus? That seems to aggravate it more espcially during a scan. Let us know if you have resolved this.

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I was curious about this issue too. DE shouldn't really be a problem unless he has a large number of duplicated folder AND he is changing the contents of those folders often, right? I have seen stuttering from time to time with my Mediasmart server, but it is a little underpowered.

I guess it would really be helpful to understand all the add-ins and services that Shollz has running on his server. What is curious is when this occurs he mentions he is not having high CPU issues so it does seem like a disk access issue.

I also wonder if the server and the HTPC are all connected through the switch. I have seen on other forums some issues with having the server connected directly to the router and the extenders (or HTPC) on a switch.

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Cskenny,
I was also curious about CPU usage and drive access. On the rare occasions when it happens to me my drive access hits the max. Maybe he is experiencing something else.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Hey guys, sorry for the late response. I didn't think anyone had posted on this.

@PCDOC. I do have two EARS drives, one 1.5tb and one 2tb. I experienced these problems even before I had these drives and only had 3 1tb drives in the server. I have experienced this issue I would say almost since day one of my last rebuild of the server at the same time I installed windows 7 on all my PCs. Before then, I never stored Recorded TV on the sever.

Network configuration:

At one point my WHS was plugged into a 5 port gigabit switch by itself. Now it is on an 8 port gigabit switch with all my other PCs. The only thing plugged into my router besides the switch is the HD homerun.

Add-ins installed:
Add-in central
Webguide
Whiist
webfolders4whs
My Movies
update history addin
asoft adminime

I am not really sure what the issue is and i am kind of stumped. It happened lastnight severely while watching recordings of HD shows. I hit the 30 second skip back button and it would play it just fine and then start skipping a minute later. Then play fine for the next 20 minutes. Makes no sense. I was watching my server as it was doing it was doing it lastnight and the CPU usage was at 3% and network at 16mbps. I watched a ripped dvd through mymovies after that and it had a couple minor skips, but since it is not streaming as much data, it does not do it as bad.

Two things I will try when I get some time is assigning everything a static IP and take the router off the network and let the switch handle everything.

I also would like to add another NIC to the WHS and try that one instead of the internal NIC.

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Starting from basics, I would say that what you are experiencing is related to bit rates and bandwidth. For startelrs the EAR drives will exhibit a slow down factor of five to ten times if they are unjumpered. HD video needs a continuous stream that can not be maintained if the drive has been crippled due to configuration. So the first thing I would do is move your data off and reconfigure your drives and hopefully one of them is not the system drive. Secondly is 16 Meg/sec your max throughput? Sixteen will not handle HD. In viewing HD you typically need twenty for smooth playback during peaks. The dedicated IP will probably not do anything but the new NIC is worth a shot. To eliminate network problems I would try and copy about five to ten gigs and watch your transfer speed. If it is not above 30-40 megs/sec than your issue is most definitely in your network or it's capability to pull/push data from the server. If you meet that most likely it will point back to your windows 7 installation and a codecs issue. Can you tell me what type of HD your are playing and did you install any playback software or codecs? Do see this on more than one pc or just one? If I where a betting man I would bet that your issue Is in the server and drives (EARS). I realize that you stated it happen when you went to windows seven however that could be that the load on your server went up when you started playing HD. Let us know what happens with the round of testing. If we can isolate whether it is bandwidth or a codecs issue we can make some additional recommendations. Good luck.

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Starting from basics, I would say that what you are experiencing is related to bit rates and bandwidth. For startelrs the EAR drives will exhibit a slow down factor of five to ten times if they are unjumpered. HD video needs a continuous stream that can not be maintained if the drive has been crippled due to configuration. So the first thing I would do is move your data off and reconfigure your drives and hopefully one of them is not the system drive. Secondly is 16 Meg/sec your max throughput? Sixteen will not handle HD. In viewing HD you typically need twenty for smooth playback during peaks. The dedicated IP will probably not do anything but the new NIC is worth a shot. To eliminate network problems I would try and copy about five to ten gigs and watch your transfer speed. If it is not above 30-40 megs/sec than your issue is most definitely in your network or it's capability to pull/push data from the server. If you meet that most likely it will point back to your windows 7 installation and a codecs issue. Can you tell me what type of HD your are playing and did you install any playback software or codecs? Do see this on more than one pc or just one? If I where a betting man I would bet that your issue Is in the server and drives (EARS). I realize that you stated it happen when you went to windows seven however that could be that the load on your server went up when you started playing HD. Let us know what happens with the round of testing. If we can isolate whether it is bandwidth or a codecs issue we can make some additional recommendations.
Good luck.

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@ pcdoc
would "Teaming" two 1 gigabit cat5e or cat6 lines to a router or switch help in a media stream shutter problem.
i am in the middle of a frankenbuild that has two ethernet ports build into the mobo Gigabyte [GA-P55A-UD6]This feature can be activated from the mobo bios the output would be 2 gigabit speed.The only problem is what happen to the HTPC end, can it handle double the bandwidth? The manual that came with the mobo doesn't give you to much information about teaming lines only how to set it up and turn it on or off. My guess is i need something at the HTPC end to handle the extra bandwidth but what?

Sorry if i sound like a NEWBEE this is my first build.

My WHS "For Vail"
Core i/7 860 w/8Gb ram
Mobo GA-P55A-UD6
Sys - HD 2 1Tb {RAID-1 or 10}
Storage Pool 2 2 Tb HD

I know this is over kill for a WHS Box, I can alway turn into new Windows 7 machine if it doesn't work out.But I am a firm believer in "GO Big or Go Home"

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Hey pcdoc, thanks for the responses.

You might have missed it above, but I did experience this problem before I put the EARS drives in. They are also jumpered. My drive performance is pretty good. I get between 42MB/s and 58MB/s transferring large files.

I have 3 dedicated HTPCs and 4 other PCs that have media center. The problem occurs on every machine, but does not occur all the time.

The reason for going to dedicated IP would be to take my router, wireless, and internet out of the equation. That way I could still talk to all the HTPCs and the server.

THe media that causes the most issues is Over the air HD recorded through the HD homerun. If the files are left locally on the HTPCs they playback perfectly. This rules out any codec issues. That 16mbps was what I was seeing in adminime at the time of the stuttering for network traffic.

It is almost certainly the Server or a network issue. I will try a NIC when I get a chance to get one. You can throw some more technical ideas at me if you want. I am a IT team leader for a large hospital and deal with large networks and PCs on a daily basis. I don't know everything by any means, but I have good grasp for most things. I was just being lazy and throwing this issue on the forums to see if anyone else had the same problem. If I have to I will bring a managed switch from work and a packet sniffer, then mirror the port the whs is on and monitor the traffic to see what is going on over the network. When I get some more free time for this I will. But work and Bass Fishing come first :)

Thanks for your help.

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