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FS9 test flight to investigate performance problems

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Hi. This is the first of a few test flights I will post. I want to see how many are experience a particular performance problem that I as well as a few others I

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Also, after you've done 3. , try using the 2 key to move way out over the ocean, then back again. Framerate will be restored. Maybe Autogen scenery does not get removed properly in the distance? The autogen scenery does dissapear visually. You can observe how autogen buildings collapse in the distance as you use the 2 key to slew backwards, but maybe the polygon and texture data is not removed from video memory, even though the buildings are not visible?

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Hi JimmiG.Thanks for posting that flight... it makes the discussion much better. :)Using your settings:1. 252. 653. 174. 24When I used my normal settings:Same thing! But my normal settings use a mip level of 5, AA on at 4x and AF on at 16X ( performance ), mesh at 85%, no AI traffic, no Shadows for ground or plane objects.I changed the zoom level to 1x:1. 342. 563. 234. 34I also was curious to let the sim work out the problem by letting the plane go out to sea, then return ( as you tried above ). I found 2 areas where the FPS jumped to an increase. The first jump was near N32* 34' and W117* 20.06'. That increase was to the start level ( 34 in the last test ). It's about 3 minutes out to sea at a slew of 239KIAS.The second jump was at about 4 minutes out at that rate, and the jump was to the low 80's with my normal settings and 1x zoom.That first jump is the distance when the accumulated autogen is released... all except any that would have groundtiles that are slightly visible (?). The second jump is when all objects in the city are released ( all the building objects whether autogen or library objects ).The release is due to distance, not visibility. The BGL code for the library objects has a distance of usage coded, and when they disapper the FPS rises, as they are released. But autogen do not obey these rules, and the release must be tied to the distance from the groundtiles which they sit on... and is probably hard-coded in the sim.As I have written before, the behavior is, autogen accumulate as they first become displayed, but do not release until the plane ( and it's viewport ) is at a specific distance from the groundtiles.We can force a scenery refresh, and then that accumulation of autogen is released and a new round of accumulation started.===================I have a Radeon 9500 Pro, and an Athlon 2600+ running on a MSI KT400 MoBo. 1GB PC2700 memory, XP home, DX9.0b, Catalyst 3.6 drivers. All updates to Windows and VIA chipset. AGP aperature at 64. Onboard sound.The major difference to our systems would be my increased memory, and i am very careful as to what background processes I allow running. Task manager will show 16 processes ( including the task manager itself ).You should be able to have 4X AA and 16X AF with your system without any significant FPS penalty, with that card.1x zoom will help the base FPS significantly.Any bottleneck for your system would be the CPU/Mobo/Memory... not the video card. ( and anyone buying a Radeon can save some money and get a 9500 Pro... the performance in FS2004 is about the same as the 9700 Pro ).Dick

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Where does the data actually accumulate? As texture/vertex data on the videocard? In RAM? As data in some temporary folder on the drive? I've never seen total RAM allocation with FS2004 go above more than about 400MB on my system, and I make sure to shut down any background applications before running FS.I still don't get why it has to accumulate like this. It certainly can't be for performance reasons (ie. to "cache" objects for faster loading or something). It would seem to me that the distance you have to be from the tiles before autogen is released, is too great. This spells disaster for approaches where you first pass over a major city, then turn around to land, because then you'll be facing all the tiles where Autogen was previously displayed, cutting framerate significantly, just when you need it the most (on final).

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I wonder if using slew mode is part of the problem?I have a standard benchmark that I run ... a short final on autopilot 34L at KSEA. The other day I was running this benchmark to test some new settings, and just for the heck of it I slewed around toward downtown Seattle. When I reset the flight, all of the sudden the fps had dropped by about 10, even sitting in pause mode. I tried exiting to the menu and totally reloading the flight, and fps were still abnormally low. I finally had to exit the sim totally and reload to get the fps back to normal.I tried this a couple of times, and both times slewing toward seattle from KSEA seemed to take away some FPS and not give it back without completely exiting FS2004 ... perhaps adjusting the autogen slider, per your experience, might have done it though.Anyway, I just wonder if you are affecting the results of your test by slewing rather than just flying. I haven't encounterd any abnormal fps drops (nothing that couldn't be explained by my settings or he weather conditions) in about 20 flights of normal flying.Edit: Sorry. Just re-read your post and saw that you had the same experience with a normal flight. Sorry :)

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If Dick is right - I have to believe it even though it makes no sense to program the game that way...then slew mode would exaggerate the problem. As you moved over downtown Seattle, a large amount of autogen buildings were loaded, and as you reset the position, those were apparently not released (read Dick's post above). Of course, when using Slew, you're moving much faster so data would also accumulate much faster.However, say you were flying an approach to RWY 34L at KSEA and you were comming in from the north. You would then fly over downtown Seattle, then make a turn and come back towards downtown Seattle on final. This would cause the same extreme drop of performance, and this is why it makes no sense to me why they programmed the game engine like this.

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Hi JimmiG.Every object needs to be accounted for in the sim, and properly located x,y,z ( to the terrain ) and textured correctly, in real time.The actual memory amount might not be very noticable for the object table, even though we're talking thousands of objects. But the CPU drag to place and texture and rotate them is huge.And the table would be dynamic, with objects added and dropped from the display list.As I said, a scenery designer can control the display distance of a building, and force it to drop from this "table" at whatever distance he desires. But the autogen appears to be hard-coded as to this distance at which it will enter the table, and at which distance it will be dropped.Autogen seems to be added at it's visual appearance, but not dropped until quite some distance away from the original display distance. At least that's what it seems like. At any rate, the "capture" of autogen is not the same distance as it's "release".John Cillis came up with a clever idea to assign 'screen refresh' to a hotkey in the sim ( I have assigned a joystick button ). That will help with airport approaches, but with the unrealistic delay for the refresh. Also, increasing the zoom level will reduce the autogen overhead. The bottom line is that this is a CPU and/or Motherboard Bus problem. We either need that 5Ghz processor with 4Ghz FSB MoBo, or we need to turn down the autogen setting in large suburban/city areas.It's too bad MS didn't include a switch or CFG seting to place a reliable bottom limit for FPS that would trim the autogen and scenery display setting in low FPS situations.Dick

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Hello JimmiG,I put my settings at everything you asked for except one, the resolution. I left it at my normal setting of 1600x1200x32, which is the same as my desktop. When I slewed over the city and back, I did it at about the same rate of speed as if I were flying a passenger jet. I did not slew at some incredible rate of speed.At 0.59x Zoom1) 192) 42 Avgerage (it was varying somewhat)3) 124) 18At 1.0x Zoom1) 222) 45 Avgerage (it was varying somewhat)3) 124) 22I have posted a few times in a few threads in the past about my framerate situation when it comes to large urban areas. I would notice how I would get a fairly decent framerate as I passed over a city. My framerate would drop some when on the outskirts and entering the city, but not too bad really. Then as I got towards the outskirts my framerate would start to rise. Then, fi I looked back at the city, and/or flew back into the city, my framerate was terrible. Why should it be this way when it was pretty much just fine when first going through the city was always my question. Dick seems to understand it and explained it fairly well... I guess. ;) It still seems like a little bit of a strange phenomena to me though. And, I can certainly understand JimmiG's worry with this phenomena as it does kill you when you turn back around and come in for an approach and hit your FPS when you least want to see the hit, on approach and final. It's like Dick said, to bad MS didn't put in a slider that will automagically keep framerates up when you need it most, by reducing the level of autogen and/or scenery when framerates start to plummet. When I first started using MSFS(FS2002), I thought that's what the slider titled 'Targer Framerate' would be for. To keep your framerate at the target level you set it at. Of course, I found out otherwise.Regards,Jim RichardsAGP Aperture is at 128 MB

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This almost sounds like a mistake from MS. What would the reason be to keep the autogen even when it's not visible? Also this problem is entirely new to FS2004. Sure FS2002 had some performance problems, but at least the framerate was consistent, not 40 FPS one second and 10 the next.I can fly with all sliders maxed and get 20 FPS, but only if I carefully plan my flight so I won't fly over the same urban area more than once - If I have to declare a missed approach, this will also mean that framrate will be cut in half for the next approach which is not great for crosswind landings.If MS issued a patch with the added slider, or at least set the values to something more realistic, wouldn't people get much better performance, with no difference at all in visual quality? It seems a bit stupid to upgrade to a 5 GHz CPU just to have the processing power to handle thousands of invisible objects...

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>Where does the data actually accumulate? As texture/vertex>data on the videocard? In RAM? As data in some temporary>folder on the drive? I've never seen total RAM allocation with>FS2004 go above more than about 400MB on my system, and I make>sure to shut down any background applications before running>FS.>>I still don't get why it has to accumulate like this. It>certainly can't be for performance reasons (ie. to "cache">objects for faster loading or something). It would seem to me>that the distance you have to be from the tiles before autogen>is released, is too great. This spells disaster for approaches>where you first pass over a major city, then turn around to>land, because then you'll be facing all the tiles where>Autogen was previously displayed, cutting framerate>significantly, just when you need it the most (on final).If you think back to FS2000 and recall the one word that described the performance of that sim you will understand why by good reason FS8/9 handles the accumulation and release of code the way that it does.The one word?s...s..s..s..S..S..S..STUTTER. :)I believe the accumulation and release of most all scenery code including Library objects and AutoGen is very similar to what is described in the Scenery SDK section concerning the pattern that FS draws and releases scenery tiles, each of course according to their own harcoded distants limits.

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Yes...a slowdown of 50% simply from flying around a while is perfectly normal...er...whatever :-lol I thought MS would be introducing a "code optimization phase" into the development cycle with FS2004...whatever happened to that?

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Here are my test results.1 492 603 294 49I used your settings except for resolution which I have at 1600x1200. Looks like there is some sort of a problem with FS9 and how it handles autogen. It still runs very smooth for me with no pauses.Asus P4P800, P4 2.8 HT 800FSB , 512mb PC3200 , GF4 Ti4200 128mb 8x AGP, 43.51 drivers, SBLive 5.1, Windows XP SP1Richard

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Well I reinstalled FS2002 today and tried the same thing in this sim. However, just as I expectd, FS2002 does not have this problem. I slewed back and fourth over San Diego and other cities with no slodwowns."But FS2002 is an older sim and doesn't have as complex graphics. Of course it should run faster!" I hear you say...That is true, and at the starting location over San Diego, I was getting 27-28 FPS with 0.5x Zoom, where as I got 20 FPS in FS2004.However, the 50% drop in frame rate from slewing back and fourth over the city is not caused by more complex scenery graphics - autogen is a bit more dense in FS2004, but the slowdown happens even with Autogen turned down to a lower setting. It is not because of the more advanced weather - clear weather or massive thunderstorms, the results are the same.I can't belive MS intended it to be like this. They must have messed up somewhere.So for now, you can:-Disable Autogen - which makes FS2004 look like FS2000-Avoid scenarios that will cause the slowdowns - Bush flyers will not notice this at all. I also think this is why some people are constantly complaining about performance problems while others say their sim works great. It simply depends on where and how you fly. Unfortunately, my flights usually take me over areas that will cause these slowdowns.-Assign a hotkey for scenery refresh - and deal with loading times in the middle of the flight-Use FS2002/Fly2/Flight Unlimited III insteadThis actually reminds me of Flight Unlimited III when it was released. Taxiway lines in that sim were drawn as polygons on top of the terrain. In the initial version of the sim, those lines would be visible even when you were very far from the airport. This caused extremely low framerates for everyone. Looking Glass did put out a patch. With this patch, taxiway lines were destroyed when you left the ground, and created again as you landed. They also added a hotkey to toggle taxiway lines, airport lights and a few other things. This really saved the Flight Unlimited community back then by bringing the performance level up to something more reasonable.If Looking Glass was able to release a patch months before they went bankrupt, a huge corporation like Microsoft should also be able to do this. It doesn't take a massive rewrite of the game engine, it's just a small modification. If Microsoft doesn't do it, I hope some 3rd party developer does it. The fact that the values are most likely hard coded into the sim shouldn't matter. Remember that they managed to put out a hack to change AI taxi speed in FS2002.I'm done beta-testing FS2004 and I will uninstall it until a solution to this problem is discovered.

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-"So for now, you can:-Disable Autogen - which makes FS2004 look like FS2000-"FS2004 has additional types of autogen. You have the regular autogen that is mostly assigned by the .agn files like FS2002. In addition you have autogen that is assigned in the terrain.cfg file, bridges, high tension towers, highway signs, etc. and these can be disabled individually in the terrain.cfg. They can also be completely disabled by changing this line in your FS9.cfg under the GRAPHICS SECTION. TERRAIN_USE_VECTOR_OBJECTS=0 0=off/1=onAnother type of autogen is assigned by the default.xml file in the Autogen folder. This is where the fast food buildings and other types of new autogen objects are added. The default.xml file can be edited to get rid of certain types of objects, you can also disable this type of autogen on a texture by texture basis with the annotator tool included in the FS2K2 autogen SDK. You can also disable all of these types of additional objects by renaming the default.xml to default.xml.BAK.I'd be interested in seeing if you get different results in your test if you completely disable the two NEW types of autogen and are just using the FS2002 style autogen only.Kurt M

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>Yes...a slowdown of 50% simply from flying around a while is>perfectly normal...er...whatever :-lol Yeah, slewing around back and forth is the same as simply flying...perfectly normal...er...whatever :-lolThat aside, you say you have everything maxed but among your exceptions to that you dont mention weather unless I may have missed something, I hope you are testing with perfectly clear skies.I thought MS would be>introducing a "code optimization phase" into the development>cycle with FS2004...whatever happened to that?If you can find any program anywhere that does as much rendering of so many objects, terrain, weather, other aircraft and all the while calculating flight parameters all on our puny little desktops...:-roll

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"Yeah, slewing around back and forth is the same as simply flying"Yes, it's the same. I've experienced it while flying. Several times. It's very annoying when you're on base getting 30 FPS and as you turn final it drops to 10 because all those invisible autogen objects have to be calculated."That aside, you say you have everything maxed but among your exceptions to that you dont mention weather unless I may have missed something, I hope you are testing with perfectly clear skies."Weather doesn't have a very big performance hit on my system. I have tested with thunderstorms and with clear skies."If you can find any program anywhere that does as much rendering of so many objects, terrain, weather, other aircraft and all the while calculating flight parameters all on our puny little desktops...:-roll"It does render many objects, but the polycount is hardly higher than in a modern 3D shooter. The buildings are simple boxes and the trees are just ahlpa-textures. The polycount of games like Unreal2 or Morrowind are at least as high as FS2004, plus they do a lot of shader-based effects. The rendering is pretty simplistic overall with no real high-end 3D features being used. Apart from the refletive water, the sim mostly uses the DX7 feature set. No dynamic shadows, per-pixel reflection effects or similar.As for the flight parameters, the look-up table based flight models don't require that much CPU power compared to the AI in action games. The slowdowns have nothing to do with AI, weather or flight dynamics. FS2002 worked fine, but there's something fundamentally wrong with regards to how FS2004 handles autogen data. I think we can all agree on that. That's all. The Autogen is the ONLY problem here. If it weren't for the extreme slowdowns from using Autogen, I would not complain about performance.The truth is that sloppy coding of a sim like FS2004 would not be tolerated outside of the Flightsim community. Imagine if Unreal2 slowed down to a crawl after killing 10 enemies because the data was not being released properly. The gamers would just buy another action game instead, because there are so many to choose from. Because of the limited choice of civilian flightsim we just have to use whatever is available.See CFS3 for a perfect example of what happens when the same 3d engine used in FS is used for a game that people outside of this community would buy.

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>"Yeah, slewing around back and forth is the same as simply>flying">>Yes, it's the same. I've experienced it while flying. Several>times. OK, I don

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PaulL01,"When you take all that FS2004 does into account, the sim DOES run at a decent framerate. The problems appear only when the FPS tanks with no explanation, and this problem is entirely new to FS2004. This is what I mean with sloppy coding. If it were not for this problem, I would have been happy with the performance of FS2004."I don't think I could agree more. Actually, I love this new version of the sim over FS2002. But, the issue of the the FPS going in the tank for no apparent good reason, which is indeed entirely new to FS2004, is a pretty dismaying. I have seen numerous posts about people having the FPS crap out on approach and final. Which is just when you don't need it happening. I was just reading in another thread today where some guy expplains about how he has darn good FPS, but it sometimes goes down to 10 on approach and final. This problem and the missing bridge debacle, in my mind, points to a bug in the Autogen code beyond the shadow of a doubt. Now, if they would just patch it to gives us Autogen the way it was envisioned to work(!), this would be the greatest release of MSFS ever. Otherwise, to me, that crown sticks with FS2002. I'm not trying to say I'm gonna drop FS2004 and go back to FS2002(just speaking my mind is all), but I can see why JimmiG and some others on here have wanted to stick with FS2002.Regards,Jim

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I ran into some problems trying to duplicate your test. Under settings: FSAA/AF: off I assume AA is anti aliasing and should be unchecked but what is AF? Under hardware tab I have Target framerate: Unlimited, Render to texture: Checked, Transform and lighting: Checked, Anti aliasing Not checked, Filtering: bilinear, Mipmap quality:6, Hardware rendered lights * Global max texture size: massiveWhat about the scenery tab? I maxed all sliders and checked all boxes. Where do I disable AI traffic?You say "from the welcome screen". What welcome screen? If I check "Select a Flight, my first option is "Along the Rockies in the Caravan. Manually I selected "Other" and my default flight which is KSAN in the 172 at RWY 34 ready for TO. Took off, turned heading 360, AP on and Ctrl S to slew Keypad has no effect with NUM lock on or off. FPS 46-47 over city. Would to duplicate your test EXACTLY if you'll walk me thru it. Graphics :Radeon 9800 Pro Windows HP Home SP2, P4 3.0gig, 1.024 gig DDR SDRAM.Pleaase note I have SoCal Mega Scenery loaded which may give different results. I could use SeaTac if you think it would be better.

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You need to install the attached flight to the proper folder to be able to select it.AF, or Anisotropic Filtering, is toggled through the display settings in Windows, NOT inside FS2004.To get to the display settings dialog, right click the desktop, choose properties, click the settings tab, then the Advanced button, select the Direct3D tab and you can choose AF settings. For normal use, with a Radeon 9800, I recommend you select AF to 16X Performance or 8X Quality, but for the sake of comparing results, turn it off (Application) for now. AF makes textures sharper at the cost of some performance.If there is no Direct3D tab, you may need to download the ATI Control Panel from www.ati.com.

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Where is the attachment?I found the Direct 3D panel. Do I just uncheck AA and AF boxes? Thanks for all the help. I presume the flight attachment that I haven't found has its own scenery and my MegaScenery is not a factor?

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