Dual-Core Processors and Video Performance

I’d installed Rainbow Six 3: Raven Shield, a game which is a couple of years old, on my relatively new dual-core AMD Athlon machine at home. (It should run fine on both machines, and I own two copies, making it ideal for gaming multiplayer with the kids.) To my surprise, the game ran absolutely horribly—a first for this box—in fact, it was completely unplayable. The video, even in the opening movie, stuttered whenever it was trying to do a fade affect. In the mission I tried, the characters wouldn’t move, although I could pan the camera, almost like the game was trying to poll the keyboard wrongly. The video seemed far jerkier than it should have been, also.

So, I did the usual bit of updating the video driver and DirectX drivers, but that didn’t help.

After a little research, and a couple of forum posts that didn’t have the right answer, but did point to a related Microsoft Knowledge Base article, I learned the cause of the problem. With visions of having to patch my BIOS (a slightly risky operation), I wen to the AMD Web site as Microsoft recommended, and discovered a surprisingly straightforward solution:

AMD Dual-Core Optimizer – The AMD Dual-Core Optimizer can help improve some PC gaming video performance by compensating for those applications that bypass the Windows API for timing by directly using the RDTSC (Read Time Stamp Counter) instruction. Applications that rely on RDTSC do not benefit from the logic in the operating system to properly account for the affect of power management mechanisms on the rate at which a processor core’s Time Stamp Counter (TSC) is incremented. The AMD Dual-Core Optimizer helps to correct the resulting video performance effects or other incorrect timing effects that these applications may experience on dual-core processor systems, by periodically adjusting the core time-stamp-counters, so that they are synchronized.

A quick Windows install and reboot, and the game ran flawlessly—at 1280 x 1024 with all the video and sound options maxed out. Sweet!

I believe there is a similar utility available for Intel multicore processors.

For the benefit of others:

3 Replies to “Dual-Core Processors and Video Performance”

  1. I’d say this is all Greek to me, but then… I understand Greek better. 😉 I am convinced, however, that you are a truly useful resource to have around! Can I pick my friends or what?

  2. Speaking of Geekdom, I helped a co-worker last week who had just moved to Chester.

    It turns out that Comcast in Chester, probably due to network infrastructure inherited from whatever company they bought out, uses the ancient practice of registering a particular MAC address for the computer connected to their network, so one may have to use the MAC address spoofing feature on his or her router to get the computers behind the router to connect. Comcast stopped doing that in most areas years ago, but I guess the recent acquisitions may leave some things as YMMV.

    :: sigh ::

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