ATI's Monkeys Getting Dumber?

This is a discussion on ATI's Monkeys Getting Dumber? within the Tech Board forums, part of the Community Boards category; Hello, Sorry for this rant post, but I feel that I have to get it off my chest. I recalled ...

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    Angry ATI's Monkeys Getting Dumber?

    Hello,

    Sorry for this rant post, but I feel that I have to get it off my chest.
    I recalled yesterday that I hadn't updated the graphics card drivers for a while (I wasn't experiencing any problems, just like to be up to date where possible). So I downloaded the 8.11 driver from AMD/ATI's website (just the display driver, not the whole Catalyst thing). Installed fine, no issues. Got lost in SimCity 4 yesterday which is pretty GPU intensive (not because it's really complicated, just the quality of EA's programming ), no problems.

    Today, amongst other things I opened up Explorer (XP SP3) and initiated a search for files. While that was going on I was looking at Wikipedia when suddenly... all windows stopped responding.
    I could still move the mouse pointer.
    Then after about 10 seconds the monitor went into standby.

    Checking whether the computer would change the keyboard light for caps lock, I surmised that it had crashed. I wasn't sure what at this point had caused it, but it struck me as odd that instead of the BSOD of yore I was getting the monitor-in-standby-of-death. The monitor is connected via DVI-D (there are only DVI ports on my graphics card).

    So, I restarted. Cautiously I checked out the Task Manager and startup entries for anything that may have given Kaspersky the slip. Nothing suspicious. No indication of problems or indeed the crash in the Event Logs. I restarted Firefox and it brought up what I was looking at when the crash occured. Browsed for a while, no crash.

    At this point I was starting to relax until I recalled that I was running a search while all this was going on. I closed down all applications, opened Explorer and ran the search again... and it did the same thing again. Unresponsive, then the monitor went into standby. This time at least I heard the hard disk park heads, the standard audio cue for a BSOD.

    I scratched my head for a bit. I should be seeing something here, but I got nothing. I then recalled the sketchy details I knew about the XP kernel and what it does when it's frightened, the fallback VgaSave driver that is always present. I surmized that a VGA connection was necessary to find out what was going on.

    A quick hunt around the house later, and I return armed with a VGA cable and DVI-I adapter. I connected the cable to the graphics card and my monitor and restarted. As soon as I got into Windows I tried running the search again...
    ...this time, BSOD in all its glory. STOP 0x000000EA referencing ati2dvag.

    The STOP error indicates that the driver had a "stuck thread", more generally known as an infinite loop.

    I repeated the action a few times, each time within 20 seconds of initiating the search, it crashed.

    Roll back the driver... it no longer happens!

    So, could someone riddle me these:-
    • Why is it whenever something important happens to my computer my only view into it (DVI monitor) is turned off?
    • How is it that something as simple as a file search can cause an infinite loop in a graphics card driver when the messiest EA code can't manage it?
    • How it is possible to make a graphics driver worse over time?
    • What the home address is of the ATI engineer responsible for all these wise decisions so that I may make just one attempt at dislocating his/her jaw. I don't want to make angry calls to their support. I don't want to hold management responsible. I just want to make plain how karma in this universe works. This would be both an economical and environmentally friendly way to deal with the issue.
    • I would also shake said engineer's hand for sneaking "vag" into the driver filename. Reminded me of an American Dad! episode.

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    What's special about introducing new bugs with new features? Doesn't that happen all the time?

    "Messy EA code" does not run every single code path in the driver.

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    Quote Originally Posted by cyberfish View Post
    What's special about introducing new bugs with new features? Doesn't that happen all the time?
    If only...

    This is known as the ati2dvag bug. And it has a name of its own because a) it's 6 years old by now, and b) there is no fix to this day. It's in the same line of long standing mysterious bugs that ATI never fixes, because they themselves don't know what is going on. Another one is the mysterious mouse cursor corruption bug that affects some dual-monitor setups.

    The ATI community has been on most cases more pro-active in identifying causes and possible fixes for these and many other bugs, than ATI ever was... and possibly will be. While I'm quite happy with the one card I have from them and have no issues with it, you bet this is the last card I buy from them. I tend to try to learn from other's experiences. Not just mine. And ATI support, along with driver quality, just plain sucks.

    As for the actual solution to the problem, there's none. Some people report fixing it after following such disparate community-found solutions as upgrading their CPU to AGP Controller (which can go by other names depending on hardware manufacturer, just sweet!) under System Devices in the Device Manager, moving their monitor to the other port on the video card, downgrading drivers, changing RAM(!!), etc... If you google for "atidvag bug" you'll get more than you can churn in a week and still be none the wiser.
    Last edited by Mario F.; 01-31-2011 at 06:25 AM.
    The programmer’s wife tells him: “Run to the store and pick up a loaf of bread. If they have eggs, get a dozen.”
    The programmer comes home with 12 loaves of bread.


    Originally Posted by brewbuck:
    Reimplementing a large system in another language to get a 25% performance boost is nonsense. It would be cheaper to just get a computer which is 25% faster.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mario F. View Post
    And ATI support, along with driver quality, just plain sucks.
    The grass is not greener on the other side, nVidias customer support is non-existing.
    How I need a drink, alcoholic in nature, after the heavy lectures involving quantum mechanics.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Neo1 View Post
    The grass is not greener on the other side, nVidias customer support is non-existing.
    I was just gonna say that. I have a laptop sitting here that is useless. Can anyone say GeForce 8600m? I guess it wouldn't be so bad if the problem was not so widespread - but a lot of people got screwed on that little fiasco, that Nvidia apparently tried to cover up.

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    I have a bricked 8600m as well. It's not driver issue, though. There was something wrong with their chip fabrication process. The thermal stress caused substrate to crack or something.

    It's so far the only issue I've had with nvidia, though. Software and hardware wise. And I use nvidia exclusively because they actually have good Linux driver.

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    Quote Originally Posted by cyberfish View Post
    I have a bricked 8600m as well. It's not driver issue, though. There was something wrong with their chip fabrication process. The thermal stress caused substrate to crack or something.

    It's so far the only issue I've had with nvidia, though. Software and hardware wise. And I use nvidia exclusively because they actually have good Linux driver.
    True enough that it is a hardware issue, and not software. I was making more of a general comment that the only viable alternative to AMD is not exactly all rosy either. I have long used Nvidia for the same reason as you - good Linux support - heck, they even make a driver for FreeBSD. I had hoped that when AMD bought ATI, the situation might change a little. Before they got bought out, the attitude at ATI (my perception) seemed to stink, as far as Linux support was concerned. The talk, at the time of the buyout, was that they would take a new direction, and devote more money to making a good Linux driver. So far that has not happened. Still, it makes me sick to think that I have to support Nvidia by buying one of their video cards. I have not been happy with their tactics/attitudes so much these days, and I was really hoping to build up a solid AMD system without Nvidia or Intel benefiting from my money at all.

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    I do agree that not all is rosy, but Nvidia business strategies have no bearings in my own personal choices. I care simply for solid hardware and good prices. They definitely have been more successful than AMD on that regard. Both companies are however perceived as toe-to-toe rivals by many people; I just personally find that thought is losing power.

    While I stress that my Radeon HD 4770 is one beautiful card that completely blew Nvidia's entire entry level line of cards out of the water (at least for a few weeks), I deposit absolutely no confidence on their drivers. Meanwhile, Nvidia is sometimes more expensive, often offering better hardware, but always more trustworthy on what comes to their drivers. And that's pretty much what I care most about.

    Should also be interesting to see to what point will the recent cross-licensing deal between Nvidia and Intel affect AMD future on the GPU market.
    The programmer’s wife tells him: “Run to the store and pick up a loaf of bread. If they have eggs, get a dozen.”
    The programmer comes home with 12 loaves of bread.


    Originally Posted by brewbuck:
    Reimplementing a large system in another language to get a 25% performance boost is nonsense. It would be cheaper to just get a computer which is 25% faster.

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    I agree. Nvidia hardware is usually more expensive at same performance levels. But I guess hiring competent people to work on drivers cost money, too. I think it's worth it.

    I prefer not having to worry about my drivers. Once installed, I never have to think about them again, and they just work, whether on Windows or Linux.

    The same can surely not be said for my few Linux friends that decided to give ATI a chance. One of them ended up returning the ATI card and got a Nvidia card that's slower and more expensive, because he couldn't get the ATI driver to work, after wasting a few days.

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    Much can be said about nVidia, but one point that i find people will always agree with me on, is that whoever thought out their naming strategy needs to be hanged, drawn and quartered.
    How I need a drink, alcoholic in nature, after the heavy lectures involving quantum mechanics.

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