January 13, 2012

Skyrim vs Hardware

UPDATE: It's quite possible that disabling Speedstep is overkill.  I'm having success re-enabling Speedstep and disabling CORE PARKING.
Tonight, I've been doing some researching on Skyrim because the whole "Speedstep fixing the crashing/freezing/rebooting/blinking out" thing bugs me.  There has to be something else that fixes it that doesn't involve me changing my hardware settings.

I've read several forums posts and articles and have made note of some "fixes" that others suggest.  I've hand-picked the ones that seem promising and tried to filter out the noise.

Just as a reminder, the symptoms/facts:
  • While playing Skyrim, the entire system will either reboot or freeze with no video output and looping audio.
  • System has not experienced ANY issues outside of Skyrim:
    • All other games run fine
    • Benchmarking tools (CPU, memory and GPU centric)
    • Stress test tools (CPU, memory and GPU centric)
    • Running three stress tests each focusing on CPU, memory and GPU running AT THE SAME TIME (can I get a "hey hey" for that one?)
    • These tools and games run for hours and hours (up to seven hours)
  • Replacing the 700W power supply with a Silverstone 1000W PSU made no difference
  • Reducing the CPU, GPU and RAM speeds have made no difference
  • Running in window mode made no difference
  • Disabling Speedstep has made a difference - no crashes yet
I have some previous posts that detail troubleshooting and findings.  Instead of linking each one, here is a compilation post with links to the previous posts.

Some conclusions that I currently hold:
  1. My system is solid - hardware and software showed no issues outside of Skyrim
  2. This is not a hardware problem
  3. Bethesda is doing something different with it's programming: Skyrim can boot into the main menu is less than 5 seconds and then load a save game and have you completely in the world of Skyrim where you left off in about seven seconds.  No other game can do this.
  4. Skyrim is suffering from the same issues as Fallout 3 and Oblivion since their "Creation Engine" seems to be built on the Gamebryo engine.
Some things I'd like to try when I'm feeling researchy and analytical:
  • Assign the "TESV.exe" process to a single CPU in the Task Manager
  • Assign a Higher Priority to the "TESV.exe" process in the Task Manager
  • Changing some configuration file settings 
    • Skyrim.ini -> go to [General] and add the line "iNumHWThreads=4" (or 3 or 2)
    • Skyrim.ini -> got to [HAVOK] an add the line "iNumThreads=1"
From researching engine related issues, I found multiple references to similar Fallout 3 issues.  It seems that the issues are focused on Multithreading synchronization issues and reducing the number of threads and CPUs handling the threads could help.  That variable is apparently the "iNumHWThreads".

In the meantime, here's a panorama from the Aftland Elevator:

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