January 30, 2012

Thoughts on Upcoming 1.4 Skyrim Patch

One theory I have for the Skyrim crashes that I and others are experiencing: Intel Speedstep and/or Core Parking powers down some cores prematurely, causing the Skyrim code to try and access a thread running on an affected core.  The core takes some time to power up, which the Skyrim code doesn't account for, which in turn causes the entire system to crash.  It's a theory based on observations, not necessarily in-depth knowledge of either the Skyrim code or how the technology works.  The observation is disabling Intel Speedstep and/or core parking (in other words, causing the cores to run at full speed all the time) increases stability (read: no crashing).  Of course there is the "not everyone is crashing" variable which may be due to the crashing systems being very fast (not everyone has the latest hardware), others having disabled core parking in the past (this affects older games as well) or having enough background processes to prevent the cores from powering down in the first place.  This is conjecture at this point, of course, but that's my theory in a nutshell.
The upcoming 1.4 patch should prove interesting.  One thing they supposedly fixed is optimizing the engine to use the hardware more efficiently.  This alone may fix the crashing problem.  There's definitely going to be a series of tests that I need to run after the patch comes out.

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