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DirecTV interface performance / MIPS SoC limitations? Frame-buffer bottleneck?

Discussion in 'DIRECTV General Discussion' started by cypherx, Mar 6, 2013.

  1. Mike Greer

    Mike Greer Hall Of Fame

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    I also like the simplicity of DirecTV's GUI etc. Just think how fast Dish Networks GUI would be if it was the simple GUI DirecTV has. Now that's what I'm talkin' about!

    I don't know how Dish does it either - and apparently for less hardware cost per box. It is cheaper to buy (and actually own) Dish Network hardware than DirecTV's hardware. Quite a mystery!
     
  2. Mike Greer

    Mike Greer Hall Of Fame

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    Agreed - unless it costs DirecTV subs it isn't going to change. Although the C31 clients bring performance to a new low. I think even people that don't usually notice or care about the speed are wondering what the hell is going on with those things! Even worse apparently the C41 clients are not any faster....:nono:
     
  3. slice1900

    slice1900 Well-Known Member

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    It's more than just slow GUI code. I can press all three channel numbers plus enter before I see the GUI do anything. Surely a slow GUI can't be solely responsible for being unable to put a number on the screen before I can hit two more numbers and hit enter. Maybe the CPU enters an overly aggressive power save mode and takes a long time to fully wake up?

    Directv's HD GUI problems remind me of the continuing problems Tivo has had with the performance of their HD GUI on the Premiere boxes. In that case, it is flash based so I can understand the issue. Every Tivo Premiere runs Linux and all use the same hardware, so the only reason for using a cross platform solution is because it is the only GUI that could run on Linux the developers were familiar with. There are plenty of far faster GUI options available in Linux, but they probably used bargain programmers who only know Windows, so decided to go flash rather than hire people who can do the job right. Directv's GUI is slow even on the non HD GUI receivers like H20, so who knows how they managed to screw that up so badly. At least my Tivo Premiere gives me the option to run the classic SD GUI, which is much faster (but lacks some features and is no longer in active development)

    Flash sucks, it is nearly impossible to fix its performance issues via a faster CPU because the software is so badly written. As of a year or so ago Adobe no longer develops it for Linux (that's why Android phones won't get updated versions any longer) so its performance will never get better. The only real fix would be for them to start over with a new GUI, programmed by people who know Linux and do it right. For maximum performance they'd use fbdev/DirectFB, but given the desire to run a remote GUI on the Genie clients, X Windows would be a better alternative, even if it isn't quite as fast - still far, far faster than flash. For those who aren't familiar with it, it does a local GUI but has a remote capability built in similar to Remote Desktop - except it has had that remote capability since before Microsoft released the first version of their Windows.

    If we're lucky maybe developing a replacement GUI is already underway. If we're not, we just better get used to the current crappy performance, because flash doesn't seem to benefit much from faster CPUs. At least I know based on my quad core 3.2 GHz desktop running Linux that flash still sucks even with all that power to throw at it, so there's no hope for it in the type of CPUs you can put into a Tivo or Directv receiver.

    From what I gather from a little googling, Dish also uses Linux. I'm not familiar with their receivers, but if the Hopper GUI is much faster than the Genie, whatever they're using, it isn't flash.
     
  4. Rich

    Rich DBSTalk Club DBSTalk Club

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    I had one that skipped commercials too. Had to leave it running overnight so it could process the commercials. Should have never wasted my money on it.

    Rich
     
  5. Rich

    Rich DBSTalk Club DBSTalk Club

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    It's like MLB. As long as there are fannies in the seats, they don't care that much about fielding a good team. The Mets learned that lesson the hard way.

    As long as subs aren't bailing out en masse, nothing's gonna change.

    And if they did bail out, where would they go?

    Rich
     
  6. Rich

    Rich DBSTalk Club DBSTalk Club

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    It's always baffled me that people would use plain receivers when they could use DVRs.

    Rich
     
  7. cypherx

    cypherx Hall Of Fame

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    I think my biggest gripe is that when you push a button your not sure if it went through. Then bam it goes through as well as any additional key presses you pushed since you didn't think it went through. Sure the DirecTV logo blinks when it receives a command... But I'm not always in a position to stare at that, especially when I'm staring at the screen. I think some visual feedback or indication ON SCREEN that the button command was pressed would make the system feel quicker. Some sense of context about the direction of where you are navigating in the GUI. For instance on the old SD boxes when you pressed guide, it sort of scaled smoothly onto the screen. Also like in the Xfinity X1 videos, there are some wait times due to the cloud nature of the system... But it's mitigated by animated selections, windows and other effects that at least give the end user confirmation of the reception of the button pressed. It feels faster and smoother, even though a stopwatch comparison would show about the same wait times.

    Sure other things could be busy, but while they are processing and harvesting the data to bring up the menu, direcfb and OpenGL could target a transition which could be offloaded from the CPU due to video hardware acceleration. This way you see something is happening, and while that is taking place the CPU is gathering the data to present there. UI designers can use this to mask the slow response and eliminate the jarring experience of "did I push the button because nothing is happening... Oh wait there it is all at once 3 seconds later".

    Also RVU 1.0 is all about cost. It's a shame it's bit mapped transmitted graphics. Something like Microsofts RemoteFX or how Xbox can be a full featured graphically rich "media center extender" while the core processing is running on a PC. Even x-windows like mentioned would have given DirecTV more headroom.

    The HR44 has a much better processor so maybe paired with good efficient code, it can support clients smoothly. However I think an RVU 2.0 spec needs to address a remote GUI with hardware acceleration and server processor offloading. The TiVo mini is a good example of how the thin client contains a full featured Broadcom CPU (minus the RF tuning).
     
  8. Rich

    Rich DBSTalk Club DBSTalk Club

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    You want to see crappy performance? Try the UI at Hulu+, try the NetFlix UI, try a BD player or a VCR. I don't see anything terrible about the HRs as they stand now. I don't have a 34 or a 44, don't need anymore tuners and don't want clients that don't record, but none of my HRs is anywhere near "crappy" as far as performance goes.

    Rich
     
  9. Mike Greer

    Mike Greer Hall Of Fame

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    Yep!

    The only other choice is Dish Network. I prefer DirecTV (I'm sure they wish I didn't!) because DirecTV has Sunday Ticket, a tad better HD quality and MRV. Dish Networks receivers on the other hand are much much faster in everything and you never have to wonder if you need to hit RECORD again or not.:D
     
  10. Mike Greer

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    I think the only reason is that if you have an HR34/HR44 you can control everything from the client but not from the DVRs.

    DirecTV likes the client idea because it saves them money. The clients must cost them $8 or so!;) And they get to charge the same as if they were receivers.

    I personally wouldn't use a client because of what I saw yesterday. The C31 clients bring a new definition to 'SLOW'. Can't FFWD or even move up and down the menus and play list without the thing losing its mind! Pretty sad...
     
  11. Rich

    Rich DBSTalk Club DBSTalk Club

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    So, you gotta get up and walk a few steps. Still rather have DVRs.

    Yeah, I get that. For most folks I'm sure it's a good thing. If they've never tried the better way.

    Were you surprised?.... :lol:

    Rich
     
  12. Mike Greer

    Mike Greer Hall Of Fame

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    Don't want to burn off any calories! I get it - and for you and me it doesn't make much sense but I see how someone with 2 or 3 TVs would rather have 'centralized' management.

    I wouldn't doubt if someday soon DirecTV cranks up the price of the standard HD DVRs to 'encourage' people to use the clients. Makes life better for DirecTV!

    Believe it or not I was surprised! I was expecting the C31 to be slower than my HR24s but I didn't expect them to be even slower than my old HR22s! I expected to be able to do basic things like scroll down the play list without the thing taking off down the list... These have been available for something like a year now right? Still looks like they are in alpha testing!

    Downright embarrassing!
     
  13. lparsons21

    lparsons21 Hall Of Fame

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    I use all those on my AppleTV and bluray player and they are both faster than my HR24s were, though not nearly as fast as Dish's gear.
     
  14. Rich

    Rich DBSTalk Club DBSTalk Club

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    I should have been clearer. I meant the functions like FF and RR and things like that. Hulu+ is damn near impossible to control. NF is better, but I'm always happy when I return to and HR and have better control over those features. My newest Panny plasma has a better NF UI than any of the BD players which I use for streaming.

    Rich
     
  15. lparsons21

    lparsons21 Hall Of Fame

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    Ah, OK. Yeah, their interface does suck, but it is certainly quick enough.

    All trickplay with them is such an effort in futility so I never use it.

    I primarily use my AppleTV for streaming, but use the BD player for AmazonPrime and VUDU. My Mitsi TV has VUDU and 'VUDU apps', but I don't use it at all for that.

    I keep hoping someone will actually bring out a 'one size fits all' box for streaming, but I think it is a false hope! :(
     
  16. harsh

    harsh Beware the Attack Basset

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    The hardware may be cheap but there are likely some serious technology licensing fees involved. I'm pretty sure HDMI is still abusive and I have to imagine that they charge a hefty license fee for RVU; something that the other boxes don't bear.

    I suspect that the exclusion of ATSC tuners had something to do with licensing fee costs as well. Westinghouse went to court to fight a $23/unit ATSC licensing fee back in the day.
     
  17. P Smith

    P Smith Mr. FixAnything

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    Back to the topic.

    I'm still not convinced by the reason as HDGUI swap; most likely that time DTV added some heavy CPU load by, say, Java applets or new DB engine or something like that....
     
  18. Mike Greer

    Mike Greer Hall Of Fame

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    Maybe so but except for the RVU stuff the real receivers have the same fees.

    I wouldn't be at all surprised if DirecTV's goal is to be rid of everything but the Genie and its clients and a simple receiver like the H25. Maximize their profit and simplify the installs. Win-win for DirecTV.

    Now if they could only make the software work as well as the hardware.
     
  19. Mike Greer

    Mike Greer Hall Of Fame

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    Could be - but even now - after multiple updates since - my HR24s are not as fast as they used to be - before the HDGUI screw up. I'm still at least 'ok' with the speed of my HR24s, at least most of the time. Much much better than my HR22s that's for sure!

    It would be great to know what goes through the minds of the people in DirecTV engineering. Especially whoever it is that decides where the money and time should be spent.
     
  20. cypherx

    cypherx Hall Of Fame

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    The SD-GUI was horrendous! The HD GUI added a huge improvement in guide page scrolling speed and better contrast / aesthetics.

    I just think it needs to be optimized. It feels incomplete and slow without any contextual motion. It is incomplete, check Scoreguide, ACTIVE, weather ch overlay and interactive sports overlays. Those aren't even HD at all. It really reminds me of TiVo Premiere when it came out. Slow and not 100% complete.

    Speaking of TiVo Premiere, they didn't even port that current TiVo to DirecTV. Instead they ported what... A 6 year old product to an aging piece of hardware? If only DirecTV would just outsource and let Apple design their hardware and software. Then at least it would have real complete aesthetics and performance marched with the highly superior ARM based CPU's instead of these Pentium II 400 MHz like MIPS based jalopy's we have today.
     

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