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On Steam and Direct3D

A post to the Steam Users' Forums by Valve software engineer John McCaskey answers a question about why Steam installs DirectX/.Net/Direct3D updates with so many games, even when a user's Direct3D is already up-to-date (thanks reddit). It turns out these updates are not updating DirectX or Direct3D itself, but are necessary to keep multiple flavors of D3DX libraries straight: "Each game that uses the D3DX helper library is linked to a specific version. As such the game must run the correct D3D installer version that it was specifically compiled with to ensure the binaries exist. Even if a later version of the binary is already installed, that version cannot be used, and even if your DirectX install is up-to-date because you've run a more recent version of the installer that is not guaranteed to have installed all previous versions. Even worse, if a version is installed for x86 it doesn't guarantee the same version is installed for x64, so 64 bit and 32 bit games may need to run the same exact installer version but targeting different platforms when run. Furthermore, Microsoft's licensing terms prevent anyone from distributing the files directly, the only way to distribute them is to run the installer, that's also the only supported method from Microsoft to check that the correct version installed." He goes on to explain the few options available to Valve to program more efficiency into this system:

The one thing that could be made better on our side is that Steam could be smart enough to know if an exactly matching version of the dx installer is already downloaded and share that content so you don't download it with each game. Since the installer is relatively small compared to most game installs that wouldn't be a huge win though and requires a good deal of new complexity for partners in how they package up their games and manage installation dependencies. You'd also still end up with lots of different versions of the installer, since as discussed above they are often targeting different D3DX versions and as such are all required. As such any improvement to avoid duplicates isn't an immediate priority, but we may be able to improve it slightly in the future.

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48 Replies. 3 pages. Viewing page 1.
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48. Re: On Steam and Direct3D Aug 3, 2011, 17:24 Overon
 
Anecdotes are not a reliable form of evidence.  
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47. Re: On Steam and Direct3D Aug 1, 2011, 23:07 Sepharo
 
Beamer wrote on Aug 1, 2011, 22:46:
Yes keyboard lag exists.
Yes it only happens when your machine is stressed/chugging/low on resources.

Yes, it's a hardware issue, not an OS issue. You can't blame Win7 here. You know what lags like mad for me? My netbook. It runs XP. Know what lagged even worse? My BlackBerry. Typing a comment on this site was agonizing, as the keyboard was often upwards of 8 or 9 seconds behind.

That thing didn't run Windows 7, either.

The computer I'm describing is plenty powerful, I'm just pushing it to it's limits. I'm not going to claim to know anything more than any other Windows user but it's my guess that Vista/7 isn't giving as much of a priority (isn't operating at as low of a level) to keyboard input as XP and previous versions did.

Very very rarely, when things get really bad the cursor will actually stop responding. That's something that doesn't tend to happen even during the worst hangups in XP from what I remember.
 
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46. Re: On Steam and Direct3D Aug 1, 2011, 22:46 Beamer
 
Yes keyboard lag exists.
Yes it only happens when your machine is stressed/chugging/low on resources.

Yes, it's a hardware issue, not an OS issue. You can't blame Win7 here. You know what lags like mad for me? My netbook. It runs XP. Know what lagged even worse? My BlackBerry. Typing a comment on this site was agonizing, as the keyboard was often upwards of 8 or 9 seconds behind.

That thing didn't run Windows 7, either.
 
-------------
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http://www.deathwishinc.com
http://www.hydrahead.com
http://www.painkillerrecords.com
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45. Re: On Steam and Direct3D Aug 1, 2011, 22:01 eRe4s3r
 
Hmn.. so maybe i am too late for the party, but is there really no "de-duplication tool" for the winsxs folder?

Actually, i just read that the WinSxS folder is where 90% of the OS sits.. so maybe deleting that isn't so good after all.

One wonders why we got a Windows dir then, probably only to contain all that other useless crap?

This comment was edited on Aug 1, 2011, 22:07.
 
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44. Re: On Steam and Direct3D Aug 1, 2011, 18:22 Sepharo
 
zincthallinide wrote on Aug 1, 2011, 16:14:
I use a wired keyboard, and it happens with every keyboard I've tried. It also happened on an earlier (still AMD-based, but with the same CPU) motherboard.

Like I wrote, the lag is small, but definitely noticeable..

And I feel like some people are deliberately trying to goad me with their replies.. ah, Blue's News, with the power of the ignore function

Hmmm, I guess my response will be a combination of both "sides" here.

Yes keyboard lag exists.
Yes it only happens when your machine is stressed/chugging/low on resources.

At work when I'm running 4 instances of VS2010 with resharper, SQL management studio, chrome, outlook, debug services, antivirus, etc. , my machine will start chugging and typing will be very delayed. Type a few characters, wait for them to appear, type a few characters wait for them to appear, rinse and repeat.

The only solution is to reduce memory/cpu usage or upgrade hardware.
 
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43. Re: On Steam and Direct3D Aug 1, 2011, 17:13 ^Drag0n^
 
nin wrote on Aug 1, 2011, 16:18:

I use a wireless logitech keyboard and mouse.

I stopped using Logitech wireless anything when I found that the data it transmits is unencrypted, and can be picked up by any Logitech receiver within 100 feet by pressing the sync Button.

All that has to occur is that both devices be on the same channel.

Remarkably stupid idea.

I found this out at work, where our IT department deployed wireless keyboards because the "CEO hated wires." I think he liked them a little better when someone's sex chat was ghosted on two other people's machines later on in the year after said employees were trying to sync their new Logitech mice to their wireless base stations.

Oops...

If you're at all security minded, lose the wireless keyboards...especially if you live in a condo/apartment complex.

^D^

This comment was edited on Aug 1, 2011, 17:20.
 
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"Never start a fight, but always finish it."
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42. Re: On Steam and Direct3D Aug 1, 2011, 16:18 nin
 

I use a wired keyboard, and it happens with every keyboard I've tried. It also happened on an earlier (still AMD-based, but with the same CPU) motherboard.

Like I wrote, the lag is small, but definitely noticeable..

I use a wireless logitech keyboard and mouse.
 
http://www.nin.com/pub/tension/
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41. Re: On Steam and Direct3D Aug 1, 2011, 16:14 zincthallinide
 
I use a wired keyboard, and it happens with every keyboard I've tried. It also happened on an earlier (still AMD-based, but with the same CPU) motherboard.

Like I wrote, the lag is small, but definitely noticeable..

And I feel like some people are deliberately trying to goad me with their replies.. ah, Blue's News, with the power of the ignore function
 
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40. Re: On Steam and Direct3D Aug 1, 2011, 16:10 nin
 
Yeah, I'm gonna go with "most people simply don't have this problem."

Never heard of it. Win7 works great here.
 
http://www.nin.com/pub/tension/
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39. Re: On Steam and Direct3D Aug 1, 2011, 16:06 Dev
 
Creston wrote on Aug 1, 2011, 14:10:
Let's not make things really complicated for those poor Steam coders, mmkay?

I love Steam, but the client and the way it works is a total fucking piece of shit.

Creston
You can see this kinda stuff all through many valve games and steam. They have GREAT ideas, but often the execution comes off a bit buggy/unpolished.
 
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38. Re: On Steam and Direct3D Aug 1, 2011, 14:14 Creston
 

I run Win7 on a Phenom II 3.4 GHz quad core.. that's why the keyboard lag is so bizarre. It's not huge, but it's definitely noticeable. I'm guessing most people just don't notice it.

Yeah, I'm gonna go with "most people simply don't have this problem." The idea that Windows 7 would get released with something as stupid as keyboard lag is just ridiculous.

I have zero lag on Win7, on five different computers. May I recommend buying a slightly less shitty (wireless) keyboard?

Creston

This comment was edited on Aug 1, 2011, 14:27.
 
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37. Re: On Steam and Direct3D Aug 1, 2011, 14:10 Creston
 
The one thing that could be made better on our side is that Steam could be smart enough to know if an exactly matching version of the dx installer is already downloaded

Heh, yeah. Steam isn't even smart enough to check for internet access first before trying to update itself. It FIRST tries to update, times out, THEN tries to see if you actually have internet access.

Let's not make things really complicated for those poor Steam coders, mmkay?

I love Steam, but the client and the way it works is a total fucking piece of shit.

Creston

This comment was edited on Aug 1, 2011, 14:22.
 
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36. Re: On Steam and Direct3D Aug 1, 2011, 13:36 zincthallinide
 
I run Win7 on a Phenom II 3.4 GHz quad core.. that's why the keyboard lag is so bizarre. It's not huge, but it's definitely noticeable. I'm guessing most people just don't notice it.

Actually though, as I type on my netbook (Atom 1.8 GHz or something) I don't notice any.. maybe because I 'expect it' on a netbook or maybe it's not there...

Really, I don't consider it my problem to figure out. Windows was fun for a while
 
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35. Re: On Steam and Direct3D Aug 1, 2011, 10:06 kanniballl
 
zincthallinide wrote on Aug 1, 2011, 05:08:
...
Windows 7 has more eye candy compared to XP and a few nice UI enhancements (that I'm amazed MS overlooked even going back to 95..) but it really is an amazingly bloated OS. And somehow, XP works at least as well as 7 as far as app compatibility, and it doesn't have an SxS folder.
...
There's no bizarre keyboard lag like there is in 7 (although this doesn't exist in XP).
...
Things tend to 'just work' rather than mysteriously starting to blue screen/crash after I install a particular program or driver or plug things in in a way that some hardware doesn't quite like somehow.
...
OS X is based on Unix, which I've always preferred, but Ubuntu just doesn't do it for me.

I'll add to the "lagged keyboard input" sounds like an issue specific to your setup. I've never experienced it, and only had a Blue Screen when I had a bad hardware component (physically bad, not a bad driver).

I won't knock you for not liking Vista or Win7, it's a personal preference. Yes, a new OS is going to require more resources than a 10-year-old OS but that's always going to be the case. The various Linux distros now-a-days are more intensive than the ones from 2001.

OSX is nice and clean and there's nothing wrong with going that direction either. Sure you lose some native gaming on it but for all other non-development stuff it's more than fine. I used it for a couple of years until recently when my MacBook Pro tanked.

Really, you should use whatever floats your boat: OSX, Windows, Linux, etc. However I'd recommend you use something *somewhat* recent and that's still supported. Because after a while the security holes will just get worse and worse.

This comment was edited on Aug 1, 2011, 10:48.
 
"Space. It seems to go on and on forever. But then you get to the end and a gorilla starts throwing barrels at you."
-Fry, Futurama
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34. Re: On Steam and Direct3D Aug 1, 2011, 09:25 Beamer
 
a) MS did add more DRM to vista/7 compared to XP. Mostly in the graphics drivers department to be HDCP compliant.

b) vista/7 have been shown to be slower than XP in general, in gaming too(in DX 9 of course). However, slower text typing is a bit extreme.

Of course it's slower, though. As a more modern OS it takes more resources. This shouldn't be a surprise to anyone.

But if your typing is slower and lagging that sounds like a hardware issue. If you're trying to run Win7 on an old, outdated Pentium 4 then you're probably going to have issues, much like if you tried to run XP on your old 486DX/2.
 
-------------
Music for the discerning:
http://www.deathwishinc.com
http://www.hydrahead.com
http://www.painkillerrecords.com
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33. Re: On Steam and Direct3D Aug 1, 2011, 08:59 Dev
 
Beamer wrote on Aug 1, 2011, 08:07:
I don't know if Microsoft added more DRM or what to 7, but it is definitely simply a slower OS than XP, even when doing the most basic of tasks (like entering text).

It sounds kind of like your hardware sucked, like you installed Win7 on a system that was made for XP. I mean, if you fire up the new Deus Ex it'd run slower than the old one, too.

a) MS did add more DRM to vista/7 compared to XP. Mostly in the graphics drivers department to be HDCP compliant.

b) vista/7 have been shown to be slower than XP in general, in gaming too(in DX 9 of course). However, slower text typing is a bit extreme.
 
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32. Re: On Steam and Direct3D Aug 1, 2011, 08:07 Beamer
 
I don't know if Microsoft added more DRM or what to 7, but it is definitely simply a slower OS than XP, even when doing the most basic of tasks (like entering text).

It sounds kind of like your hardware sucked, like you installed Win7 on a system that was made for XP. I mean, if you fire up the new Deus Ex it'd run slower than the old one, too.

 
-------------
Music for the discerning:
http://www.deathwishinc.com
http://www.hydrahead.com
http://www.painkillerrecords.com
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31. Re: On Steam and Direct3D Aug 1, 2011, 07:14 Zanthar
 
With the many geniuses that we have here on Blue's, I propose we all gather at Blue's News HQ and solve this problem on our own. Mrs. Blue can keep the coffee flowing while we hammer this out in a night.

If it works out well, we can tackle cancer and then world peace next!
 
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30. Re: On Steam and Direct3D Aug 1, 2011, 05:08 zincthallinide
 
After having Win7 installed for a few months with a decent amount of apps my base Windows folder gets up to 30 gigs total, a large portion of it being WinSxS. I've gone back to having XP installed on my 60 gig SSD just to have an OS that only(!) takes up 5 gigs or so. I will have Win7 on another non-SSD drive shortly for the DX10+ support..

Windows 7 has more eye candy compared to XP and a few nice UI enhancements (that I'm amazed MS overlooked even going back to 95..) but it really is an amazingly bloated OS. And somehow, XP works at least as well as 7 as far as app compatibility, and it doesn't have an SxS folder.

I've recently switched primarily to Macintosh because it's just implemented so much better overall than Windows. There's no bizarre keyboard lag like there is in 7 (although this doesn't exist in XP). Things tend to 'just work' rather than mysteriously starting to blue screen/crash after I install a particular program or driver or plug things in in a way that some hardware doesn't quite like somehow. The UI is generally better than 7 or XP's. The OS actually has more features than 7 while generally making them easy to understand and use regardless. Apps can easily go completely full screen, eliminating all the taskbar-type OS UI (without DirectX-type switching). OS X is based on Unix, which I've always preferred, but Ubuntu just doesn't do it for me.

I'm keeping my Windows box for now because it has better GPUs and a quad core and more games, but as far as general use Windows is dead for me.. putting Boot Camp on a Mac just seems wrong.. oh and at this point I've accepted that MS software will simply always have 'remote code vulnerabilities' forever and ever and ever and ever.

Windows has only ever really been targeted at businesses, and the types of businesses that don't want their employees 'distracted' by things like actual colors and fun UIs and terminal windows. The Mac OSs before OS X were technically inferior to Windows for a few years, but not anymore, and now that Apple is using Intel CPUs, they're capable of being just as fast (and expandable) as the fastest IBM compatible. Macintoshes are generally more expensive than IBM compatibles but try one out and see if you don't think there's a good reason..

Really, Windows 7 is what made me switch.. I ran XP for years, but the Win7 UI does have some nice elements, which I realize now they largely lifted from Apple. At the same time, 7 is obviously more bloated than XP, being both slower and taking more RAM/HDD, and yet I have to run 7 if I want the latest DirectX effects under Windows. If I had been able to stay on XP, I probably wouldn't have thought a more visually appealing UI was meaningful, and I'd still have the quickness of XP. I don't know if Microsoft added more DRM or what to 7, but it is definitely simply a slower OS than XP, even when doing the most basic of tasks (like entering text).
 
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29. Re: On Steam and Direct3D Aug 1, 2011, 00:36 Dev
 
elefunk wrote on Jul 31, 2011, 22:26:
The winsxs folder is not actually that size. The winsxs folder is filled with hard junctions to other parts of the disk, and takes up a very small amount of space on its own.
Did you notice how I not only talked about hard links in the reply you quoted, but I also mentioned the space differential and how to check it? I've read that very link long ago.
Try out what I've mentioned on your install. That 10 gigs is going to be more like 7 or 8 gigs, NOT the 400 mb mentioned in that article.

Edit:
In fact I did some additional research , there's a very interesting link in this MS forum thread:
Link
It links to a tool that checks all the hardlinks and tells you how much actual space it consumes.

My 9.5 gig winsxs folder has 1 gig of hard linked files leaving me with about 8.5 gigs of actual hdd space usage on my 60gb SSD.

That is NOT a "very small amount." It's fairly close to my estimate done with other means. Like I said, this is a far worse problem than the steam one.

This comment was edited on Aug 1, 2011, 01:09.
 
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