Netflix Movie Fans

Instant Watching Video Suddenly Lagging - CPU Maxed

I've watched dozens of movies over the Instant Watch feature. Then suddenly one day last week, I started getting horrible video lag (audio is fine) - scenes scroll every second or so. Also, when the IE window is not minimized, the CPU is maxed, which is apparently causing the video lag problem. I've changed absolutely nothing on my computer. All equipment, software and settings are absolutely the same. My DSL service and wireless modem are the same and in the same location in our house. No new appliances or wireless devices in the house to interfere with the wireless connection. I've been on the phone with NetFlix 4 times (they ran me around a while and then said they couldn't help me), My ISP twice (told me that my connection is good) and my computer manufacturer once (no hardware problems- processor running fine). I've run malware scans with both McAfee and Spybot and found nothing. I'm not a techie and feel like I'm chasing my tail. Can anyone help?

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ISP throttling?
How would I determine this? I've talked to my ISP twice. We have checked the download speed using their server test (Qwest) multiple times and it shows 1.3-1.4 mbps, and I'm signed up for 1.5 mbps. So where would the throttling occur?
Your using Qwest (stifles laughter) you cannot use their test to test your connection, its going to tell you what they want to tell you.

Go To http://speedtest.net/

The Gold star will/should be near your actual location. Click on Start Test. Also try testing a few other sites (like in southern part of California- San Diego, Los Angeles).

However without more info (at least what operating system system you have) it would be hard to tell. Microsoft may have released a critical update, and if your system is set to get them automatically, that could be the problem.

Could be several things.

So where would the throttling occur?

The throttling would occur from Qwest, that is their system knows you are 1.5, but "see's" that you have used X amount of bandwidth (have downloaded so much) so they "metaphorically" tie a noose around your connection so that less data can travel, many times it can take a 1.5 connection and cut it in half (768Kb), which would cause lots of laggy video... BUT would not cause your CPU to max out.

Of course they will deny doing any such thing, but most/all ISP do it, they just call it something else.

That sounds like something else.
Thanks for your reply, Sock Puppet. Yes, I am cynical at times, too, and know that what Qwest is showing me as my download speed is not what anyone else is showing me (I've already looked at several sites and speedtest.net was by far the fastest.

However, I don't have a clue as to why this is physically occurring. Is Qwest staging the download speed test? Do they keep the line to that server completely free of all traffic and so data arrive faster to my line? Is the problem that other servers have too many users (that's what I've thought recently about NetFlix) and so data can't come from them very quickly?

The video had NEVER lagged before last week so why would Qwest pick that time to throttle it? And how is this throttle not affecting their speedtest? You'd think I'd get a much lower download speed even from their server. Yesterday late evening everything worked well (not this morning), which would seem to indicate slower speeds at high usage times. But before that I had a week of lag problems no matter what time of day or night.

My CPU and the lagging video are linked. They occur hand in hand. When I am not trying to stream a Watch Instantly Netflix video, I have zero problems with the processor. When no applications are running, my CPU usage is about 2-4%. It's a mystery to me.

I have Windows XP and have downloaded and installed all recent updates. My process is a 2.13 GHz Pentium M. I have 2 GB RAM and an NVidia GeForce Go 6800 video card.
Is Qwest staging the download speed test?
That one I can answer yes too, I'm sure its no different then Time Warner (who I use) and Roadrunner. The thing is these speed tests are scripts, which are written by the provider (Qwest, Roadrunner etc) so they can pretty much provide whatever results they are "written" to provide. Which is why I never trust the ones from the providers.

Internet Speed is not really going to affect CPU usage though, and it seems you have a laptop? As this just recently started I would honestly suspect that a recent update (likely done by windows) would be the culprit.

I'd start there, if you go to windows update site, somewhere on the left side will be something along the line of "Update History", if you click that link it will show you which updates were installed on what dates. I'd make note of which updates (if any) were done around the time you noticed the Video Lag.

On an side note, you will see your CPU usage pretty maxed out under normal circumstances, so that's not likely to be whats causing the problem.

Many ISP's utilize various forms of technology to "shape" their customers usage, its not "really" complicated, but is hard to explain properly in a forum.

Basically an ISP has a certain amount of "bandwidth" to use (the amount of data that they can transfer for all their customers) and they want to maximize their profits. So customers who pay for "more" get more, but that doesn't mean the ISP gets more "bandwidth" to cover that extra need.

Instead, they "borrow" it from other users, sort of like taking 768Kb here (like trimming the fat) you are paying for a 2GB plan, but they are trimming (shaping) your actual speed so that you only get 1.5GB... The difference in speed is not noticed by most users, so they get away with it.

Some of the technology is such that it will use as much of "your" allocated speed as possible (especially when you are not online) and its "supposed" to go back to normal when you do come online. Most times it does, but their will be a delay. Other times these programs that the ISP's use, monitor your usage (people are creatures of habit) so they "know" that at this time of the day you are doing "this", so they can plan the trimming (shape) more effectively.

Other times its simply a question of an unspoken cap on how much you can download. Externally they say "Unlimited", internally they say 10GB, and once you use that, they "shape" your usage, so that you are not using as much...

Their tech support knows this (at least the upper levels) but they are not allowed to tell the customers.
Sockpuppet,
Thanks for your explaination of ISP throttling. It doesn't surprise me even if it's annoying.

I'm starting to suspect another culprit in my CPU max out during live streaming, namely the Silverlight movie viewer. Although, I don't remember downloading this program recently, I probably did without it even registering in my mind. I've uninstalled it a couple of times, hoping that I could somehow get movies to play on the old viewer and have been, obviously, been forced to download and reinstall Silverlight. When I started searching the web with regard to this program, I found reams of people reporting the exact problem I have - Silverlight overloading the processor - sad - and possible a reason for me to quit Netflix altogether.
Well Silverlight is required to watch the movies/shows.

However Silverlight is not putting the strain on your CPU, (well it is and it is not) its what hardware you have installed in your system, as well as the available resources.

Silverlight 2 used to be much worse then silverlight 3. That is SL2 used your main processor and main ram to do most of the work. However SL3 had a much needed improvement, in that it uses your video cards GPU (the video cards CPU) and also you video cards included ram.

However, if your video card has a weak GPU or has less then 128MB of added video ram (roughly for every 1GB of system ram) then your IW experience will be affected. This is not truly Silverlights fault, its just working with what is has available to use.

There is A LOT of misinformation online (most started by microsoft haters) with regards to Silverlight, when the honest truth is that most all problems can be traced back to the hardware that is being used, and/or device drivers that were written by the developers.

Silverlight doesn't overload the processor, all it does is take the 00(zeros)11(ones) and turn them back in to both moving video and audio. If your video card is not up to the task (or there is not enough memory) then the processor has to work harder. Same applies for the audio (though not to the same degree as video).

Add to that the fact that most folks have an average of 3 programs running in the background (other then the OS) and you have even more demand on what system resources you have available.

Worse still are Laptops, most of which (unless you specifically pay more for) do not have dedicated GPU's, instead the video chipsets are built right into the mainboard and use the systems processor and ram to render video, whereas a separate videocard has its own processor (called a GPU or Graphics Processing Unit) and video ram built into the card, and its sole job is to do the work so the main system CPU doesn't have to.
Thanks for that explanation. I greatly appreciate your technical expertise. I wish tech folks on help lines offered these kinds of explanations.

I have 2 GB RAM and a video card with 256 MB video RAM so apparently I have enough hardware to do the job.

I have this processor overload problem even with zero applications running in the background. Until two weeks ago I could watch any Netflix movie with several processes running in the background - no problem.

So unfortunately, it seems that Netflix took something that worked and replaced it with something they thought was better. But instead they "broke" what was working. Even if my computer weren't up to the requirements of Silverlight, it's not my fault as a subscriber. No one should have to buy a new computer or new hardware to watch movies when everything used to run just fine on the computers they own. Who's to say that if I bought a brand new, super duper computer with zillion GB of RAM and a zillion MB of video RAM, that Netlix wouldn't change to yet another program that requires more hardware than that?

In re-reading the reports from people with the same problem I'm having, they aren't people who hate Microsoft, but people who are dissapointed with NetFlix, and I'm one of them now. They should give us the option to use their old, perfectly fine viewer, In lieu of that, they should have technicians on their help line who can help us fix this problem on our computers. I asked them numerous times for help and whether there was anything I could do to change Silverlight settings (apparently not, since I can't find any way to do it on my computer), and they were frankly not helpful at all but kept sending me on wild goose chases and wasting my time.
Well I hate to say this, but it cannot be something that Netflix did which is causing your problem.

Your stance is that you were using the old viewer till a few weeks ago (which cannot be true because Netflix has been using silverlight for almost a year now) and when silverlight got installed now you get video lag and your CPU is maxed out.

That is a device issue (one or more of your video card drivers is not playing nice with the player) I can safely say this because if it were the silverlight player, it would not just pick on a certain group of people, it would universally affect everyone who is using it.

But its not. I hazard a guess that your system has an NVidia graphics card in it, and that NVidia still needs to get their developers working out the bugs in their drivers.

NVidia makes awesome cards, but they are designed/optimized for games 3D graphics... Not streaming video... Its this disparity that causes many/most of the problems.

The bottom line (unfortunately) is that there MUST be a universal platform for instant watch (just like there is BluRay and not HDdvd, or VHS not BetaMax) its just too expensive to try to create/support multiple platforms. This is why developers are given tools to create things that conform to the existing platforms.

As long as there are Apple Computers, there will be folks who swear mac's are the best, as long as there are more then one operating system, there will be those who swear theirs is the best. That competitive spirit is a good thing as it keeps the majority players on their toes and moving forward.

On a sidenote: There are a "Few" settings that can be changed on Silverlight, and a few things you can check to make sure its working correctly. Technical support likely doesnt go there because its difficult to do over the phone.

But if you want to take a look?

Start a movie at IW. To pull up the options menu for Silveright is a bit tricky. You have to click (and hold) CTRL-ALT-SHIFT-M

Some places to look are video settings (making sure that it says that GPU support in TRUE) looking at memory usage, processor usage, etc. You might even want to see what the bitrate is for the stream that is playing and try changing it to see if it reduces the load.

Also, if in fact you do have an NVidia Video Card, it might be good to check out their forum for that card and try to find out if there are any advanced settings you could change that would correct the load problem.

Im not making excuses for Netflix, but having worked in tech support... Its very hard to do some of these things on the phone. There are literally thousands of hardware configurations to deal with, different OS's, drivers installed, processes running, ISP issues, the list goes on and on.

Heck I have a problem with Flash animations/video not working on my own computer (freezes unless I keep the mouse moving) and its driving me nutters! Every time I think I have figured it out, something else affects the process and messes something else up. I've been troubleshooting this issue for 4 days now!

And just like to say, as much as I would like to blame Flash, or the folks that made the flash videos, or the flash games in facebook for this problem... Its not... Its a hardware issue on my computer (my network card and graphics card are sharing the same IRQ, but my system is ACPI, which means I cannot change those settings myself, windows will assign them... And Windows doesn't see any conflicts with having those two share an IRQ... Anyway...

I'm just saying its not always as easy as blaming the person right in front of you as sometimes its really not the obvious culprit.

That doesn't help, nor make it any less frustrating... But still its true.
OK
Same thing started happening to me a few days ago.
LOVED Instant watching until 3 days ago.
Mid TV show- it started popping and cutting out.
I hit PAUSE to buffer a bit of the show and still the same thing.

I restarted my MacBook Pro 2.4 - 128MB VRAM, 4 Gig RAM,...
and that didnt help.
Since i was using Safari-
I decided to try Firefox and the exact same thing happened.

I did a DLS reports speed test
950k

I upgraded Silverlight
Same issue
I re-installed Silverlight 2
still same problem.

Hulu works fine still- but they use Flash.
:(

hmmmm.

any ideas???

thanks

b

Awsome answer, I agree totally. Netflix seems to run fine on devices that incorporate it into thier systems like WII and Xbox and such. I believe these systems are much better for enjoying Netflix and others as they are dedicated to graphics processing. Imo, you need a pretty good system to handle HD video on your pc.

Well, they're evolving, and soon we'll be complaining about our holorooms lagging :D

Waddaya mean soon? I suspect it's failure to integrate the newest commands in the 4D Interactivity Processors that causes this intolerable quarter second lag in my holo-pr0n.

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