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Old 01-23-2009, 09:46 PM   #1
Registered: Aug 2005
Distribution: Ubuntu Intrepid and Meerkat, formerly used Debian 3.1 (Sarge) with Gnome Desktop
Posts: 353

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DVD & MPG playback pauses for half a second every 20 seconds or so

Hello all,

I am trying to tweak the playback of DVD and MPG video files on my DELL Studio Notebook.

The key hardware specs are:

CPU: Pentium 2.4 Core 2 Duo
RAM: 3Gb
VIDEO: ATI Mobility Radeon HD3400 series (3460 I think)
SATA HDD (Western Digital)
SATA DVD (Optiarc aka Sony/NEC)

I have noticed that when playing a DVD from /dev/dvd or an MPG file from the local hard disk, every 20 seconds or so, there will be a slight pause of about half a second. Sometimes worse with DVD because the DVD drive seems to spin down mid playback and then find itself spinning up again, causing longer pauses.

Initially I tried hdparm -d1 -c1 /dev/dvd but that returns in an error: HDIO_SET_32BIT failed: Invalid argument

I did some reading and it maybe that my laptop SATA devices use libata which apparently does not support the calls made by hdparm.

Does anybody know of another fix or tweak for solving this problem?

Notably the problem also occurs when playing MPG files of the local hard disk aswell.

Thanks in advance,

Last edited by greengrocer; 01-23-2009 at 09:47 PM.
Old 01-23-2009, 11:43 PM   #2
Registered: Nov 2003
Location: Seattle
Distribution: OpenBSD, Ubuntu
Posts: 60

Rep: Reputation: 16
From my experience, ATI and Linux don't get along very well. I had a ton of trouble with my Radeon HD3200 until I finally gave up and put an nVidia card instead and now it works great.

That being said, since you're using a laptop, you don't really have that luxury. In my experience, the kind of problem you're experiencing is more a video card problem than anything else.

First advice, then further questions.
1. I would make sure that your ATI drivers are as up-to-date as possible and I would make sure you're using the proprietary driver and not the generic one that comes with X.
2. I would use a more robust program like VLC to watch your movies. VLC offers many different video and audio output modules that can give you more customization based around your setup.
3. If you insist on using a program other than VLC, I would poke around to find different output modules (like X11 rendering over OpenGL).
4. If you're using something like Compiz, try disabling it.

Questions if the above doesn't help:
1. What distro?
2. What media player?
3. Does it happen with mp3/ogg or just videos? Flash?

I must admit I don't know much about the SATA issue you mentioned, but if your OS can read it at all, it would seem to me that your hardware would be sufficient to run something as simple as a movie.

Good luck!
Old 01-23-2009, 11:57 PM   #3
Registered: Jan 2007
Location: lexington NC.
Distribution: Ultimalinux 8.4 & Slackware 12.0.0
Posts: 82

Rep: Reputation: 16
what coler depth are you using if it's 24bit or higher try lowering it to 16 the diference betwen 16 and 24 is negligable but performence is improved!!

open /etc/X11/xorg.config and look for the line


and see what it seas if 24 or more chang to 16 and see what happens!!
Old 01-26-2009, 05:21 AM   #4
Senior Member
Registered: Apr 2004
Location: Potchefstroom, South Africa
Distribution: Fedora 17 - 3.3.4-5.fc17.x86_64
Posts: 1,506

Rep: Reputation: 100Reputation: 100
I had much the same problem, only my stutters were in about 5 second increments.

Turned out that the kernel I was running did not have support for the ATI IXP southbridge I had on my system (i. e. I did not have DMA available). Having DMA up and running is vital to smooth DVD / video playback...

I suspect the HDIO error you get it because your kernel does not have support for your particular chipset compiled in...

I solved my problem by downloading a newer kernel which did have support available for ATI IXP based motherboard chipsets. I then compiled this new kernel with the relevant options selected for having ATI IXP southbridge support, and my stutters went away... because DMA was now working.

Last edited by rylan76; 01-26-2009 at 05:23 AM.


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