2011-02-21

Vaio P, OpenGL and Windows 7

Hi there, fellow nerdz! I was going to turn this into a how-to and pro/con article on OpenGL on the Sony Vaio P (on Windows 7). But since I installed the XP IEGD driver for Intel GMA500 I have had nothing but trouble with it. For those of you that want to try it out for yourself, and/or want a bit more information on my massive fail, continue reading. To others: don't bother with this driver.

Update1 (2011-08-03): Seems like mmmsheen at notebookreview forums has discovered a way to unleash the performance of the GMA 500. Function keys still don't work, but wakeup from sleep does. Watch the video here.


Like always my research around the GMA500 started because I wasn't happy about how things worked (I cannot play Minecraft on my netbook for crying out loud!). But as I delved deeper into the knowledge pool that is the internet, I realised it wasn't the chipset that was holding my computer back, it was the driver. The Vista and 7 driver has among others no support for OpenGL and limited support for 3D acceleration and DirectDraw. This performance problem netbook owners are experiencing isn't because Intel don't want to write a good driver, but because there is some sort of legal licensing problem. This is also why Intel has no Linux driver for the GMA500 (still you can install some linux distros: I've written an old tutorial on Jolicloud and Vaio P which might still be valid.

But hurray, for XP users you can get a developer version of the GMA500 XP driver (IEGD - nonconsumer driver) which you can (with a little extra work) use on Vista and Windows 7. I went ahead and installed the driver in this fashion:
  1. Downloaded the IEGD Driver from here. Also downloaded the Windows 7 driver from Sony's website in case something would go wrong (which it did).
  2. Right-clicked on Computer in the start-menu and chose Manage.
  3. Clicked Device Manager and clicked on Display adapters and uninstalled the GMA500 and removed all the drivers.
  4. Restarted and installed the IEGD drivers.
  5. Restarted and...
All looked fine. OpenGL Extension Viewer showed me the computer did now support OpenGL 2.0. I could choose the screen resolution but I was stuck with 16-bit colours. Not to worry. I played a few HD movies I had on my harddrive, and performance-wise it did great. I went onto Youtube and Vimeo and noticed maybe a small improvement in FPS (frames per second) in the HTML5 player, but nothing dramatic. Flash was still as useless as ever (why do Adobe make their programs so heavy and slow?). I copied the Windows Experience Index of my previous setup and ran the tests again. The result was disappointing. By installing the XP IEGD driver my Graphics and Gaming graphics scores had dropped from 4,2 and 2,7 to 1,9 and 1,0. Update2: this is due to the fact that the IEGD driver isn't signed.

I had a lecture at the hospital so I went there, booted up the Vaio P and started to take notes. In the brake I put it to sleep (by closing the lid) as I normally do. Unfortunately the XP IEGD drivers don't wake up on Windows 7. They also cannot adjust the backlighting of the screen. When I got home I tried it again but with hibernation. Nope. The drivers don't like it. So I finally tired of it all and installed my old drivers again. I know, I should have tried a game or two to see the performance there. But seriously? Would you use a driver that makes your computer crippled?

I went on this quest (can I call it quest? please?) to see if I could enhance the performance of the GMA500. I couldn't.

3 comments:

Ruben said...

Since writing this (this morning) I stumbled upon this: http://www.streamingmedia.com/Articles/Editorial/Featured-Articles/Flash-Player-CPU-Hog-It-Depends.-65776.aspx

It might not be ready yet, but I believe in HTML5 video....

VAIO-P VGN-P91HS said...

hi!

actually, I tried the updated driver on that site, but I only got a white screen that gradually change to rainbow colors. I can still hear xp sounds, so I assume only my display is messed. I had to hack myself to boot to safemode, then removed the faulty graphics drivers. I installed the latest GMA driver from Intel, probably no OpenGL support but more stable..
(im using VGN-P91HS, 2GHz, 2GB, 256GB SSD)

Ruub said...

Hi, thank you for the input.

These IEGD drivers seem to be very unstable if they won't even install correctly under XP (for which they were designed).

Currently I'm also using the latest drivers (but for Windows 7) from Intel and we can probably do no more than wait for Intel to implement OpenGL and other cool features in future drivers, in order to unleash the GMA500's full potential.

And nice netbook you're using, I also have a VGN-P91HS with the same specs as yours :D