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When run on external display, program stops reponding, on internal ok

Posted on 2012-04-13
Medium Priority
Last Modified: 2016-11-23
Hi experts.

I am system admin and supporter for soft- and hardware myself and I must say this is one of the weirdest problems I ever saw.

We are talking about a new laptop Dell vostro 3750 core i7 with nvidia and intel (optimus)graphics and 2 external displays (one VGA, one HDMI). OS is windows 7 enterprise x64 SP1, fresh clean install, no other known errors.

One piece of software behaves differently when run on the internal display compared to the external analog display. On the internal, everything is ok. On the external HDMI display, everything is ok, too. But when this app is displayed on the external VGA display, the application stops responding after a few minutes (always reproduceable), while all other apps, no matter on what display, run normal

To make it even more weird:
-when frozen, we can move the app to the internal monitor and it continues to work
-using a HDMI to VGA display adapter, the phenomenon happens on HDMI, too
-drivers and Bios are the latest available, tried older to no avail
-happens in single monitor setup (only external VGA) as well as in triple-monitor-setup with internal+HDMI+VGA, but always and only on the VGA connected device.
-it does not care for monitor models or resolutions (tried different).
-using that software on 5 other devices (pc and laptop), this does not happen at all on VGA

What could that be? An nvidia optimus bug?
Problem is,  the owner needs to be able to use VGA for presentations (beamers sometimes offer only VGA in) and this app is always part of his presentations.
Question by:McKnife
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LVL 17

Expert Comment

ID: 37842333
seems to be a problem with the graphics.. which may not be able to render on bigger screen.

disabling the Nvidia Optimus in the bios , restarting  , and , or reinstalling the graphics device and reboot
or remove the graphics device
LVL 69

Expert Comment

ID: 37842345
It sounds like this application is using something on the external card that is defective.  I would agree with you that it is an optimus bug, since the application works on devices other than optimus and other applications work on the optimus card.  It could be that the card (or driver) is not designed for what the application is doing, such as OpenGL or 3D drawing.  I would say use a different laptop, in this case.
LVL 56

Author Comment

ID: 37842456
On this very laptop, it is not possible to disable optimus as DELL support confirmed.

@callandor: please explain what you mean by
since the application works on devices other than optimus
optimus is this: http://www.nvidia.com/object/optimus_technology.html , so I don't understand, why you call the external VGA port "optimus". As I wrote, it happens on HDMI also, if we connect a digital2analog converter (exactly this one: http://h20195.www2.hp.com/v2/GetPDF.aspx/c02715879.pdf )to the hdmi port, while it works on hdmi without converter.

So what's wrong with converting to analog? How does the HDMI port even know it's being converted and what makes the app fail then? Too weird for me.
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LVL 69

Expert Comment

ID: 37842832
What I referred to optimus is the video hardware; since you reported "using that software on 5 other devices (pc and laptop), this does not happen at all on VGA", it is this particular hardware that is incompatible.  Unless I misunderstood what you wrote, this has nothing to do with HDMI or VGA, it's the software/hardware combination.  The same video hardware is driving the HDMI and VGA ports.
LVL 56

Author Comment

ID: 37842906
Unless I misunderstood what you wrote, this has nothing to do with HDMI or VGA, it's the software/hardware combination
Oh yes, it has. I use HDMI - it's ok. I use VGA, it fails. I use HDMI<-Converter->VGA it fails.
LVL 69

Expert Comment

ID: 37843156
How many displays does this setup have?  I read that you have one internal and two external:
"Dell vostro 3750 core i7 with nvidia and intel (optimus)graphics and 2 external displays (one VGA, one HDMI)"

Are you running 3 displays simultaneously?  Most laptops and desktops can't do this - it requires special hardware (Radeon Eyefinity series or nVidia Quadro cards).  If you somehow got this running, it would be outside the specs of what it is designed for.

If it fails going through an HDMI->VGA adapter but works going through HDMI only, that might mean it senses the type of monitor in use and fails when going through the adapter.  I would try the app on another machine with HDMI and use an HDMI->VGA adapter.
LVL 56

Accepted Solution

McKnife earned 0 total points
ID: 37843314
"If you somehow got this running, it would be outside the specs of what it is designed for"
 I don't see why it is outside the specs. For ages you could use a triple monitor setup under windows as long as all connected adapters used the same driver - I have done this many times with cheapo cards even with absolutely no effort. Not even SLI, simply one dual head card on PCIe and a second one on PCI - windows detects that automatically and offers to use three. Since win7, we can even use different video adapter drivers at the same time and have three displays in use simultaneously under windows. [That's why optimus is incompatible with windows OS's pre win7]

But anyway, I wrote, it happens also with only one screen connected [and the others including the internal screen disconnected].

Before we test on other machines (I am not sure what you expect to happen - no matter what outcome, it has to run on this very laptop on VGA and I said before, it works on others with VGA even, so why use the HDMI2VGS-converter on others?), I should inform you about the software. The developer is the owner of that laptop - it's his software. He cannot explain the behavior, but told me that the app is a simulation that calculates movements and displays them simultaneously in real time. There is a "wait-function" that makes sure the movement has been displayed on the screen before proceeding to the next calculation for the next movement. Somehow the detection this wait-function uses is faulty when VGA is used (I guess). Problem is, the developer has no clue, why on other devices it does not have these problems on VGA. It seems as though the optimus technology or the driver are involved.

He is not in the position to buy another laptop and the other laps are too weak for his simulation.

It would be useful if someone was so technically superior that he could tell how this COULD fail so that the developer could adjust his program.
LVL 69

Expert Comment

ID: 37843724
>simply one dual head card on PCIe and a second one on PCI

I was thinking more of a single adapter, not multiple.

>why use the HDMI2VGS-converter on others?

This is to verify that the adapter itself is not the cause, because you need to eliminate as many variables as possible.

>Somehow the detection this wait-function uses is faulty when VGA is used (I guess).

This seems to be the key to the problem - if he is the developer, then he has to understand the hardware-level interaction with his software.  I don't think we are in a position to troubleshoot custom-written software, especially if it is so sensitive to low level functions.  The solution is probably something that someone who writes video drivers could provide.  If he's expecting you to fix this, I think that's unreasonable.
LVL 56

Author Closing Comment

ID: 37913901
We couldn't touch the core problem. Callandor was right with what he said. I agree, if the developer cannot tell what's going on, we could not help him. Just tried to beat around the bush to see if anyone ever heard anything like this.<br /><br />Thanks anyway for trying to help.

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