Monthly Archives: March 2012

Railworks 3 Train Simulator 2012 performance tuning

A while ago I wrote a post about system requirements for Train Simulator 2012. The more I have been plaing the simulator, the more I have had the feeling that I am missing something (because my visual experience is not the best possible, or even very impressive).

My computer is an AMD X2 250 (dual core 3.0Ghz), 4GB RAM, GeForce 520 GT, and Windows 7 64-bit edition. That is well above the requirements of the game, but far from state of the art hardware. Perhaps buying a new computer?

I have been reading forums and and many people, many with very powerful hardware, have been complaining. A new computer, even on a high budget, is not guaranteed to run Train Simulator 2012 perfectly, it seems.

I decided to measure performance for different game setting and both measure FPS and look at screenshots. The parameters I have worked with are:

  • Screen resolution
  • Basic settings (Anti alising)
  • Train Simulator 2012 Game Technology (on/off)
  • Master settings (Details)

I have been using Fraps to measure FPS. All FPS tests and screenshots are from the Bath Green Park to Templecombe scenario A Day of Two Halves

Disappointed at 1280×1024
For a long while I have been playing the simulator at 1280×1024 (the native resultion of my display). With my computer, it is hard to achieve reasonable FPS as you see in this table.

2012 Tech: OFF ON
Basic settings: Low Medium Low Medium
Master settings
– Lowest 50-70 33-35 25-35
– Medium 30-40 13-14 12-14
– Highest 30-40

I want 30 fps, nothing below 20 fps. So, I didn’t even bother to measure the left out cells. Obviously, at 1280×1024, I can choose between some details (like buildings), or some anti-aliasing. And there are too few meaningful combinations to really draw any conclusions.

More interesting at 800×600
I decided to test more combinations at minimum resolution (800×600), and also take screenshots to be able to decide what compromises are best. I believe with better hardware, you will get a similar pattern at higher resolution.

2012 Tech: OFF ON
Basic settings: Low Medium High Low Medium High
Master settings
– Lowest 70 70 42 71 50 40
– Medium 60 35 19 46 35 27
– Highest 60 32 18 37 25 20

Clicking the number should open the screen shot in a separate tag. This way, you can easily compare two different settings side by side to decide for yourself.

Conclusions
My conclusions are:

  • Resolution matters a lot when it comes to what settings you can use
  • Master setting: medium is enough, highest makes little difference
  • Basic settings: medium is a huge improvement over low
  • 2012 Tech: in some ways nicer, but in my opinion, not that much of an improvement

I think I will run the game on Medium/Medium in the future, with 2012 tech turned off, in 800×600 or 1024×768, depending on the scenario (North East Corridor seems heavier). And I might have overcome my desire to get a faster computer.

Install Ubuntu 12.04 (beta 1) on Eee 701

Update: Install 12.04 on Eee 701

I have been running Xubuntu a while on my Eee 701. However the 4 GB SSD drive is not enough for making system updates anymore. I could probably get rid of some applications to fix it, but I decided to try Ubuntu 12.04 instead. To improve the storage situation I got an 8GB SD Card. I have 1GB of RAM in this Eee 701, and perhaps the original 512Mb is not enough for Ubuntu.

Note, with the small 800×480 display, Alt-F7 helps you move windows around.

The disk limit
The Ubuntu installer complains that it does not have 8.6GB available. It seams it knows that it needs 4.3GB, but it wants extra space… and, I dont think it reconizes the SD Card as a legal place to install. Anyway, there is a file where you can make a change:

/usr/lib/ubiquity/plugins/ubi-prepare.py
min_disk_size = size * 2

Replace the 2 with for example 0.5, and you can attempt any configuration you want.

Partitioning and disk usage
When installing, I had the following drives:

/dev/sda     -- 4GB (internal SSD)
/dev/sdb     -- USB memory that I install from
/dev/sdc     -- 8GB (SD Card)

I decided to try the following partitioning:

/dev/sda1    -- 128 MB /boot  (24 MB used)
     sda5    -- 3.8 GB /home  (empty)
/dev/sdc1    -- 8 GB   /      (3.8 GB used, usr=3.2GB, var=423Mb, lib=176Mb)

The safer alternative would be to put / on sda, and /usr on sdc (but that would leave me with 600Mb less space for home).

Boot issues
Two possible problems with my setup:

  1. Is the memory card available when / needs to be mounted, at boot?
  2. Will Ubuntu figure out that what was sdc during install is now sdb?

Second problem should be easy to fix.

So, after installing, I rebooted WITH install USB memory stick (sbd) still inserted. And the system boots perfectly. I attempt a boot without the memory stick inserted. As I feared, root filesystem is not found, but I get a prompt (not a Panic like in the old days):

BusyBox v1.18.5...
Enter 'help'...

(initramfs)

I boot back into Ubuntu (so I put the USB stick back – and now sbc is root again) to fix Grub. Now, this is how grub works… you edit /etc/default/grub and/or files in /etc/grub.d/. Then you run grub-update. However, this procedure automatically figures out your root device, and that is what you want to change… so I did the forbidden:

sudo vi /boot/grub/grub.cfg

and replaced root=/dev/sdc1 with root=/dev/sdb1. Finally, I ran

sudo /usr/sbin/grub-setup /dev/sda

And shutdown, remove memory stick, and boot… and it works! To make sure everything is in order, I now automatically generate /boot/grub/grub.cfg

sudo update-grub
sudo /usr/sbin/grub-setup /dev/sda

And confirm with another reboot.

I believe that now everything weird I have done is history, and I have a clean system. Booting is actually reasonably fast from SD Card. Probably using the internal SSD for / would give better performance.

Updated disk usage
After updating the Beta to latest everything, this is how disk usage looks like:

8.6M	bin
48M	boot
15M	etc
288M	lib
106M	opt
8.8M	sbin
3.3G	usr
894M	var

Could be interesting for those of you who wants to install on limited disk. Probably /var can be reduced (and will grow when updating the system). Chrome is installed in /opt.

Raise CPU from 630Mhz to 900MHz
The Eee 701 is equipped with a 900MHz CPU clocked at 630MHz. It is perfectly fine to run at 900MHz, especially when plugged in to AC. This is what I did:

sudo apt-get install cpufreqd cpufrequtils
sudo modprobe p4_clockmod

# now check with
cat /proc/cpuinfo

sudo vim /etc/modules
# add p4_clockmod

If you are not connected to AC, the cpu will run slower. See /etc/cpufreqd.conf.

Moving / to SSD?
Now that I know how much disk space is required it is tempting to move / to the SSD (sda). I did some read/write performance tests…

              SSD (sda)      SD (sdb)
Write 1GB      44s            327s
Read  1GB      35s             64s