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AMD Radeon R9 – Massive text flickering again

Graphics issues like: bad framerates, weird colors, OpenGL errors etc. Bad graphics ar usually the result of bad graphics cards or drivers.
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In order to help you, we need to know a lot of information. Make sure to include answers to at least the following questions in your initial post.

- what OS (Windows Xp/Vista, Mac etc.) are you running?
- what FlightGear version do you use?
- what graphics card do you have?
- does the problem occur with any aircraft, at any airport?
- is there any output printed to the console (black window)?
- copy&paste your commandline (tick the "Show commandline box on the last page of FGRun or the "Others" section on the Mac launcher).
- please upload a screenshot of the problem.

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To run FlightGear on old computers with bad OpenGL support, please take a look at this wiki article. If you are seeing corrupted/broken textures, please see this article.

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AMD Radeon R9 – Massive text flickering again

Postby Babbo » Sun Dec 13, 2015 10:59 am

Hello, I’m new here so have some warm greetings first and, above all, to the people outside, my honest thanks for all your work: thank you!

However, I wouldn’t be here if … here are my system’s specifications:

    • Basically, a well-trimmed Win 7 Pro, 64bit (Sp.1), with 16GB system memory, i7-3770K and an ASUS AMD (former ATI) R9 390 (8GB GDDR5) with up-to-date Radeon Software Crimson 15.11
Status quo:

    • Absolutely everything is running fine: the complete MS-Office, Firefox, Thunderbird, lots of different freeware, a wide palette of audio and video software, a number of (actually demanding) games as well as my complete programming environment, running different compilers. To be honest, as of now and knocking on wood, I’m not aware of the smallest issue …
    • … except one, and this is a huge FG-problem (Ver.3.4, command line and console are attached below): heavily flickering text in menubars and input dialogues of more or less every FG-window (including the tutorial hints on the centred bottom).
As a side-note, yes, I’m an FG-beginner, currently enthusiastically devoted to solve the Cessna 172p Straight-in-Landing tutorial challenge (^^). After 5,6 weeks this flickering issue almost drives me crazy and I really fear that some time I could get forced to completely shut-down my whole FG-project.

Before you get nervous about another search-resistant and post-ignoring rookie’s rant: I have checked the internet, above all this forum here (Including thorough walkthroughs with respect to “Graphics problems Q&A” and “Problems with graphics using ATI cards: Look here first!!”.) And I have checked my Windows system, and all in all spent – really – some dozens of hours with “flickering-research” - but without any acceptable solution. Here’s a short list of workarounds tried and/or results (probably not complete):

    • I don’t use Rembrandt, I don’t use ALS. Both (I would say) shaders only worsen the problem, especially ALS, where I have the total malfunction of no-text-output.
    • I exchanged the classic and anthrax theme (via the well-known preferences-edit), which worked but revealed new issues with that rather – please allow to say – out-dated style, like cut text, text that doesn’t fit into or overwrites boxes, things like that.
    • I experimented with different (maybe all) rendering options in fgrun’s advanced options, no success.
    • Also FG’s graphics options, intensively manipulated, offered no success.
    • One forum hint funnily was not so bad (but, by far no complete solution at all): switching from basic to detailed weather calmed the situation significantly.
    • I checked my windows display options and experimented a lot with different settings, no success …
    • … the same with the Radeon driver options.
Finally, some unsorted, i.e. not really well-founded, and not always unknown observations:

    • If something flickers (and we only speak about text), it’s most frequently a complete word or a group of words (e.g. nearby a tickbox).
    • Flickering frequency is not always the same for all currently flickering passages.
    • Almost no problems standing on the runway, and increasing problems when flying “in front of” a turbulent background (i.e. fast and steep bends).
    • There seems to be a direct relation between Cessna’s cockpit appearance and the flickering issue: with present cockpit almost no or very little flickering occurs, while pressing “c” (thus disabling the cockpit) clearly initializes the process. So the c-key more or less works as a switch.
    • Simultaneously, there appear to be almost no texture problems, except flickering yellow runway markers.
    • By the way, colour is a topic too: I noticed that the flickering sometimes is “grouped” by colour, e.g. white (actually lightgrey for active options) versus only grey (for inactive options).
I think, I should stop right now. Thanks for reading this not-so-condensed post! Hope, we can find a solution, otherwise there remains nothing else but changing simulation software.

Thanks for any input and enjoy your weekend!

P.S.: I’ll happily provide any further information you request.

P.P.S.: Here are my command lines and the console output:

Code: Select all
C:\_\FlightGear 3.4.0\bin\fgfs.exe
  --fg-root=C:\_\FlightGear 3.4.0\data
  --fg-scenery=D:\FlightGear\Custom Scenery;C:\_\FlightGear 3.4.0\data\Scenery;D:\FlightGear\TerraSync
  --terrasync-dir=D:\FlightGear\TerraSync
  --fg-aircraft=D:\FlightGear\Aircraft
  --aircraft=c172p
  --console
  --disable-splash-screen
  --enable-random-objects
  --disable-panel
  --enable-hud
  --disable-anti-alias-hud
  --disable-hud-3d
  --enable-auto-coordination
  --enable-horizon-effect
  --enable-enhanced-lighting
  --enable-ai-models
  --disable-ai-traffic
  --disable-real-weather-fetch
  --enable-clouds3d
  --enable-fullscreen
  --prop:/sim/menubar/autovisibility/enabled=1
  --geometry=1920x1200
  --bpp=32
  --texture-filtering=4
  --prop:/sim/rendering/multi-sample-buffers=1
  --prop:/sim/rendering/multi-samples=4
  --timeofday=afternoon
  --disable-terrasync
  --disable-fgcom


Code: Select all
Enabling ATI viewport hack
default catalog not found, installing...
environment init
Loading local weather routines...
KMA20 audio panel initialized
KI266 dme indicator #0 initialized
catalog download failure:http://fgfs.goneabitbursar.com/pkg/3.4.0/default-catalo
g.xml
Electrical system initialized
Could not find at least one of the following objects for animation: 'terminal_2'

Could not find at least one of the following objects for animation: 'terminal_2'

KAP140 power up
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Re: AMD Radeon R9 – Massive text flickering again

Postby Richard » Sun Dec 13, 2015 11:39 pm

I've had this problem since I swapped from NVidia to R9-290. It affects all rendering methods, but is worse with ALS and Rembrandt. Some of it can be mitigated by using cycle gui - which makes the menus fine. I suspect something related to the way that the built in bitmap font is built or rendered - maybe an interaction with PUI.

For example the multiplayer pilot list will have some items rendered, sometimes the messages that appear at the top centre are visible and sometimes not. It changes when the view position is moved - sometimes text appears.

So I know it has to be something related to the OpenGL usage within FlightGear or a fault within the implementation in the driver - as the rest of the system and installation didn't change when I installed the Radeon.
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Re: AMD Radeon R9 – Massive text flickering again

Postby Babbo » Tue Dec 15, 2015 6:14 pm

I can only confirm what you detected (even if I don't know what you mean by "PUI"). From the two styles, anthrax and classic, I edited anthrax (maybe, it contains some more newer stuff ...) to call a bold Helvetica-txf (probably from ttf2txf) found in the internet. It looks a little bit better than classic.xml's original non-flickering Helvetica.txf. I Also checked HELVETICA_*. TIMES_* (and other recommended ttfs(?)), but they all are flickering.

To be honest, I'm wondering that no one cares about that problem ... anyway, thanks for your feedback!
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Re: AMD Radeon R9 – Massive text flickering again

Postby Thorsten » Wed Dec 16, 2015 8:23 am

It's most likely a problem with the PUI (the current GUI), and the plan is to discontinue using it. There are experimental canvas GUIs which don't show the flickering (look around in the forum for some pointers), there's Phi as external GUI option and James' plan is to create a new GUI using Qt5.

So it's not really that no one cares, GUI is about the most active part of core development at the moment.
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Re: AMD Radeon R9 – Massive text flickering again

Postby Babbo » Wed Dec 16, 2015 11:13 am

Thank you Thorsten too for intervening.

Those experimental Canvas GUIs, like Qt5-based canvas and(?) FG-menus, probably go beyond my horizon of knowledge to alter program-structures. I simply thought, there may be some not so advanced solution (maybe xml-based) to get rid of that annoying problem. Since, also to my own experience, NVIDIA doesn't suffer from that bug, I hoped it could be something related to a graphics driver, something more on the handy side. And, I beg your pardon, those pointers, I didn't really find them ... and Phi to my knowledge is more an external way to get in touch with FG, and it is more the type of an FG-starter. If you could give me please some more detailed "pointer-information"?

Finally, the problem itself, considering the current menu system, do you have any idea what it could be, are there ongoing efforts to solve that riddle ?
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Re: AMD Radeon R9 – Massive text flickering again

Postby Thorsten » Wed Dec 16, 2015 12:33 pm

Hooray probably has a pretty well developed canvas dialog parser by now, but it's to my knowledge not posted, you'd need to ask him. It won't look pretty, but it will not flicker.

I assume/hope he'll see this thread sooner or later.
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Re: AMD Radeon R9 – Massive text flickering again

Postby Babbo » Wed Dec 16, 2015 1:37 pm

Interesting hint, thanks to you. - But I believe for the time being, since I cannot have the best solution, I feel acceptably fine with non-flickering txf-fonts ...
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Re: AMD Radeon R9 – Massive text flickering again

Postby Hooray » Wed Dec 16, 2015 2:46 pm

Thorsten wrote in Wed Dec 16, 2015 12:33 pm:Hooray probably has a pretty well developed canvas dialog parser by now, but it's to my knowledge not posted, you'd need to ask him. It won't look pretty, but it will not flicker.

I assume/hope he'll see this thread sooner or later.


As usual, Hooray has been maintaining a corresponding wiki article, which also contains patches/code snippets: http://wiki.flightgear.org/Howto:Proces ... ing_Canvas

Image

As far as I am concerned, most of the people that I have been in touch with about this, are very much hesitant to adopt, let alone get involved in, this - because the ongoing Phi/Qt5 efforts are considered to possibly make the Nasal/Canvas based parser obsolete sooner or later.

I have yet to see any definite statement about the future of Qt5 adoption in FlightGear, and if/how this will affect overlapping efforts that are considered "dead-ends" by other core developers. Thus, for understandable reasons, I am not prioritizing the whole thing currently.

But should the situation regarding segfaults related to the Qt5 integration layer in FlightGear not improve anytime soon, we may want to revisit the whole parser approach.

In the meantime, the wiki article contains all the info, pointers and code snippets to extend this, should the need arise.
Please don't send support requests by PM, instead post your questions on the forum so that all users can contribute and benefit
Thanks & all the best,
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Re: AMD Radeon R9 – Massive text flickering again

Postby bugman » Wed Dec 16, 2015 3:06 pm

Have you tried with the older Catalyst drivers? The "Radeon Software Crimson" drivers are a brand new driver architecture and are not so refined yet. Have a look at the 15.11.1 release notes and you'll notice how often the text 'flickering' is mentioned! Maybe you could update to this bugfix release as you are using the earlier 15.11 version. And this 15.11.1 release fixes many, but not all, of the driver flickering issues.

Regards,
Edward
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Re: AMD Radeon R9 – Massive text flickering again

Postby Babbo » Wed Dec 16, 2015 3:54 pm

I had a look on Hooray's wiki article, so I feel grateful for your reply too. However, I'm just an ordinary FG-user, no FG-developer or even -programmer.

A little more luck with bugman Edward: additional thanks, but I feel quite hesitant to update to a Beta-driver, just for a single application (while everything else runs smoothly). Secondly, before Crimson, I believe, I had the same problem.
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Re: AMD Radeon R9 – Massive text flickering again

Postby Thorsten » Wed Dec 16, 2015 5:45 pm

I don't think there's more than one or two people in FG who would have the technical knowledge to debug something like this - it really seems to be a bad interaction between direct OpenGL commands from PUI, indirect OpenGL from OSG and the way the Radeon driver do business. So realistically it's out of reach for us to fix as is.

Given that PUI is scheduled to disappear anyway, I don't think anyone will invest much time trying to fix it.

So there is Phi if you can have a second window open or have a second screen - that works via html interface.

Or you can wait for Qt5 to come along, but that seems to have run into problems even with just the launcher, so it's hard to guess when it will be there.

Or you learn enough to adopt the canvas experiments.

I realize this is highly unsatisfactory, but I wouldn't even know how to begin tackling the flickering myself - and I am reasonably familiar with rendering.
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Re: AMD Radeon R9 – Massive text flickering again

Postby Hooray » Wed Dec 16, 2015 9:47 pm

Agreed, anybody interested in troubleshooting this would need to be fairly familiar with OSG/OpenGL and SG/FG internals - preferably, you would come up with an isolated test case (e.g. using the minimal startup profile) to see if you can reproduce the bug, and then try some of the standalone plib examples next - that would greatly help us determine where the issue might be. Subsequently, you would definitely need to look at using an OpenGL debugger to see what commands the driver is receiving and what it is doing.

If this can only be reproduced at the fgfs level using osg/pui together, osg does have /some/ debugging support using various environment variables.

But apart from that, it's unlikely to be fixed - keep in mind that most of the people who /might/ have the necessary knowledge don't even seem to have access to ATI/AMD hardware exhibiting the problem.

Then again, it would be good to file a bug report and collect as much information as possible in the meantime - even just knowing if the problem disappears when disabling all shaders/effects would be good to know.

Depending on your OS, you could also try a debugger like gDebugger and post its output here, so that we can compare the OpenGL commands for a plain PUI dialog/menubar.
Please don't send support requests by PM, instead post your questions on the forum so that all users can contribute and benefit
Thanks & all the best,
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Re: AMD Radeon R9 – Massive text flickering again

Postby bugman » Wed Dec 16, 2015 9:53 pm

I would say that it is simply a bug in the AMD graphics driver, which is likely OS version specific. It is likely fixed by the newer 15.11.1 bugfix release which mentions numerous 'flickering' bugs being fixed. If not, then it might be fixed in the next driver release. It is highly unlikely to be FlightGear specific (though maybe rare in other cases).

Regards,
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Re: AMD Radeon R9 – Massive text flickering again

Postby Babbo » Thu Dec 17, 2015 7:39 am

Thorsten, you gave a nice résumé - and I regret (also with respect to Hooray's reply) that I'm not able to contribute in a more productive way.

But, when I'm in the risky mood for Beta-Crimson-experiments or in the case of sudden improvement, dropped from the sky, I'll report that in this thread.

Have a nice day!
Last edited by Babbo on Thu Dec 17, 2015 4:17 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: AMD Radeon R9 – Massive text flickering again

Postby dutchman » Thu Dec 17, 2015 1:33 pm

From personal experience I would say it's defenitely a hardware AMD related problem.
I had the same problem a year ago and it eventually made me switch from an AMD to NVIDIA GPU.
Uninstalled the AMD driver, power down / swap cards, installed the NVIDIA driver, fired up FG -> problems gone!

Now this is not my way of starting a flame telling to stay of AMD hardware, on the contrary. When it comes to OpenGL support I think we have more to expect from them as compared to NVIDIA. Linus Thorvalds had some pretty good arguments when he showed him his legendary finger. http://www.wired.com/2012/06/torvalds-nvidia-linux/
I would suggest you to stay put with present hardware, and every once in a while update the driver. It will eventually be solved with a future update.

Cheers
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When it stops, you can watch him start sweating.
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