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NXE: HDD Install Downgrades Performance of Halo 3

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Old 11-21-2008, 07:01 AM   #1  
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Exclamation NXE: HDD Install Downgrades Performance of Halo 3

As per TeamXbox:

NXE: HDD Install Downgrades Performance of Halo 3
By: César A. Berardini - "Cesar"

Nov. 20th, 2008 3:03 pm

Following yesterday's release of the New Xbox Experience, several reports appeared on Internet forums claiming that a HDD install not only didn't improve performance for Halo 3, but actually increases loading times for the game. Bungie has confirmed today that the reports are indeed true. The developer also provided an explanation for this issue:

The Xbox 360 HDD has a section for games to use called the utility partition. Games can use this section for whatever they want to; Halo 3 uses the utility partition to cache maps as they will load faster off the HDD than off the DVD.

So when Halo 3 runs, if a HDD is present, we copy maps from the DVD to the utility partition (on the HDD). Think of it as an on demand install of Halo 3 to some scratch space on the HDD. Halo 3 doesn’t actually know where it’s running from, so it always assumes it’s running from a DVD. This is an unfortunate consequence of new features (namely, install to HDD) being added to the Xbox 360 after Halo 3 shipped. And as a result, it means that even if Halo 3 is already installed to the HDD, it will still copy maps to the utility partition.

So then the real question is why is copying from HDD to HDD slower than copying from DVD to HDD? In the first case, you are reading from one I/O device (HDD) and writing to the same I/O device (HDD). In the second case, you are reading from one I/O device (DVD) and writing to a different I/O device (HDD). In the first case, because we are reading and writing to the same device, the total copy time is the amount of time it takes to read the map plus the time it takes to write the map. Ultimately this is because for the HDD, you read and write through the same mechanism, i.e., the hard drive read/write head, and those reads and writes cannot occur simultaneously through a single mechanism. (If they could, it would be awesome, and I wouldn’t have to document any of this. Unfortunately, it’s not easy to do for other reasons.) For the second case, because we are reading and writing from different devices, the total copy time is the larger of the total time to read the map and the total time to write the map. This is because we can read from one device (DVD) at the same time we are writing to another device (HDD). There is some overhead because you can’t start writing data until you read it, but it is dwarfed by the time to copy a map. (About 128k vs. 500 MB or a ratio of 4000:1.)
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Old 11-21-2008, 10:26 PM   #2  
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horrible
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Old 11-21-2008, 11:35 PM   #3  
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that sucks but not all hope is lost. i just downloaded NBA 2K9 to my HDD and it's way way better. the game is so much more smoother and plays overall so much better. the load times seem to have improved a great deal as well.

the only downside is the game took up almost 7GB of space. that was almost half of what i had available. I guess it's time to buy a bigger HDD, used of course.

dam you MS i want to hook up this TB HDD i have sitting around.
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