[SDL] QueryPerformanceCounter API in Windows 2000

leolo at terra.es leolo at terra.es
Mon Jul 8 16:14:00 PDT 2002

Dear Sir,

I've read in the changelog that you have disabled this API in the 
newer builds of SDL 1.2.4 and above.

How does that change affect the function SDL_GetTicks ? How can this 
function measure the time now?

Let me please quote a part of a post found in GRC newsgroups that 
mentions that API. Also, I would like to ask you if the problem 
described in this message is the same that is causing trouble in 

The original message was written by Steve Gibson:

------------------ start quote ----------------------
ALL IBM-compatible PC's, from the original 4.77 Mhz 8088 IBM PC on, 
have contained a clock running at 14,318,160 Hz. For reasons tied to 
the original PC design, this clock is internally Divided by 12, 
yielding a frequency of 1,193,180 Hz.  That divided clock is then 
fed into a 16-bit counter which overflows once every 65,536 counts, 
effectively dividing the 1,193,180 Hz by 65,536 to result in a 
frequency of 18.2 Hz.  And THAT frequency was available as a 
hardware interrupt on the original PC.

The current count of the 16-bit counter/timer could be read out of 
the chip, though only at 8-bits at a time, and the number of 
interrupts (overflows) which had occurred could be counted.

So, the bottom line is that with sufficiently clever programming, to 
make up for the fact that you can't read either the interrupt count 
or the hardware divider at the same time, and to deal with little 
complications like when you read the number of interrupts 
(overflows) you're not sure whether you have read them before the 
next one comes in or after, relative to the count in the 16-bit 
divider, it *is* possible to "synthesize" the hardware state into a 
coherent counter running at 1.193180 Megahertz.  Inverting this 
gives a timer counter interval of 0.838 microseconds, or 838 

Okay.  So ... *THAT* is the count that has been available (by hook 
or by crook) on every PC ever made.

Then, with the Pentium, Intel added a cool new instruction known as 
RDTSC (read time stamp counter) which gives the software direct 
access to the number of clock counts the processor has experienced 
since its last power-on or hardware reset.  With contemporary clock 
rates of, for example, 850 Mhz, that results in a timing period of 
only 1.176 nanoseconds (billionths of a second).

The problem is ... this clock rate is 100% dependent upon the clock 
speed of the system, so naturally, unlike the older, slower, but 
still plenty fast 1.193180 Megahertz timer, this RDTSC counter 
varies its speed across machines.

Well ... here's what I discovered:  The Uniprocessor version of 
Windows 2000 uses the same 1.193180 megahertz counter for its 
"QueryPerformanceCounter" API as all previous versions of Windows... 
but the Multiprocessor version of Windows 2000 uses the system's own 
clock rate -- as surfaced through the RDTSC processor instruction.

So ... on Multiprocessor machines, like my own 850 Mhz box, the 
counter is running *much* faster than on uniprocessor systems, or 
earlier (Win9x) platforms.  Thus ... as I was concerned, the timing 
values really WERE overflowing ... because they were running so 
------------------ end quote ----------------------

Thanks in advance.
Best regards.

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