Researching the problem online turns up little, though I did spot a few clues which led me to a solution:
- This thread on the Microsoft forums feature quite a lot of people with the same issue name-checking Intel 945G chipset, but also ATI. Having had an ATI card of my own, I found that their driver releases can be pretty rough around the edges to say the least
- This thread mentions that the problem tends to manifest itself with Windows 7 x64 (though I don’t have any of the affected models running x86 builds to test)
- This thread on Overclockers.co.uk also mentions the Intel GMA 950
- My own work PC (an iMac with an ATI card running Windows 7 x64), does not exhibit this problem, nor do Optiplex 745 (Intel Q965), nor Optiplex 780 (Intel Series 4) models
- One Optiplex 620 which I built by hand to use as an early performance test machine does not exhibit the problem. If I remember correctly, I only installed drivers which were missing once Windows was installed…
So, as much as people seem to be blaming Adobe, it does look like a display driver issue. However I was using the most up to date Intel 945G driver version (22.214.171.1240).
Because I had injected this driver during the unattended install OfflineServicing phase, removing it in Device Manager and selecting Delete the driver software for this device did not work. The device was re-detected as Standard VGA Graphics Adaptor for a few seconds, then the same Intel driver was installed once again. So I had to:
- Device Manager > select the Graphics card > Update Driver > Browse my computer for driver software > Let me pick from a list of device drivers on my computer > Intel(R) 82945G Express Chipset Family (Microsoft Corporation – WDDM 1.0)
Then after a reboot the problem disappeared. The original driver included with Windows 7 (126.96.36.1999) is clearly better than the newer one from the Intel website. It turned out that my working early test build machine was running 188.8.131.522, though I cannot find that on Intel’s site.
UPDATE – The 184.108.40.2062 driver can be obtained from Microsoft Update Catalog using the search string Intel 82945G Express then ordering by version number. You’ll need to use Internet Explorer because it requires an ActiveX control to be installed. You’ll see there are two corresponding downloads. Add them both to the basket – one is the x86, the other is x64 but you won’t be able to tell them apart until they’re downloaded.
People building machines from a deployment image will therefore need to make sure that the newest Intel Display driver is not added to their WIM or unattended build if it will be used on PCs with 945G chipsets. In the case of my unattended, I add drivers specifically by WMI model string so I shall move the Intel driver out of the Common folder and add it only to those builds which need it. I guess another issue will be that Windows Update will offer the newer Intel driver too.
UPDATE 2 – I have built another workstation from an unattended install with that 220.127.116.112 driver and it also exhibits the Flash flickering problem (even though it’s fine on a system built by hand). So it looks like something to do with how the driver is added during the offlineServicing phase that is causing the problem. Once again, this does not affect Intel GMA drivers added during unattended installs for other non-GMA 950 chipsets. So for now I am leaving all OptiPlex GX620 systems on the generic Windows-included driver.