Tuesday, February 5, 2013

How to make your SL faster! Part 2: the graphics

Imagine your computer like a sandwich, in how it works:

  • Hardware
  • Operating System
  • Drivers
  • Software
What you see, is the result of all components playing together, but the "Software-Layer" in this sandwich is actually then producing the result. For example, the letter in a word processing system, or the 3D World of Second Life. Two components in this layer are pretty much set in stone for most of us:  the hardware layer, as we simply don't buy new computers on a whim but when our budget allows. And the operating system layer, as most of us are not that tech savvy to switch from one System to another.
The Driver Layer is the one that, in my opinion  almost never got the attention that it deserves, when it comes to "how to optimize SL". The Driver connects your application (SL) with your Operating System (Windows, Linux, Mac...), virtually. 
If your driver is bad in performance, you can tweak in SL all you want - it won't lift off. Now, before you take care of your driver, first check what driver you actually need. That is simple and even to figure out within the SL viewer:
Go in your SL viewer to "Help - About..." where the ... is then whatever viewer you are using. In my example for this blog, i am using the Firestorm viewer. But it is less crucial than many think, about performance, what viewer you are using. A list with all viewers can be found here, by the way: http://wiki.secondlife.com/wiki/Third_Party_Viewer_Directory.

When you selected "Help - About..." you get a window like this:
click to enlarge
I have highlighted for you the important part already: i, on my computer, want to look for NVidia drivers for my operating system. The update processes for drives on your operating system vary too much as that i could cover them here in an efficient way. Google for example for "NVidia driver update Windows 8" or whatever, and make sure, you always get the original driver from the website of the maker! Do not download third party drivers as these would be an ideal way to infest your computer with malware.

Once you updated your driver, i found a very interesting and helpful article about drivers and Second Life. It is a bit older, refers to 1.X viewers still, but all of the statements there are valid also today. So, here is the source: http://shoppingcartdisco.com/digitallife/tutorials/tutorial-letting-your-graphics-card-do-the-heavy-lifting/

I have worked through the above blog entry and adjusted the screenshots to my driver, my OS and my viewer, and have experienced a boost in performance of 50%. So, i trust, you want to check that out.

This was all very techie, i agree. However, it is the foundation  and if your computer sucks here.. you can not succeed in any later move. Now, how can you measure your performance gain? read the previous article again and compare the FPS results.

I trust, you are busy for the day with this information bit, so more to come the other day... stay tuned

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