Inara Prey recently wrote an article on Comparative Viewer Frame Rate performance. It is a handy reference. It took lots of effort to collect those numbers, which is why I seldom do rigorous tests.
Somewhat surprisingly it is the Linden Lab’s 3.2.5 viewer that is the fastest in the comparisons. I use the Development viewer 3.2.6, which is a little faster for me than 3.2.5.
The Lab’s viewers have not updated over the holidays. We may see some updates today or tomorrow. I suspect the Lindens are just getting back from the holidays and getting back into things. Also, it is a new year. People are fresh from a break and we may see some things change as they look at things with fresh eyes. Time will tell.
The main viewer is now 3.2.4. The beta version is 3.2.5. And the development viewer is 3.2.6.
The 3.2.6 is said to be the release with most of the Shining branch’s OpenGL fixes and changes for compatibility. I’ve been using a 3.2.6 version since December 12th (246465) with four updates; 246560, 246813, 246889, and now 246959. Of that series the 246959 version is the fastest, but not by much on my system.
Looking at the numbers Inara collected one can see some interesting oddities. I’ve added some percentages so I can see how much the viewers differ. The % Increase column is 1 – (Exodus FPS/SLV FPS). This tells me SLV is 3.51% faster than Exodus. The % Loss is 1 – (Deferred FPS/High FPS). This shows me how much performance was lost by turning on Deferred Rendering. I repeat this process as we move to the right so I can see the cost of Ambient Occlusion, Shadows, and Ambient + Shadows. The very last column is 1 – (High FPS/Ambient + Shadows FPS) to show the total loss.
Three viewers do faster shadows with Ambient Occlusion turned off… or at least that is what I take Inara’s table to say.
Also Inara sees a consistent 50% ± loss of performance when using Deferred Render. I see about a 25% loss of performance when enabling Deferred Render. Inara also sees a 34% loss when enabling Ambient Occlusion. I see no loss in FPS when I enable it. With shadows she sees about 13% loss and I see about a 20% loss. While Inara looses about 21% with Ambient and Shadows I only lose about 8%. Her over all loss is from HIGH to ALL is 77% my over all loss is 31%.Deferred render is usually used to reduce geometry calculation for multiple lights. We saw the number of lights viewers handle go way up this summer. It is a shift from 10 or so to a couple of hundred. One of the complications from deferred render is alpha transparency. It gets extra complicated, which could explain why we saw alpha improve a bit then degrade once again when we got deferred render.
But where my FPS is 16 on High hers is 55. I have a better video card and she has a better CPU. Mine is Duo and hers is a Quad. Those features that can be handed off to the GPU cost me little performance and her quite a bit. But, the load on the CPU is holding me down. There could be other factors, but I think these two make the most difference.
It is also obvious that those viewers using the 3.2.2 Linden code are way slower than those using the 3.2.5 code. There is about a 27% boost moving to 3.2.5.
We know the Phoenix team does not currently have any render pipeline specialists. The only TPV team that may appears to be Exodus. But, Cool Viewer’s Henri may understand the render pipeline, I’m not sure. Others may too, but not that I’ve heard. So, our performance improvements will likely be coming from Linden Lab and appear first in the SL Viewers. This is significant for combat gamers. Especially since at ground level where most fighting happens the SL Viewer has a 20% advantage over Exodus… at least from Inara’s data. Different hardware will likely give different results. Inara’s is the best comparison data we have.