Today the Firestorm-Phoenix team held and office hour meeting. The primary announcement was that the team will stop providing support for the Phoenix Viewer on December 31, 2012. I suppose about midnight.
Most of the rest of the meeting was about explaining why. I’ll get to the reasons why in another post. I’ll stick to what is going to be happening here.
The Phoenix Viewer will be available for down for some time. In 2013 the download links for Phoenix will be removed from the main site. One can still find them in the PhoenixWiki. The actual date has not been decided.
Neither the FS-PH team not Linden Lab will be blocking the Phoenix Viewer. So, you will be able to use it and connect to the grid. But, within the next two to three months things will be changing in SL. The new Server Side Bake Service will be coming online. When the Lab shuts off the old viewer side bake process all viewers that do NOT have the new bake system will break. They will fail to rez avatars, well they will stay grey.
This means the Linden 1.23.x viewer will be dead too.
The FS-PH Team will not be doing further development of the Phoenix Viewer. I suspect they will not be making ANY releases or fixes between now and the end of the year. There will certainly be no fixes or releases after the end of the year.
So, the Phoenix Viewer is on its death bed.
With the departure of Phoenix Viewer most of the V1 code is off the table. Those with older computers that are dependent on V1 based viewers to run SL are out of luck.
The new V3 viewers have a new render pipeline. This pipeline was developed to provide faster rendering of user made mesh. It is undergoing another round of revisions for the coming Materials System. The pipeline is dependent on features in newer computer hardware.
A primary requirement is having a CPU that supports SSE2, which was released in the Pentiums in 2001. There are also more features that are dependent on OpenGL 2+ versions. Video cards control which version of OpenGL you can run. The take away here is that most computers made before 2005 will have a hard time running Second Life.
Getting new computers is going to be a requirement for many people wanting to run SL. Fortunately one can get Core2 Duo and Quad computers for US$150 from various electronics recycling shops (EcoVets) and eBay. eBay starts at $50 and goes up to thousands. Good video cards are also available for cheap.
If one goes the DIY route computers can upgrade for $50 to $100 for a computer that will do a decent job of running Second Life. It’s time to start planning. If your one that needs to upgrade, You have about 2 to 3 months before you find SL unusable.