I just getting to where I can use my new computer for most of my daily tasks. I am still researching what aspects of the new computer most affect Second Life™ viewer performance. One of the more effective things one can do is look at data storage speed. Here is what I find.
I used Crystal Disk Mark to measure storage performance on both the opld and new machines.
The above image is the benchmark for my RAM Disk in the new computer. I purchased DataRAM’s RAMDisk software. I devoted 5GB of my 32GB of RAM to a RAM Drive.
It automatically writes the contents of this drive to my Western Digital hard drive at power down. At startup it inserts the data back into the RAM Disk.
I can basically forget about it. It does slow down computer startup and shut down. But, overall everything is so much faster on the new machine, I don’t notice.
What the program is doing is reserving 5 GB of RAM and using it as a hard disk.
Doing this allows my data to flow through the Double Data Rate (DDR) channels. You can see it moves a massive amount of data per second. Reading and writing at 1.6 to 14.3GB/s. Awesome.
I got a deal on a M.2 SSD (Solid State Drive). This are just like the USB memory disks or thumb drives we use. They are a storage device that uses memory chips in place of spinning disks. They are way faster than mechanical spinning disks. You can see the numbers I got.
The M.2 type SSD avoid using the SATA interface. The SATA interface was designed for mechanical disks. It has limits.
The latest generation of SATA improved through put from 3Gb/s (the case of the ‘b’ makes a difference) to 6Gb/s. But, the M.2 interface allows the device to connect directly into the ePCI bus. It is way faster than the SATA interface.
But, there are a load of gotcha’s when changing to SSD. I plan to write a whole article just on SSD’s and how to get the fastest performance from SSD.
Standard Hard Disk
I have two mechanical hard drives in my new computer. A 2TB Hitachi and a 1TB Western Digital. Below are the results from my 1TB WD drive.
Obviously this is the slowest storage device I have. Well, I’m not counting UBS drives.
This drive is connected via a SATA 6GB interface.
The Hitachi is an older drive from the 3GB/s era. I moved it from my old computer to the new computer. It is hooked into the 6G/s interface.
It provides about 67% of the performance of the newer WD drive.
We can see that interface and drive combine to give different levels of performance.
I can’t test the SSD or a RAM disk on my old computer. The old computer has no M.2 interface. It is also limited to 8GB of RAM. The motherboard just won’t support more than that.
So, I had to survive on mechanical hard drives for the life of that computer, which has been years.
You can see I was getting about 20% of the performance I get in the new computer.
If you wonder how these levels of performance affect viewer performance, I can help.
I have viewers installed in the WD C:\ mechanical drive. I have other plans for my SSD. I have tried caches in the WD, the SSD, and the RAM disk. The changes have almost no effect on Frames per Second (FPS). It is so small I can’t measure it with any certainty.
Where I see a big different is in the time needed to render a scene. In this case I am using render to mean the time it takes for everything in my (avatar’s) field of viewer to fully rez and texture. With the old computer it could take minutes. With the new computer it takes seconds.
When I use the Ram Disk the scene renders almost instantly. Way fast. Items come out of the cache and it’s like having a cache.
When I use the SSD for the cache it is still way fast. I can notice it taking a couple of sends. Blink a couple of times and its done.
The cache on the mechanical drive is of course the slowest to render the scene. But, I’m only seeing it slow to a few seconds. Going into a new region I do see textures lag a bit. Returning home, I see some texture lag too. But, the scene is fully rendered in 5 to 30 seconds. My home tends to take 5 to 8 seconds using the slow cache. It’s almost instant, <1 to 2 seconds, using the RAM disk.
This makes it clear scene render time is way sensitive to storage speed. Storage speed has minimal effect on FPS.
By putting the viewer program on faster storage the viewer would load faster. But, the few seconds that saves isn’t worth it, at least to me. From the 150MB/s drive I make it from launch to login in about 5 to 8 seconds, depending on what all I have running. Cutting that to 2 to 4 seconds… not worth much effort.
However, loading my Adobe tools that still take 30 to 40+ seconds to load is worth some effort. I plan to move those to my SSD.
Firestorm 4.7.9 (50527) Aug 4 2016 11:59:10 (Firestorm-Releasex64) with OpenSimulator support
You are at 169.4, 5.7, 36.3 in sim10300.agni.lindenlab.com (126.96.36.199:13004)
Second Life Server 16.08.31.319299
CPU: Intel(R) Core(TM) i5-6600K CPU @ 3.50GHz (3503.99 MHz) OC @ 4.1GHz
Memory: 32684 MB
OS Version: Microsoft Windows 10 64-bit (Build 14393)
Graphics Card Vendor: NVIDIA Corporation
Graphics Card: GeForce GTX 1060 6GB/PCIe/SSE2
Windows Graphics Driver Version: 21.21.0013.7270
OpenGL Version: 4.5.0 NVIDIA 372.70
RestrainedLove API: RLV v3.1.4 / RLVa v188.8.131.52527
libcurl Version: libcurl/7.47.0 OpenSSL/1.0.1i zlib/1.2.8
J2C Decoder Version: KDU v7.8
Audio Driver Version: FMOD Ex 4.44.61
LLCEFLib/CEF Version: 1.5.3.FS6-(CEF-WIN-3.2526.1366.g8617e7c-32) (Chrome 47.0.2526.80)
Voice Server Version: Not Connected
UI Scaling: 1
Draw distance: 128 m
Bandwidth: 1500 kbit/s
LOD factor: 1.5
Render quality: High-Ultra (6/7)
Advanced Lighting Model: Yes
Texture memory: 2048 MB (1)
VFS (cache) creation time (UTC): 2016-9-14T20:45:47
Built with MSVC version 1800
Packets Lost: 0/46,409 (0.0%)