CPU’s – Intel 8th Generation and Second Life’s Viewer

Technology is advancing. A year ago, I was building my new machine and researching hardware. CPU’s were a major consideration for me. What was the best gaming CPU and what was important for good performance in Second Life?

That last question is a significant point of debate in Second Life. I think it mostly comes from the lack of information about how the viewer works. In SL it seems old information hangs around forever. The viewer is changing just as technology does. Since Oz Linden’s arrival and later promotion to director (?) of Second Life development the backside of Second Life has been getting lots of attention, especially for the last year, 2016-2017

Quantum Computer – Available now online…

So, most of that old information is wrong. In particular, the idea of whether the viewer runs multiple threads. It does.

A thread in computer-geek-speak, is an independent task, like decompressing an image. Other independent tasks would be retrieving the image via download or finding it in the cache.

A CPU can run a single task. We now put multiple CPU’s, called cores, in a single CPU CHIP. So, a single CPU chip is really multiple CPU’s and can run multiple tasks in parallel.

Intel has been steadily improving their ability to task switch. A CPU must pull program instructions and data from computer memory. To speed things up there are subsystems that set up program instruction cues and data cues. What Intel calls hyperthreading is the highly optimized process of switching out data and program instruction cues for one task for another. The effect is a 6-core CPU can perform as if it were a 12-core CPU, almost. It is so close that for most purposes we consider it as 12-core. Continue reading

HTC Vive Price Drop

This morning I see the Vive has dropped in price. The retail price of a new Vive is now a mere US$600. That is better than the previous $800. But still expensive. Vive headsets have been going on eBay for about $500 for some time. Gear VR units are going for $65 on eBay.

HTC Vive – Aug 2017

Sansar is supporting Oculus and Vive. I have neither. So, how well they are supported and how easy they are to setup with Sansar, I don’t know. I have yet to get my Gear VR working with Sansar. So, I know that is difficult. I think I am down to a ‘controller’ problem. I have an Xbox 1708 controller on order (US$20-30±).

If you Google on Vive and SL, you may get the idea Vive and SL will work for VR. That isn’t the case. The information is almost all 2016 stuff written before the Lab dropped their SL VR project and CtrlAltStudio stopped VR Viewer development. I have been able to get SL into 3D, not VR, with my Gear VR. Not really worth the effort. It’s a nice novelty.

I have used the old CtrlAltStudio Viewer to see SL in VR. There is no Bento support. Until someone decides to merge the CtrlAltStudio code and an updated Firestorm there is essentially no ‘native’ VR support for SL. There is some third-party software for various games to get them into VR. Most of those are for DirectX games, not OpenGL.

SL users are second-class VR citizens…

VR News 2017 w30

Oculus is pushing updates. A beta update is available allowing a user to combine their Oculus and Steam games in one library. That will be handy.

VR User Case

As it is now I have problems getting Stream VR working on my Gear VR. It does not like the Gear VR’s controller. So, I’ll have to get the Beta and see if it relieves the problem. My hope is because Gear VR and the Oculus store are integrated that will carry over to Steam games in the library.

Get More information from Road to VR, Oculus 1.17 Update Will Let You Launch SteamVR Apps From Oculus Home.

DIY – Building your own Computer

I’ve been building computers on and off since…  whenever. This is a video that shows a quick build for those that have never built their own computer. It is from ASUS, my choice in motherboards. They deliberately make it look easy. While I am sure they ran into problems when building this unit and then edited them out, this is pretty real.

For instance, the radiator and memory conflict they mention. First time through this would be an almost certain gotcha. It would normally require some disassembly, new plan, and re-assembly.

If you are wondering how he knows what wire to hook to what connector, it is the motherboard manual that explains that. Computer assembly is pretty much a paint by number thing these days. The complication is in knowing what they are calling things.

The home for ASUS on YouTube is here. You’ll find a full parts list on this page. Continue reading

How to Play PC Games on Gear VR 2017… Right…

This is for NVIDIA owners… sorry AMD peeps. It’s a software limitation.

Stream Theater Start Screen – Post Setup

So, you want to see Second Life™ or any OpenGL game on your Gear VR. Well… you are going to have to learn a lot. You’ll also find few are telling you what the result of their tutorials or apps actually provides. Advertising hype is everywhere. If  O N E  PC or OpenGL game will run or even sort of run, then PC and OpenGL compatibility is the headline. Expect disappointment. I’ll explain what worked for me below.

Visual quality is the next point of disappointment. My S8 has a 4k screen. I normally run it at 2k to save battery. In everyday use, 2k is pretty much retina resolution, way sharp and crisp, beautiful. 4k is overkill. If I didn’t tell you which mode the phone was in, you probably couldn’t guess.

The Gear VR turns the phone up to 4k when connected. Most VR headsets are NOT 4k and thus most media is made for 2k and that media is fuzzy on my 4k screen. Looking at my 1k 24” Samsung monitor is way nicer.

Then there is ‘screen door’… This is a term from the VR-world. The headsets magnify the small screens to fill the field of view. In doing so the individual pixels start to be visually apparent. This creates an effect that looks a bit like looking through a window/door screen. With the S8 it is a very fine screen, but a visible screen.  Continue reading

VR: Minimal Latency

You probably know a serious problem with VR is latency, the delay between moving your head and your eyes seeing the visual response. It is considered the primary cause of Simulator Sickness, aka motion sickness, AKA sea sickness, etc. A part of that delay comes from how long it takes the display screen to refresh the image it displays.

I suspect many of us haven’t realized that for Augmented Reality the problem is even worse. In AR we are seeing the world in real time with perfect sight and head movement synchronization and  an lagging AR image super imposed. While there is less chance of simulator/motion sickness the lag is visually obvious and annoying. See the video.

NVIDIA is experimenting with 16,000Hz (16KHz) screens. My Samsung screen provides a 120Hz refresh rate, more than 1,000 times slower.

See: NVIDIA Demonstrates Experimental 16,000Hz AR Display

We can get acceptable AR for most uses with way lower refresh rates. However, NVIDEA’s tech will provide crisp images even in combat games and athletic efforts where head motion is extreme.

Second Life and NVIDA Update Problem – Fix

It seems people updating to the current NVIDIA driver are having problems logging in. They crash on viewer launch.

As of April 6, there is an NVIDIA driver version 381.65. This is the one people have a problem with. The previous version 378.92, the one I am running, does not have the problem. So, some people are rolling back to 378.92.

Whirly Fizzle has posted in the SL Forum that the problem has been tracked to NVIDIA’s Shadowplay/Share feature. Turn it off and things work.

We are early in this problem fix cycle. So, we may learn more soon.