It has been some time since I checked the performance of my Firestorm Viewer. The last check was 9/2022. So, over a year.
This year I had some trouble running the tests. My house in Bellisseria was not rezzing. I mean floors and walls were missing. After a couple of three logins, I got the floors and walls but had to wait for the textures to fully render.
I checked and found Windows again used 100% of my hard drive’s capacity when a region was being difficult. The viewer used little CPU, GPU, and network resources while it waited on the hard drive.
Ever since the release of Windows 11, my Win-10 has been having this problem of 100% disk use for 5 to 15 minutes. Occassionally more. Very annoying.
Firestorm Hot Fix v6.6.17
Porch 128m w/snow
Green Room @ 2200m DD=128m
Nelsonia 17peps @ DD= 128m
Arapaima 37peps @ 128m
Exhale Club 28peps @ 128m
With this version, I am getting almost the same numbers as in 2022 with v6.6.4. You can use the link above if you want to compare.
Second Life Viewer
Porch 128m w/snow
Green Room @ 2200m DD=128m
Nelsonia 16peps @ DD= 128m
Arapaima 34peps @ 128m
Exhale Club 48peps @ 128m
The FS and SL viewers are similar. Except for my Green Room. This is the recent PBR-enabled SL viewer.
It came to my attention that Firestorm 6.3.3 either changed my graphics setting for Enable Vsync or the viewer handles it differently. So I went back to check my settings and found it indeed was limiting the upper limit of FPS. So, I need to revise my measurements to keep them consistent with previous measurements.
This recent Firestorm Viewer update is said to help with performance. So, I measured some numbers and dug up the previous versions’ numbers. The numbers I get say this version is definitely faster. But the Green Room numbers in my skybox are down. Curious. They went down while all others went up.
I use presets for the 512- and 128-meter draw distance tests. So, the viewer settings are essentially the same for each test across all versions. These are impromptu tests. Basically, simple and easy rather than rigorous and precise. So, it will be no surprise if your numbers are different.
I have upgraded my network and Internet service. Previously I got about 50 to 80Mbps download. Now with a new gigabit gateway and switches download speed is over 200Mbps. So, regions rez really quickly. YAY!
However, textures still take some time to completely rez. Everything near me when I rez in will fully rez almost immediately. Stuff farther away looks good until I zoom on it. Those can take a while to completely rez. Firestorm’s right-click Texture Refresh seems quicker now and helps. But my network upgrade did not solve all my render delays.
This network change doesn’t make much difference to the FPS. Once everything downloads, render speed is constant. For the previous tests, I waited a long time for a region to rez. A region I have not been in for a time now takes 5 to 15 seconds to rez all the textures. Previously it could take minutes. Returning to a region the same day gives me an almost instant render. But not always. Not sure why it works sometimes.
Wow, we have a new release of the Firestorm Viewer. Just last July 26 I downloaded my then newly released update.
As the Firestorm Development Team explains, they have a new development cycle in place and expect to have new releases out every 6 to 8 weeks, so every other month. It has been 8 weeks since I grabbed the previous update. So, they are pretty much on schedule.
What is a bit unusual, is they released this update on a Friday. Typically, Friday releases are avoided. The reason the team gave long ago was that if there were a major glitch, there would be few Lindens at work to get them server-side information for diagnosing the problem.
As usual, Inara has done her review of the new release. You’ll find that here: Firestorm 6.6.3. I see no point in duplicating her work or you reading similar reviews. So, I’ll write about the things that interested me or I didn’t find in Inara’s coverage.
Another new update… there is a revised beta version of Firestorm that should be hitting the grid 9/19 or 9/20. A new griefing attack is being or was mounted and all viewers are suspectable to it. The Lab has released a fix and the fix is winding its way through implementation and QA testing.
You can turn off Media on a Prim and close that particular exploit. Turning it off causes problems with some body and head HUDs. Experiment to see if you are affected.
This is a scary LOOKING attack. There is little real danger. Don’t panic. If you see viewer panels opening and things happening, TP to another region.
Wow! We have a new Firestorm Viewer Release. (3/21/2022) This one has a bunch of new stuff. The Firestorm Blog explains what is new and the changelog explains what has been fixed. As usual, Inara explains in more detail on the Modem World blog than Jessica does on the Firestorm Blog. However, for the quick read go with Jessica’s.
The viewer is a quick download. It is now 140MB, up from the previous 120MB. The installation is simple. Launch the downloaded file. No clean install is needed.
The Splash Screen is of course the first thing you’ll see. It was first seen in the previous version. A bunch of people didn’t like it. That is normal for SL residents. No matter what one does about half of SL peps won’t like it and will complain.
The screen hasn’t changed much. There are ‘operational’ improvements. It works better. It is still a lot of information in one place. But it is easy to ignore.
The FS Team has taken a different approach to destinations than the Lab did. When the Lab first added ‘What’s Hot Now’ to their destinations list several people pointed out that busy places we often full. Clicking to TP to a full region resulted in a failed TP and people wondered how new people would see/react to the error. I don’t know how much testing the Lab did or didn’t do but I do know the Lab decided to limit entries in their list to regions that were not full. Thus, no TP fails. Noobs were protected.
Inside the FS Viewer, the destination guide uses the Lab’s destinations. So, only the splash page on viewer startup shows the really BUSY regions, like Exhale with 91 people in region. Versus the Lab’s panel showing Freebie Galaxy as the most populous with 28 people. Whether this is a good thing or not… you decide.
The Firestorm Viewer version 6.4.21 had been out for a bit now. People are reacting to it. The thread Newest Firestorm version – lag monster popped up 8/4. Which made me curious because that is NOT my impression. So, I went and ran my tests, which I rate at one half-a-posterior.
This version is covered in detail over on Inara’s blog here: Firestorm 6.4.21. I’m not going to repeat what she has already written. I just want to consider what people are experiencing based on what I can see and measure.
My experience is: this version is better.
The big thing is Firestorm’s viewer now uses multiple threads for decompressing textures. Decompressing is a task that has bottle-necked performance forever. But since it has had little effect on Frames per Second numbers it doesn’t seem to have been a high priority to change. The major effect of texture decompression is in scene render time. I think scene render is much faster. But actually, measuring it well is quite complicated. I suspect most of us hit a region and consider how long it takes for the place to render. A few of us may now and then even time it. Which is practical and simple. Neither is precise and measurements are highly influenced by our location in the region, which way we are looking, our cache – when did we last visit, the region’s construction, and avatar occupancy.
One thing that can affect our perception is this install clears our viewer’s cache of downloaded content. We have to reload EVERYTHING. I think this should only affect your first-time post-install-visits to places you frequent.
A while ago the Firestorm Viewer was upgraded to use the simplified cache developed by the Lab. I think this is the first release of Firestorm that has this upgrade. Beta testers for Firestorm will have had the upgrade for some time.
From the changes the FS Team has made, I would expect this viewer to be faster at rendering a scene. I wouldn’t expect a higher FPS (Frames per Second) rate. I guessed that I might even see FPS dip while textures were decompressed as more CPU cycles would be getting used by the texture processes. That is what I experience… sometimes… There are some oddities happening when one teleports. So, detecting a slowing or a speed-up due to the new multiple threads is tricky.
There are 20 to 30+ Firestorm threads running at anyone time. My four cores are all carrying about the same load but the overall use is about 50%, which is similar to past versions.
Penny Patton has a new written EEP tutorial out about how to use the Enhanced Environment Project, the Windlight update, on your land. She uses the Black Dragon viewer in her tutorial for the source of the illustrations. Most viewers have the exact same panels for setting up the environment. So, the only problem for Firestorm and other viewer users is getting the initial About Land panel open. About Land allows you to edit the parcel’s environment settings. Otherwise, you are editing your personal view of the environment.
At ground level in Firestorm, you can right-click the ground and select About Land. You can then edit the environment at the parcel or region level. Easy.
In Firestorm, the World->Region Details or Alt+R and then the Environment tab opens the same environment panel but, for Estate Managers until you right-click the ground you are editing your personal settings. And if you click on anything else you snap out of the parcel environment edit mode.
Also, if you teleport up to a high altitude you will likely lose the link to the parcel and can’t edit the environment.
This week Firestorm release an update to their viewer, 6.4.13. For details of what got updated see Inara’s article Firestorm 6.4.13 Release. I am only going to talk about the stuff that interests me.
It seems they made the viewer easier to fix when it comes to the Firestorm Bridge.
The bridge is an attachment the viewer puts on your avatar. It provides an interface between in-world scripts and the viewer. Basically, it gives the Firestorm viewer more capabilities. The techy details are here: Firestorm Bridge.
As one bounces between viewers, like I do, one can run into problems. Also, the general flakiness of a connection to a virtual world can cause problems with the bridge. The viewer is smart enough to resolve most problems on its own when something goes wrong with the bridge. But, not all of them. Then it can be a pain to fix the bridge… and often a headache figuring out just what the problem is.
Now there is a BUTTON! Yay! Well… more a menu command than button, but you get the idea. Click Avatar->Avatar Health->Recreate LSL Bridge. Poof the problem bridge is turned into free electrons to evaporate into the valley of lost bits. A new one is generated and attached. Problem should be solved.
This makes it so easy to fix you could add it to your first steps of troubleshooting.
I recently saw a video about getting Firestorm Viewer’s shadows to look as good as Black Dragon’s shadows. Huh? What?
The thing they were doing is getting hair shadows to render well on the avatar face. The video (4 min) I found has horrible audio. Luca The Guide, the author, was ill the day she made the video. So, I can’t complain too much. I don’t even try to make video tutorials when I am sick.
The video did get me looking and comparing Black Dragon and Firestorm. I launched Black Dragon (BD) and took a couple of pictures, see below. Then Launched Firestorm (FS) and took a couple.
With both, I used the same projector attached to the Center of Gravity attachment point aimed at my nose and in front and above my head. Both viewers were set to use the default environment in the Bellisseria region. Both viewers were using their default shadow settings.