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.
I just noticed a post from a couple of months back on the difference between Catznip Viewer and Firestorm Viewer. Alyona Su provides a good comparison based on her experience. She switched and is now using Catznip as her primary viewer. Not my experience.
Catznip vs Firestorm September 2018 – FS on timer: 00:01:23 @ DD 256m
Those switching to Catznip experience it being faster and less crashy than Firestorm. Remember. Viewers are very sensitive to the computer they run on. What is crashy on one machine may not be on another. Viewer speed in FPS and render time is also sensitive to your hardware and connection. So, Catznip may crash more and be slower on your hardware. But, try it and know. Hopefully the chance is you’ll have good results. If not, well no one will make you use it.
The release of Catznip I last used was Catznip R12 – Dec 31 2017 12:50:12 (64bit) (Catznip Release). Visiting the Catznip website you’ll find R12.0 is still the main release, Catznip R12 – Dec 31 2017 12:50:12 (64bit) (Catznip Release). OR version 184.108.40.206160035. No update since then. Continue reading →
Version: Black Dragon 3.7.27 (34575) May 22 2015 Review
Update: This article starts out listing a number of small problems with the Black Dragon Viewer. From some feedback I decided to add here at the beginning, this is a pretty nice viewer.
I am not into doing reviews of Second Life™ viewers like I once was. It has been a long time since I have used the Black Dragon Viewer. I often say I stopped using it because the user interface (UI) changes so fast. NiranV objects to my continually saying that. When I was using it, it was changing. But, NiranV tells me that has not been true for some time, years. And at the time I was forming my opinion he had just started work on Black Dragon and was changing it pretty fast. Fair enough. I need to update my thinking and belief about what is actually happening.
RAYNE Isles by Loverdag, on Flickr Taken w/Black Dragon Viewer
So, I now (6/2 – week 23) have Black Dragon 3.7.27 (34575) May 22 2015 installed. I’ll be using the viewer as I write this. Then over the next few updates I’ll decide if the UI is changing so fast I can’t keep up. I’ll publish this well before I have time to decide on the rate of change. But, my experience is that NiranV is pretty factual about what is going on with the viewer. So, for now I’ll concede the point and change what I say. Continue reading →
I have a friend that has a couple of SIM’s in Second Life. She started looking at the cost of a build she would like to make. The pricing on the OSGrid is much lower. So she started playing on the OSGrid to see what is possible. That got me interested in my private open simulator grid (OSGrid or OSG), which broke on my last update.
Getting my grid updated and running again is another story. I was having trouble with Emerald on the OSGrid. Camera and select problems mostly and the camera zoom. (I can go change values and fix those but…) I decided to try the Hippo Viewer. Continue reading →