Linden Lab’s Performance Improvement Plan

Linden Lab has announced a new and improved Second Life experience, due to some much-needed updates and completion of projects that should make your Second Life experiences faster, smoother, and more reliable. Of course, using the latest version of the official SL viewer will ensure that you will see the benefits of the improvements, but I have no doubt that Firestorm and other TPVs (third party viewers) have already done so, or will catch up very soon. As you know the folks over at Firestorm meet regularly with the SL team at Linden Lab and work hand-in-hand with their technology.

We all knew they were working on something, because Second Life has been hiccuping and burbling more than usual lately. It will all be worth it, however, if we can see significant improvement to performance. Hopefully without having to run out and buy a new computer to keep up with the technological changes!

In an article posted in the Featured News blog on the Second Life website, Linden Lab indicated the following had undergone serious improvement. You will note one thing they worked on, which has been the bane of every group’s existence, is the quirky and unreliable group chat.

(the following is a direct quote from the article on the blog)

1. Speeding Up the Marketplace
If you visit the Marketplace today, you should be seeing a much snappier experience than in the past. We recently deployed infrastructure upgrades for the Marketplace, and the site has since shown some of the best performance we’ve ever seen from it. Even during peak usage periods over the weekend, when in the past performance would degrade, we’re seeing response times that average 70% faster and page load times that are 30% faster than before the changes.

2. Improving Group Chat
Last week, we also deployed new group chat server configurations. Our internal metrics are showing dramatic improvements in group chat performance, and we hope that you’re seeing that in your own experience as well. We are still seeing some cases in which performance for some groups degrades for shorter periods of time than before, and we are continuing to investigate and make changes; the project isn’t finished, but we’ve made a lot of progress.

3. Faster Texture & Mesh Loading
The entire grid is now using a CDN service for textures and meshes. This change means that textures and meshes should load more quickly, particularly for those who login to Second Life from places that are far from our US data centers. Our testing showed dramatic improvements: average download times for textures and meshes have been reduced by more than 50% on average, and the improvement is even more dramatic outside of North America.

4. Quicker Viewer-Server Communications
Another way we’re enhancing Second Life performance is through our HTTP project, which improves the way your Viewer communicates with grid services. With the HTTP Project Viewer out now, the faster content download times you’ll see thanks to the CDN change get even better – we’re talking 80% faster!

As you look for these improvements, please bear in mind this important note from Oz Linden:

“The CDN (and HTTP in those viewers that have them) improvements for texture and mesh data are improvements to how long it takes to download the data. Once they’ve been downloaded, your viewer caches them locally so the next time you need that data it doesn’t need to download them at all. What that means is that these improvements mostly affect how quickly you see new things: places and objects you’ve never seen before. You probably won’t see a big difference in familiar places because your viewer should be using cached data for those.

So… now’s the time to try checking out places you’ve never seen before!

The use of pipelined HTTP for the initial load of your inventory when you log in matters every time, since while we cache some inventory data locally we always make sure it’s correct by loading it all at the beginning of your session.”

So, How’s Second Life Performing for you? Linden Lab wants your feedback! Linden Lab recognizes that performance improvements are not as sexy as a new feature, but these changes will (hopefully) improve your experience in world and lessen your frustration. These changes directly impact all our Second Life experiences and our daily lives in world. If you are noticing these improvements, they would like to know in the Forums, on Twitter, or however you prefer.

On a side note, thank you all once again for helping make our 7th Anniversary Celebration last week a success! We wouldn’t be here without you, our residents and merchants. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for helping make ZoHa Islands one of the top estates in SL!

I remain respectfully yours,
~ Suzanne Piers, Social Media Manager