A group of Second Life avatarsLinden Lab has announced that it is working on three projects that each will reduce some amount of unnecessary lag and delays from Second Life.

All three are positive improvements, and at least one has been on many peoples’ wishlists for rather a while now. Those aren’t the only things in the works, however.

The first (and perhaps the most radical) of the projects is to shift texture baking out of the viewer, and process it through a new farm of dedicated servers. This should speed up appearance changes, and significantly reduce the amount of data sent to Second Life viewers when appearance and clothing changes occur. This project has been codenamed Project Sunshine.

The second involves more modern and reliable HTTP communications through a new code library – though it isn’t clear whether that is one that has been developed in-house, or whether it is a third-party component.

The last, and perhaps most commonly requested over the years, is an improved system of object caching and cache-coherence signalling which will allow the viewer to take more advantage of data which it has already downloaded. That’s definitely long-overdue. My understanding is that proposals for all of these projects have been floating around the Lab for some considerable amount of time.

In addition, the Lab is shutting down one of its three data-centres, moving operations to just two, to minimise communications delays between centres, and eliminate two points of failure. The Lab is also shelling out a pretty-penny upgrading server hardware throughout its operation, in order to boost region-performance.

Collectively, the whole operation to reduce Second Life lag is codenamed Project Shining, and I expect pieces of it to roll out over the next six months, probably by the end of the year, all things being equal. These projects are big-deal items that must have taken considerable planning and pre-production before the Lab would even consider announcing them. It looks like the Lab is pretty serious about this. Let’s hope that it is successful, as well.

Linden Lab was not immediately available for additional comment.

[via the Second Life forums]

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