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Second Life's classless server scheme

Tateru Nino

Thus far, one of the key factors in Second Life performance has been the class of server hardware hosting the simulator. There are plenty of other non-server items that might contribute to perceived poor performance, of course, but server class versus server utilization is a pretty consistent factor.

Traditionally, each class of server has a numerical designation and represents a certain basic equipment and operating system specification. In the past, some estate owners have opted not to upgrade to a newer class of hardware in order to avoid higher monthly fees. Now the server class system is coming to an end.

With new class 6 servers on the horizon, the Second Life grid is going to become more heterogeneous, with servers of assorted specifications deployed where it seems most appropriate.

"As we introduce new and better performing hardware," writes Jack Linden, "we can manage the Grid to provide the best hardware where it's most needed. As Landowners your Island will no longer age and end up on older hardware indefinitely - and over time we will move the standard hardware level up for everyone. We will soon be deploying a new specification of server more widely on the Grid, and rather than limiting that hardware to new Islands only, we would prefer to have the freedom to allow existing Landowners to benefit too."

There's a price for this, of course. As the new classless system settles in, you will no longer be able to determine what class of hardware your simulators are actually running on at any given time. The guarantee is that you won't be on any lower-specification server than you are presently on today, but that's a promise that seems to cut both ways.

Are you a part of the most widely-known collaborative virtual environment or keeping a close eye on it? Massively's Second Life coverage keeps you in the loop.

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