Thursday, 1 November 2007

Second Life and Intel Graphics Media Accelerator Driver

Typically Second Life (SL) requires a dedicated 3D graphics card for the best user experience. But what about those with a lesser integrated/shared graphics card? I have been doing some experimenting and you maybe surprised to know that it is possible to get a fairly usable experience (at the time of writing). However, this does require some careful selection of available media accelerators. There are of course some compromises, it could be that the media accelerator works on one application but not another. For those experimenters out there, remember to set up your 'roll backs!'

I tested driver updates for a bog standard PC with an Intel Core 2 CPU 6320 @ 1.86GHz, with 2 GBs of standard ram and a Intel(R) Q965/Q963 Express Chipset Family integrated graphics card.

At the time of writing, sing the existing drivers for the Intel graphics gave a very poor performance on SL as well as a few 3D apps. SL runs with unusable frame rates of 1 to 2 per second. Finding this is even worse than my 2 year old Celeron laptop with again 2gigs ram plus a shared Intel graphics device. - I should mention that ping times are around 200 ms so network performance is not an issue.

After referring to the Intel site I found the September 2007 release so I upgraded the Intel Q965/Q963 drivers (choosing XP Windows Professional).

This resulted in an excellent increase in 3D performance with Second Life running up as high as 18 frames per second in some instances (bar some unusual graphical glitches at start up).

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