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Second Life and nvidia drivers.


Aer Bayn
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Hey there,
there's a problem that I have been noticing ever since last year that only happens when running SL (using whatever was the latest version of both the official and Firestorm at the time). It started time ago, when I noticed that every time I ran the second life viewer, after closing it, my video card would not go back to its default idle clocks but instead, keep running in 3d clocks. 

Nothing seemed to fix this short of reinstalling the drivers (which is something that gets rather annoying to do everytime you launch the viewer) at which point the card would correctly change its clock accordingly to what I was doing with the computer in a given moment until I ran the second life viewer again, point in which the card would get stuck on its 3d clocks again. 

I decided to investigate this further and I downloaded a handy tool called Nvidia inspector that amongst the many things it does, it allows you to give a more in-depth look at the various game profiles built in inside the drivers. Second life has its own entry in there but there's something very strange that takes place.

When you open nvidia inspector and click on the spanner and screwdriver button right of the driver version number, it will show then the various settings for the various games. There's a standard profile that the driversr employ everytime you ain't doing anything with your computer that is labeled atop as "_GLOBAL_DRIVER_PROFILE (Base Profile)" then on the drop down menu, there's a hundred of other profiles for various games/programs. The drivers usually do recognize the .exe file that is being opened up and, if present in that database, they switch to the profile accordingly to ensure best compatibility and performance for that app. 

However, if you inspect that window AFTER running second life, you will find that somehow "_GLOBAL_DRIVER_PROFILE (Base Porifle)" has been changed to "_GLOBAL_DRIVER_PROFILE (Second Life)" and, the secondlife.exe is now attached to it, despite the game having its own entry in the profiles. This causes also a bunch of settings to be changed in the default profile including the "preferred power state" that is changed to "prefer max performance" which is what effectively causes the card to not downclock after shutting down the client, because rather than switching to its own profile, secondlife.exe prefers to attach itself to the default one. This also makes the card unable to switch to other profiles should you decide to run something that is not SL thus leading to degraded performance in other applications/games.

I've observed this behavior since around mid 2014 and until then It has happened over two TOTALLY different hardware configurations, 3 different video cards (all of them nvidia obviously) and countless forceware/viewer versions. Is this bug acknowledged somewhere and if so, is there a fix already or is one in the works?

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What this causes apart from degraded performance on programs and application that AREN'T second life is just an increase in heat and in the electrical bill as the video card will basically always be working at high clocks, which in the LONG run, might result in a decreased lifespan. It's not likely to be the cause of a crash.

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So, the expected behavior of the SL viewer is to basically lock your video card on 3d mode clocks AT ALL TIMES (regardless if you have or not the SL viewer open) and doing so by basically parasitizing the default driver profile rather than using the one that nvidia drivers have specifically built in for second life (which does have the power state set to prefer maximum performance)?

I am fine with the video card being on maximum performance when the SL viewer is open, but I fail to see a reason why it should lock the card in such a state even when I am not running the viewer. The "expected behaviour" should be that the viewer uses the profile that has been created for it which is readly available in the nvidia drivers, rather than attaching itself to the default profile and locking the card onto it EVEN when running other programs that ARE NOT second life. 

This can't be passed off as an expected behaviour, this is the equivalent of opening a door by shoulder ramming it, when you have the keys in your pocket. It's just a sloppy and lazy way to fix something, that was done by someone who couldn't be really bothered to do so and should not be allowed to program a thermostat, let alone a viewer..There's a profile that is built in into nvidia drivers, make use of it, just like every other 3d application out there does when it's being run and then, reverts back to the default one WITHOUT taking over it.


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It appears that Singularity changes the driver profile permanently too but Cool VL Viewer does not. That said, Cool VL Viewer & Windows 10 don't seem to play as well together as Singularity does. Not that that's saying much because nothing SL related is playing well with Win10 for me. :(

And this does seem kinda stupid. Certainly messes up things when you're not running a graphics intensive program.

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