Intel’s DSG to be part of core OpenSim

Intel’s Distributed Scene Graph — the technology that allows OpenSim to handle thousands of avatars on a single region – is now available for download.

In the future, the technology will become part of the standard distribution of OpenSim, core developer Justin Clark-Casey told Hypergrid Business. “No timeframe on this, though,” he added. Clark-Casey is also president of the non-profit Overte Foundation, which manages the licensing of the OpenSim code base.

A crowded city used to simulate a crisis response. (Image courtesy Intel.)

Today, each region of OpenSim runs on a single server. If the server is powerful enough, multiple regions can share the same server. However, if a region requires more resources, it cannot be spread among several servers. That means that there’s a maximum limit of how many objects and how many visitors a single region can handle — the hardware and bandwidth available on a single machine.

That limit is about 100 avatars, and a few hundred thousand “primitive” objects.

Dan lake

With DSG, a single region can be handled by multiple servers — one server can handle the physics simulations for the region, another server can run the scripts that add interactivity and animate objects, and a third server — or multiple servers — can handle visiting avatars.

“If you want to have hundreds or thousands of client connections, one server isn’t going to be able to handle that,” said Intel engineer Dan Lake in a presentation about the new technology at Intel Days 2011.

These servers can, in turn, be optimized so that they can handle their function best. An overview of the technology is available from Intel for download in PDF format.

Running DSG

The DSG is not for the faint of heart.

To get the software, you would have to clone the branch from the git repository with a command such as

git clone -b dsg git://

The DSG can be used in combination with dedicated hardware — or it can be used with a cloud computing provider such as Amazon EC2.

Intel plans to release documentation about the code, as well as setup and configuration scripts. Intel will also publish instructions on how to run DSG on Amazon’s EC2 computing cloud.

Kitely CEO Ilan Tochner

One OpenSim hosting provider, Kitely, is already running on Amazon EC2 and will be well positioned to take advantage of the new technology — once it’s part of the official OpenSim release.

“If it is stable and maintained then definitely, yes, we want to be able to support very crowded worlds on demand,” Kitely CEO Ilan Tochner told Hypergrid Business.

The Distributed Scene Graph technology was developed in cooperation with Sandia National Laboratories and the Fashion Research Institute, said Lake. Testing has been conducted on ScienceSim, the Intel-backed OpenSim research grid.

Watch Intel’s Dan Lake talk about DSG:

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Maria Korolov

Maria Korolov is editor and publisher of Hypergrid Business. She has been a journalist for more than twenty years and has worked for the Chicago Tribune, Reuters, and Computerworld and has reported from over a dozen countries, including Russia and China. Follow me on Twitter @MariaKorolov.

12 Responses

  1. Sorry Maria, git command should have been

    git clone -b dsg git://

  2.' Graham Mills says:

    Excellent news. New World Grid ran a successful trial of DSG two weeks ago.

  3.' Troy McConaghy says:

    Do you know of someone who's been trying to get thousands of avatars on a single region for some specific purpose or application? I'm curious to know if this solves their problem (or not).

    •' N Burmeister says:

      Yes, researchers from Tech^Edge / Air Force Research Lab at Wright Patterson Air Force Base are using opensim for virtual collaboration and displaying projects, including those not based on virtual world technologies. It is currently limited to 100 participants but plans are in the works for 1000+ participants and DSG/the ability to host all of us would greatly help.

  4. <plug>That build that is in the image was built by Tipodean for Intel. </plug>

  5. Chris — Very nice! Any chance this city build will be open sourced, as well?

  6. @GeoMeek says:

    Is Intel selling crises sim's now? It is kinda sad thy do not show what thy can do in Second Life ….