Friday, 15 June 2007

Entropia Concurrency -wtf?

The recent announcement that Mindark had won the competition to build a new virtual world for China, using the popular Entropia environment has led to a lot of questions. Some, no doubt, have come from disgruntled competitors - but as I don't fit into that category I thought I would take a look at one of those questions, to try and understand what the heck is going on.

The press release for the Entropia win in China makes reference to a projected "7 million concurrent users", generating "over $1 billion annually in commerce." Given that Second Life struggles to support maximum concurrency of around 45,000, and with the projected numbers for Entropia many orders of magnitude greater, this begs the question:

"How realistic is the projected user concurrency for Entropia?"
Unlike SL, which provides regular updates of this information on its website and its client software, Mindark apparently keep this information under lock and key. However, some trawling of the internet has turned up an estimate of around 10,000 concurrent users from a total resident count of around 500K.

Virtual World News interviewed John Bates, Entropia Universe Evangelist, and David Simmons, MindArk’s Business Development Director. The subject of concurrency was covered during a wide-ranging discussion:

»Possibly the biggest advantage, though, is the size of the world. It can hold seven million concurrent users, and MindArk isn't worried yet about reaching the cap. "We’re not even speculating about maximum capacity," Bates said. "It’s not going to be tomorrow, but it will be very soon. We just hope technology will have gotten better. We anticipate it being the fastest of its kind." «
While admiring Mindark's ambition, one cannot help but feel that the case is being grossly, obscenely over-played. I am not privvy (who is? I wonder) to the underlying architecture of Entropia, and therefore cannot make assertions about its ability to scale. However, given that the hype is suggesting a thousand-fold increase, I would conclude that this degree of scalability is an unjustified assertion on behalf of the vendors. You may prefer the more pithy comment from 57 Miles at Metaversed (see the last sentence).


Veeyawn said...

Is Entropia sharded and thus they feel they can just throw servers at the issue of concurrency?

Aleister Kronos said...

I gather there is one planet at the moment supported by scads of servers. China will have its own planet (surprise, surprise) no dount with strict controls for any space traveller wanting to move between them!

I don't know the architecture, but as a tech architect in RL I would be committing professional suicide if I claimed that a 1000-fold scaling would be just peachy. Theory often crumbles before the facts - maybe mine will, maybe theirs will. :-)