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A distributed virtual environment (DVE) is a shared virtual environment where multiple users at their workstations interact with each other over a network. Some of these systems may support a large number of users, e.g., multi-player online games. An important issue is how well the system scales as the number of users increases. In terms of scalability, a promising system architecture is a two-level hierarchical architecture. At the lower level, multiple servers are deployed; each server interacts with its assigned users. At the higher level, the servers ensure that their copies of the virtual environment are as consistent as possible. Although the two-level architecture is believed to have good properties with respect to scalability, not much is known about its performance characteristics. In this paper, we develop a performance model for the two-level architecture and obtain analytic results on the workload experienced by each server. Our results provide valuable insights into the scalability of the architecture. We also investigate the issue of consistency and develop a novel technique to achieve weak consistency among copies of the virtual environment at the various servers. Simulation results on the consistency/scalability tradeoff are presented.
Distributed systems, scalability, performance analysis, multimedia information system, virtual reality

M. Kwok and J. W. Wong, "Scalability Analysis of the Hierarchical Architecture for Distributed Virtual Environments," in IEEE Transactions on Parallel & Distributed Systems, vol. 19, no. , pp. 408-417, 2007.
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