Asobo halves download Flight Simulator, but process still seems inefficient

Asobo Studios has reduced the initial download of Microsoft Flight Simulator from around 170GB to 83GB. How it achieves that it does not report, but most likely it applied more or better compression. However, the download process still seems inefficient.

Gamemaker Asobo Studios reports the savings in the patch notes of version 1.16.2.0. An installation of the base edition of Microsoft Flight Simulator, including all files needed to play the game and without Marketplace downloads, takes up about 96GB after decompression. According to a column on Bit-Tech, that was still 115GB at the time of the game’s release. The space occupied can still grow when the game saves landscapes in its rolling cache. Asobo Studios notes 150GB of free space for the system requirements.

Downloading and decompressing take turns instead of simultaneously

The change was made to save bandwidth as well as user time. What is striking, however, is that this initial download does not use the internet connection, the storage medium and the processor at the same time. What the game does instead is download the game files, temporarily store the chunks in the RAM and periodically transfer them to the drive, and when a file is fully downloaded, decompress it while the internet connection is idle. That process would go faster if all resources were used simultaneously as much as possible.

That behavior is different with, for example, the Epic Games Launcher or Steam. These programs use the internet connection, storage media and processor at the same time, which means that downloading and extracting the data together takes less time. Microsoft Flight Simulator can be found on Steam, among others, but the lion’s share of the data to be downloaded is downloaded inside the game client.

It is not known why Asobo Studios chose the download process in question and whether there are any obstacles to implementing further efficiency steps.

Microsoft Flight Simulator came out for Windows in August 2020 and should be coming to Xbox Series X and S this summer.

During the download: the ethernet connection does nothing until cpu and ssd (disk 2) have finished decompressing the latest file

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