I'm not sure that this is totally new but I have only noticed it now, apparently related to some side effect of the changes or may be not (see forum entry here).
SIM now handles compressed pl.xml so the download process is much faster than before, because the compressed xml file is now 3.4MB versus 19.3MB uncomrpessed. This is a pretty good compression ratio of 5.74.
And it has a direct impact on user experience, as the following screen shots do show a download time difference using the raw versus zip download path. First I had to make sure the zip path is in use in the registry (not default yet):
Then download took 9 seconds!
versus 41 seconds previously!
Still we have some way to go as the load time (even with only 9 seconds of download) is still ~ 1 minute (15:10:22 -> 15:11:17 for the UI to load once the context is initialized):