it is relatively simple: in the VST API there is a method/function for the host to query the plugin latency so it can compensate for it. I guess inside RackAFX the value has no relevance, only when you export to VST or load the hybrid RackAFX dll in a VST host which does latency compensation.
If I remember correctly, the FX book has some places where "look-ahead" is mentioned (Chapter 13?). The plugin of course cannot foresee the future samples. So it actually has to delay the processing and thus the output until it has the required number of samples to realize a "look-ahead" feature. But the host needs to place the processed samples back into their original position in time, so the shift needed for the look-ahead inside the plugin needs to be compensated by shifting the output signal back. Again, as the host can't predict future samples, this actually works by delaying "everything else", e.g. the "non-look-ahead" tracks will receive their signal "latency value" samples later. The complicated part of this technique happens inside the DAW, your plugin only has to tell the number of samples it will delay the output.
I hope this answers your questions?
Yes, the Latency and Tail Time fields are new additions in RAFX.
Latency has no meaning in RAFX; BUT, it is used in the RAFX-DLL-as-VST2/3 plugin, as well as the Make VST and Make AU projects. VST and AU hosts can compensate for plugin latency which is especially useful for aligning samples across multiple tracks.
Tail Time is used in all APIs - RAFX, VST and AU as a way to let you listen to your reverb/delay tails after audio is stopped.
For the fastest playback (and synth rendering) you can use the Audio/MIDI -> Setup Audio Devices
If you have an ASIO compliant driver, choose the ASIO ports for I/O, then set the latency multiplier to 1 and the buffer size as low as you can get without clicks or stuttering - I can use a buffer size of 16 samples reliably on my system. This gives the fastest audio playback. FFT monitoring, and synth rendering.
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