Nvidia sees bright future for cloud gaming

OnLive’s recent troubles might make one dubious about the future of cloud-based gaming services. Nvidia’s Phil Eisler has a more positive outlook, as one might expect from the guy running the green team’s GeForce Grid cloud gaming group. VentureBeat has a lengthy interview with Eisler that reveals some interesting nuggests about the challenges facing cloud-based gaming and how Nvidia plans to combat them.

Obviously, the speed of one’s Internet connection is a big obstacle. Eisler figures a 5Mbps pipe is required to pump out 30 frames per second at 720p resolution. To get 60 FPS at 1080p, you’d need 15-20Mbps. Then there’s the issue of latency, which Eisler says was over 250 milliseconds with first-generation cloud gaming implementations. The GeForce Grid-powered Gaikai service purportedly cuts latency down to a little over 160 ms, which most folks would still consider too laggy for traditional multiplayer games.

Some of GeForce Grid’s latency reduction comes from the GPU, which performs capture and encoding internally. This capability purportedly shaves 30 milliseconds of latency and frees up CPU cycles for other tasks. Eisler says Nvidia is working on client-side optimizations that will save an additional 20 ms, and he believes working with TV makers can cut latency even further.

Cloud gaming providers also face the challenge of scaling, which may be easier to solve. According to Eisler, Kepler-based GPUs can support up to four simultaneous users, or streams. He expects the number of streams per server to double each year, although it’s unclear whether those increases will come from new GPUs, higher chip densities in servers, or a combination of the two. The latter seems most likely, especially since Nvidia already puts dual GPUs on its GeForce Grid K520 board.

Eisler points to Sony’s acquisition of Gaikai as evidence that the future of cloud-based gaming is brighter than OnLive’s. He certainly has a point, although he also concedes that hard-core PC gamers won’t be switching to cloud-based services in the next decade. Casual gamers are less discerning, and it will be interesting to see how many of them are lured into the cloud during the interim.

Comments closed
    • moog
    • 7 years ago

    Why?

    [url<]http://gizmodo.com/5945648/data-centers-waste-a-ridiculously-massive-amount-of-energy[/url<]

    • fellix
    • 7 years ago

    The issue here, with those “remote” gaming services, is not the network latency (which is largely eliminated), but the input lag. Input lag is much more sensible — I personally can tolerate ~200ms network latency on competitive FPS servers, but the input lag is absolutely no option. I’ve tried several times OnLive and the thing is horrible for any FPS/action game and barely tolerable for the slower genres. That aside from the image quality woes and the lack of mod customisations.

    • l33t-g4m3r
    • 7 years ago

    I was going to buy a 660. Thanks Nvidia for making it easy: 7870 it is. It’s quite obvious cloud gaming is not a viable business model and is only being kept alive by corporations wishing to control the market. Onlive is basically an undead zombie business kept on life support until new tech makes it viable. Nobody buy this crap when it comes out, so these losers bankrupt themselves renting servers.

      • Airmantharp
      • 7 years ago

      How the hell is this related to HD7870 vs. GTX660?!?

        • DeadOfKnight
        • 7 years ago

        lol

        • l33t-g4m3r
        • 7 years ago

        Similar performance, different company. I’d rather not support a company pushing cloud gaming. Not to say AMD hasn’t done work in this field, but I’d like to think that will be dropped in lieu of their finances, also AMD doesn’t push things on you like nvidia did with PhysX.

        Onlive has proved cloud gaming isn’t viable or cost effective. It would be nice if everyone else would take the hint and stop attempting to make it work. It’s a ridiculously stupid concept.

          • Airmantharp
          • 7 years ago

          Of all the stupid things to be an activist about…

    • Chrispy_
    • 7 years ago

    Haven’t we had this discussion several times before?

    DRM is a nasty word even for non-gamers, and cloud-based-anything is a pretty unsubtle way of saying “give us your money and we’ll rent you stuff instead of letting you own it”.

    Assuming the latency, bandwidth, and tecnological hurdles are cleared;
    Assuming the public accepts a rental-based, permanent-DRM, online-only gaming model;
    Assuming the added cost of providing the hardware and bandwidth don’t drive up prices…

    ….graphical complexity and minimum baseline systems will make this redundant. Most [i<]smartphones[/i<] are powerful enough to embarrass current-gen consoles, why do we need to move rendering to the cloud when the even the lowest-spec client devices are plenty powerful enough? Borderlands2 looks better on even an intel IGP than it does on the Xbox360. I'm sure there are plenty more reasons why Online completely, and [u<]uttterly[/u<] tanked.

    • Laykun
    • 7 years ago

    I sure hope that when they talk about scaling their only talking about video compression. If it were 8 game clients rendering graphics and encoding video then they’re clearly not accounting for game visuals also becoming doubley complex. If they are then you get to look forward to lower visual settings in your games, compared to those with real gaming rigs.

    • Arclight
    • 7 years ago

    Nvidia get out of town. Shut the front door while you’re at it.

      • internetsandman
      • 7 years ago

      Your town has a front door?

        • Arclight
        • 7 years ago

        Shut the front door – more publicly acceptable and FCC-friendly version of S.T.F.U.

    • Meadows
    • 7 years ago

    “Most people” would consider 160 ms too laggy? Holy renovated painting of Jesus, [i<]half of that[/i<] would be laggy.

      • Airmantharp
      • 7 years ago

      High-latency gaming is the bread and butter of console gamers… and it’s ‘fine’ as long as everyone plays in the same conditions.

      Just don’t expect to sell it to me (either) :).

        • derFunkenstein
        • 7 years ago

        It has nothing to do with consoles vs. PCs in terms of internet latency, because it all uses the same internet connection.

        The additional input latency, though – that’s what kills this.

          • Airmantharp
          • 7 years ago

          The input latency of the TV (and receiver, and anything else that may be in that loop) along with the lower average frame-rates are what I was talking about, yep.

    • brucethemoose
    • 7 years ago

    Nvidia isn’t the one who needs to be pushing this service… game makers are.

    For online multiplayer games where latency isn’t a huge issue (think MMOs), game companies are in a perfect position. The same server or group of servers could host the game as a whole and stream the video to individual users, knocking out a ton of the latency problems. Instead of actually making you download the whole game, game companies could simply give you some streaming software optimized for their game an no other, getting the job done far more efficiently than any 3rd party service. Game licensing issues vanish, no DRM is needed, and game makers are in the ideal position to sell/market this service.

    Use WOW as an example. With the right subscription, Blizzard could host your game footage close to where they host the game server, stream it to you very efficiently, and latency wouldn’t be much of a problem. Every update, expansion pack, bugfix, etc would be 100% server side… meaning you never have to install anything, and Blizzard doesn’t have to worry about DRM or constantly stream you game patches. WOW could achieve platform independence, bringing it to Xbox, PS3, Wii, iPad, Android, Macs, craptops… and pretty much anything you can imagine, giving them an HUGE new userbase.

    In fact, if people who would use this service actually had true 5mbps internet, I think Valve, EA, Blizzard and others would be all over this. Bringing your entire game library to anyone with internet and an LCD ought to be a pretty profitable venture…

    Sadly, most gamers with good internet have good computers. Most others have cheap internet that won’t handle this kind of data. ISPs like to throttle more than they like put down fiber, and this isn’t happening of 4G anytime soon.

      • Airmantharp
      • 7 years ago

      This isn’t for PC gamers, not in the least. I’d rather play on an Intel HD then use this crap.

      This is for people with TVs and broadband that don’t want to purchase games or game systems, and it’s perfect for them. Integrating this into TVs will be painless.

    • tviceman
    • 7 years ago

    Why do we have to keep looking at this as a local vs. cloud based situation? I think the best setup would offer both solutions for the same game. If Steam had a streaming based service for it’s entire library on Android, Apple, and underpowered PC’s – wouldn’t that be a nice perk?

      • Airmantharp
      • 7 years ago

      They wouldn’t want to play against people with real hardware though. It’s like putting console players up against PC players in FPSs- even the best console players get whooped by the mouse and keyboard crew in a hurry.

      Just these laggers will get whooped far worse. Not only is there the lag between the service and the player, but between the service and the server too. They’re screwed.

    • Bensam123
    • 7 years ago

    Pretty sure internet gaming is stillborn due to bandwidth caps. That may change in the future as internet plans change and the whole internet changes, but until then it really doesn’t matter what sort of technology they have behind it. Pumping 15-20Mbps for 8 hours is quite a few bits.

    Latency really isn’t going to improve by leaps and bounds either as you still need to send data and then get it back, which will be two times longer then normal… Then counting if you’re sending it out again you’re at three times (if you’re playing multiplayer)? There is really no way around having 3x the latency of a normal connection. Although that means less and less the closer you get to 0, that still has quite a big impact on gaming. About the best way to fix this is instead of having a massive datacenter in one spot, is to have local data centers that serve a small regional area to keep latency down.

    But that’s just technical limitations… If Valve actually gets their act together and improves the usability of their store for the average Joe Schmoe (like installing, compatibility checking), it may serve to kill of this completely (as well as consoles). Pretty much everyone has a computer, to what extent is questionable, but for most ‘casual’ games most people can run them… Like farmville.

    Although, those really have to be pretty shitty games to squeeze four users off of one GPU, which sorta defeats the purpose of having a streaming gaming service take care of all those needs.

    What I am interested in is encoding they’re talking about on the GPU… that could be interesting for people who do encoding or streaming.

      • BobbinThreadbare
      • 7 years ago

      If you’re playing multiplayer, I think ideally the game server would also be the rendering server.

        • Bensam123
        • 7 years ago

        Yeah ideally… I think that may have some adverse reactions from other players though. That and some people have preferred servers and communities they like taking part in.

    • MadManOriginal
    • 7 years ago

    Cloud Gaming versus Internet Bandwidth Caps: FIGHT!

      • NeelyCam
      • 7 years ago

      This.

      • ish718
      • 7 years ago

      Yeah, it all falls down to ISPs in the end. Right now I am getting 50/8 Mbps for $45 for the first year from Cablevision.
      There is no bandwidth cap with Cablevision but I am sure they throttle speeds once in a while or when you’re using too much bandwidth.

      • dashbarron
      • 7 years ago

      Fatality!

    • ClickClick5
    • 7 years ago

    All I can think of is: Welcome to singleplayer lag.

      • Meadows
      • 7 years ago

      Welcome to Diablo III.

    • sschaem
    • 7 years ago

    There is a market for this, but not as an alternative to console/pc itself. Its added value.
    (like use it for demos in the console game store)

    And even if the games are playable, economically it doesn’t work for the console or PC market.
    Just steam have 4-6 million active player… the math just for that is mind boggling.
    A 2 billion initial investment, million of servers, with gigawatt of power used 24/7

    But I can see this service running in homes.
    Install the service on your HTPC and its now accessible on ios/android devices.
    Want to play Crysis3 on your 199$ fire tablet? no problems.
    Want to run a full version of office on your ipad3 ? no problems.
    etc..

    I wonder when intel, nVidia or ATI will release a solid remote desktop app for ios / android that leverage their HW encoder… I would love to have an icon for each of my PC, and just with a click be logged in and start to use the machine.
    Hopefully next gen console will have this integrated, would be cool to have some game interface a second screen using a tablet. (like use it for your inventory, or whatnot).

    I just hope they dont use it for another failed cloud gaming portal, that just going down the wrong path.

    • Star Brood
    • 7 years ago

    By the time this guy expects hardcore gamers to adopt it, we will have things like re-RAM as well as integrated graphics cards which poop all over today’s highest end stuff. I can imagine even in ten years the 99th percentile frame times will be worse than my Intel GMA 3150 would get.

    Infrastructure is simply not going to advance as much as these guys need.

    • cheddarlump
    • 7 years ago

    Of course Nvidia sees the future as bright, as they’re trying to sell their compute nodes to the providers.

    Who here thinks 110ms is acceptable latency for real gaming? That’s the BEST CASE scenario if all their “possible future optimizations” work perfectly.

      • Scrotos
      • 7 years ago

      Back in the days of Quake 2, I used to do just fine with 150 to 200ms ping. That being said, it’s a decade later and everyone has much better ping so you’d be at a disadvantage in multiplayer gaming.

      I never really understood people complaining about input lag from consoles or LCDs or whatever. I don’t know if it’s because I gamed during a time when you learned how to compensate for that kinda stuff or if I just didn’t have it as bad some people seem to. Not sure since some people whine about 10ms refresh rates on LCDs or whatever it is that 1/60th of a second is.

      That being said, I’m completely unimpressed with cloud gaming. You Steam haters think “renting” games via an online distribution service is bad? This cloud gaming stuff should get your panties in a bunch like no tomorrow!

        • Majiir Paktu
        • 7 years ago

        Network lag and input/display lag have very different effects. With the latter (which is what you’d have here) your camera view would move >100ms after you physically move the mouse. Network lag doesn’t do that; your camera and character move as you command them, but the game is playing catch-up with the server. That’s why under high network latency, objects in the game appear to jump around. Your game client guessed where those objects would be, but the server corrected it.

        “Cloud” gaming reverses this process. Nothing would ever jump around, because the client is effectively local to the server. (That is, if the servers are in the same farm… if not, you get [i<]both[/i<] kinds of lag. Fun!) The game would look pretty smooth if you watched a video replay, but it would feel sluggish and disconnected because every action has a network delay.

        • designerfx
        • 7 years ago

        Ping in quake and ping in modern games are *not* even remotely equivalent. Ping in Quake2 was fine because everyone had that ping. Ping in modern games is not at 150-200ms a person now. Even people pinging from Japan to Mexico get better pings, bandwidth and latency than that.

        Onlive failing should hopefully highlight to everyone that latency requirements depend on the game and for a lot of them, cloud-based gaming simply fails. Even before issues and questions of cloud gaming as you highlighted.

          • Airmantharp
          • 7 years ago

          Yup, we have a guy from Argentina that plays with us regularly in BF3. Also, he kicks our asses with his ~120-150ms ping.

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