Nvidia explains how it built Project Shield

Nvidia’s Project Shield handheld was one of the biggest surprises at CES this year. As it turns out, the device went from idea to live demo in less than a year. The development process has been chronicled in an Nvidia blog post that reveals a few interesting details about the product’s origins and how it came to be.

One revelation is that some developers have been pushing Nvidia to develop its own gaming console "for years." Making the graphics chips inside the original Xbox and the PlayStation 3 doesn’t count, I guess. Project Shield very much seems like a response to traditonal game consoles, and Nvidia isn’t exactly subtle about making a case for the handheld’s superiority. The blog post even takes a couple of shots at the "walled-garden ecosystem" of console software, noting that Shield’s native Android OS and ability to stream games from local PCs makes for a much more open environment.

While Nvidia has a point on that front, its assertion that Project Shield can take advantage of thousands of existing Android games that won’t run on consoles falls a little flat. Sure, the next-gen consoles rumored to be built with AMD hardware will have limited game libraries when they’re released. However, you can’t really compare Android games to the blockbuster titles that always accompany consoles. Project Shield’s ability to stream PC games from local systems is really what makes the device a credible competitor to next-gen consoles.

The blog post reads more like a sales pitch than a development diary, but it’s still nice to see the engineers who worked feverishly on the project getting some credit for their efforts. The first prototype was apparently quite humble: a smartphone linked to a game controller with some wood. Nvidia turned that into the polished product shown at CES using solely its own staff. With that kind of talent in-house, rumors that the company could be developing its own tablets and smartphones don’t seem so outlandish.

Comments closed
    • Bensam123
    • 7 years ago

    The controller is a neat idea, but it’s never going to catch on. Just like Razers handheld PC. It’s a great idea from a brainstorming or think tank perspective, but when it’s put into play I think the results and adoption will be very different.

    The interesting aspect of PS isn’t the gamepad, it’s the technology to stream locally. That is definitely something that would make people want to buy their hardware. I don’t think it has anymore meaning then that. They could use it to drive something like OnLive, but those services will die out soon enough.

    People simply don’t want to stream to play, I know I sure don’t. There is no way to get around the lag or the ridiculous amounts of bandwidth it eats. I pity people who have bandwidth caps and don’t realize it till they run into it. Streaming 720p or 1080p 8 hours a day for a month is a LOT of bandwidth (this is coming from someone who does stream). It’s very easy to hit your bandwidth cap and then get hit by charges if your ISP charges you for extra.

      • chuckula
      • 7 years ago

      [quote<]People simply don't want to stream to play, I know I sure don't. There is no way to get around the lag or the ridiculous amounts of bandwidth it eats.[/quote<] True Dat, there's no way of getting around physics (and Physx doesn't count). The other issue I'm seeing is that you'd really want a hand-held device to be portable, and even if a higher-end home broadband connection might sort of work with these things, trying to access these services through even a 4G network is not going to fly.

      • willmore
      • 7 years ago

      Isn’t this device meant to stream from a local PC? So, bandwidth is a lot easier to come by and latency shouldn’t be anywhere near as much of an issue.

    • spigzone
    • 7 years ago

    “a smartphone linked to a game controller with some wood screws”

    there, fixed that for you.

      • willmore
      • 7 years ago

      Wood screws! I get it!

    • Anonymous Hamster
    • 7 years ago

    Remind me again how Nvidia expects to make money from this venture?

      • Beelzebubba9
      • 7 years ago

      Selling the device for $299 along with a desktop application that allows PC gamers to stream games from their desktop to their TV using the controller to control them?

      I mean, I’d seriously think about paying $299 for that if it came with the Miracast box as well.

    • chuckula
    • 7 years ago

    [quote<]Nvidia explains how it built Project Shield[/quote<] Jen Hsun: WE DID IT ON THE BACKS OF OUR UNICORN SLAVE ARMY! [maniacal laugh]

      • NeelyCam
      • 7 years ago

      When did they enslave Apple engineers?

        • chuckula
        • 7 years ago

        Tuesday (didn’t you get the memo?)

    • destroy.all.monsters
    • 7 years ago

    Shouldn’t that be built or builds?

      • albundy
      • 7 years ago

      yup!

      • entropy13
      • 7 years ago

      Doesn’t you means “builded”?

    • Shambles
    • 7 years ago

    With the streaming the only real interesting prospect for me is the ability to stream any game from my heavy hitting gaming rig to my HTPC. No matter how fancy shield is I don’t care to have another handheld around. Just make the streaming tech a checkbox for your desktop GPUs that allow me to create my own LAN gaming cloud.

      • MadManOriginal
      • 7 years ago

      Yup. Needs a cut-down ‘Shield Box’ for ~+$50 versus the cost of common ARM-based media streamers. I’m thinking at about $150 it could do really well – act as a media streamer, full-on Android with Google Play, plus PC game streamer.

    • sweatshopking
    • 7 years ago

    [quote<] ability to stream games from local PCs makes for a much more open environment [/quote<] are they streaming ANY game, or just steam games? if it's just steam games, i fail to see how it's more open, as they certainly are closed. and they have crap support.

      • tviceman
      • 7 years ago

      Let us know how Origin and Uplay are treatin ‘ya there buddy.

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