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Nvidia's cloud gaming service takes on Sony's PlayStation Now

Agam Shah | Nov. 14, 2014
Nvidia's GRID cloud gaming service will be available free, but only to Shield tablet and handheld game console users in the US.

The games are processed and streamed from Nvidia's GRID servers packed with GPUs based on the Kepler architecture. Nvidia made tweaks in servers before the service was launched to reduce latency and ensure gaming quality remained consistent, Fear said.

Online gaming is much different than a streaming audio service or video service as more feedback is sent from a client device to the server. Special effects and graphics are encoded and packaged in the remote server and then sent to the Shield tablet, which decodes the graphics. As a result, more bandwidth is needed, but encoding and decoding at the server and client sides helps reduce latency.

"Cloud, remote graphics is an entirely different mind set than local gaming," Fear said.

Delivering games over the cloud is also different than playing games locally. On PCs, the GPUs can be adjusted to change the frames per second. But on cloud servers, the GPUs are running at a consistent frame rate, which if disturbed, could hurt the quality of visuals.

"For us in the cloud, we have to be able to stream and render the game always at 60 frames per second. If we go below it, we're going to get a visual stutter because we weren't able to render a frame at the time the encoder was trying to encode it at 60 frames per second," Fear said.

Nvidia is recommending that the service not be used over LTE connections. It runs best over Wi-Fi routers that support the 5GHz spectrum.

 

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