back to article Nvidia promises to shift graphics grunt work to the cloud, for a price

It's a fact of life for gamers: If you want to be able to compete, you need the best hardware to give you an edge. That means putting down at least $2,000 to make sure you have a machine with the right processor, motherboard, graphics card and memory - not to mention the best keyboard, mouse and the all-important gaming chair …

  1. TonyJ Silver badge

    I mean...

    ...good concept and all, but given the reality of network coverage, crappy download limits, slowness to roll things out etc and it's not going to become mainstream.

    Now offer 5G data bundles that are unlimited (properly unlimited - none of that "fair use" crap) and both a reasonable price AND actually available and capable of coping with demand and maybe there'll be take up.

    1. Ragarath

      Re: I mean...

      I was thinking more of the Bandwidth needed. If the graphics are being crunched in the "cloud" and you are playing 1080p at 60fps you need this bit stream sent to you. You want this uncompressed to match a dedicated computer or you are introducing artifacts.

      Of course there will be some form of compression going on otherwise it ain't happening but that reduces the quality.

      5G offers speeds of 10Gbps (in theory) so fine right? Well I hope the backhaul of that cell that your connected to along with INSERT NUMBER of others all trying to do the same thing is well provisioned.

      As the article says, someone has to pay for the 5G connections or they will be severely limited... or just Cha'Ching for the networks to charge you whatever they like.

  2. Wellyboot Silver badge

    latency down to a blazing 3ms

    New laws of physics or the Nvidia number crunching centres every two miles?

    3ms round trip doesn't get you very far.

    They've spotted how much cash is being spent and decided that everyone paying for a midrange GPU equivilent every year is a model worth chasing.

    1. Alan J. Wylie Silver badge

      Re: latency down to a blazing 3ms

      3ms round trip doesn't get you very far.

      $ units -1 "3ms c" "km"

      * 899.37737

      1. onefang Silver badge

        Re: latency down to a blazing 3ms

        $ units -1 "3ms c" "km"

        * 899.37737

        That'll be speed of light in a vacuum, not speed of signal in air to the 5G base station, plus switching delays, plus speed of light in optical fibre, plus more switching delays, then divide the distance by two, coz the graphics data has to come back to you.

        Also, you need to update your units program to more modern El Reg units.

        1. Aitor 1 Silver badge

          Re: latency down to a blazing 3ms

          Yeah,

          The latency will be horrible.. it would be way better to have the full game running in the servers, not just the GPU.. otherwise the amount of data to be moved is just ridiculous.. 4-6GB to load textures, etc. Every time you play the game!

          1. wurdsmiff

            Re: latency down to a blazing 3ms

            It looks like their current service has the games on the servers. I imagine what's fired down the network is effectively a video stream downstream and key presses upstream. 3ms still sounds like bullshit though

            1. Dr. Mouse Silver badge

              Re: latency down to a blazing 3ms

              "I imagine what's fired down the network is effectively a video stream downstream and key presses upstream!"

              That's precisely what it is.

              I used it on my Shield tablet, and it was pretty good. My main issues were the limitted number of games available at the time and the fact I had to use a game pad (no keyboard/mouse for FPS or wheel for driving games).

              However, the games feel as playable, if not more so, than on a console. IIRC the latency (given a good internet connection) is lower than that experienced in a console. Ignoring the 5G aspect, using decent fixed-line broadband, it's a very viable alternative to spending thousands on a high-end gaming rig (or even spending hundreds on the latest console every time a new one is released), and the hardware is kept up to date for you.

        2. K.o.R

          Re: latency down to a blazing 3ms

          Reminds me of the 500-mile email.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: latency down to a blazing 3ms

      3ms round trip is only between you and a wireless base station.

      But as we al lknow, network latency is a function of the slowest leg in the network (and any packet loss), which is gonna be in the WAN connection between the base station and Nvidia's datacentre lurking somewhere in 'the cloud'.

      My main gaming machine is hard wired to the internets anyway (over FTTC connection), so 5G will never come into the equation. My WAN latency is anywhere between 20-odd ms and over 200ms depending on the destination.

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: latency down to a blazing 3ms

        So NVIDIA put a rack in each city hooked up to the mobile company's internal network.

        For major gamer cities they can put a rack in each base station.

        The great thing about this is that the 'cloud' data is all generated locally - at most you need a low bandwidth "where am I and what am I doing" link between multi-players.

  3. Joe W

    3ms latency...

    Really?

    So the graphics accelerators sit on the base station?

    1. Wellyboot Silver badge

      Re: 3ms latency...

      That would do it !

      1. onefang Silver badge

        Re: 3ms latency...

        All we need to do now is get these fancy graphics accelerators built into the spec for the 5G base stations, and we are good to go. Maybe that's why nVidia are doing it, they'll sell more of them.

        1. Dave 126 Silver badge

          Re: 3ms latency...

          Do bear in mind that in competitive online gaming, there latency that matters isn't just between the mouse and screen, but between a player in London and a player Madrid or New York. For sure, during 'e-Sports' competitions players are assembled on a Local Area Network, but that isn't how they usually get to practice.

          Placing the accelerator in a cellular base station only makes sense if all the players are in the same geographic area.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What happens when...

    There are 25 kids playing FortPlight and the local GPU cluster can do 20 or 24 at most? Huh? Huh?

    My dedicated integrated GPU won't suddenly tell me I'm not allowed to play because "it's too busy tonight", and costs me less than $10 a month. So yeah, take a hike NVidia!

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "not to mention the best keyboard, mouse and the all-important gaming chair"

    ... you forget the "gaming surface" (or, in old speak, "mouse mat")

    1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      My mouse mat is the entire table. Optical mice these days are much better performing than before, especially if you buy the gaming ones.

      Unless you have a glass table. Then yes, you'll need a mouse mat.

      1. Ragarath

        Tracking is still a lot better on a surface designed for it. But yes, any old table can do most of the leg work now-a-days.

        Still feels worse than my Sphex.

      2. MonkeyCee Silver badge

        Mouse mat

        I use greaseproof/baking paper personally. You can get big sheets, when it gets gunky you replace it for penny a piece (the tape probably costs more) and it cuts down on the wear on the mouse's "feet".

        Plain paper works fine, but grinds the feet off.

        As far as mice go, I like MadCatz, on account of having long hands.

  6. Teiwaz Silver badge

    Taking away half the fun.

    I'm sure lot's of gamers will enjoy having the hardware burden lifted for a subscription, provided they can actually deliver*

    I do think they removing some the challenge and pride gamers usually have in painstaking put together rigs, the extra hours of configuring to squeeze the most out of their setup for (probably tiered series of packages) running at minimum service requirement for the sub usually solution.

    * I can't seem to get non-stuttery low-res youtube videos reliably on a wired internet though.

    * Imagine the the howls of frustration when people come home eager to the get their game on, and find the service down.

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: Taking away half the fun.

      There's currently enough people living with fibre broadband for LG and Samsung to sell 4K HDR televisions for Netflicks; they don't need to wait for 60% or whatever coverage of the population in order to start shifting units.

      Anyway, people living out in the sticks have alternative forms of recreation to video games, such as mountain biking, surfing and drinking cider.

    2. overunder

      Re: Taking away half the fun.

      Video quality == better gamer?

      Competitively, the video quality is already worth sacrificing. Excluding FPS games (arguably), if you really want to be competitive, you will drop the graphics quality to increase processing speed.

      Competitive gaming isn't about being prettier than your rival, it's about being better. If your hardcore you might care nothing about being pretty and run a CRT monitor in black and white along with response times and frame rates dwarfing LCD/LED.

  7. Dave 126 Silver badge

    AMD

    If the aim really is to level the playing field and test the player and not the machine, the obvious solution is for all players to use the same standard hardware... like a PlayStation or Xbox. Neither of which help Nvidia, since they are powered by AMD GPUs.

    Even in PX gaming - mouse and keyboard games like DoTA, one would have thought that people watching the tournament would get find it more fun if the competitors had to use a specific gaming PC. I don't know how the sponsorship money works - there's clearly an industry desire to have people spend thousands on machines they only need to catch up with the Joneses.

    Small thought: the players need equally low latency to each other. However the spectators could watch a more visually impressive display - realtime ray-traced game footage at the expense of a few more milliseconds.

  8. Avatar of They Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    LAN parties.

    What happens if you have a LAN party, 20 people in a room playing together? Gonna need a heck of a connection over that one link.

    But no one ever thinks of LAN parties.

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: LAN parties.

      Err, the people who go to LAN parties buy gaming rigs and run the games locally, just as they do today? Nvidia and AMD are still happy.

    2. Teiwaz Silver badge

      Re: LAN parties.

      But no one ever thinks of LAN parties.

      Do people still do LAN parties?

      Not a thing the masses ever did.

      This Nvidia strategy is thinking Android and fortnite download level attention, not the Gamer Overclockers/tweakers.

  9. Sixtysix
    Pint

    Yipee!

    Probably be ready just in time for my retirement then...

    Be able to ditch the desktop, and take a laptop on holiday... and then stay away without withdrawal symptoms while still enjoying the many (so, so many) games in my Steam and Origin Libraries without the heft of a tower case, 30"UHD, secondard screen, mechanical keyboard, gaming mouse, HOTAS set, custom switchbox, Streampad, surround sound.. Oh. Wait.

    Yeah,maybe not complete lack of withdrawal as I huddle over a small screen clicklet kb and compact mouse. But I'll be somewhere sunny. That counts for a lot - and keeps the Mrs on-side too. Vital!

    I can hope anyway.

    2000 days and counting...

  10. onefang Silver badge

    This is 3 ms of added latency.

    I don't think this will appeal to the sort of hard core gamer that spends hundreds of dollars on a special gaming mouse, coz it's red speed stripes strip half a millisecond of latency off their game. Any additional latency is anathema to them, no matter how small.

    1. Aitor 1 Silver badge

      Re: This is 3 ms of added latency.

      way more than 3ms as it opens a whole can of worms to sync all that stuff.

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: This is 3 ms of added latency.

        Nobody cares about hardcore gamers - this lets you sell a $10/month service to all the people who aren't about to drop $2K on the latest graphics card.

        In the same way that high st gyms can't possibly make money because they don't appeal to olympic athletes

  11. Spazturtle Silver badge

    $2,000? Try $500!

    "It's a fact of life for gamers: If you want to be able to compete, you need the best hardware to give you an edge.

    That means putting down at least $2,000 to make sure you have a machine with the right processor, motherboard, graphics card and memory - not to mention the best keyboard, mouse and the all-important gaming chair. And all that's just to give you a fighting chance."

    Not true at all, a $500 PC will play nearly all games on high setting at 1080p 60FPS.

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: $2,000? Try $500!

      I can see higher resolution, frame rate and draw-distance giving competitive advantages, but I'm not sure that other GPU-taxing effects such as fancier lighting effects and more leaves on virtual trees effect the actual gameplay. But hey, Doom was fun on 486 hardware, GoldenEye was fun on N64 hardware, Halo was fun on XBOX hardware... if you're focusing your crosshairs on your mate's avatar's head you don't have time to admire the virtual scenery.

      Well, I say that, but there's a fascinating article over on Quantamagazine at the moment about how windows and houseplants in real life can act like pinhole cameras can allow inferences as to what is around a corner. Obviously this sort of effect won't be in the first few generations of real-time ray-traced games, but simpler effects such as reflected light might give you a clue that some virtual bastard is hiding around a virtual corner with a virtual shotgun as you're running for the rocket launcher. Again. Bastard.

      1. Spazturtle Silver badge

        Re: $2,000? Try $500!

        "I can see higher resolution, frame rate and draw-distance giving competitive advantages, "

        Yes they do, but that vast majority of gamers are still using 1080p 60Hz monitors, so having a 1440p 144Hz monitor is not such an advantage that they are mandatory to be competitive. And you don't need an expensive PC to play at 1080p 60FPS these days. And if you turn down unnecessary graphics settings a $500 PC should be able to power a 1440p monitor at over 100FPS in most competitive games.

        As for ray tracing giving an advantage, that is still many years away. The ray tracking that Nvidia are releasing only traces a few paths and then uses a neural net to reduce the static and artifacts from the image.

  12. karlkarl

    The Internet is crap for so many people. If you cannot afford a machine capable of beating "streamed graphics", then you probably cannot afford an internet connection capable of sustaining it.

    Pretty much why OnLive and countless others have failed. Also why this will fail. Also why the cloud fails in general for consumers.

    What a load of crap. NVIDIA do something less shite please haha.

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      The internet connection might be paid for by mommy and daddy for Netflicks, just as how in the nineties a £1,000 PC was bought by parents for work but a teenager could play games on it on the side.

      Competitive gamers often retire by the age of 30, so a good chunk of their gaming career is spent when they are still in education and without a job.

      NVidia making cards for the cloud doesn't stop them making cards for home rigs, especially since the demand from crypto miners has eased off. It's not only Nvidia who are looking at streamed gaming - Microsoft are looking at it too. Previous efforts haven't taken off, as you say, but then fibre broadband is becoming more common today.

      Nvidia are talking this up because they are not selling to Sony or Microsoft consoles.

      For gamers who aren't as twitchy, sone might prefer to spend a two hours a week playing on sumptuous graphics instead of ten hours a week on moderate graphics for the same money. See the recent demonstrations of real-time ray-traced game footage (can't remember if it was the Unreal engine or Unity or whatever ) using daftly expensive GPU arrays. With the cloud you can rent as much processing grunt as you want.

  13. Cuddles Silver badge

    Nonsense

    "It's a fact of life for gamers: If you want to be able to compete, you need the best hardware to give you an edge."

    Being competitive has pretty much nothing to do with hardware. You can get practically any game to run perfectly well on old, low-end kit as long as you're willing to drop the graphics settings a bit. Expensive, high-end hardware only matters for making things look shiny. Which is what the vast majority of gamers actually care about since it's only a tiny minority that actually compete in any meaningful fashion. About the only bits of hardware that actually matter are the keyboard and mouse. And given that wired versions are universally preferred due to the increased latency of wireless ones, I don't see any competitive players wanting to stick an entire wireless network in between them and their computer.

    Latency aside, there's also the rather more important issue of coverage and reliability. Actual competitive gamers travel around the world carting all their kit with them. No-one is going to want to risk turning up at a tournament only to find they can't connect to their remote subscription service and so are unable to play at all. No, it's painfully obvious this is not aimed at competitive players at all, it's entirely directed at casual home gamers who keep seeing articles like this claiming they need to shell out thousands of dollars just to play a game, and so are fooled into thinking an expensive subscription service is somehow necessary. Just follow the money - Nvidia are one of those hardware sellers who would supposedly be worried about this. Obviously they are not worried about it, because they know perfectly well that the subscription costs will actually be significantly more than the cost of buying a computer yourself.

    1. Ragarath

      Re: Nonsense

      Nonsense, in modern games there is a lot that lowering setting will disadvantage you on. One of the most intense and as an example would be shadows. These tell you were something or someone is before you've even seen them and allow you to react.

      Lowering settings for things like grass rendering has been used to game the systems and reduce clutter but more competitive games are now making these things mandatory to level the playing field. Hence the need for the good GC.

  14. Stuart Castle

    Not sure who this technology is aimed at.

    They say it's to level the playing field with those who have state of the art gaming machines. But, to play most games at a reasonable speed, with relatively good graphics, you don't need a state of the art graphics machine. Yes, you do need a relatively up to date machine, but you don't need a machine with a cost of thousands. Those that do need machines that cost that much probably have them, although if they are true enthusiasts, they've probably built the "rig" up bit by bit, so the cost is actually spread out over several months.

    If you are playing a game where you can win or lose based on the latency and slowdowns introduced by any graphics card, you are pretty much fucked if you introduce the latency introduced by throwing most home internet connections into the mix, especially when you introduce mobile telephony to it.

    This system may function brilliantly when you have a gigabit connection to your router, then a nice, clean, 5G connection to the data centre, and almost no one is using it, but how will it cope when faced with an internet connection in a heavily populated town, where the only option is ADSL, and because of the distance from the exchange, the only ISPs available can only offer speeds in single digits? That's without factoring in that you are probably several hundred miles away from the nearest data centre.

    I would argue that Nvidia don't really know who they are selling to. The kinds of people who need this power are, in my experience, usually the ones who have the £2,000 gaming rigs, so don't need to move the GPU work to the cloud.

    The kinds of people who would use a service like this are more likely to go for consoles as they will be cheaper in the long run, and often don't really need the power of a system like this. But, as noted above, none of the current main consoles use Nvidia chips..

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      NVIDIA want to sell a subscription to all the people that don't currently queue up to buy the latest $100 AAA game on the day of release and then run it on $2K NVIDIA rigs. They want to sell high graphics games to the millions who currently play angry-birds on their phone.

      The telcos want to find a reason that people will buy a 5G connection - since loading a tweet 3ns faster isn't going to do it.

  15. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    "spells trouble for hardware sellers"

    Let's be coherent here a moment. If you're talking about competitive gaming, you're talking about guys who lug their high-end gear to the places where the competition is taking place. These are not people who are going to accept some server farm somewhere be responsible for what they see on screen and have to react to. These guys (and gals, I think) want everything to be as fast as possible because they want to be as fast as possible. And spending milliseconds waiting for a server somewhere is not going to be acceptable in their mindset. It will be a possible point of failure, and they want to WIN.

    So remove competitive gaming from the equation and what do you have left ? A promise to make Joe Nobody's anemic laptop perform like an Alienware.

    I'll believe it when I see it, but I don't think hardware sellers have anything to worry about.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Disconnected Suits Chasing Fools Gold

    These same suits can't even provide reliable, slow internet service, while charging a premium.

    There is nothing about 5G that will change that picture. Free, I doubt it, not these serial nickel and dimers.

  17. Gustavo Fring
    Devil

    This is the trojan goose

    that allows Nvidia to sell the idea of a non computer to the home user. . Imagine just having an Nvidia shield to do all your office web productive work , rather than a Hoem computer .. because surely if the latency is good enough for gamers it will be absolutely fine for doing any kind of office work. You take away the need to own and update and virus scan your own machine, all for one simple monthly fee. And as we see with leased cars people love the simple monthly fee, the added game-ability allows them to sell it to young Jenny/Johhny too. It sounds reasonable even to me.. except for lock-in and security and that fee creeping up year by year ...I reckon they'll all be at it .. ggogle msoft apple adobe faceblok

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Latency

    --Nvidia recommends less than 60ms for an "optimal experience."

    Yeah, good luck with that.

  19. steviebuk Silver badge

    "Sorry....

    ....we are down for maintenance". Is what you'll be seeing randomly and then over a Christmas when you happen to have a week off to play.

    No thanks. I'd rather have local copies than cloud versions.

    Also in the UK "unlimited" doesn't mean unlimited. How the fuck they still get away with that I don't know, but most of the time it's fare use. So what happens when everyone on the street is using the same pipe to stream movies AND games all at the same time during a holiday period. And if you reach your "fair use" everything gets cut off including your game streaming. Or you'll get a not obvious warning that "We're now charging you £1 per 1MB over your fair use". Before you know it, your £30 game has cost you £1000 in broadband overcharges.

  20. LeahroyNake Bronze badge

    Stream on Steam

    This sort of works on Steam on a local network if only for slower paced games... think UFO Enemy Unknown 2, CIV etc. They run at 30 to 60 fps on the main PC but if I stream them to my laptop over n type Wifi the delay in mouse cursor movements is noticeable but payable.

    I Borderlands 2 (FPS twitchy type game) is playable via stream as long as you don't mind dying often. I usually run upstairs to do hard bits / headshots required on the 'server'.

    I really can't see this working over the internet.

  21. masterofobvious

    I wouldn't mind the ability to "share" my 1080 GTX amongst all the devices in my local network. Essentially share my gaming grunt to the mobiles/laptops.. I don't expect there to much of a market for this though.

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Over a CAT network, probably not for games - you'd need high bandwidth between the main CPU and RAM, and the GPU. However, Thunderbolt is fast enough - though you won't get the most out of higher end graphics cards. External Thunderbolt GPU boxes have been around for around six years (Sony Vaio X), but it's only recently with newer versions of Thunderbolt, and support in Mac OS and from some gaming laptop vendors that the concept is gaining traction.

      What you can do over a network is stream video and human input, so the game *runs* on your desktop PC but you play it on your laptop or Nvidia Shield tablet - or run the game in your PlayStation 3 and run it in your Xperia phone or PlayStation TV. I've only tried the latter, and it wasn't perfect with video compression artifacts and dropped frames despite both devices being cable connected to the LAN.

      You can share a GPU over a network - or rather a machine containing a GPU - for applications where the GPU is fed some numbers and can return a result when it's good a ready - for example, simulating an explosion, ray tracing an architectural scene or, famously, simulating some protein folding. This requires a piece of client software running in the GPU machine, controlled by the host software in the machine you're working on. Bunkspeed Hypershot, used for rendering product images, works this way. You can the master software on a Windows machine to render a SolidWorks model, and it'll use the GPUs and CPUs on every machine (Windows, Mac, Linux) on your network to render the image more quickly.

  22. karlkarl

    This NVIDIA cloud stuff is no good for any kind of competitive gaming in any way. Price wise or technology wise.

    Imagine a LAN event where over 300 gamers all use a shedload of bandwidth to use "cloud NVIDIA". Sure, LAN gaming events have a fast internet connection but nowhere near the amount to funnel 2048x2048x3x60x300 bytes of data per second

    2048x2048 screen resolution

    x 3 bpp (rgb per pixel)

    x 60 frames per second

    x 300 players

    300 gamers is optimistic, sometimes there can be many more! However I stuck with the low 300 to balance the fact there will likely be compression of the video stream. That said, unlike i.e youtube videos, live streams do not actually compress well at all because the chunks are quite small. So I still feel that I am being generous.

    Nah, this is a just a form of control and will almost certainly lead on to very stupid DRM schemes or other restrictions once everyone is stupid enough to sell their proper computers and move over to dumb terminals / tablets.

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "E-sports is the future."

    IMHO, and its only mine: E-sports are not sports. I'll just leave that there for all of the sedentary gamers who think that they are playing a sport...

    1. onefang Silver badge

      Re: "E-sports is the future."

      "IMHO, and its only mine: E-sports are not sports. I'll just leave that there for all of the sedentary gamers who think that they are playing a sport..."

      It's almost as much of a sport as darts and snooker. All are things you can play wearing a business suit, drinking beer, and barely raising a sweat.

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: "E-sports is the future."

        In the book Freakanomics there's an examination of whether golf is a sport or a game. A disabled golfer requested a buggy between shots. The governing body denied it. The sponsorship and sales of golf gear hinge upon it being sold as a sport to occasionally unfit management type men.

  24. 89724102172714182892114I7551670349743096734346773478647892349863592355648544996312855148587659264921

    I fail to see how this can ever be commercially viable for nVidia, given that their target market are gamers who ALL need high end graphics capability.

  25. Wild Bill

    I’m in the beta for this. I’ve got to say it works extremely well. I actually play Overwatch on it (a super twitchy fast shooter) and it plays great for me (though I’m not very good at the game, so maybe more hardcore players might notice a difference). This is on a 76mb down / 38mb up connection

    I’ll definitely be interested in the service when it launches. All depends on whether they can price it right though (all those server farms can’t be cheap for them)

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