Nvidia launches GeForce GRID
May 16, 2012 // 10:14 a.m.
Nvidia's Jen-Hsun Huang has taken to the stage of the GPU Technology Conference (GTC) in San Jose to unveil GeForce GRID, a cloud gaming platform based on Kepler graphics technology.
Unveiled by Huang at GTC late last night, the GeForce GRID is aimed to giving gaming-as-a-service (GaaS) providers the power they need to offer high-quality gaming on any platform: mobile, tablet, and even 'smart TV' sets.
'Gamers will now have access to seamlessly play the world's best titles anywhere, anytime, from phones, tablets, TVs or PCs,' claimed Phil Eisler, general manager of cloud gaming at the graphics giant. 'GeForce GRID represents a massive disruption in how games are delivered and played.'
The GeForce GRID is made up of numerous GRID GPUs, specialist graphics boards based on the company's Kepler architecture and featuring two physical GPU cores with a dedicated encoder each, 3,072 CUDA cores and a total shader performance rated at 4.7 teraflops. These boards, Nvidia claims, will render up to eight game streams at top quality - making them a power-efficient option for cloud gaming providers.
Using Nvidia GRID boards in their data centres, the company claims, will drop the overall power consumption per individual gaming stream to around half that of current systems. Half the power consumption means twice as many customers in the same energy footprint, or a significant saving on heating, ventilation and cooling (HVAC) and power costs for smaller firms.
The GeForce GRID boards combine with something Nvidia is calling 'fast streaming technology,' a system which captures and encodes a game frame for transmission to the client in a single pass using fast-frame capture, concurrent rendering and single-pass encoding. The result, the company claims, is a system which reduces server latency to as little as ten milliseconds.
Finally, the company trotted out games industry legend and cloud gaming company Gaikai chief executive Dave Perry to show off what Nvidia calls 'the virtual game console.' Using an LG Smart TV with the Gaikai application pre-loaded and connected to a company server ten miles from the event, the demonstration showed the system playing a full-fat PC game using a USB connected game pad - with no console in sight.
'Not so long ago, engineers said cloud gaming was impossible, and that it was not possible for cloud gaming to be as fast or high-quality as local, console-based gaming,' scoffed Perry at the event. 'Obviously, they didn't know that Gaikai and Nvidia would be working together. We're proving the doubters wrong.'
It's not just the cloud gaming industry which has been trotted out to sing Nvidia's praises, however. Epic Games founder and chief executive Tim Sweeney was also present at the event, and effusive in his praise.
'At Epic, we're really excited about Nvidia's announcement of the GeForce GRID platform. Nvidia's GRID technology, with its latency reduction and improved image quality, combined with higher density and power efficiency, are significant steps toward making cloud gaming a true console-like experience today, and bringing that high-quality gaming experience to more people,' claimed Sweeney.
'Cloud has the potential to deliver an even more powerful experience in the future by enabling ultra-high-end GPUs like the GeForce GTX 680 to stream ultra-high-quality graphics such as those made possible by UE4 [Unreal Engine 4] to a huge range of devices, well beyond console capabilities. The result will be that more people can enjoy Epic's games on more devices at higher quality.'
Nvidia also announced plans to bring the same technology to enterprise users, positioning its Nvidia GRID at the centre of virtualised desktop technologies under the Nvidia VGX Platform umbrella.