By David Kossovsky, Manager of Operations, Gamestream.
The transformation of usage models from physical distribution to unlimited streaming of content is a trend that spans across all entertainment industries – from music to movies to gaming. However, each of these industries is at a different stage of this paradigm shift. Right now, only the music industry possesses a mature streaming model; in the movie industry, the landscape is still in flux. Finally, this trend is just emerging in the video game industry.
It took the music industry over a century to switch from a physical distribution model to a digital distribution model and only 4 more years to evolve to unlimited file streaming. The democratization of broadband access since the 2000s and the small size of audio files (only a few megabytes each) have made this transformation possible. Technical considerations have not hampered the overhaul of the music industry towards a streaming model.
For the movie industry, it took 20 years to switch from a physical model to a digital distribution model and only a decade to switch to unlimited streaming. Like the music industry, the transformation of the cinematic industry is closely linked with access to high-speed Internet broadband networks that allow the transmission of large quantities of data required to download or stream HD movies and television programs.
Currently, the distribution of video games is still dependent on physical and downloadable models. However, the evolution of the music and movie industries leads us to believe that the gaming industry is set to follow the same pattern. The unlimited streaming model in the video game industry is still in its early stages and its development is confronted with several technical challenges, as we’ll explain.
The technical challenges of a “new generation” of cloud gaming.
The goal of cloud gaming technology is to transfer the processing power required to play games from home devices like a PC or console to the larger capabilities of a datacenter. This change is faces two main technical challenges. The first challenge is the optimization and adaptation of software and hardware to control operating costs.
The second challenge is the continuing demand for the latest and greatest hardware. As players increasingly demand high-quality games, the hardware needed to support high levels of performance requires rapid upgrade cycles. As an example, it took only 3 years for console builders to replace 3rd generation consoles like Microsoft’s Xbox One* or Sony’s PlayStation* 4 with 4th generation units like the Xbox One S or PS4 Neo. Therefore, cloud gaming services need to be equipped with the most recent hardware and renew its hardware as fast as console builders do. This rapid refresh environment is also powered by gaming publishers who are constantly releasing new titles.
Virtual Vs. Physical
By leveraging advances in Intel® processors, Gamestream’s cloud gaming service offers players the ability to play the latest and greatest games online – in high definition, of course!
Gamestream uses two strategies to deploy and optimize their service: virtual and physical.
With a virtualization-based strategy, server access is shared between several players. Gamestream’s solution relies on servers powered by Intel® Xeon® Processors and Intel® Visual Compute Accelerator add-in cards.
With a physical hardware-based solution, each player gets access to a machine in a data center. Gamestream offers systems powered by the Intel® Xeon® Processor E3-1585 v5 which includes integrated Intel® Iris™ Pro Graphics P580. This helps us control our operating costs by allowing users to play games without relying upon a discrete GPU.
Gamestream will be demonstrating both these solutions at GDC Europe from August 15-16 in Intel Booth #131. Come visit us to learn more about the new generation of cloud gaming!
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