Because responsiveness and action are so central to many games, developers are concerned that the lag between when the distant cloud computer renders a scene and when that scene shows up on a player’s screen will spoil cloud computing’s promise. “The real-time nature of games means that cloud processing will have too long a latency to help with the biggest bottleneck in real-time game graphics,” says Tobi Saulnier, CEO and founder of 1st Playable Productions, in Troy, N.Y.
Julien Merceron, worldwide chief technical director of the London-based Eidos, creators of Tomb Raider, says latency and limited bandwidth “will tend to severely limit the type of game that could benefit from the cloud and limit the resolution at which you can play the game.”
The concerns expressed in this article about latency are surmounted by Otoy, which can spread thousands of games and other apps across scores of thousands of graphics processors and meet all the real-time requirements of the most demanding games. There is no perceptible delay on transmissions of up to 500 miles.
In my alternative life in venture capital, I support Otoy, led by Jules Urbach (well known to Telecosm attendees). Moving from cloud computing to storm-cloud services, Otoy changes the game. It can exploit commonalities in all the popular browsers to move all games or other applications, of any complexity or latency rules, to his petaflop Fusion Render Cloud built with clusters of AMD-ATI graphics processors, playing these aps on any device from a settop box to a cellphone.
The most striking moment at E3 (Electronic Entertainment Expo) for me came when Jules showed Crysis, a game too demanding to handle on any console or ordinary PC, playing with full features on a netbook and a cellphone. The CTO of the Crysis company from Frankfurt could suddenly see the market for his niche high end game opening up to billions of customers around the globe at a cost of single digit or even ultimately sub-digit dollars per customer per month.
This demo means to me that virtually everything is going to move to the cloud, but the cloud will be dispersed around the globe in 40 square foot petaflop containers.
Browsers turn out to work well with graphics processors running in massively parallel arrays without any further customization. For high definition, 4K and 8K progressive images, a 200 kilobyte download is needed. But in general the game is over and graphics processors have won.
As Bob Metcalfe said a decade ago the browser has become the operating system.
See: “OTOY Demo Puts Crysis, Grand Theft Auto 4 on Your Phone.”
Related entry: “The bandwidth conundrum” (4-25-2008).