While CES is just beginning to kick things off, NVIDIA has already showcased a couple products that will be released this year that can have a massive impact in the world of video games. So far they have announced they will be releasing the Shield, an Android based portable gaming system, and a cloud computing gaming system they call the GRID.
Project Shield concept. An Android power video game console in the controller for it. What happens if you don't like the controller shape? (via Nvidia)
Starting with the Shield, it is a small system that looks like a common gaming controller with a LCD screen attached. To begin with the Shield is a purely Android based device. It runs off the latest version of Android Jelly Bean and features an LCD screen which is fully touch sensitive. It seems NVIDIA is looking to give the users the feel of using a tablet. Furthermore, the display is capable of supporting video up to 720p while the integrated speakers may be the best on any current mobile device. This is all put together on top of NVIDIA's Tegra 4, currently the fastest mobile processor featuring a 72-core GPU combined with a quad-core CPU. It appears to beat the Ouya console that saw major success over kickstarter.
The hardware definitely makes an interesting gaming solution, however its ability to connect to any TV through an HDMI port may give Apple's TV some competition. The Android operating system will support all the same features as a tablet would allow. Similarly, the device can stream PC games effortlessly which may mean NVIDIA may want seduce some console gamers. Sony and Microsoft may find themselves with a little more competition than Nintendo when they release their next generation systems.
(Left) Grid concept (Right) Actual server rack (via NVIDIA)
On the other hand, NVIDIA also announced their GRID cloud gaming platform. Cloud based gaming is not a new concept at all but has rather been difficult due to performance issues. The GRID is a server system which combines cutting edge hardware with NVIDIA's optimized software to provide exceptional performance. This is made possible by 24 custom GPUs designed specifically for the GRID working along with NVIDIA's VGX Hypervisor software. The software provides load balancing algorithms which allow a single graphics chip to support several users while the hardware allows consumers to easily stream games to their PC, smart TV, or smartphone.
It has been determined that a stack of 20 GRID servers working together produce an astonishing 200 teraflops, or the equivalent of roughly "700 Xbox 360s," as they claim. They clain that 720 gamers can be supported per rack, or 7,200 subscriber per rack (video). The terminal concept is great. All the 2D/3D video processing is handled at the server, the user only needs to see the results. This can definitely give the cloud gaming concept a running start. Phil Eisler, general manager of cloud gaming at NVIDIA, commented, “The world's most exciting games can now be played as easily as you can stream a movie, right onto your TV or mobile device. No more discs to shuffle or files to download and install. Just click and play.” NVIDIA already has partners around the world set to begin working with the GRID soon. It seems that the within the coming year NVIDIA would have established a solid foundation in the gaming industry.
There are so many new gaming options for 2013. This desn't even include the forthcoming next gen XBOX and Playstation, and the PC based Steambox. Is it a good idea to so many options? Is this a testament to our laziness?