Cloud gaming experienced a few days under the floodlights in 2019 through various announcements from big players like the famous Google Stadia. Is it the future of gaming? Is the revolution in the video game industry upon us?
One way to look at this is to determine the growth of chips produced in terms of silicon area associated with this application. The report (x)PU: high-end CPU and GPU for datacenter applications 2020 by Yole Développement focuses on understanding the trends associated with the High-Performance Computing (HPC) markets: supercomputer and HPC-as-a-Service, and Cloud gaming. It turns out that these two markets, as distinct as they are on paper, are almost equivalent in terms of revenue. NVIDIA released its GeForce NOW Cloud Gaming service last month. Phil Eisler, VP and General Manager of GeForce NOW met Yohann Tschudi, Market and Technology Analyst at Yole Développement. Find below their exchange to understand what the stakes, issues and opportunities for NVIDIA in this new gaming world are.
Yohann Tschudi (YT): Could you please introduce your mission within NVIDIA and Cloud Gaming?
Phil Eisler (PE): The mission for GeForce NOW, the cloud gaming service available from NVIDIA, is to provide a high-performance PC gaming experience from the cloud to any supported device, whether Windows PC, Mac, SHIELD TV, or Android phone.
YT: Can you describe the cloud gaming solution proposed by NVIDIA?
PE: GeForce NOW builds on NVIDIA’s rich gaming legacy. We have a great understanding of PC gamers and what is important to them. As we built our service, we have leveraged our years of experience and technology leadership to ensure a world-class gaming experience.
GeForce NOW is a game streaming service that taps into the thriving PC gaming ecosystem by connecting gamers to the power of our world-class gaming GPUs in the cloud. Gamers can play the library of games they already own from the digital game stores, on nearly any device. Plus, GeForce NOW lets gamers expand their library with a growing list of supported PC games that are ready for instant play, including many of today’s most popular Free-to-Play PC games.
GeForce NOW is available today on PC, Mac, SHIELD TV and Android mobile in North America and Europe. It’s also available in Japan, Korea and Russia from GeForce NOW Alliance partners. Visit the service status website for a list of available servers.
GeForce NOW has two membership plans at launch: Free and Founders. The free plan gives members standard access to servers and gaming sessions of up to one-hour in duration. The Founders plan gives members priority access to servers and game sessions up to six hours. The Founders plan also provides members access to games with RTX ON, providing ray tracing on supported titles.
The Founders plan comes with a 90-day free trial, followed by a monthly membership rate of just $4.99 per month for the next 12 months.
Both plans come with unlimited sessions per day and support up to 1080p and 60fps streaming.
YT: What can tell us about the feedback from the beta version of GeForce Now? What were the major challenges you encountered, and which are left?
PE: Gamers loved the beta service, and all gamers who were on the beta service were migrated to a Free GeForce NOW account, automatically.
One advantage of a cloud gaming service is that we could make improvements and enhancements to the service in the cloud, and gamers would automatically get the benefits without having to change anything on their systems.
We worked for a number of years to optimize the game experience and minimize latency as we continued to build out the infrastructure. Gaming comes with certain expectations when we think about lag, graphics quality, performance and ease of use. We have been able to fine-tune our service based on what we have learned over the years.
YT: GeForce Now has been released on the 5th of February. What made you confident in leaving beta mode?
PE: The necessary pieces of the solution – data center infrastructure, hardware configurations, server software stack, and client interface applications were all available and performing at the level we know gamers expect and enjoy from NVIDIA. We will continue to improve GeForce NOW over time, but it’s clearly ready to be out of beta.
YT: Competition promises to be tough. Was the beta successful enough for you to officially release the service on February 5th, or did you feel that you had to release it earlier due to competition from Stadia?
PE: GeForce NOW has a different business model than the competition – we are effectively providing a top-quality, high-performance gaming PC in the cloud. We connect gamers to existing PC game stores to play the games that they own or new games they buy on those stores. Once they purchase a game from one of the digital game stores, gamers own it and can take it with them if they leave our service.
Not every gamer is ready or able to buy or upgrade a device that can play the latest games at the quality and performance necessary to enjoy today’s popular PC games. GeForce NOW transforms nearly any device into a high-end gaming PC.
Our goal has always been to ensure a certain quality of experience before removing the beta designation. We reached that level, and it was time to bring the service to more users.
YT: How does Nvidia plan on seizing the advantage in this race?
PE: We focus on gamers that enjoy free-to-play PC games like Fortnite, or that already own games on the popular PC game stores.
We believe the value proposition and experience of GeForce NOW for people wanting to play PC games will be hard to beat. With both free and premium service options, both of which offer a great gaming experience, gamers who don’t have the best gaming system at home will be able to play the latest games, and play with their friends who do have the most current gaming PCs.
YT: Other types of competition are already powerful. Do you consider Netflix or Disney as competitors, as in video streaming vs cloud gaming?
PE: Consumers have many choices when it comes to entertainment options. Increasingly, they like to spend time playing interactive video games with their friends. GeForce NOW is well positioned to make PC gaming more accessible than ever before.
YT: Is Cloud gaming a revolution in the gaming industry? Will it attract a significant number of new players or players from other platforms?
PE: There are over 1 billion PC gamers in the world. Around 200 million are playing on a GeForce PC. Therefore, we believe that GeForce NOW can deliver a high-performance GeForce gaming experience to five times more people.
And many of those gamers who get excited by the experience of a high-performance gaming system in the cloud will want to buy or build a similar system for their home. We expect that will lead to many new GeForce gamers.
YT: At Yole, we see latency as a critical parameter. How will you manage to have a minimum latency as it depends on multiple factors, including networks and telecom companies’ developments?
PE: Latency is a key factor for cloud gaming, and we recommend for GeForce NOW that good internet connectivity be available, ideally 25Mbps or more, with a minimum 15Mbps via wired internet or 5 GHz Wi-Fi. We’re seeing that GeForce NOW data centers deliver round-trip delays of 20ms or less to 80% of the broadband homes in North America and Europe.
A number of our GeForce NOW alliance partners offer their own services based on GeForce NOW, and will have 5G and local edge servers in place to minimize latency as well. By placing our RTX gaming servers on the Edge of alliance partner networks, we are able to reduce the network latency to 10ms round trip times. We partner today with LGU+ in Korea, Softbank in Japan and GFN.RU and Rostelecom in Russia.
YT: Transitional players are players that used to play high quality video games in the past but not anymore because of work and/or children. We think they are interested in Cloud gaming to feel the pleasure of playing high graphics quality video games again on their phone or tablet, for example. Are they a good target? More generally, who do you think will be interested in Cloud gaming?
PE: We believe these “lapsed PC gamers” are great candidates for GeForce NOW and will be prime candidates for joining the service.
GeForce NOW saves gamers time by eliminating digital downloads and patch updates. Therefore, it is a great option for people who just want to play for 30 minutes without waiting.
We also see many Mac users on GeForce NOW, as it lets them play games with high performance that are not even available natively on a Mac.
YT: Do you want to say anything else to our readers?
PE: The PC gaming industry is going strong, and GeForce NOW is another service to continue the growth of that industry.
Cloud gaming is in its early days, and we expect to see a lot of experimentation and growth over the next few years.
We’re very excited about all the possibilities.
Phil Eisler leads a team of engineers who are striving to deliver an incredible gaming experience from the cloud to your TV, PC, Tablet and Phone by adding GeForce GRID into cloud gaming servers. Phil joined NVIDIA in 2009 to work on 3D Vision stereoscopic gaming and sees great potential to deliver S3D games to 3DTVs via the cloud. He has been working on improving GPUs for 20 years.
As a Technology & Market Analyst, Yohann Tschudi, PhD is a member of the Semiconductor & Software division at Yole Développement (Yole). Yohann is daily working with Yole’s analysts to identify, understand and analyze the role of the software parts within any semiconductor products, from the machine code to the highest level of algorithms. Market segments especially analyzed by Yohann include big data analysis algorithms, deep/machine learning, genetic algorithms, all coming from Artificial Intelligence (IA) technologies.
After his thesis at CERN (Geneva, Switzerland) in particle physics, Yohann developed a dedicated software for fluid mechanics and thermodynamics applications. Afterwards, he served during 2 years at the University of Miami (FL, United-States) as a research scientist in the radiation oncology department. He was involved in cancer auto-detection and characterization projects using AI methods based on images from Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI). During his research career, Yohann has authored and co-authored more than 10 relevant papers.
Yohann has a PhD in High Energy Physics and a master degree in Physical Sciences from Claude Bernard University (Lyon, France).
High-Performance Computing and cloud gaming are setting the bar for leadership in the high-end CPU and GPU markets.
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