Techerati: Cloud Gaming and The Role of Data Centres
Author: Chris Owens
What part will data centres have to play in the rollout of cloud gaming platforms such as Google Stadia?
The hunt for a “Netflix or Spotify for video gaming” has proven something of an elusive search so far. Live streaming services for video games aren’t anything new, but the results to date haven’t lived up to the high expectations of gamers.
However, all the major tech giants are gearing up to launch their own cloud gaming platforms in the coming months. Established platforms like PlayStation Now will go head-to-head with Google’s Stadia and Microsoft xCloud. Amazon will join the party too, while even supermarket chain Walmart is rumoured to be building its own service.
All these bold ideas will thrive or falter on whether they can provide the super-fast, low latency experience customers are demanding. As we explain to data centre news website Techerati, edge computing will have a huge say in the success or failure of all these concepts.
What Is Cloud Gaming?
In essence, cloud gaming is live streaming for video games. The game itself doesn’t need to be downloaded onto a console or computer as it is stored, executed, and rendered on servers instead.
The concept means players don’t need to constantly upgrade their hardware. In theory, they can play on several devices and locations. And they can instantaneously “try before they buy” without having to download content.
In reality, previous attempts at “gaming on demand” – such as OnLive – failed mainly because of issues with latency. Cloud gaming relies on two-way interactions of gamers sending inputs to cloud servers whilst at the same time receiving the video and audio from the server.
OnLive’s processing power was focused on five major data centres, but the actual latency (150ms) was almost double what was promised (80ms), meaning players were left with inferior, laggy gameplay.
Edging Towards the Answer
So what’s different with today’s cloud gaming offerings? There are two main differences – next-generation superfast 5G and edge computing.
Stadia, for example, will harness the processing power of Google’s vast global network of data centres and edge nodes.
While 5G wireless networks will be capable of delivering the superfast speeds necessary in that crucial “last mile” to a gamer’s home.
We offer a word of caution though. Full market 5G penetration is likely several years away. While even Amazon or Google can only afford to install so many graphics processing units to offer the required connection speeds before the costs become uncontrollable.
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