AMD Reveals Cloud Supercomputer, Plans to Stream 'Next-Gen' Video Games via Server-side Rendering

By Chris Faylor, Jan 09, 2009 9:00am PST During a presentation at this year's Consumer Electronics Show, computer hardware manufacturer AMD and middleware developer OTOY unveiled plans for a new supercomputer they believe will revolutionize entertainment.

By calculating all relevant data sever-side and then streaming the results to online devices, AMD claims the platform can bring video games and other "graphically-intensive applications" to "virtually any type of mobile device with a web browser without making the device rapidly deplete battery life or struggle to process the content."

"Imagine playing the most visually intensive first person shooter game at the highest image quality settings on your cell phone without ever having to download and install the software, or use up valuable storage space or battery life with compute-intensive tasks," teased AMD digital media and entertainment director Charlie Boswell.

In the announcement, video game publisher Electronic Arts expressed its optimism, saying that it looks "forward to the new customers we can reach and the new interactive expressions that emerge from revolutionary technology like the AMD Fusion Render Cloud," and was joined on-stage by Lucasfilm, Dell and HP.

A demonstration of the technology saw the EA-published, Pandemic-developed Mercenaries 2: World In Flames streamed to a HP Pavilion dv2 notebook.

Boswell detailed another possible use, suggesting that users could watch a movie on their cell phone, then "seamlessly" continue the movie on their HDTV in full resolution when they get home. The supercomputer is also said to provide "remote real-time rendering of film and visual effects graphics."

Dubbed the "AMD Fusion Render Cloud," the supercomputer will be powered by AMD Phenom II processors, AMD 790 chipsets and ATI Radeon HD 4870 graphics processors. OTOY noted plans for the system to be ready by the second half of 2009, but it was unclear if OTOY was referencing its software or the supercomputer itself.

"Gaming companies can use the AMD Fusion Render Cloud for developing and deploying next-generation game content, to serve up virtual world games with unlimited photo-realistic detail, and take advantage of new delivery channels as open and diverse as the web itself," boasted AMD.

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46 Threads | 188 Comments

  • What the hell is this speed of light limitation bullshit? Just lemme throw out some fancy buzzwords like quantum computing and I got your solution right here!

    On a serious note: I think an idea like this can't take place on this kind of level with our current technology. Did anyone ask how many people they had playing on that Mercs 2 game? Was it a 30-man server? Or was it just a duplex connection? I could see something like this happening with future tech (and I mean, FUTURE), but not with current physical and cost limitations, as much as it would be cool to headshot someone on my cell phone.

  • This seems stupid. The entire concept is one of taking the most bandwidth intensive, latency sensitive thing and trying to make it work over the lowest bandwidth, highest latency link there is. Plus you're not using resources that are free to you (powerful end-user hardware) and investing in hardware to do this shit yourself.

    I'd be surprised if they could get this shit working in a state that we'd actually want to use on a LAN, much less over the internet. I don't really care if they can get something low-res and sorta not laggy working as a proof of concept if just running locally is going to always produce vastly superior results. And that's the thing, even if they got it working pretty well, unless hardware advancement stops the options for running locally are going to stay FAR better.

    Though I'm judging this mostly based on the "next gen" description. I see in the article that they seem to be targeting mobile devices, which makes more sense. However, I could see there being many applications of this that make sense much more than real gaming. (with smooth framerate, low latency, high resolution, etc)

  • still really doubt this would work for real time games in an actual online environment. The Mercs2 demo wasn't in the story when I originally commented, but even then it was probably running on a gigabit LAN.

    1280x720x4 bytes per pixel = 3,686,400 bytes or 29mbit. At 30fps that is 0.9 gbit/s

    Even if they drop to 16 bpp you're in the half gbit/s range. Of course you can compress the video for streaming, but that is going to add latency on the encode and decode.

    I'm they've thought about all of these issues, but they must be planning it mostly for LAN environments, or point and click style games. There's no way this could work online unless you're talking cell phone resolutions of ~320x240.

    And then what, do you plug your mouse and keyboard into your phone for input?

  • there are certain expectations that certain people have about certain things they do. wii players for instance don't care as much about the graphics or controls as a call of duty 4 pc multiplayer person.

    it is for this reason that technology like this DOES HAVE a place in the world. there are people who don't care about 900ms latency between pressing buttons on the cell phone and getting a response from their single player game. So you could sell the cloud version of crysis to them, and they'd buy it, and you'd make money from it, even though it sucked for certain other people.

    that said, we can't see the ceiling for mobile device performance yet, and so mobile hardware developments will continue to chase after the abilities granted by cloud computation. even though there could be a niche for this now, it could be snuffed away just as fast as it arrived