by Phil Eisler

A couple weeks ago, we unveiled NVIDIA GeForce GRID, our cloud gaming platform. Now that the dust has settled, we’d like to provide a bit more detail on what you’ll be able to expect from it.

Let’s start with what GeForce GRID is. It enables video games to be delivered to you just like video on demand. Just as video on demand makes it easier to enjoy movies, games on demand will make it easier to enjoy games. No more messing with discs, waiting for digital downloads or installing driver and patch updates. Just open a browser and play on any device. And if you have a new Smart TV with cloud gaming support, then all you have to do is plug in an Ethernet cable and USB gamepad to play—no console required.

GeForce GRID is comprised of GeForce GPUs, which gamers know and love. But they’ve been redesigned to fit into a server in the cloud. GeForce GRID GPUs have the same key gaming features as GeForce GPUs, but include additional technology that makes them perfectly suited for cloud gaming:

  • Advanced on-chip H.264 video encoder that’s optimized for wide area networking (WAN) and supports remote displays
  • Ultra-fast frame buffer and render target capture APIs that reduce latency
  • Multi-GPU boards that are passively cooled, providing high-game density and efficient cooling in a data center

Combined, these technologies allow for the efficient, low-latency rendering of games in a remote data center to be streamed in standard H.264 format to any display device with a decoder – including TVs, PCs, tablets, smartphones and iOS devices. And since it is NVIDIA GeForce-based, thousands of PC games just work and can be streamed.

Cloud gaming today is typically done on a 5 Mbps connection at 720p30Hz, and the latency can be as good as 150 milliseconds on a GeForce GRID server. This is a very similar experience to what you get with today’s game consoles over HDMI on a TV. However, with the NVIDIA GeForce GRID in the server room, you’ll also get the latest graphical improvements, such as advanced lighting, anti-aliasing, physics and tessellation.

Hardcore gamers will still want to use local GeForce boards, such at the GTX 680 or GTX 690, because they can play at resolutions of 1080p-plus, and the latency of a local PC and monitor is only about 75 milliseconds. GeForce GRID cloud gaming is a good option for more casual gamers or for mainstream gamers who want to play PC games on a other devices, such as TVs and tablets.

To be clear, GeForce GRID isn’t a gaming service. It’s a platform product that we sell to gaming-as-a-service (GaaS) operators. While everyone is familiar with music streaming services from Pandora and Spotify, and movie-streaming services from Netflix and Vudu, game-streaming services are only beginning to surface. Gaikai, which is a pioneer in this area, has a free demo that you can try in your browser at http://www.gaikai.com/games.

Today, NVIDIA supplies almost all GaaS startups with GPUs, including Gaikai, Playcast, Ubitus, CiiNow and G-Cluster. In the months ahead, we expect many of them to introduce improved gaming services to the public based on GeForce GRID technology, either directly or perhaps through your cable or telephone company.

At NVIDIA, our mission is to help you enjoy video games more. We like the convenience and multiplatform capability of cloud gaming. We’re investing in GeForce GRID so that GaaS operators can stream better games to you. We hope you like it as much as we do.