NVIDIA Modernizes Gaming With Cloud Technologies, a New Portable and the Next-Gen Processor Driving It

by Bob Sherbin

In the first big announcement of this year’s Consumer Electronics Show, NVIDIA tonight described how it’s making gaming more accessible and more enjoyable.

A standing-room only crowd of nearly 500 heard CEO Jen-Hsun Huang introduce the company’s first-ever gaming portable, called Project SHIELD, and a set of cloud technologies that delivers games where and when you want them. He also unveiled the fourth-generation of NVIDIA’s Tegra mobile processor, loaded with graphics capability, which rests at the heart of the new device.

Jen-Hsun introducing Project Shield.
Introducing Project Shield.

Project SHIELD, a gaming portable for open platforms, is the centerpiece of a set of technologies that completes the fourth corner of the new digital personal-entertainment square. The first three corners are already well established.

Music became more portable with Apple’s iPod. Books went digital with Amazon’s Kindle. Movies got a whole new life from Netflix. Each had long been devoured contentedly, even greedily, by fans, devout and casual alike. Then, suddenly, a new piece of hardware and supporting technology appeared. It quickly became hard to imagine the entertainment form without it.

Gaming, it’s now apparent, is about to be similarly transformed. It’s, quite literally, about to be taken outside of the box.

Gaming Outside of the Box

For all its rollicking, crackling, head-snapping pleasures, the best gaming is largely tethered to a box, where high-powered GPUs perform highly complex calculations at lightning speed.

Jen-Hsun gave an update on NVIDIA’s strategy to snap the leash, by enabling this heavy lifting to be done in the cloud and then streamed instantly to the consumer. A half dozen pioneering companies are preparing to use it to deliver gaming services to broadband companies around the globe.

They’ll doing so by deploying the NVIDIA GRID Cloud Gaming Platform to offer the seamless interactivity of high-performance PC gaming on any connected screen. As a server with specialized hardware and sophisticated streaming and virtualization software, it simultaneously  delivers up to 36-times more HD-quality game streams than first-gen cloud-gaming systems. And it does so while reducing lag.

Solving the Omnivore’s Dilemma

Modern gamers are omnivores. They want to game across platforms, across genres, and do so where they want. Project SHIELD was designed for them.

An elegantly designed portable fitting snugly in the hand, Project SHIELD  is equipped with a finely tuned controller, a retinal quality five-inch screen and audio that blows out high-end laptops.

As an Android device, it flawlessly plays titles from Google’s Play store, providing precision controls unavailable until now. It’s also a wireless receiver that streams titles from a gaming PC (equipped with a GeForce GTX 650 GPU or better).

Android-optimized titles are available on NVIDIA’s TegraZone store, which already has 6 million downloads. And gamers can access PC titles from their STEAM catalogue.

Still going under its codename, Project SHIELD will be formally christened once it comes on the market.

Powering Project SHIELD

The muscle for Project SHIELD is Tegra 4, which Jen-Hsun introduced as the world’s most powerful mobile processor.

Its  72 GPU cores provides six-times the graphics muscle of its predecessor. And its quad-core Cortex-A15 CPU delivers exceptional speed. Among its talents is real-time HDR imaging, which provides photo and video images with great detail in high-contrast light-and-dark settings – even when using a flash or when taking burst shots.