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Game-changing advances in game development with AWS and AMD

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The cloud is increasingly the de facto choice for centralizing IT infrastructure across a wide range of businesses and industries. Offering benefits including cost savings, reduced CapEx, flexibility, and scalability, the cloud is becoming the first choice for hosting internal and customer-facing workloads. With collaboration and remote work becoming norms, the cloud makes it easy to provide workers with the processing and shared data necessary to be productive in a dispersed team environment.

Now, game developers are taking a long, hard look at what the cloud can offer them. The cloud is particularly well-suited to the game development pipeline. The emergence of high-performance virtual desktops that offer workstations-class experiences delivered from the cloud makes it possible to support the breadth of needs for their most demanding projects. Businesses no longer need to ship big and expensive hardware to developers or concern themselves with the issues of sharing vast amounts of project data between teams in a de-centralised IT deployment. The cloud can offer virtual machines that can run key workstation applications for game development as well as share data quickly and efficiently as the data remains in the cloud. Content creators no longer need to download, work and reupload project data. Whether the best talent is working from home or located on the other side of the globe, the cloud lets game studios hire the right people for every requirement and quickly provision the tools they need for their job.

Better still, cloud platforms including AWS rely on the same AMD "Navi" graphics architecture used in high-performance gaming PCs and consoles. This means developers can build, test, and distribute to production seamlessly on the same architecture, simplifying workflows and reducing opportunities for errors. This is a great solution for developers working on today’s consoles and PC games. Alternatively, developing games for cloud gaming services have further benefits of developing and validating the game on the server that will host the cloud gaming service, reducing the need to recompile and recode for different user devices. Games can migrate from the production environment to the streaming service without leaving the cloud. 

Looking more deeply, we find some powerful workflow benefits available to game developers in the AWS Cloud powered by AMD processors.

 

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Optimized virtual workstations

Virtual machines delivered from the cloud make it possible for workers to be productive anywhere. Accessing critical digital tools and data using almost any device, staff can work as effectively from home and the road as in the office. And this includes workers who rely on high-performance, accelerated workstations. Powered by 2nd generation AMD EPYC™ CPUs and AMD Radeon™ PRO V520 “Navi” GPUs built on the latest 7nm “Zen 2” and AMD RDNA architectures, Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) G4ad instances accelerate demanding applications in the cloud.

G4ad instances provide GPU acceleration through APIs including OpenGL®, DirectX®, Vulcan®, or OpenCL™ to power today’s development applications. AMD enterprise-class drivers are tested and optimized to maximize performance and stability for independent and collaborative workflows. And finally, support for multi-monitor configurations and 4k resolution delivers excellent fidelity and efficient multitasking for content creators and developers. G4ad instances offer support for a range of advanced, remote protocols which can be quickly deployed with their available AMIs in the AWS marketplace, including  Parsec, Teradici and NICE DCV for outstanding remote user experiences,

 

Professional-caliber version control for collaboration

AWS supports Perforce, an enterprise-grade version control solution for development environments. This is a great benefit for collaborative environments as it can be used to help ensure that the most up-to-date assets are immediately available to artists, designers, managers, and other stakeholders in a game development project. The Perforce Helix Core visual client store distributes asset updates across the AWS instance, so when one artist stores an updated model, it becomes available to other artists on the project.

 

Explosive bursts of acceleration for Unreal Swarm

Epic Games Unreal Engine is the world's most open and advanced real-time 3D creation tool for photoreal visuals and immersive experiences. The Unreal Editor introduces advanced tools and features-sets to enable content creators and developers to push the boundaries of game and visual development while streamlining development processes and helping save time. A great example of this is Unreal Swarm.

Light baking for lightmaps in games is a notorious consumer of time and CPU resources. Artists and developers may be idle for hours per day while their machines process lightmap changes. Unreal Swarm is a widely-used orchestration and task distribution solution designed to reduce that time, distributing units of this work across multiple machines on a network to speed up the process. But even that is limited by the number of machines available on the network.

Tapping the vast compute resources of the cloud however, artists can use Unreal Swarm to call upon hundreds of cores of compute power to tear through their workload while keeping the other machines working on different critical tasks. Bursting to the cloud this way can reduce a process that typically takes hours each day down to a couple minutes. Better still, that burst may cost as little as a few dollars a day. And while Swarm is typically only used in conjunction with Lightmass to precompute lighting maps, the application is task agnostic and could be applied to other workloads – which is very exciting for the future of time saving tools in UE5.

 

Dramatically reduced compiling time

Similarly, it is possible to use Incredibuild acceleration software to burst compiling, testing, and other development workloads to the cloud. The Incredibuild solution helps accelerate processing by scheduling workload bursting across multiple C5a instances to utilize the massive quantity of available vCPUs cores. A process that might have seen a highly paid artist drinking coffee for hours while their local machine chugged along can be reduced to minutes. Recently, AWS has released the new C6a instances featuring AMD's 3rd generation EPYC processors which can offer even greater performance with these workloads. 

Furthermore, the amount of data that is transferred during the build to the multiple instances for processing can be as much as 100GBs. A task which would push the limitations on broadband throughput using a local device connected to the cloud instances. However, using G4ad instances overcomes these limitations with fast data transfer speeds through the cloud environment.

 

Born-in-the-cloud game development

Born-in-the-cloud development is a literal game-changer for game studios. Leveraging the almost unlimited processing, storage, and distribution resources the cloud offers makes for more efficient development processes and greater control over the bottom line.  G4ad instances powered by AMD CPUs and GPUs make it possible to deliver cost-effective virtual workstations with the GPU and CPU capability needed for the most demanding workflows, regardless of where contributors are located. And thanks to the tight-knit and experienced AMD partner network, games development studios can be cloud-deployment ready in weeks. For more information regarding solutions and services to help accelerate game development pipelines in the cloud, visit the AWS Game Tech website for more information.

 

Watch the Game development pipeline in action 

To access the public code of this sample pipeline, click here: Link

 

Resources:

George Watkins is a Product Marketing Manager for AMD. His postings are his own opinions and may not represent AMD’s positions, strategies or opinions. Links to third party sites are provided for convenience and unless explicitly stated, AMD is not responsible for the contents of such linked sites and no endorsement is implied. Third party marks are for informational purposes only and no endorsement of or by AMD is intended or implied.