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How Cloud Gaming will Become THE Way to Publish and Play Games

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Consumers want great gaming experiences that look fantastic, run smoothly, and are ready to go whenever the urge to play strikes. Game developers want to oblige them, delivering compelling, innovative, and, crucially, frictionless gaming experiences to engage as many players as possible.

Streaming games from the cloud is poised to be the next dramatic evolution in the dynamics of the gaming world. The shift to the cloud promises to significantly change how both parties achieve their goals within a worldwide gaming market. New cloud services from popular cloud service providers (CSPs) and game manufactures, and other bellwethers of the gaming world have changed the conversation about games consumption and delivery.

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With the introduction of the new AMD Radeon™ PRO V620 GPU, AMD is positioned to take cloud gaming to the next level by enabling cloud platforms to reach their full potential for both gaming consumers and developers. Built with the latest AMD RDNA™ 2 architecture, the AMD Radeon PRO V620 GPU delivers 72 compute units, hardware-based ray-tracing technology, two VNC engines (Video Next Core), and a massive 32GB of GDDR6 memory. Ahead we’ll unpack what all that capability means for gamers and developers. But first, let’s identify some of the hurdles cloud gaming needs to clear to become the new standard for gaming.

 

Five top challenges facing cloud gaming 

  • Latency/response times -- the speed with which game data is processed at the data center and the rate at which data flows between users and cloud gaming data centers are the critical factors determining the user’s experience. 
  • Game complexity -- AAA game developers are known for pushing the visual experience offered by their titles to new heights of sophistication, and expectations are increasingly high for mobile games. New gaming technologies such as VR (virtual reality) and AR (augmented reality) offer thrilling, immersive experiences. Techniques such as ray-tracing, which models light to deliver darker shadows and bright, accurate reflections, make for more immersive and cinematic experiences. These technologies require powerful graphics acceleration and fast encoding that are made possible with dedicated graphics processing resources.
  • Device choice -- Gamers use every endpoint device possible, including TVs, mobile devices, smartphones, tablets, consoles, laptops. Transcoding content to these different devices requires low latency processing and the flexibility to deliver the optimal resolution to each device.
  • Economy-of-scale and cost-effectiveness -- Most of today’s cloud gaming deployments are one-to-one passthrough experience. That means an entire gaming platform or graphics processor located in the cloud is provisioned to support a single gamer. For cloud gaming platforms to make economic sense, they need to realize similar efficiencies that data centers and the cloud provide to large-scale SaaS applications and data services in other industries. That means catering to more users per cloud resource. Sharing the costs of cloud resources across more users creates better economies of scale. High density also optimizes the use of resources, reducing the amount of time resources are idle.
  • Re-tuning data centers to the frequency of gaming -- data centers have traditionally been designed to ensure reliability, stability, and longevity, all things gamers and developers can appreciate. However, to deliver those characteristics, data centers are usually slow to make changes. Major component upgrades can be disruptive to user experiences, and even driver updates are developed and tested over long periods. Those approaches are at odds with expectations in the gaming world. Gamers expect, even demand, access to the latest features and game optimizations. Performance outweighs stability, although ultimately, both are expected. Cloud gaming needs to deliver game optimizations and gaming features far faster than is usual in the datacenter world.

 

Gaming is hard-coded into the DNA of AMD.  That heritage is repeatedly expressed in the form of new, dominant CPU and GPU architectures that drive generations of high-performance consoles and gaming PCs. AMD is all about gaming.

AMD even powers the world’s most remarkable supercomputers, including the next-generation Frontier exascale supercomputer poised to come online at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. AMD knows how to deliver GPU muscle at a massive scale.

The V620 GPU is the product of all that experience across the entirety of AMD. It is the result of years of development effort. The V620 GPU is purpose-built to deliver efficient, low latency content streaming to multiple simultaneous users. From AAA blockbuster titles to arcade and mobile games, each V620 GPU makes it possible to deliver a great gaming experience to a few, or to many players, while allowing each gamer to choose their preferred device.

 

Meeting the challenges facing cloud gaming 

Here are how V620 helps the cloud gaming world address some of the most significant hurdles we identified above:

  • Dramatic latency reduction -- The inclusion of two VNC engines enables each V620 GPU to process double the encode/decode/transcode operations. Those engines take full advantage of AMD infinity Cache technology, which provides each graphics engine with the bandwidth it needs to access data instantaneously. Two VCN engines can provide faster rendering during gameplay, greater efficiency for encoding and decoding live-streamed content, and concurrent transcoding. The result is low latency, high-performance content streaming for a range of different sized end-point devices.
  • Support for sophisticated gaming experiences -- The latest AMD RDNA 2 architecture delivers exceptional performance and efficiency while the V620’s 72 compute units deliver powerful simultaneous graphics processing. With two VNC engines built directly on the V620, each engine can be dedicated to encode/decode for a single eye of a VR headset, reducing latency and processing times. AMD is working hard with its VR/AR technology partners to further optimize these capabilities.
  • Real-time ray tracing -- Built-in hardware ray tracing (powered by 72 Ray accelerator engines), the same capabilities in the latest generation of consoles, and the graphics engine support of the latest Vulkan® and DirectX® 12  compounds the ways the V620 GPU can leverage this technology to deliver deeper shadows and crisper reflections in games for the best cinematic experiences.
  • Economies and cost-effective cloud game hosting/streaming -- the V620 GPU is a powerful server GPU. When games are hosted using standard application container software such as Docker® or Kubernetes®, V620 GPU is well suited to deliver multi-user gaming experiences. 32GB of GDDR6 memory makes it possible for each V620 GPU to support multiple players for AAA game titles that require 6-8GB. Alternatively, a single V620 GPU can support a horde of gamers playing esports, mobile, and arcade games.

 

What V620 Means for Gamers

Cloud gaming with V620 GPUs opens the door to a gaming nirvana for players. With its ability to transcode gaming content in real-time for virtually any endpoint device, the V620 GPU gives players the flexibility to choose almost any device they prefer, or whatever is handy, and play wherever they are. Regardless of device, the V620 GPU can stream the same game or content, virtually anywhere. The expanding availability of high-speed networking, such as 5G, and proliferation of V620-backed edge compute help ensure a low-latency, high-performance experience practically anywhere, to any device.

Because the entire game application is in the cloud, developers can add updates and new content to the game often without requiring any downloads, installation, or other efforts by consumers. In addition, thoroughly tested drivers are kept up to date by the datacenter, ensuring the most up-to-date experience for gamers. Gamers can look forward to new, innovative social media experiences like that of as developers and service providers leverage hosted services’ proximity and integration opportunities. It could also be suggested that gaming could become the social media or community engagement of the future, with discussions revolving around the metaverse topic.  

 

A New Game for Developers

With more developers looking to the cloud as a cost-effective, flexible platform for their production pipeline, they’ll also have opportunities to publish faster as a result of a more simplified process. Instead of developing and validating a game to meet the requirements of different end point platforms and APIs, games are instead developed and validated just once for data center that's powering the cloud streaming service.

Once a game is ready to deploy, it can be migrated from the developer’s production environment to their streaming service entirely in the cloud. Streaming from the cloud using V620’s high-performance transcoding effectively eliminates the need to port game applications to support different platforms. When it’s time to update or add new content, changes can be made quickly usually without requiring users to take any action. That means fewer opportunities for issues or frustration.

The V620 GPU is also based on the same “Navi” architecture used by many of today’s high-performance PCs and consoles. This means developers can build and test their games on the same architecture they're familiar with. And developing and deploying on the same architecture will also help increase the likelihood of eradicating bugs before distribution.

 

Cloud gaming is new, but it has already begun to significantly impact the industry’s trajectory, offering benefits across the entire landscape from development to play. With the arrival of the V620 GPU, we are witnessing a perfect confluence of cloud compute, high-bandwidth/low latency networks, and gamer engagement using a widening variety of devices in ever more varied locales. The V620 GPU is the critical datacenter technology cloud gaming needs to meet performance, cost, and experience expectations.

 

Resources:

  • AMD Radeon PRO V620 Landing page - Link
  • AMD Radeon PRO V620 Press release - Link
  • Game Development in the cloud blog - Link

 

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.