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OnLive allows modern video games to be played without a traditional home console or a powerful PC

OnLive, a company founded by internet entrepreneur Steve Perlman, demonstrated its new video game delivery service at this year’s Game Developer Conference 2009. OnLive is a new system that deviates from the traditional way in which video game content is delivered and played using consoles and PCs.

OnLive games are not played off of media disc or local hard drive installs, but are instead processed on OnLive servers and delivered via broadband to the player using a low cost "micro console" or a low end PC or Mac.

The “micro console” is a small, low-cost device that does not contain a GPU and acts only as a video decoding control hub. The device will have two USB inputs and support for four Bluetooth devices, it will output audio and video via optical and HDMI connections.

In theory mainstream games such as F.E.A.R. 2, Bioshock, Far Cry Warhead, and Prince of Persia will be playable without the need of a powerful video game console or computer. The heavy processing will occur on OnLive’s servers and streamed back to the game player.

According to Kotaku, OnLive uses patented video compression technology combined with a system designed to compensate for lag and packet loss. OnLive will deliver video at up to 720p resolution and 60 frames per second. The Kotaku article states for standard definition television quality, a broadband connection of at least 1.5 megabits per second is required. For HDTV resolution, a connection of at least 5 mbps is needed. The OnLive technology is claimed to have a ping of less than one millisecond for video feeds.

The main benefit of OnLive is the need to have a powerful system locally is eliminated. Local installation of games is not necessary and hard drive storage space is no longer an issue. The power of the local system dictating the type of games that can be played would become less of an issue.

According to Kotaku the Crysis Wars demo of OnLive worked well enough in a controlled environment. Major game companies such as EA, Ubisoft, Take-Two, and Eidos have signed on and partnered with OnLive. A subscription based system for the OnLive service is planned and the company is currently searching for beta testers via their company website.

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By MatthiasF on 4/11/2009 1:25:39 AM , Rating: 2
1. It's possible to render directly from TMDS to a multi-resolution buffer that can be compressed and shuttled to end users in near real time ( Anyone who has used a remote access controller instead of software based remote access will attest to hardware-based video compression.

But with any differential signal, the size of the buffer and speed of the connection between determine the resolution that can be pushed through it.

2. I'm not sure how you came to three frames of delay. Since a ping is round-trip, each way would be (on average) 20ms in your example. That would allow for 50fps (1000 ms in a second, divided by 20 ms latency). That would be 10 lost frames if you're trying to push 60 fps.

Also, you're assuming the game interface is running in real-time. If it's buffered with a time offset, you can negate latency by sending larger proceeding chunks to fill in small gaps. Both sides can adjust what they send to the other depending on transmission differential, minimizing the user even noticing changes in network latency.

3. Imagine your computer can play a game at 1680x150@100 FPS. This is a pixel frame rate of 176.4 million pixels per second. Now imagine the scenario above, 1280x720@50 FPS, which is 46 million pixels per second. Roughly, that means your computer can handle nearly 4 720p renderings using the same processing power. Your own lil LAN party.

Add on efficiencies gained by using the lower resolution, textures shared in the same video memory on the server, content already loaded into RAM, all content residing on fast massive RAID systems, etc. etc., and you can see how the cloud computing concept can measure up.

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