Image courtesy of Nvidia
Last night Nvidia kicked off CES 2013 with an impressive keynote. Honestly I really would expect nothing less from a cutting edge company like Nvidia, and was hoping to see more than just the obvious “next version” of their mobile and desktop hardware. Everyone knows that after the Tegra 3 comes the Tegra 4, that is obvious and usually overstated with speculation leading up to these releases. But I actually saw some “new style” technology that genuinely got me excited.
Image courtesy of Nvidia
The keynote started off with some good numbers and fancy GPU and Technology naming aliases. To most this is somewhat boring stuff to most, but very exiting technology to gaming geeks and processing guru’s. Once narrowed down to some understandable information. Nvidia announced their entry into the “cloud gaming” environment. Who better to get into this market then the king’s of the graphics domain themselves. The GRID gaming system comes to us in form of a 20 server rack setup. To compare the power of the GRID they throw out specs of 240 GPU’s and 200 Teraflops or processing power. This equals out to the combined graphics power of 700 Xbox 360′s. Surely it’s not something that will find a home in your basement, because the whole premise behind is to process all the graphics resources in the “cloud”, and stream it to the consumer on low-level, desktop and portable devices.
NVIDIA GRID is the foundation for the ideal on-demand gaming service, providing tremendous advantages over traditional console gaming systems.
Any-device gaming: High-quality, low-latency, multi device gaming on any PC, Mac, tablet, smart phone, and TV.
Click-to-play simplicity: Anytime access to a library of gaming titles and saved games in the cloud. Play or continue games from any device, anywhere.
Less hassle: No new hardware. No complicated setup. No game discs. No digital downloads. No game installations. No game patches.
Cloud based gaming is nothing new of course, but so far has yet to set the world on fire and take over console or PC/MAC based gaming. Nvidia could prove just to be another player in a slowly growing market, but you can bet they certainly have the resources to pull it off. Playing full version games (maxed out on graphics), all while on the road using my Nvidia or Other based laptop, tablet, or portable device sounds pretty perfect to me. As a pretty frequent traveler, I would definitely put this tech to good use. I do have splashtop installed and it does work pretty well if I have a fast remote connection. Otherwise I am stuck playing mobile games on my Nexus 7 using a controller. Obviously we’ll get more in the coming months, depending on price, this could allow people with lower end systems to enjoy the latest and greatest games, whether at home or on the road.
The Tegra 4 is finally official. It’s not really earth shattering news because obviously the Tegra 3 was last year, that means the Tegra 4 is this year. Most notable news with the Tegra 4 is that in combination with their new Icera chipset, the Tegra 4 supports LTE natively. Again only to be expected, but with recent releases of phones and tablets not being able to utilize the Tegra platform with LTE, this is good news for everyone. The new CPU/GPU is based on the Quadcore A15 chip vs. the current Quadcore A9, and to top it all off it packs 72 GPU’s, yes seventy-two. The 5th ninja core is still there, only waking when necessary and quietly sipping small amounts of power otherwise. We know the Tegra 3 is a mean machine, so likely the Tegra 4 will purely dominate wherever the Tegra 3 leads today. Nvidia’s CEO even through in a poke at Apple stating that the Tegra 4 is faster than the current A6X. Not that I expect it to be slower since this is now 2013 where as the iPad 4 is a 2012 product and currently released.
NVIDIA GeForce® GPU with 72 custom cores – Enjoy a variety of unique mobile device innovations in media, gaming, and web—including WebGL and HTML5.
Computational photography architecture – This new mobile architecture fuses together the processing power of the CPU, GPU, and ISP to allow device makers to dramatically enhance mobile imaging. This enables the first Always-on HDR camera with features like live HDR preview, instant HDR photos, HDR video, HDR burst, and HDR Flash.
LTE capability – Tegra 4 leverages proven Icera technology in an optional chipset to deliver exceptional mobile communication capability.
I expect to see a whole bunch a new devices this year packing both LTE and the Tegra powerhouse. Not only Android devices but Windows 8(RT) as well. This forces the competition to pull out the stops too since LTE is no longer a problem. I am hoping the chips stay on par with current power consumption as well as current price for manufacturers. Tegra 4 is here, and so far by the numbers looks like a pretty killer package.
Image courtesy of Nvidia
After the Tegra 4 announcement I really didn’t expect too much more out of Nvidia, especially not a portable gaming system call Project Shield. Shield is a Tegra 4 powered mobile gaming device that packs a bit more punch than what we are used to on the mobile front. Mobile gaming has become pretty standard these days across all device platforms. You have “i” devices with arguably the best gaming catalog closely followed by the huge assortment of Android devices and a pretty hefty portfolio of games as well. Project Shield is a portable handheld gaming system with potential of a console replacement. We’ve heard that before and nothing yet has hit that mark, but the difference between this and others is that Project Shield has the power of the GRID cloud gaming system behind it. Let’s look at the device itself to see how it stacks up.
- Vanilla Android experience (Jellybean). No skins, UI’s, enhancements. Pure AOSP direct from Google.
- Xbox/PS3 controller form factor. Similar button layout, complete with triggers, bumpers and dual analog sticks. Full size “console class”
- Tegra 4 inside. Complete with all 72 GPU’s and 5 CPU cores under the hood
- Port friendly. micro USB, HDMI out (4K compatible), Audio out, SD card slot, 802.11n wireless
- 5 inch, 720P multi-touch Retinal display, (I would have chosen another name, but that’s just me)
- Tuned base reflex audio. Nvidia claims it puts HP Beats Audio to shame. 2 built-in speaker
- 33 Wh battery, good for 5 -10 hours of gameplay, and up to 24 hours of video playback
- customizable backplates
The hardware is quite impressive, especially since it’s tucked nicely away in a small controller form factor. The software and overall game experience in perhaps the most intriguing. Of course you know that the controller supports pretty much any game on the Android market. That is clearly a given, especially those available in the Tegrazone. The thing that possibly sets this apart is the ability to connect to your PC (must be running a dedicated 6 Series Nvidia GPU) via Steam, and playing your full feature PC games right on the device itself or via wireless or HDMI out to your big screen. There were a few bugs during the presentation. But in the end they were scrolling through their STEAM library and playing Need for Speed and Assassins Creed III on an LG 4K TV. Before you get too eager remember that you probably have to be on the same network, and you must have a 6 Series GPU in your desktop. This is good news for all the gamers out there. I feel that lately consoles have really been taking over but I myself as well as a couple of us here on Gear Diary and old school PC gamers, complete with home-built machines and hand chosen hardware.
I can imagine sitting in my living room, wirelessly streaming one of my STEAM titles to my Samsung Flat Screen and surround sound. I love gaming on my desktop and not all games are good for controller, but for those like AC3 that are, this would be truly amazing. Aside from that the Tegra 4 flawlessly filled a 4K resolution LG TV, and looked simply fantastic. I can’t imagine Sony, Nintendo, and Microsoft were completely caught by surprise with Nvidia’s entry into the portable gaming market. But I do think that a highly portable system with impressive hardware, the Android Market, TegraZone, and your STEAM library is some serious competition. I am guessing a $299 price point to keep it within consumer budgets, hopefully we more info sooner than later with Project Shield.