The NVIDIA Shield tablet is a solid gaming-centric device that has racked up some solid PC-port games since release. Now NVIDIA has returned at GDC with the announcement of a ‘set top gaming box’ that will be the world’s first 4K Android TV consumer product when it’s released, and also be loaded with great gaming features.
At GDC NVIDIA announced the Shield as combination “revolutionary TV”, “gaming console” and “supercomputer.” The Shield is more than a competitor to the Kindle Fire TV or Playstation Vita TV, and more of a full gaming console.
In terms of technology, the Shield runs on Nvidia’s Tegra X1 chip. The Tegra X1 chip is able to perform better than the Xbox 360 as it runs on DirectX 12, has 3GB of memory, and runs at a lower wattage. The Shield comes with 16GB of local storage, and a Bluetooth controller and remote that is responsive and intended for ‘serious gaming’, described as a ‘solid XBOX 360 controller clone’.
During the demo, the Shield was shown running Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel, and when released it will launch with over 50 Android titles, including Doom 3 BFG Edition, Crysis 3, and The Talos Principle.
How is that possible? It will use technology from TransGaming, the ‘middleware’ called Cedega which is a proprietary ‘fork’ of Wine, which is a software system that allows patching on Windows system calls to other operating systems. It naturally decays performance, but has become much more efficient over the last several years. The first game ported using Transgaming technology is Konami’s Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance.
Along with the Shield, NVIDIA announced Grid. Nvidia Grid will be a subscription service that promises to stream top-tier titles up to 1080p and 60 frames per second. They have a new page here for it, and it looks like a serious threat as they have gotten developers such as Crytek and Capcom onboard supporting the Shield and Grid.
For most serious gamers, the value of iOS and Android gaming has mostly been ‘time-wasters’ or ports of older games – but the Shield line has been slowly changing that. With these new announcements – great hardware, middleware to ease ports, and a game-streaming service all supported by big AAA publishers … Android gaming just got real.
The Nvidia Shield will retail for $199 and will come with a game controller when it launches in May 2015.