Nvidia’s Shield console uses a range of tricks to reduce latency during game play.
In an age where songs and movies are routinely streamed online, the chip maker Nvidia believes it has cracked a major technical problem that has limited streaming for video games.
在這個已經慣於線上串流聽歌和看電影的時代，晶片商 Nvidia 相信它們已經被突破了用串流方式玩電動遊戲的主要技術限制。
Game consoles are hugely popular, but they rely on data stored on DVDs and computer hardware that can quickly become outdated. Nvidia’s new entertainment system, called Shield, uses several hardware and software tricks to deliver games run on remote supercomputers with as little latency as possible, theoretically eliminating the need for owners to buy a new, more powerful version of the console every few years.
遊戲主機廣受大家歡迎，但是主機仰賴的保存於 DVD 上的資料和硬體設備卻很容易過時。這個名叫「Shield」的 Nvidia 的新型娛樂系統，採取了數種軟硬體手段，想盡辦法在最短的延遲下，遞送運行在遠端的超級電腦上的遊戲。理論上避免了玩家每隔一兩年就要重買一台新的，運算能力更強的遊戲主機的必要。
At a press conference at the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco this week, Nvidia’s CEO, Jen-Hsun Huang, claimed that Shield goes further than anything else to speed up games streamed at high resolution. “From the point at which I click a button to the moment that input is rendered on screen is less than 150 milliseconds,” he said. That would be similar to the performance of a PlayStation or Xbox playing a game on a DVD.
本週舊金山 GDC 的記者招待會上，Nvidia CEO 黃仁勳宣布 Shield 甚至更進一步加速了高解析度串流遊戲，他說「從我按下按鈕到畫面出現反應，只需要不到 150 毫秒。」這已經相當接近於在 PS 或者 XBox 上玩 DVD 遊戲片的表現了。
Andrew Fear, product manager for Grid, Nvidia’s game-streaming service, told MIT Technology Review that the company has been working to shave milliseconds of latency from each stage of the process, ensuring that a game will run smoothly even over subpar Internet connections. Nvidia did this in part by creating custom hardware and software that rapidly turns graphical imagery into data that can be streamed across the Internet.
Nvidia 的遊戲串流服務「Grid」的產品經理 Andrew Fear 告訴 MIT 科技評論，公司一直不斷地努力削除流程上每個環節的毫秒延遲，確保遊戲即使在網路連線欠佳的情況下依舊能順暢進行。Nvidia 甚至特製了一些軟體和硬體設備，好讓圖形影像可以迅速地轉換成網路串流數據。
Fear said, however, that performance would depend on a user’s location. When the service launches, games will be streamed from one of four locations: eastern United States, western United States, Ireland, and Japan. “We know that if you’re within 30 to 40 milliseconds from our data center [about half the distance from New York to London], then typically your latency in the home will be around 150 milliseconds,” he said.
然而 Fear 說，遊戲的表現將取決於用戶的位置所在。當串流服務啟動後，遊戲串流會由以下四個地點之一送出：美東、美西、愛爾蘭或日本。「我們知道，如果你距離我們的資料中心 30 到 40 毫秒，差不多是紐約到倫敦距離的一半，那你家的延遲就差不多是 150 毫秒。」
The Shield console will launch in the U.S. in May for a one-off fee of $199 with two subscription packages for its Grid video game-streaming service (owners can also buy and download video game titles at full price). One subscription package will allow games to be streamed at slightly lower resolution and frames-per-second than a conventional console. A premium option will offer a resolution and frame rate that’s comparable to a conventional console.
Shield 遊戲機今年五月將在美國啟動服務，199美刀包含一次性費用和兩個 Grid 遊戲訂閱串流服務。(玩家當然也可以用原價格購買並下載遊戲)。訂閱的串流遊戲解析度和FPS會比原本遊戲稍低。有額外付費的選項可以提升到如傳統遊戲機般的解析度和FPS。
Grid is not the first attempt at a cloud-based video game service. A company called OnLive pioneered the idea five years ago (see 10 Breakthrough Technologies 2011: Cloud Streaming), and in 2012, Sony bought Gaikai, another cloud gaming company, for $380 million. Gaikai’s technology is now available as PS Now.
Grid 並不是第一家嘗試雲端遊戲的服務平台。一個名叫 OnLive 的公司五年前首創了這個概念。2012年 Sony 用 3.8 億元買下的 Gaikai 是另一家雲端遊戲公司。Gaikai 的技術現在用於 PS。
Previous efforts have suffered from excessive latency—the time between making an input on the controller and seeing the result on the screen. Players often grow frustrated when a game takes a fraction of a second too long to register their input. Techniques used to reduce latency for games could also improve other online services, such as videoconferencing and high-resolution movie streaming.
Grid’s games are powered by supercomputers built using Nvidia’s chips, located in its data centers. According to Huang, the hardware used to run each game is “twice as powerful as the most powerful games console in the world today.”
Grid 上的遊戲都由位於資料中心內，採用 Nvidia 晶片建造的超級電腦提供支持的。根據 CEO 黃先生的說法，每個用於遊戲的硬體設備的運算能力「比現在世界上最強的遊戲主機還要強大兩倍。」
Nvidia isn’t creating games for the service, but it will offer 50 of the latest PC titles at launch, with more in subsequent weeks. Players can also buy and download games onto the machine, which is also the first console box able to stream video in 4K—an ultra-high-definition video format for some televisions.
Nvidia 本身並不為這個串流服務創造新遊戲，但是這個服務一開始就會提供 50 款最新的 PC 遊戲，並在接下來數週提供更多。玩家也可以購買並下載遊戲到這台主機上。這也是第一台有能力串流 4k 超高解析度影片的遊戲主機。