Cloud gaming at 4K still years away, Nvidia CEO says

Changes needed at server and infrastructure level to support 4K game streaming from Internet, Jen-Hsun Huang said

Nvidia's Jen-Hsun Huang showing GeForce GTX980 Ti at Computex in Taipei

Nvidia's Jen-Hsun Huang showing GeForce GTX980 Ti at Computex in Taipei

Don't expect online games to stream to your TV or PC at 4K resolution anytime soon.

While it is possible to stream 4K movies from online services like Netflix to PCs, TVs and set-top boxes, streaming games from the cloud requires many infrastructure changes, said Jen-Hsun Huang, CEO of Nvidia, during a media briefing at Computex.

Nvidia can currently stream 1080p games at 60 frames per second from its Grid online gaming service, but the technology needs to be developed for 4K streaming and a lot of fine-tuning is needed at the server level, Huang said.

"It's going to be a while," Huang said.

Many 4K TVs and monitors are already available, and display images at the 3840 x 2160-pixel resolution. Games typically require two-way communications, and servers process bits related to games differently than video streams.

Nvidia currently uses high-end GPUs on the server side for the Grid service to optimize games for Internet connections. The resolution of the game stream, however, depends on the quality of the connection, and streaming 4K games would likely require faster Internet connections.

The company already has the hardware to support 4K game streaming with its new Shield TV console announced last week. The console runs Android TV and can also stream movie shows at the 4K resolution from Netflix.

But Huang said improvements will keep coming to its cloud gaming service, which is how Nvidia prefers to deliver games to living rooms. Cloud gaming is convenient because you just click and play, and it doesn't involve the inconvenience of buying discs or downloading gigabytes of data, Huang said.

Nvidia's gaming service is based on the Android OS, which is mainly a mobile platform, which will evolve into an Internet-based gaming platform over time, Huang said. The company offers a separate Shield tablet, which supports 1080p cloud gaming.

Nvidia on Monday also announced the GeForce GTX980 Ti graphics processor, which will bring 4K gaming to desktops at 45 frames per second.

Agam Shah covers PCs, tablets, servers, chips and semiconductors for IDG News Service. Follow Agam on Twitter at @agamsh. Agam's e-mail address is agam_shah@idg.com

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