Google flexes its cloud muscles with StadiaSyah Ismail
Google had everyone in the gaming industry buzzing when they announced their game streaming platform called Stadia at the Game Developers Conference (GDC) on March 19 in San Francisco. What caught everyone’s attention was the promise of streaming games at 4K resolution and 60 frames per second (fps) without any latency on practically all smart devices including smartphones, laptops and TVs. And it is coming later this year.
How did Google manage to achieve this?
To power all of this game streaming, Google is leveraging its global infrastructure of data centres to ensure servers are as close to players around the world as possible. This is the same future-proof infrastructure that allows Google to return billions of search results in milliseconds, serve 6 billion hours of YouTube video per month and provide storage for 1 billion Gmail users. That’s a key part of Stadia, as lower latency is a necessity to stream games effectively across the internet.
Google has one of the largest and most advanced software-defined computer networks. Google’s backbone network has thousands of miles of fiber optic cable, uses advanced software-defined networking and has edge caching services to deliver fast, consistent and scalable performance. That is why gamers will only need a 30mbps internet connection to enjoy smooth game streaming at 4K resolution and 60 fps.
Google is partnering with AMD to build a custom GPU for its data centres. It’s a chip that will deliver 10.7 teraflops of power which is more than the 4.2 teraflops of the PS4 Pro and the 6 teraflops of power on the Xbox One X. Each Stadia instance will also be powered by a custom 2.7GHz x86 processor with 16GB of RAM.
The powerful hardware enables Google to utilise some of the best software and developer tools available for game developers. These include Vulkan next-gen cross-platform graphics and computing API with custom layers optimised for cloud-native gaming; Epic Games’ Unreal Engine; Unity; Havok, RenderDoc, Visual Studio, LLVM, AMD Radeon GPU Profiler, IncrediBuild, UmbraTM 3, FaceFX and many more.
Now that game developers are not limited to the hardware of a game console or PCs, several game publishers have already adjusted their long-term strategies to explore the possibilities of cloud gaming.
What else can Stadia do?
At GDC, Google also unveiled the Stadia controller. It features a dedicated Google Assistant button that enables new engagement scenarios, such as live gameplay help, firing up a multiplayer session, sharing gameplay clips and more. The Stadia controller’s share button enables you to take screenshots that can be shared with friends, as well as capture gameplay clips and post them to YouTube at the press of a button. And because the Stadia controller is connected directly to Google Cloud via WiFi, it is able to work seamlessly on all kinds of connected devices, including TVs, laptops, desktops, tablets and smartphones.
Google’s years of innovation and investment in cloud technology has it well positioned to finally crack the game streaming conundrum. It’s been a long time coming but the future of game streaming looks promising indeed. And with Google having plans to support up to 8K resolutions and 120 fps in the future, the sky is the limit for the gaming industry.