This is part of our CES 2013 coverage. Our Editor-in-Chief is attending the event and we will provide you with the most informative stories. Our first one relates to something that has become synonymous with home entertainment: gaming.
The gaming industry has been at the forefront of computer development from the early years, and today it’s grown to a multi-billion dollar industry that defines home entertainment.
When you think of gaming, one name usually stands out from the rest, and that is nVidia, the manufacturer of some of the best and graphics equipment available today, but who has also made big steps in ensuring a future in the mobile world. With these under their belt, nVidia sets out to revolutionize the gaming industry and take it to the 21st century.
nVidia’s own gaming console: Project Shield
Presented at CES 2013, Project Shield, as it is known, is the very latest in gaming technology. The device comes as a stand-alone gaming console, produced by nVidia, which has the potential to change the way we look at gaming. Although apart from the ultra slick design and awesome specs, the device has some other tricks up its sleeve that you will see in a few moments.
To start off, let’s take a look at what Project Shield packs under its hood:
- nVidia Tegra 4 Processor
- Full size gaming controller
- 5” 720p Multi Touch Display
- Integrated speakers
- 802.11n 2×2 MIMO WiFi connectivity
- Android Jelly Bean Operating System
On the connectivity side, the device packs a HDMI output, perfect for streaming media to a Full HD 4K display, standard 3.5mm headphone jack is also present, as well as a USB connectivity and a micro SD card slot. Unfortunately, the Tegra 4 processor still does not have LTE connectivity, which might impact the consoles’s appeal to a certain degree.
As you can see, the device is more than capable of handling even the most graphics intensive games for mobile devices, but its tricks don’t stop there. As we’ve seen from the CES 2013 presentation, Project Shield can connect to a nVidia powered gaming computer and be used as a standard wireless gaming controller with the PlayStation controller layout.
Users of the Shield console will benefit from all the awesome features that come with Android, just like in a normal tablet, but with the added benefit of having Tegrazone games designed especially for Tegra powered devices. This will definitely make the device very appealing for fans of mobile gaming, and thanks to the WiFi connectivity and the possibility to connect to a nVidia powered computer, the Shield will be able to play Steam powered games just like a regular controller.
This makes the device very useful for enthusiast gamers and casual gamers alike, bringing together the world of computer gaming and mobile gaming, but at the same time, trying to promote one other technology that is currently taking shape: cloud gaming.
Cloud gaming is closer than ever
Media streaming has become a familiar technology for most, and until now, movies and music had no problem being streamed wirelessly to any device. However, in gaming, this was not entirely possible until recently, and nVidia finds itself on the very edge of the development, having introduced the new nVidia GRID Platform.
The technology will allow any user to connect to the service and play on any compatible device, be it a computer, TV or console and pick up the games where they left off. Thanks to the nVidia GRID technology that uses VGX Hypervision, the users will be able to share the server power and benefit from excellent performance and low latency.
The GRID technology also has application for the Shield Console, thanks to nVidia GeForce Experience platform which allows users to stream PC games to the console and optimize them according to the specs of the device the user is playing on. The system is still in Beta Testing and we can hardly wait for it to go live and allow streaming of video games perfectly optimized for each device with only a click.
All of these different technologies are part of the same bigger picture and what they accomplish is to bring cloud gaming right to our doorsteps. The possibility of playing on any device regardless of its components and have the games perfectly optimized to your needs some of the biggest hurdles that nVidia had to overcome, and we dare to say that they have passed with flying colors.
World’s fastest mobile processor: Tegra 4
All of these advances and state of the art technology need a workhorse to keep them going, and for mobile devices like the Shield Console, that workhorse is the new Tegra 4 Processor. The Custom 72-core NVIDIA GeForce GPU offers more than enough power to keep any game running at a high frame rate.
Also at CES 2013, nVidia showed the potential of the Tegra 4 processor by integrating in the i500 Soft Modem that can compute a staggering 1.2 trillion OPS (operations per second). The modem shows the potential of the Tegra 4 chip in applications that are not strictly related to gaming, as it can be customized to work in a number of applications.
Thanks to the chip’s power, it will be perfectly suited for powering a new generation of mobile devices, although when compared to other nVidia graphic processors (like the processor of the GTX 680), it falls short. Also, one issue that has persisted since the days of the Tegra 3 is the lack of LTE connectivity. This is mainly due to the power management of the chip and so, manufacturers of mobile devices had to integrate a separate LTE chip in their devices. In the long run, this might hurt nVidia and some manufacturers might go with the old Qualcomm Snapdragon processor instead of the Tegra 4.
Even with this drawback, the Tegra 4 processor is still the world’s fastest mobile processor. It will have some serious competition from the future Qualcomm mobile processors, and it’s not hard to assume that Intel is not far behind. The applications for the Tegra 4 processor go far beyond gaming and mobile devices, but only time will tell if the mobile developers will pick the Tegra chip over one that offers integrated LTE connectivity.
How it Could Change the Gaming Industry
Among other gaming products that bring new technologies to the table, such as the Ouya Android Gaming Console, nVidia Shield has much to offer, but its true potential is yet to be seen. Until cloud gaming becomes a concept that is used by most gamers, it’s unlikely that many will adopt it as their run-of-a-mill mobile console. The potential is there, but certain limitation will most likely keep it from achieving its true potential, and if you hadn’t guessed it so far, that is the Android system.
Don’t take me wrong, as a mobile OS, Android is absolutely marvelous, but as far as gaming is concerned, it does limit the gamer due to the lack of properly developed games. It’s true, there is the ability to browse web pages, use Facebook, listen to music and all the neat stuff we do, but this is something that a tablet or smartphone does. Also, users will be somewhat restricted to Android games, and until the platform for cloud gaming is perfected, the nVidia Shield will be no more than a console/computer controller and a clumsy tablet.