Word comes from NVIDIA this afternoon that they are rolling out a beta update to their GRID game streaming service. Starting today, the service is adding 1080p60 streaming to its existing 720p60 streaming option, with the option initially going out to members of the SHIELD HUB beta group.

Today’s announcement from NVIDIA comes as the company is ramping up for the launch of the SHIELD Android TV and its accompanying commercial GRID service. The new SHIELD console is scheduled to ship this month, meanwhile the commercialization of the GRID service is expected to take place in June, with the current free GRID service for existing SHIELD portable/tablet users listed as running through June 30th. Given NVIDIA’s ambitions to begin charging for the service, it was only a matter of time until the company began offering the service, especially as the SHIELD Android TV will be hooked up to much larger screens where the limits of 720p would be more easily noticed.

In any case, from a technical perspective NVIDIA has long had the tools necessary to support 1080p streaming – NVIDIA’s video cards already support 1080p60 streaming to SHIELD devices via GameStream – so the big news here is that NVIDIA has finally flipped the switch with their servers and clients. Though given the fact that 1080p is 2.25x as many pixels as 720p, I’m curious whether part of this process has involved NVIDIA adding some faster GRID K520 cards (GK104) to their server clusters, as the lower-end GRID K340 cards (GK107) don’t offer quite the throughput or VRAM one traditionally needs for 1080p at 60fps.

But the truly difficult part of this rollout is on the bandwidth side. With SHIELD 720p streaming already requiring 5-10Mbps of bandwidth and NVIDIA opting for quality over efficiency on the 1080p service, the client bandwidth requirements for the 1080p service are enormous. 1080p GRID will require a 30Mbps connection, with NVIDIA recommending users have a 50Mbps connection to keep from any other network devices compromising the game stream. To put this in perspective, no video streaming service hits 30Mbps, and in fact Blu-Ray itself tops out at 48Mbps for audio + video. NVIDIA in turn needs to run at a fairly high bitrate to make up for the fact that they have to all of this encoding in real-time with low latency (as opposed to highly optimized offline encoding), hence the significant bandwidth requirement. Meanwhile 50Mbps+ service in North America is still fairly rare – these requirements all but limit it to cable and fiber customers – so at least for now only a limited number of people will have the means to take advantage of the higher resolution.

NVIDIA GRID System Requirements
  720p60 1080p60
Minimum Bandwidth 10Mbps 30Mbps
Recommended Bandwidth N/A 50Mbps
Device Any SHIELD, Native Or Console Mode Any SHIELD, Console Mode Only (no 1080p60 to Tablet's screen)

As for the games that support 1080p streaming, most, but not all GRID games support it at this time. NVIDIA’s announcement says that 35 games support 1080p, with this being out of a library of more than 50 games. Meanwhile I’m curious just what kind of graphics settings NVIDIA is using for some of these games. With NVIDIA’s top GRID card being the equivalent of an underclocked GTX 680, older games shouldn’t be an issue, but more cutting edge games almost certainly require tradeoffs to maintain framerates near 60fps. So I don’t imagine NVIDIA is able to run every last game with all of their settings turned up to maximum.

Finally, NVIDIA’s press release also notes that the company has brought additional datacenters online, again presumably in anticipation of the commercial service launch. A Southwest US datacenter is now available, and a datacenter in Central Europe is said to be available later this month. This brings NVIDIA’s total datacenter count up to six: USA Northwest, USA Southwest, USA East Coast, Northern Europe, Central Europe, and Asia Pacific.

Source: NVIDIA

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  • D. Lister - Wednesday, May 13, 2015 - link

    I am sorry but your analogy is far from apt. Mercedes (since you brought them up) has its own IPs. One such is called "4Matic all-wheel-drive system"...


    ... which according to them, provides optimal traction, plus a number of other benefits, ultimately making driving safer. Now if only Merc made that particular IP available to smaller companies, a lot more lives could potentially be saved, with safer cars. Why wouldn't the govt. interfere and make Merc give that "value added feature" away?

    That's the thing with humanity you see. The govt. essentially lets those people die because it knows that without the incentive of a big payoff, big investment in R&D would plummet, which means that technological development would come to a crawl and the country would be left behind in the tech race. Like it or not, IP laws are a byproduct of capitalism, and aren't going anywhere anytime soon, and companies are going to continue to be willing to fight tooth and nail over them.
  • yannigr2 - Wednesday, May 13, 2015 - link

    No one asks Nvidia to make PhysX run on AMD GPUs or give PhysX on AMD. What part of the phrase you don't understand?
  • D. Lister - Wednesday, May 13, 2015 - link


    You car analogy suggests that if you place a system with an Nvidia gpu next to another system with an AMD gpu, then the Nvidia gpu would turn off some cores. Which is not the case. Vehicles are complete systems, not componants like GPUs.

    The proper comparison would be someone wanting to run a BMW's system software on a Merc, and the Merc's system responding with "unknown software, cannot execute". Go ahead and ask BMW to do that for you, because you prefer their software over Merc's. I wager their response would boil down to something like, "please buy a BMW vehicle, if you want the BMW software."
  • xthetenth - Wednesday, May 13, 2015 - link

    No, the entire point is that you have nvidia code and an nvidia card to execute it on but you can't because there's also an AMD card in there even though the AMD card is totally irrelevant to the execution of the nvidia code. You can do this on a system with an nvidia card and an older nvidia card just fine, where you just use the weaker card for physx no problem. But suddenly if you change the main card to an AMD card without changing the card the physx code was executed on, you can't execute the physx code.

    Nvidia is trying their hardest to replace pc gaming with nvidia gaming, and that's not a good thing.
  • D. Lister - Wednesday, May 13, 2015 - link


    Nvidia is trying their hardest to replace pc gaming with nvidia gaming, and that's not a good thing.

    Good or bad, PC gaming appears to be changing into "Nvidia gaming" because instead of fighting for their primary products, AMD chose to invest on consoles, and got left behind where it really mattered.
  • xthetenth - Wednesday, May 13, 2015 - link

    I agree, AMD really needed to put more effort into marketing.
  • chizow - Wednesday, May 13, 2015 - link


    Why do you have a problem with: "Nvidia is trying their hardest to replace pc gaming with nvidia gaming, and that's not a good thing."?

    Do you think a bunch of verbatim console ports with no PC-specific features or settings options is a good thing? Its just incredibly hypocritical and ironic when AMD fans, supporters, sympathizers and supposed PC enthusiasts constantly say things like:

    1) XYZ game is just another crappy console port. Yet when a company like Nvidia tries to work with devs to bring additional features, even some that work on competitor hardware, its bad for PC gaming? lol.
    2) We need AMD for competition! Competition is always good! But when Intel and Nvidia compete and establish dominance, competition is bad and they are competing too hard.
    3) Close and proprietary are evil, even when they drive innovation in the marketplace and produce results (G-Sync, CUDA). But when AMD does proprietary for their own gains and product differentation, it's A-OK!

    Just some clear examples of the kind of double-standards and hypocrisy AMD and their fans exhibit, regularly.

    Bottom line is this, you say Nvidia trying to make PC gaming Nvidia gaming and its a bad thing, but what's to stop you from simply not using said features. And, do you think a game without Nvidia features is better or worst as a result of them? Just curious.
  • yannigr2 - Thursday, May 14, 2015 - link

    Seeing you all over the internet defending/supporting Nvidia, it is really fun watching you talking about hypocrisy.

    1) Additional features are good. But games that are sponsored from Nvidia don't come with just addition features. Usually come with problems for the competitor's hardware. Sometimes means also the removal of competitor's features like the DirectX 10.1 that was removed from Assassin's Creed because Nvidia cards where not supporting it at the time.

    2)You can't have competition with Intel and Nvidia controlling the market throw financial strength. Nvidia goes even further by trying to lock everybody in their proprietary ecosystem. They try to guaranty that in the future their will be NO competition.

    3) Close and proprietary are great for driving innovation, but after some time in the market returning the investment to the company created them, it is in everybody's best interest to be replaced by open standards. Because while proprietary stuff can drive innovation in the beginning, it can add obstacles latter. AMD created a proprietary tech like Mantle, the drived innovation in the correct direction and then stepped down for DX12 and Vulkan. So yes, when AMD does it it is A-OK because they do it the right way. They did the same with AMD64.

    The only hypocrite here is you, fortunately. And yes a game with a good physics engine looks much better that one without one. And unfortunately games that use PhysX usually are under performing in that kind of visuals when turning PhysX off, not taking advantage the rest of the system's resources to create an equal experience. Just a coincidence.
  • chizow - Thursday, May 14, 2015 - link

    @yannigr2: I defend innovation, features, benefits of certain products, you defend garbage and half-assery, see the difference? :D

    1) Any GameWorks game that has additional features implemented by Nvidia are BETTER than the console version period, if there's a problem AMD should work on sorting them out. But that's not their MO. Their MO is to half-ass some tech out there, half-support it, and then when there's a problem, claim its Open and thus, not their issue! We've seen this dozens of times, FreeSync, HD3D, Mantle, and even the DX10.1 bug you are going waaaay back on. As soon as there are any problems with these AMD solutions, AMD throws it back on the vendor to fix lolol.

    2) No, I don't think you and various other socialist hippies from non-capitalist countries even understand what competition means. You simply want tech sharing in some happy global co-op. Except that's not how it works. Nvidia has every right to invest in tech and value-add features that benefit themselves, their users, and their shareholders. They have no obligation to help otherwise, but they still do when it makes sense. That's true competition and the fact of the matter is, Nvidia's competition and innovation has pushed AMD to the brink. You bet on the loser. The sooner you and the rest of the AMD fanboy hippies get this, the better, but I know you understand this, because you were hypocritically espousing the benefits of the closed and proprietary Mantle for months until it failed and died a few months ago.

    3) Except Nvidia and any other innovator has no incentive to do this. They are their market leader, they have no obligation to do the work and give it to everyone, especially when all they did was "Compete" as you claimed was necessary. So again, stop being hypocritical and acknowledge the fact Nvidia was simply better at competing, because as we have seen with Mantle, AMD attempted to do the same much to the delight of their fanboys like you, they just FAILED at making it stick. Of course, to any non-fanboy, this was the only possible outcome because AMD simply did not have the market position, funds, or clout to drive a proprietary API in the marketplace. Lesson learned, only hundreds of millions of resources direly needed elsewhere wasted. And what do you get some 18-24 months later? A late product to combat Maxwell, a nearly full stack of rebrands, and complete slaughter in the marketplace nearing historical highs in the 75-80% range in favor of Nvidia.

    So yes, if you have a problem with Nvidia's features, simply turn them off! Enjoy the AMD Radeon experience of dumbed-down console ports, that is what YOU CHOSE when you stupidly voted with your wallet. And now you want to cry about it. lol. GLHF, it will all be over soon.
  • yannigr2 - Thursday, May 14, 2015 - link

    first paragraph Nvidia's advertisement

    1) Nvidia's marketing department makes a speech. What we learn here? DX10.1 was a bug. LOL! Nice one.

    2) Continues. What we learn here? We are "socialist hippies from non-capitalist countries". Damn. Busted! LOL!

    3) And... continues. Nvidia market leaders. AMD failure. Got that. Thanks for the info.

    I hope they pay you for this.

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