More details on how the Xbox One will use cloud computing

At Microsoft’s Xbox One unveiling event the company revealed that they had added 300,000 servers to support the Xbox Live services. Microsoft also mentioned that the Xbox One would be able to harness all that computing power in the cloud but it wasn’t very clear in what way.

Now, Ars Technica has talked to Matt Booty, General Manager of Redmond Game Studios and Platforms, and we finally have more info on how the One will integrate with the cloud. Booty explains that certain graphical operations that require a lot of computing power but are not latency-sensitive could be offloaded to the cloud. Things like fluid and physics dynamics, graphical elements that don’t change a lot in the game etc, all of these could be dealt with by the cloud while your console is left to focus on the truly important and latency sensitive data, such as animations when you’re getting shot.

Of course all of these elements will have to be coded by the developers and as this is new technology we will probably have to wait a while until this new feature reaches its true potential. Devs will also have to handle intelligent transitions between going on and offline and how the game handles the graphics data then.

And what happens when the internet goes out? Well Microsoft already confirmed that single player games will be playable even without connectivity but, according to this new info, we might start to see games that actually look better when you’re online. So going offline may lead to lower quality graphics. Of course this is only a scenario and it all depends on what developers actually code inside the game.

Source: Ars Technica

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17 Comments

It is funny how everyone has been freaking out and mocking the whole cloud thing when the answer was obvious. The real benefit to the cloud is not just cloud storage like everyone thinks but cloud processing. Cloud storage is really the first application of cloud useage but it is not the only way it will be used

If they can actually make this work then it does make the Xbox One alot more powerful.
Onlive was going to try and do something like this where you had server arrays rendering video games to allow visiual that could never be done on a single PC/Console.

While I'm not exactly thrilled with some of the DRM crap I do think people should chill out and at least wait till we have a better picture before flipping out. In the end it just seems sony fans have been pent up so long that the first chance they got they decided to bash the Xboxone to know end and threw up all over the internet.

"The real benefit to the cloud is not just cloud storage like everyone thinks but cloud processing."

Really? I didn't know the Internet provided a higher bandwidth path than my RAM does... I think relying on a cloud for computing *anything* poses an intrinsic bottleneck - because indeed, your connection to the Internet is usually the slowest interface your computer has right now.

100 high end servers joined together in a cloud computing model rendering together will smoke any single piece of hardware in your house.

The bandwidth of the ram is not relevant since the cloud has already rendered it and is simply sending it to your console.

swanlee said,
100 high end servers joined together in a cloud computing model rendering together will smoke any single piece of hardware in your house.

The bandwidth of the ram is not relevant since the cloud has already rendered it and is simply sending it to your console.

Having the extra processing power of cloud computing does seem very promising; however, their is always a price to be paid, how much money would it cost to host all those extra servers and how much more would it cost to transfer all that processing power to the network of connected x1's? Will these fee's transfer over to the live subscribers, developers?

Breakthrough said,
"The real benefit to the cloud is not just cloud storage like everyone thinks but cloud processing."

Really? I didn't know the Internet provided a higher bandwidth path than my RAM does... I think relying on a cloud for computing *anything* poses an intrinsic bottleneck - because indeed, your connection to the Internet is usually the slowest interface your computer has right now.


Again, the article states that latency insensitive elements can be offloaded for processing. Obviously things which requires immediate attention wouldn't be (or maybe I should say shouldn't be).

Ultravires said,
Having the extra processing power of cloud computing does seem very promising; however, their is always a price to be paid, how much money would it cost to host all those extra servers and how much more would it cost to transfer all that processing power to the network of connected x1's? Will these fee's transfer over to the live subscribers, developers?

These servers already exist. The servers are already being paid for. This is Azure.
The cost is transferred to consumers today in the form of Gold subscriptions. Perhaps you need a Gold subscription for the cloud processing enhancements in games.

Azure fees will apply for developers who choose to take advantage of the features. If I were creating the license model it would similar to what the Unity3D and Unreal engine licenses. You only pay when your consumption reaches a certain point.

Why? Is it because the new, *next-generation* hardware is like already expected not to be able to cope with the ever increasing demands of graphics fidelity? Perhaps because it had to be inexpensive enough?
It's awkward. One's about to spend a wheelbarrow full of cash for the brand new shiny game console... and it may not even run the games by itself, has to be augmented! No, of course, it isn't really like that, but it sounds awkward.

Do recall SimCity - "any possible PC on the known world is far too weak to compute our insanely complicated simulations, we're about to fix this by dedicating $1000 worth of cloud computing metal for each copy sold"... they didn't really mention the second part, 'cause we might have thought it was bullsh*t.

/rant

Anyway... I doubt developers (of games not exclusive) will really bother with this... I'll thank them if they don't, because it's a dumb idea. Reasons shared with any cloud thing - unreliable servers, unreliable connection, bandwidth caps, slow uplink and bandwidth sharing with other devices and gadgets in the house.

Think more forward, the Xboxone specs will be fine for now, in 5 years instead of a static console that lags behind the PC, devs will be able to enhance their games by using cloud processing.

1. Games will still continue to greatly increase their graphics on a static machine
2. By off loading certain rendering to Server farms we may get visuals simply not possible on a single console\PC

Basically as the specs for the Xboxone become more dated Cloud processing will pick up the slack and maybe even exceed what is possible on a single console/PC

People flipped out when the original Xbox was broadband only and that turned out to be a wise future thinking decision, this is a similar situation. The spec are more than good enough for now but it is built to utilize technology that is way more forward thinking.

I don't agree. This is an awesome opportunity and new features and games will definitely use this. It's also a great way to keep the console fresh for a much longer time. As for reliability I think that's almost a non-issue. Sure, I get that many people don't have access to high speed internet but there are many others that do. And there are great features for both of those groups.

Very well. One more thing before I calm down, though, because I'm on coffee at the moment - it takes a while... /sigh Anyway...

Currently (and since the beginning) cloud services promise gazillions of storage space, processing power and unlimited bandwidth because two nines of all users won't ever use that (Flicker's one terabyte being the most insane example of pure marketing recently). When it comes to guaranteed amounts (EC2, Azure), however, these kinds of resources cost the whole bloody hell with devil himself as a bailsman.

Let's all recall how and why OnLive went under and is still struggling - exactly because cloud still costs a bloody hell. Ok, this Xbox thing here, this is not a full cloud gaming (although it very well may have been planned, given Sony's Gaikai), it will cost a fraction, but it will cost something.

Who is going to pay for that? 400 for the console itself certainly won't cover for any reasonable part of its lifetime, it barely pays for itself as it is. Ads? Perhaps... annoying practice, wretched pricks, though. Perhaps a certain markup for "better with cloud" sticker on all games sold? You bet it will happen with cloud or without one. The only reasonable explanation - Live Gold. Only the Gold folks will enjoy better graphics (never mind that it isn't and won't be available worldwide), the rest will be f* shafted. And I take a certain dislike on that.

Now, "exceed capabilities of PC"? SimCity fiasco didn't tell it, eh? See, I knowingly withheld that I belong to PC master race here, but this is too much. No cloud will ever be economically viable to augment an average PC (unless we talk about tablets and other unworthy peasants' gadgetry). Exactly consumer PCs power the most formidable distributed clouds (like Bitcoin - surpassing Oak Ridge Titan tenfold, currently - and alien pinging, protein folding, cancer cure search...), not the other way round.

Don't agree, I get that, cloud's awesome, nobody ever agrees with me, I like that. I know I'm totally nuts. Have a nice day! It really is out here and I'm sitting typing all this >.<
Gah...

Have you ever heard of a little thing called citrix? This is the same idea. Processing is done at a server on the network and streamed over the network. This in many cases is significantly more powerful then any local machine could hope to be. Putting this on the internet is the difficult part. That requires a bandwidth far about what our stupid American providers can do. The only place that could really offer this feature is Kansas with Google Fiber. The fact that it will be static processes that will be offloaded with help, because what is happening only needs to be rendered once. I still don't see the average consumer's internet as capable of handling this technology.

Phouchg said,
....

Azure running on Server 2012 with the management stack they've built will alleviate your concerns about unreliable servers, etc.....

MS Azure is a big deal and an even better cloud computing platform than Amazon has. Peoples fears and concerns are simply based on a lack of knowledge as to the infrastructure already in place for this. Companies pay MS millions of dollars to use Azure and depend on it for very important and sensitive data.

Rendering some video game assets is going to be a walk in the park for the Azure infrastructure.

Onlive and EA are not Microsoft, I'm telling you Corporations have Spent\BET millions upon millions of dollars on Azure to handle alot of critical hosted services because it is cheaper and is\more reliable then any local solutions they could produce.

It's not like this is brand new untested stuff, Azure is a very well established highly used cloud service.

swanlee said,
MS Azure is a big deal and an even better cloud computing platform than Amazon has. Peoples fears and concerns are simply based on a lack of knowledge as to the infrastructure already in place for this. Companies pay MS millions of dollars to use Azure and depend on it for very important and sensitive data.

Rendering some video game assets is going to be a walk in the park for the Azure infrastructure.

Onlive and EA are not Microsoft, I'm telling you Corporations have Spent\BET millions upon millions of dollars on Azure to handle alot of critical hosted services because it is cheaper and is\more reliable then any local solutions they could produce.

It's not like this is brand new untested stuff, Azure is a very well established highly used cloud service.

Exactly this.

swanlee said,
MS Azure is a big deal and an even better cloud computing platform than Amazon has. Peoples fears and concerns are simply based on a lack of knowledge as to the infrastructure already in place for this. Companies pay MS millions of dollars to use Azure and depend on it for very important and sensitive data.

Rendering some video game assets is going to be a walk in the park for the Azure infrastructure.

Onlive and EA are not Microsoft, I'm telling you Corporations have Spent\BET millions upon millions of dollars on Azure to handle alot of critical hosted services because it is cheaper and is\more reliable then any local solutions they could produce.

It's not like this is brand new untested stuff, Azure is a very well established highly used cloud service.


Browser cookies were a scary issue for many people at one point. So was purchasing items online. This is nothing new.

This is what I figured would be the case. I expect to see this more on MMO or online multiplayer games, but time will tell. Should be very interesting regardless and it allows Microsoft to scale the capabilities of the entire XBox One base by making changes to the cloud infrastructure (Which I think is very cool).

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