3 Sep 2009

The announcement of OnLive's "on-demand gaming" platform has generated a lot of interest. The basic idea is that a video game runs on a central server, not on your PC or games platform. You interact with the game via a broadband connection. The key to making this work is response time - the time lag between your input reaching the server and the updated game screen reaching your display. The gameplay video is rendered on the server and so a critical question is whether a high-definition, high framerate game display can be streamed to your display in real time.

OnLive claim that this can be done using video compression; i.e. compression of the rendered scene, streaming, decompression and display in a fraction of a second. If the platform matches up to the claims, then this might be the start of a trend towards cloud computing, in which high-performance computing is done on a remote server and the results (a rendered screen in this case) are sent to your display using video compression. Are current video compression algorithms good enough to support the cloud computing model ? We'll soon find out...