Has Microsoft solved the cloud gaming lag problem?

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Delorean

The cloud is the future, as everybody involved in the cloud keeps reminding us. One day, we’ll be consuming our games in much the same we do with our media; by streaming it off of the internet. Despite things like OnLive and PlayStation Now, that future isn’t here yet thanks, largely, to one particular problem; lag. Microsoft’s researches feel they’re on the cusp of overcoming the problem.

It works by reading your mind. In a research document published last week, Microsoft has outlined its new tech for streaming games, which works by guessing what you’ll do next.

DeLorean produces speculative rendered frames of future possible outcomes, delivering them to the client one entire RTT [round-trip time, the time it takes for an input to reach the server and return a response] ahead of time; clients perceive no latency. To achieve this, DeLorean combines: 1) future input prediction; 2) state space subsampling and time shifting; 3) misprediction compensation; and 4) bandwidth compression.

In the real world, it seems to work quite well; its researchers managed to have games of Doom 3 and Fable 3 wholly playable, masking a round-trip time of 250 milliseconds. That sort of latency would make those games otherwise unplayable. Players were unable to distinguish between local gameplay and that from the DeLorean-powered cloud system.

There’s always a catch though, isn’t there? DeLorean is a rather data heavy system, and can send nearly five times as much information than a simple stream for the same outcome – so you’d need a rather large amount of available bandwidth. In the end, it means that game streaming – whether bandwidth intensive or latency intensive – won’t work here in SA any time soon.

Last Updated: August 25, 2014

Geoffrey Tim

Editor. I'm old, grumpy and more than just a little cynical. One day, I found myself in possession of a NES, and a copy of Super Mario Bros 3. It was that game that made me realise that games were more than just toys to idly while away time - they were capable of being masterpieces. I'm here now, looking for more of those masterpieces.

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