updated 08:30 pm EST, Thu January 10, 2013
Nvidia targets Android gaming, and gaming on any device
Nvidia's taken the opportunity at CES to try to shake up the gaming industry, first announcing Project Shield, a portable gaming console that runs Android games and can stream PC games, and also showing off its own cloud-gaming infrastructure on the CES show floor. Project Shield is still unavailable for public handling, sealed under glass and attended by watchful Nvidia representatives, but we got to play with a few devices running on Nvidia's cloud gaming server technology, and we were impressed by its capabilities.
What we did get to learn of Project Shield was encouraging. We're not totally sold on the device's form factor, but the 1280x720 display, Big Picture compatibility, and the ability to stream games from a PC give us high hopes. We're just hoping Nvidia is able to pull it all off in the execution. If they do, we could be on the verge of a seismic shift in portable gaming.
We talked with Ryan Albright, a designer on the project whose excitement over Project Shield was palpable and infectious. According to Albright, the device should be able to output up to 4K resolution with up to 20 hours of gameplay when streaming from a PC (due to a lower load on the internal processor) and five hours when playing Tegra games from the device.
Nvidia's Grid server looked like it will go hand in hand with Project Shield. Nvidia had a stack of servers running games like Street Fighter on an array of devices, including MacBooks, PCs, Android smartphones, and Android tablets. The results were impressive, with virtually no latency mucking up the Street Fighter gameplay. We were disappointed with the apparent drop off in our fighting game skills, but the Grid server didn't disappoint. We're not exactly sure how this will play out in real world applications, but if it works well, we could see Nvidia's cloud gaming and Project Shield making for a killer combination in the near future. Nvidia is working with a number of other third parties to bring this service to the public, and we're interested to see how this all turns out.