Wednesday, 12 September 2012

AMD Invested Into the New CiiNOW Cloud Gaming Service

CiiNOW, a new provider of cloud gaming technology, announced the general availability of its new cloud gaming software platform. They have also received an investment from AMD, through AMD Ventures, and they will take advantage of AMD technologies. With the investment and strategic collaboration facilitated by AMD Ventures, AMD and CiiNOW will work jointly to enable the best online gaming experience possible through a vibrant worldwide developer ecosystem and differentiated hardware.

Partners of CiiNOW can already try their cloud gaming solution with games like The Witcher 2: Assassins of KingsSuper Street Fighter IV: Arcade Edition, Far Cry 2, Call of Juarez: Bound in Blood, F.E.A.R. 3, LEGO Batman: The Videogame, LEGO Harry Potter: Years 1-4, LEGO Harry Potter: Years 5-7, Trine and Torchlight available. Many of these games are already a part of the OnLive games library.

The CiiNOW software platform enables delivery of visually rich applications from a cloud compute infrastructure built with commodity servers. CiiNOW's unique scalable container technology virtualizes applications and optimally maps games and applications to available resources resulting in a fully automated infrastructure. In addition, with ultra-low latency, the CiiNOW platform also delivers games to the end user with comparable performance to using local current generation consoles.

“In the last twelve months alone, we’ve seen a significant increase in the demand for cloud gaming services,” said Ron Haberman, Co-Founder and CEO of CiiNOW. “The CiiNOW platform is built with the goal of transforming the industry. CiiNOW provides retailers, publishers, and service providers the first complete solution to offer games to anyone with a screen – utilizing the most cost efficient compute systems in the cloud. Our partners can now deliver a full range of games at a low cost and industry leading performance.”

“One of the big issues with cloud gaming is that no one likes to talk about costs,” Haberman added. “We are more economical because we virtualize any hardware that fits underneath our software.”

Haberman believes that such services like CiiNOW will be more economical than the custom server infrastructure that OnLive built. CiiNOW will thus try once again to convince people that high-quality games, which are among the most technologically difficult programs to stream because they require split second interaction, can really be delivered to consumers at a relatively low cost. Like OnLive, CiiNOW says it enables game streaming at 720p, which is HD quality but not quite as good as 1080p resolution. And CiiNOW requires a 6-megabit per second connection for good picture quality.

“We’re even more open,” Haberman compared CiiNOW to Gaikai. “If you wanted to use Gaikai to build a cloud gaming service, you had to use their infrastructure. We are different, since our customers can install our software on whatever hardware they choose.” Makes me wonder if CiiNOW will be able to find many customers who would be willing to cough up the huge amounts of cash required to build their own cloud gaming service.

Haberman is optimistic about cloud gaming despite recent events. “Gaikai’s acquisition definitely validated the industry,” he said. “It was unfortunate what happened to OnLive. I was rooting for them to be more successful.”

In an endorsement of CiiNOW, former OnLive employee Christopher Donahue has joined CiiNOW as vice president of marketing and publisher relations. He was previously director of games and media at OnLive, and he will now help CiiNOW establish relations with game publishers. Donahue said that CiiNOW represents “the future of gaming.”

The cloud gaming industry, which was once thought of as technologically impossible, is now disrupting the gaming market for both consumers and game publishers as more and more casual and hardcore gamers are making the jump to playing games online. CiiNOW addresses this trend with the first cloud gaming solution powered by AMD Radeon graphics that offers a cost-effective, end-to-end solution that includes the full suite of required hardware and software components. CiiNOW delivers a high-speed, low latency, streaming solution with up to eight HD streams per server blade, and up to 272 HD streams per server rack for HD quality game streaming instantly from the cloud for ubiquitous game streaming across all subscribers, devices and access technologies.

“CiiNOW is on the cutting-edge of online game streaming technology, and it’s clear we share the same vision to drive the cloud gaming industry forward and ultimately provide the best gaming experience,” said Manju Hegde, corporate vice president, Heterogeneous Applications and Developer Solutions at AMD. “AMD’s investment signifies our mutual drive to liberate gamers from today’s constraints and move us to the next era of digital content.”

“The combination of CiiNOW’s turnkey cloud platforms powered by AMD’s best-in-class GPU hardware makes AMD an ideal technology partner for CiiNOW,” said Ron Haberman. “Game publishers, retailers and carriers now have a technology solution they can employ to deliver a best-in-class cloud gaming solution as the industry continues to transition from physical media to digital distribution.”

For service providers, the CiiNOW solution offers:
  • Best-in-class streaming technology, delivering the lowest latency cloud gaming experience.
  • CPU/GPU virtualization, with the lowest cost per stream that is optimized for large deployments.
  • An end-to-end user management solution that can easily plug into existing authentication and billing protocols and systems.
  • Fast deployment, taking just weeks to leverage existing hardware in service providers’ data centers.
  • Cross-platform support, including PCs, Macs, set-top boxes, tablets and smartphones.
For game publishers, the CiiNOW solution offers access to millions of new customers and new monetization opportunities via CiiNOW's global service provider partners. In addition, the service provides input via gamepad support as well as other input methods and minimal game porting is needed. The service also allows customers to spectate or step in to take control of a friend’s remote game session across different service provider platforms.

“We created a service that enables many players to enter the cloud gaming market,” Haberman said.

Looks like this is AMD's first serious foray into cloud gaming after announcing their fusion render cloud and partnering with OTOY. AMD uses to announce and try a lot of things, but from many of them we don't hear a peep afterwards, because the company lacks focus. Wouldn't it be for the arab oil money that was poured into them cough... drained back down into a bottomless pit and because Intel fears the US antitrust laws, I don't think the company would exist anymore. It's like with AMD's mobile plans. They used to talk a lot what they will do on the mobile front, but then NVIDIA launched the Tegra line of mobile chips, AMD got into panic mode like a bunch of headless chicken and some heads rolled in the highest executive positions. Since NVIDIA already unveiled their Geforce GRID cloud gaming technology a while ago and AMD is now again following NVIDIA's lead into cloud gaming, it looks like we are on the brink of a cloud gaming war between the two fierce combatants in the GPU arena.

SOURCE: VentureBeat.


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