News Posts matching #Streaming

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Google Stadia Adds Support for 1440p Streaming In Chrome

This week Google Stadia added the option to stream games on chrome at 2560x1440 resolution so that users with QHD monitors can now stream games at their monitors' native resolution compared to just 1080p or 4k previously. To play in QHD resolution users will need an active Stadia Pro subscription, a network speed of 35 Mbps or greater, and a Windows computer or Chromebook with VP9 hardware decoding and a QHD monitor.

In other news, this week the Stadia Store gained two new games those being Jotun: Valhalla Edition, and Sundered: Eldritch Edition. Stadia Pro subscribers are also set to receive The Elder Scrolls Online for Free on June 16 along with the Morrowind Chapter as free content. Stadia players can enjoy crossplay support with PC, which means you'll be able to play with friends across Stadia and PC.

Windows 10 2004 May Update Brings Back Bluetooth Speaker Streaming

Windows 10 2004 May update is set to bring a heap of new features to the OS, along with performance improvements in the form of a fixed search indexer. According to the latest report form Windows Latest, we have information that the update version 2004 will reintroduce Bluetooth A2DP sink, a feature from Windows 7 era. The Bluetooth A2DP sink allows users to stream audio from their phones to PC speakers, using Bluetooth technologies. This is a useful feature is you want to play music via your phone on louder speakers connected to your PC, and we are sure users are going to appreciate this. The Bluetooth A2DP sink feature was present in Windows 7 OS, however, Microsoft has later disabled that in Windows 8 OS and it hasn't been available since. The Windows 10 May update is expected to roll out between May 26th and May 28th.
Windows 10 OS

NVIDIA Launches CloudXR 1.0 SDK for VR & AR Streaming

Power up your XR displays and 5G devices because NVIDIA is taking streaming to the next level. With the announcement today of the NVIDIA CloudXR 1.0 software development kit, we're bringing major advancements to streaming augmented reality, mixed reality and virtual reality content — collectively known as XR — over 5G, Wi-Fi and other high-performance networks.

With the NVIDIA CloudXR platform, any end device — including head-mounted displays (HMDs) and connected Windows and Android devices — can become a high-fidelity XR display capable of showcasing professional-quality graphics. CloudXR is built on NVIDIA RTX GPUs and the CloudXR SDK to allow streaming of immersive AR, MR or VR experiences from anywhere, whether from the data center, cloud or at the edge. And with NVIDIA GPU virtualization software, CloudXR scales efficiently allowing multiple users or tenants to securely share GPU resources.

YouTube and Netflix Begin Rationing Their Bandwidth as Lockdowns Surge Online Traffic

Popular video streaming sites YouTube and Netflix have reportedly started rationing their bandwidth by limiting video quality, as online traffic to their services surge to record levels. With COVID-19 lockdowns forcing people to take to online entertainment, the sites are reporting an unprecedented strain on their finite Internet bandwidth. In Europe, the two sites have capped their video quality to 480p, or slightly worse than DVD quality.

Despite the mighty backing of AWS, the world's largest CDN, Amazon's Prime Video is also finding itself having to cap quality based on regional bandwidth constraints. Google is already engaging with governments and ISPs to minimize strain on available Internet bandwidth. Streaming video remains the number one bandwidth consumer. Governments would want to prioritize bandwidth for companies operating remote- or virtual desktops for their employees working from home. Perhaps there's no better time to upgrade online video codecs to newer bandwidth-efficient ones like AV1.

2K Games Removes Library From GeForce Now Game Streaming Service

Another one bites the dust: 2K Games has told NVIDIA that it is removing their games catalog from the GeForce Now game streaming service. Fresh out of beta little more than a month now - with a then-touted 1,000 plus games library - the green team's streaming service, which was received with good reviews and good customer feedback, is now looking ever more stale as publishers keep leaving the service in droves.

It is still unclear why publishers are quitting the streaming service, but this doesn't spell good to the future of streaming. The fact that users only need to import a copy of their already purchased game to GeForce Now can be a reason, with removed the need for gamers to re-purchase their games across multiple (mobile or non-mobile) gaming platforms. Another reason may be that publishers are fearful this streaming ability from NVIDIA could cut into sales from next-gen consoles, since users wouldn't have to upgrade their hardware to be able to play the latest and greatest, non-exclusive titles to be released for next-gen systems. Whatever the reason, this doesn't bode well for the future of NVIDIA's streaming efforts.

A Peek Under the Hood of Intel IGCC Game Capture (beta) Feature

Late last week, Intel released a public beta of its own low-'cost' game capture and streaming feature that's part of Intel Graphics Command Center (IGCC) application that's distributed through Microsoft Store. At the time, Intel claimed that those gaming on Intel Graphics can yet record or stream their games with negligible performance impact. We now have a couple of under the hood details on how this feature works. The Game Capture and Streaming feature lets people record their gameplay or stream it to popular social networks such as Twitch, YouTube, etc.

Intel's game capture and streaming feature leverages the VDEnc hardware AVC encoder featured in the company's Gen9 (and later) iGPUs, found on "Skylake" (or later) microarchitectures. At default quality settings, the feature only needs VDEnc, and hence offers practically zero iGPU performance impact when rendering 3D. At higher quality settings by the user, however, the feature switches to a dual-pipe encoder that taps into the compute power of the iGPU's execution units (EUs). These hence come with a performance impact on the iGPU when rendering 3D. We've also learned that IGCC game capture tech does not leverage discrete GPUs of other brands.

Beta for Microsoft Project xCloud to be Available in October in Select Regions

After continuously testing its Project xCloud streaming gaming service in an internal group, Microsoft is now looking to expand its testing of the service for a broader audience. This will be done via a Beta launch of the service, available at first only for residents in the US and UK (click here, and (South) Korea (click here). The idea is to stress-test the service, since according to Microsoft, "It's time to put Project xCloud to the test in a broader capacity, with a range of gamers, devices, network environments and real-world use-case scenarios, and this is where you come in." There is no end in sight for the Beta: Microsoft wants it to last "until customers are consistently reporting a great, fun experience and the technology meets our internal quality standards."

The only thing that's needed to participate is a Bluetooth Xbox One controller that you can connect to whatever device you want, be it a smartphone, tablet, or other streaming-capable device. The idea here is to test the xCloud service in as broad hardware and network configurations as possible, and it's a Beta, so remember to cool your expectations adequately. You won't be able to play games that are already connected to your account - Microsoft offers a curated selection of titles that includes (for the time being) Halo 5: Guardians, Gears 5, Killer Instinct, and Sea of Thieves.

Waning Popularity: After Peaking, Apex Legends Already Lost 75% of Its Streaming Audience

Apex Legends was somewhat of a sleeper hit, and it was so in many ways. A ninja introduction by EA of the Respawn Entertainment-developed game back in January saw significant interest from the gaming community, who recognized in Respawn the ability to make a great FPS. Taking advantage of the Battle Royale popularity was also a solid move, as was EA's decision to focus marketing efforts not on a long, drawn-out publicity campaign, but instead, on paying renowned Twitch streamers to play and stream their game.

Since gaming (at least when it comes to multiplayer gaming) nowadays has somewhat of a "monkey see, monkey do" dynamic for the general gaming population, this move prompted Apex Legends to the top of the streaming food chain, with a grand total of 40 million hours streamed on its first week alone. Also during its first week, the game achieved a staggering 25 million unique players, doubling that number to 50 million in the first month. However, the cash flow must die out, and as EA stopped paying streamers, so did they move on to other, more proficuous games, such as Fortnite, which has endured the Apex Legends assault in terms of viewers and players. It remains to be seen if EA will double down on the streamer investment it did on the games' launch, or if Respawn Entertainment can churn out meaningful updates and characters that can turn the tide.

Google Announces Stadia Cloud Gaming Service at GDC 2019

We knew this was coming, especially after Google's teaser from earlier this month. Project Stream was a proof-of-concept in collaboration with Ubisoft, to see whether AAA gaming was possible over the internet. Things were smooth most of the time in our own experience, but there remained questions over how the concept would translate over to a finished product, especially with infrastructure challenges on the client side of things. Google's keynote at GDC just wrapped up, and the main focus was Stadia- the now named cloud gaming service borne out of Project Stream.

Stadia is built with instant access in mind. An example demo came in the form of Ubisoft's Assassin's Creed Odyssey, which was used in the public test before. It is integrated with partner YouTube channels such that a trailer for a supported game would have an option to play said game, which would then launch immediately. Stadia is built with support from a wide partner network including AMD, Unity, id Software, and more, with details seen past the break.

Valve Announces Steam Link App for Mobile Game Streaming Anywhere

The more things change, the more they stay the same. Valve had promised continued support to the Steam Link after discontinuing it last year, and most took it to mean basic updates to the hardware device itself at the time. That was 2018, and it is remarkable how the topic of in-house game streaming has come up since. Be it Google's Project Stream which seemingly is leading up to a major announcement by the company at GDC coming up very shortly, or Microsoft introducing their new Wireless Display app for PC game streaming on the XBOX One, as well as bringing its XBOX Live service to mobile platforms on iOS or Android alike, 2019 seems to herald a re-focus into the concept of game streaming whether the infrastructure is ready or not.

Valve for their own part has had their Steam Link be enjoyed by a fairly niche audience, one that shares a more local form of game streaming from a host device to another on the same network. NVIDIA's Shield offered a similar concept, and that too has not really made the news as much as NVIDIA would surely have wanted. This latest news from Valve allows streaming of one's Steam library (games, in particular) to phones, tablets, and TVs with no download or service fees applicable. Interested users can participate in the open beta program by simply downloading the app (Google Play store only for now) or on the Raspberry Pi as has been the case for a few months already. The Steam Link app is compatible with a number of popular Bluetooth controllers, including the Steam Controller, and Valve recommends a 5 GHz network or wired Ethernet for best experience. Looks like the weekend just got busier than I originally planned!

NVIDIA Partners with OBS for GeForce Optimization and RTX Encoder

We saw a glimpse of this at the NVIDIA suite during CES 2019, with a beta version coming out shortly after. NVIDIA and OBS (Open Broadcaster Software) have since brought out the full release of a new OBS Studio, version 23.0.1, that adds improved support for NVIDIA GeForce cards. In particular, their latest and greatest RTX lineup, including the new desktop RTX 2060 as well as the mobile and Max-Q variants, will see an FPS impact drop by as much as 66% according to NVIDIA's internal testing. Some example results are seen below, with games such as Fortnite, PUBG, Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 - Blackout, and Apex Legends seeing a frame rate boost by up to 48% compared to x264 Fast, and 27% compared to x264 Very Fast.

Given this is a result of NVENC, NVIDIA's hardware encoder, in place, older GeForce GPUs (GTX 600-series and newer that support NVENC) will also see some benefits. GeForce RTX GPUs just get to enjoy a bit more- up to 15% more, in fact, in efficiency as far as bitrate consumption for the same graphical fidelity. NVIDIA effectively says that "GeForce RTX GPUs can stream with superior image quality compared to x264 Fast, and on par with x264 Medium", thus putting in a strong case for single-PC gaming and streaming, as opposed to having a dedicated streaming PC. They have even put out a video to go over the enhancements, which will no doubt interest game streamers on the PC platform.

Valve Says Goodbye to Steam Link But Will Continue to Offer Support

Valve seemed to have the ambition to become a hardware company when he launched peripherals like his Steam Link and its Steam Controller. The scope of these products has been limited, and now the company reports that "the supply of physical Steam Link hardware devices is sold out in Europe and almost sold out in the US". Valve has discontinued the product, although the company will continue to offer support for the Steam Link.

The idea was (and still is) really nice: any decent PC or laptop can be converted into a video game and even video content server, allowing the user to enjoy those experiences on much less powerful devices through an Ethernet or a good wireless connection. They started supporting Linux and Windows desktop and laptops, but Steam Link made it possible to stream video games to Android devices (Apple rejected the application for iOS) and Samsung Smart TVs. The product, announced in 2015, therefore says goodbye, although surely those who already have it will be able to continue enjoying it for a long time.

Streamlabs Partners with Intel to Offer Integrated PC Plaforms Optimized for Live Streaming

I'm pretty sure many of our readers devote part of their time not only to enjoy video games, but also to broadcast their games via YouTube, Twitch, Mixer or some other alternative. Live Streaming has become a phenomenon for users, but also for hardware & software developers. Suddenly a new, juicy cake appears on the market, and everyone wants a piece.

That's precisely what Streamlabs, developer of Streamlabs OBS is announcing. This free broadcasting app offers more options and a faster and easier startup for beginners than the original solution, OBS (Open Broadcast Software). The company has teamed up with Intel to develop PCs specially dedicated to live streaming. They won't be alone, as they've also partnered with Shuttle, SimplyNUC, ZOTAC and Acer. All of them will join forces to offer hardware solutions with Streamlabs OBS (which by the way, is still in beta stage) and various optimizations for this field already pre-installed.

Microsoft's xCloud is a Push Towards Game Streaming Future, Powered by AMD

Microsoft has announced their xCloud initiative, a game streaming effort that looks to bridge the gap between local and stream-based gaming. xCloud is looking to bring true, platform-agnostic gaming with much lower bandwidth requirements due to a number of technologies being researched and worked on by Microsoft. Chief among these are low-latency networking, encoding, and decoding advances - all crucial parts of the puzzle for solving latency and poor image quality issues. xCloud aims to allow for "high-quality experiences at the lowest possible bitrates that work across the widest possible networks" - with 4G and 5G support. For now, the test version of xCloud only requires a minimum 10 Mbps connection, which is already very impressive in abstract - though of course it would require more info on the rendering specs being delivered to the recipient's system for deeper analysis.

One big takeaway here is that this xCloud initiative is fully powered by AMD's own hardware - as it should be. Using AMD custom hardware such as that found within Microsoft's Xbox consoles takes away the work and investment in building even more emulation capabilities on a server level, which would only add additional overhead to the streaming service. By using AMD's own custom hardware, Microsoft circumvents this issue - but entrenches itself even more on AMD's own product portfolio, both now and in the foreseeable future.

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