Day two of NVIDIA’s tech event began with a keynote from CEO Jen-Hsun Huang about NVIDIA’s commitment to gaming and bringing high-quality gaming technology to all platforms, specifically referencing the PC, Android and cloud gaming. He also re-iterated yesterday’s announcements regarding PhysX Flex, GI Works, and Flame Works, which you can read about right here. Jen-Hsun said NVIDIA’s ultimate goal with all of the tech and tools it has created is to be for gaming, what ILM is like to movie industry. Interesting.
Jen Hsun then begun talking about a new feature coming to SHIELD in an OTA update dubbed GameStream. He said his ultimate vision is to allow users to enjoy their games on any screen and that NVIDIA wants users to be able to play their games like they play streaming video. GameStream is designed to enable that capability.
Connect the SHIELD to a TV and have the SHIELD linked to your GeForce-equipped PC streaming content to a TV. A wireless Bluetooth controller can then be linked to the SHIELD. Close the lid on the SHIELD and it switches into console mode. You can use the wireless Bluetooth controller to control he SHIELD and then play compatible PC games, wirelessly from your couch. NVIDIA showed Batman: Arkham Origins running at 1080p, scaled up on an 84” 4K TV, using a Titan-equipped PC as the host platform.
Jen-Hsun also used the stage to announce a new holiday bundle which will be available later this month. With GeForce GTX 770, 780, or Titan cards, buyers will get free copies of Batman: Arkham Origins, Splinter Cell: Blacklist, and Assassins Creed – Black Flag, plus $100 off on a SHIELD. With a GeForce GTX 660 or 760, you get Splinter Cell: Blacklist, and Assassins Creed – Black Flag, plus $50 off on a SHIELD. Those are some awesome game titles, and SHIELD—one of which we happen to be giving away right now—just got much more affordable, if you also happen to be upgrading your graphics card, that is.
Jen-Hsun then announced a new feature of ShadowPlay, which will be coming on October 28. If you’re unfamiliar with ShadowPlay, it’s the video capture / streaming feature built into GeForce Experience. By utilizing the H.264 video encoder built-in to every Kepler-based GPU, ShadowPlay can record up to the last 20 minutes of gameplay footage at resolutions up to 1080p at 30 FPS, and can write it to a file at the touch of a button. ShadowPlay works in the background and will consume a certain amount of RAM depending on the length of the recording (around 500MB for a 3 minute video), but compared to software-based video encoders like FRAPS, using ShadowPlay results in less of a performance hit, so you can still game while recording.
Coming later this year, Jen-Hsun announced that ShadowPlay will be able to stream directly to TWITCH. He showed (along with the help of Tom Peterson) Splinter Cell streaming at 720p, with virtually no effect on frame rates, which remained above 120 FPS throughout the demo. There was about a 2 second lag between the live game and the stream, but that’s to be expected and doesn’t really matter since the streams are not interactive.
Next, Jen-Hsun moved on and begun talking about the virtues of SLI, and how pairing multiple GPUs together can give users a taste for how next-gen GPUs will perform a couple of years down the road. But to truly benefit from a multi-CPU configuration, it must improve performance and the user experience by outputting frames smoothly and consistently, without visual artifacts, lag or stutter. This is an obvious dig at AMD’s well documented multi-GPU issues, which the company has just recently started to address with the frame-pacing feature incorporated into its Catalyst driver suite. Jen-Hsun then gave a quick refresher on the challenged with doing multi-GPU well and talked about how GPUs scan frames out to a display and how enabling or disabling V-Sync affects image quality (tearing, etc.) and lag.
Then Jen-Hsun announced what he called “one of the most important works NVIDIA has done for computer graphics.” The feature is called G-SYNC. It’s an end-to-end architecture that starts with a Kepler-based GPU and ends with a G-SYNC module within a display. The G-SYNC module is piece of hardware that replaces the scaler inside a display/gaming monitor. Asus, Ben-Q, Philips and Viewsonic have already signed up to offer G-SYNC enabled monitors.
What G-SYNC does is keep the display and GPU in sync, regardless of frame rates or whether or not V-Sync is enabled. Instead of the monitor controlling the timing, and refreshing at say every 60Hz, with G-SYNC the timing control is transferred to the GPU. The monitor shouldn’t update until a frame is done drawing. And as soon as a frame is done drawing, the monitor should update as soon as it can. With the technology, lag is reduced to 2-3ms, the screen is only updated when it needs to be (at up to 144Hz), and tearing is fundamentally eliminated.
A live demo of the technology in action doesn’t do it justice because the camera can’t pick up all of the issues being displayed on-screen, but we recorded some of the action anyway. To see it live it to truly appreciate G-SYNC. The animation on the G-SYNC enabled screen was as smooth as silk and devoid of any synchronization-related anomalies, whereas the traditional screen showed significant stutter and tearing. The difference live was like night and day.
We’re told the G-SYNC module supports resolutions up to 4K and that it will eventually enable single-scaler, 4K displays, which eliminate the need to tile the output like the current 4K PC displays on the market.
Finally, to close the show, NVIDIA announced the new GeForce GTX 780 Ti. It’s due on store shelves in mid-November, no specs were revealed. Based on the branding, we’re sure you can all figure out where it fits in NVIDIA’s product stack, however.
Stay tuned for more out of NVIDIA event as it happens.
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