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How Cloud Gaming will Change Data Centres

Chris Harris

Cloud gaming refers to a remotely played games, streamed to a screen from a cloud storage facility. This differs significantly from four decades of in-home entertainment, where gamers would normally purchase a console, PC or mobile device that would provide the memory and computing power to run the game. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare is an example of one of the most popular and recent video games, and to achieve a highly realistic and immersive gaming experience the developers have created 175GB of content to power this beast of a game. The size of the game is only half the equation – to process this staggering amount of data, the latest gaming console will set consumers back $500AUD or $2000AUD+ for a PC powerful enough to run it.

A standard data centre rack consists of the following components: Central Processing Unit, Server, RAM, Hard Drive & Power supply. To be able to support cloud gaming, data centres will need to incorporate high-end Graphic Processing Units that will render the game to the end user. The benefit of having these components in a data centre is that they have far more computing power compared to the CPUs in a standard rack, and could therefore take up less floor space. Additionally, during the time that games aren’t being played, the data centre’s powerful GPUs could be used for encryption and AI services that may be operating out of the same data centre.

If we compare cloud gaming to streaming services such as Netflix or Amazon Prime, these providers require vast amounts of storage across all continents to be able to provide their users with on-demand viewing. On average each hour of streaming in standard and HD from these platforms is 1GB and 3GB respectively. Google says their game streaming service Stadia can use between 4GB and 20GB of data per hour. This means that cloud gaming data centres will need to cope with extremely high amounts of data being uploaded and downloaded simultaneously as games requires inputs as well as outputs.

The final and most critical component of cloud gaming, particularly with online games, is network latency, which is the delay in data sent over a network. As most online games are a competition against other players, latency can mean the difference between a win and a loss. If a data centre’s servers aren’t fast enough, players could be left missing targets, or their game might crash. New ideas and evolving technology will need to be utilised to combat network latency for cloud gaming to become the new norm.

The global gaming market in 2019 is tipped to hit $152 billion dollars, a tantalising figure that many data centres are keen to get their slice of. In the end, the successful data centres will need to prove their reliability in network speed, computing power and storage demands to upcoming cloud gaming platforms, as well as the end user who has traditionally played on their own device.

Chris Harris