Nvidia’s chief executive officer, Jensen Huang, has been in a chatty mood of late thanks to CES, recently firing flak at rival AMD’s freshly unveiled GPU, and now he’s been talking about the GeForce Now streaming service, and how it can never fully replace a dedicated gaming PC.
This is perhaps a bit more surprising, but then Huang really does have to be realistic about exactly what a game streaming service can offer.
As you might be aware, GeForce Now is currently up and running, albeit still in testing as a free beta. And Huang says it’s going great guns. In fact, in response to a query about how well the service is doing in a press Q&A session at CES, as reported by VentureBeat, Huang noted: “It’s fantastic. We have hundreds of thousands of concurrent users.”
But he further clarified that with the statement: “If your question is, ‘How long before streaming can be as good as a PC?’ the answer is never.”
And of course he’s right: streaming can never be quite as good as a local experience – playing the game right there on your PC – because there will always be a little lag introduced.
Huang observed: “The reason for that is because there’s one problem we haven’t figured out how to solve, and that’s the speed of light. When you’re playing esports, you need the response in a few milliseconds, not a few hundred milliseconds. It’s a fundamental problem. It’s just the laws of physics.”
So while GeForce Now is currently aiming to be able to stream games to an average (non-gaming) laptop allowing players to benefit from frame rates of 60 fps (or better, depending on the exact game) in Full HD resolution with a lag of something like 16ms – as we saw recently – that won’t be enough for professionals.
Something in the order of 16ms is great for your average gamer – and probably not even a noticeable amount of lag to them – but to an esports pro, the difference between that amount of delay and near-zero latency is the difference between life and death.
And of course, as we noted when we tried out GeForce Now a few months back – being very impressed with its performance – you won’t always have an ideal internet connection, and things could obviously get very laggy if that’s the case.
PC is at the core
Nvidia’s CEO underlined the importance of the PC, stating that: “Our strategy is this: we believe PC gaming is here to stay. We believe everyone will at least need a PC, because apparently knowledge is still important.
“You can’t do everything on TV. You can’t live with TV online. But you could live with a PC alone. PCs are used by young people all over the world. It’s their first computing device, or maybe second after a mobile device. Between those two devices, those are the essential computing platforms for society. We believe that’s here to stay.”
Huang further observed: “Our core starts with PC. That’s our center point. That’s why GeForce Now plays PC games.”
In other words, the PC is the linchpin that the streaming service is built around, and GeForce Now gives gamers the added ability to carry on with whatever they’re playing when they are out and about using a mobile device.
Nvidia’s broad message, then, seems to be that in a world of ultra-fast internet and 5G mobile connectivity, the PC will still be a vital piece – indeed the central piece – of the computing puzzle.
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Darren is a freelancer writing news and features for TechRadar (and occasionally T3) across a broad range of computing topics including CPUs, GPUs, various other hardware, VPNs, antivirus and more. He has written about tech for the best part of three decades, and writes books in his spare time (his debut novel - 'I Know What You Did Last Supper' - was published by Hachette UK in 2013).