GDC: Why OnLive “can’t possibly work”

Thursday, 26 March 2009 11:16 GMT By Mike


Eurogamer’s tech expert Richard Leadbetter has written an article on just why he thinks the newly-announced Cloud gaming service OnLive “can’t possibly work.”

The first reason is because:

To give the kind of performance OnLive is promising (720p at 60 frames-per-second) realistically its datacenters are going to require the processing equivalent of a high-end dual core PC running a very fast GPU – a 9800GT minimum, and maybe something a bit meatier depending on whether the 60fps gameplay claim works out, and which games will actually be running. That’s for every single connection OnLive is going to be handling.

Then there’s:

First of all, bear in mind that YouTube’s encoding farms take a long, long time to produce their current, offline 2MBps 30fps HD video. OnLive is going to be doing it all in real-time via a PC plug-in card, at 5MBps, and with surround sound too.

It sounds brilliant, but there’s one rather annoying fact to consider: the nature of video compression is such that the longer the CPU has to encode the video, the better the job it will do. Conversely, it’s a matter of fact that the lower the latency, the less efficient it can be.

OnLive overlord Steve Perlmen has said that the latency introduced by the encoder is 1ms. Think about that; he’s saying that the OnLive encoder runs at 1000fps. It’s one of the most astonishing claims I’ve ever heard. It’s like Ford saying that the new Fiesta’s cruising speed is in excess of the speed of sound.

There’s plenty more to get your teeth into through this link.

Whether it will or won’t work, only time will tell.