Nvidia CloudLight demo shows cloud-based lighting tech

Monday, 29th July 2013 08:51 GMT By Dave Cook

Nvidia CloudLight is an inexpensive way for developers to apply real-time lighting effects into their game using the cloud. I wont try and act like I understand how it all works as the research paper published online is very technical and I don’t ever want to insult you good people. Check out the video here.

This diagram explains how the effects get from Nvidia’s CloudLight base to the games using it and again, it’s too technical for my feeble journo-brain to comprehend, so check it out and let us know what you think.

Speaking of technical, here’s Nvidia’s own explanation of how CloudLight works:

“We introduce CloudLight, a system for computing indirect lighting in the Cloud to support real-time rendering for interactive 3D applications on a user’s local device. CloudLight maps the traditional graphics pipeline onto a distributed system. That differs from a single-machine renderer in three fundamental ways.

“First, the mapping introduces potential asymmetry between computational resources available at the Cloud and local device sides of the pipeline. Second, compared to a hardware memory bus, the network introduces relatively large latency and low bandwidth between certain pipeline stages. Third, for multi-user virtual environments, a Cloud solution can amortize expensive global illumination costs across users.

“Our new CloudLight framework explores tradeoffs in different partitions of the global illumination workload between Cloud and local devices, with an eye to how available network and computational power influence design decisions and image quality. We describe the tradeoffs and characteristics of mapping three known lighting algorithms to our system and demonstrate scaling for up to 50 simultaneous CloudLight users.”

Does CloudLight sound like a cheaper option of getting lighting effects into a developer’s game? Let us know what you think below.

Thanks GamesHQMedia.



  1. JackThomas

    Thanks for being humble about its complexity, Mr Dave. I don’t understand much of it either!

    Still, the video did shed some light. I hope they do bring this over to next-gen gaming instead of just being a fancy tech demo.

    *Cough* Activision face-rendering tech demo they don’t ever plan to use *Cough*.

    #1 1 year ago
  2. Dave Cook

    @1 Not a problem mate. Gamers and developers are smart, smart people. I’d rather not insult them by pretending to know what this all means.

    #2 1 year ago
  3. JackThomas

    @2 – haha, it’s refreshing to see a journalist like yourself giving it straight and direct instead of mumbling about bullsh*t and pretending to know everything.

    More power to you sir! One of the reasons why I visit this site is your writing. Keep it up buddy!

    #3 1 year ago
  4. EdNorton

    Anyone know what consoles this will be for? Current-gen, next-gen, PC, or all of them?

    #4 1 year ago
  5. Tom Green

    Pretty impressive. Bring it to the PS4 and PC.

    #5 1 year ago
  6. Dave Cook

    @3 many thanks man :) I just don’t see how faking your way through an article or trying to be smart wins anyone any favours. I could sit here for hours trying to learn how this all works, and maybe I would if I planned on writing something bigger on the matter, but I’d rather be honest then try to be above you guys.

    That’s all you’ll ever get with me.

    #6 1 year ago
  7. Kabby

    Might work well for MMO’s since they have to be always online to work anyway.

    #7 1 year ago
  8. xxJPRACERxx

    Really impressive tech but it’s really for low power gfx devices. PS4 and X1 really don’t need this but it’s still really impressive considering the almost non existent lag.

    #8 1 year ago
  9. viralshag

    It’s quite simple Dave, and it really doesn’t take a genius to understand how all this works.

    Obviously, the little Nvidia gremlins that live inside your local machine get told to light some candle and torches by the big-dog Nvidia gremlin that lives in the cloud when there’s meant to be a little bit of light – that’s when they get to work.

    Jeez, journos and their unwillingness to learn…

    #9 1 year ago
  10. Dave Cook

    @9 EDIT: you’re blatantly kidding. Sorry I’m just shattered :P

    #10 1 year ago
  11. VibraniumSpork

    @8 & @9–RaxYUfFNbc/UOgbDGeF1HI/AAAAAAAAEyg/0P6HzwpI12k/s1600/internet-fight.gif

    Sorry, any excuse to post that GIF ^_^

    #11 1 year ago
  12. viralshag

    @10, Haha, dammit I missed what you put before the edit!

    And yeah, of course I am. I don’t care how any of this works as long as it does what it’s supposed to when it’s supposed to.

    @11, :D

    #12 1 year ago
  13. Keivz

    Pretty impressive if you ask me. Think of the possibilities. Offline: prebaked, online: realtime. Or, offline: 30 fps: online: 60 fps.

    Anything that offloads processing from the local device could free up resources for other things as well.

    #13 1 year ago
  14. MrWaffles

    “I wont try and act like I understand how it all works”

    Read this and inmediately thought Stephanie had written the article, it’s just something she also says (a lot?).

    Anyway, the tech is interesting, we’re getting closer to the 1mm thin-clients for gaming :)

    #14 1 year ago
  15. lookingglass

    This is what XBO was built for. It’s good to see some tech demos come out before the games hit. Some of the most demanding objects and effects to render don’t require low latency. Many of these effects can be offloaded to the cloud.

    Realistic grass, foliage, and water are all extremely demanding on local systems and the best examples of these effects bring even the most powerful PCs to their knees. By offloading onto the cloud, rendering the game on what amounts to a super computer, then streaming it to players, the local machine is free to do other things.

    As bandwidth improves and cloud rendering matures, this technology will grow to become an essential part of gaming. Local machine power and storage will be kept minimal and local machines with fixed hardware will experience continual upgrades as the cloud improves.

    The PS4 is going to come out swinging in the graphics arena, but in 5 years when cloud rendering hits its stride the XBO is going to blow by it and land somewhere we can’t expect right now. Developers are smart people. There potential here to really change things and change them immensely.

    #15 1 year ago
  16. TheWulf

    I have to echo what many others have said, Dave. Humility is a good quality to have. I get some of it, other parts are admittedly going over my head. But as with #1, I can cobble enough of an understanding together of what they’re saying.

    This might actually be a good thing for server-side games, such as some multi-player games and MMOs. However, it might also be used as an excuse for always on DRM, which worries me. So there’s definitely potential for good and bad, there. The good being that people with lesser computers could possibly get nicer lighting effects in future MMOs, the bad being that, yeah, this could be used to justify draconian DRM.

    Well, it had to be always online anyway for CloudLight!

    And I suppose that there might be some good in that as it would drive interest towards the project, thus letting people on older computers enjoy better looking games.


    We’ll see what the future holds, I guess.

    #16 1 year ago
  17. TheWulf


    To a degree, yes. Though a half-decent modern computer will have no problems with these elements. What still causes problems however is anti-aliasing and shadows. This is why we still get blobby, low resolution shadows. Shadows and anti-aliasing are system killers.

    I’d love to see something like this, but for shadows.

    #17 1 year ago
  18. Phoenixblight


    THis type of system can do prebaked shadows but you can’t use it for dynamic or things that are done real time. ANd Anti ALiasing can now be done with FXAA which has little to no foot print and most people want know the difference. Also there is SSAO which helps with shadows along with a small footprint.

    Also to note this added lag just for the lighting you tie this in to a multiplayer game like BF4 or other variants and your lag would be horrendous.

    #18 1 year ago

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