NVIDIA SHIELD Tablet Update for November: Android 5.0, "Green Box", GRID Gaming Service

Subject: Systems, Mobile | November 13, 2014 - 02:48 PM |
Tagged: shield tablet, shield, nvidia, grid, geforce grid

Today, NVIDIA has announced the November update for their SHIELD Tablet, which is really about three announcements that are rolled up together.

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As expected, the SHIELD Tablet is getting a roll-up to Android 5.0 Lollipop and its new, “Material Design” style guide. NVIDIA's took the opportunity to refresh the SHIELD HUB (my shift key must think that this is an MSI announcement by now...) in the same design specification. While interesting, the two other announcements probably beat it out, especially the GRID streaming service (and how it relates to the Xbox One and the PlayStation 4).

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But before we get to GRID, let's talk “The Green Box”. In May, NVIDIA sent us a green crowbar to mark the availability of Half-Life 2 and Portal on the NVIDIA SHIELD. These were full, native ports of the PC title to ARM and Android that is exclusive to the NVIDIA SHIELD. With the November update, Half-Life 2: Episode One has also been ported to the platform. The three games, Portal, Half-Life 2, and Episode One, are also packaged in “The Green Box” bundle, which will be included free-of-charge with the SHIELD Tablet 32GB. Note that, while the games are included with the tablet, they require a controller to play, which is not included.

Now we talk about GRID.

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Netflix is a popular service where people can watch a variety of movies from their rolling catalog. It will not replace ownership of certain, intrinsically valuable titles, but there is probably options for anyone who wants to consume some form of entertainment. GRID is a similar service for video games, and it is not the first. We took a look at a preview of OnLive in 2010, connecting to a server about 2400 miles away, which is over twice the maximum intended range, and found the experience somewhat positive for games except Unreal Tournament 3 at that relatively extreme latency. Another company, GaiKai, was purchased by Sony and rebranded as PlayStation Now. It will serve up a selection of games from the PS3 catalog. Again, content on these services can be pulled at any time, but if you are just looking for the entertainment value, something else will probably be there to scratch your itch.

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The interesting part that I have been teasing throughout this entire post is the performance of NVIDIA GRID. PlayStation Now is rated at 192 GFLOPs, which is the theoretical GPU compute throughput of the PS3's RSX chip. GRID, on the other hand, is rated for 2448 GFLOPs (~2.5 TFLOPs). This is higher than the PlayStation 4, and almost twice the GPU performance of the Xbox One. On the PC side, it is roughly equivalent to the GeForce GTX 760 Ti.

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This compute rating has a hidden story, too. Back in 2011, Epic Games demoed “Samaritan” in Unreal Engine 3. This was the bar that Epic Games set for Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo to mark a new console generation. When Unreal Engine 4 was unveiled at the end of E3 2012, it was embodied in the Elemental Demo, which also ran at (you guessed it) 2.5 TFLOPs. At the PlayStation 4 (1.9 TFLOPs) announcement, the demo was scaled back with reduced particles and lighting complexity. It was not shown at either Xbox One (1.3 TFLOPs) announcement at all.

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What all of that means is simple: NVIDIA GRID is the only fixed hardware platform (that I am aware of) to meet Epic's vision of a next-gen gaming system. I say fixed, of course, because the PC can over-double it per card, with some games scaling to four discrete GPUs. This also says nothing about the CPU performance, system memory, or video memory, but it has the GPU in the right place for a next gen platform.

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The NVIDIA GRID preview will launch in November for North America, with East Coast and West Coast servers. It will expand in December for Western Europe, and in “Q2” for Asia Pacific. The service will be free for SHIELD users until June 30th, 2015. The Android 5.0 Update for the SHIELD Tablet will be available on November 18th.

Source: NVIDIA

November 13, 2014 | 03:17 PM - Posted by Gumby

All that sounds great can't wait till it arrives.

November 13, 2014 | 03:18 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

new version of android? who cares
you get 3 free really old games? I'll admit, free games are nice, but not really worth an announcement
GRID? absolutely no thanks! The last thing I want is to stream a game running on a server somewhere really far away. Onlive is a bad example and it sucked. Unless i live literally next door to the server, then the latency is just not worth it and I don't care how much cheaper the games would be playing it from a service from that.
I'd rather have a low tier graphics card running low settings and pay full price of a game than have some far away server running and rendering the game and have latency in it.

November 13, 2014 | 03:39 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

I was huge into android till i realized literally every new version came with bunch of lackluster features still rocking the same ugly UI every version comes with minor cosmetic changes and after all these years still experience lag/hitches even with top end hardware.

November 13, 2014 | 03:49 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

It' sang interesting concept but too expensive.

The controller should be included for free.

November 14, 2014 | 05:43 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)


November 15, 2014 | 10:42 AM - Posted by @JosiahCarlson (not verified)

Insightful reading in the comparison between PS Now, current consoles, and GRID - and how that relates to the "Elemental challenge". Thank you.

November 15, 2014 | 10:43 AM - Posted by @JosiahCarlson (not verified)

Insightful reading in the comparison between PS Now, current consoles, and GRID - and how that relates to the "Elemental challenge". Thank you.

November 15, 2014 | 01:53 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

With Nvidia/IBM building supercomputers around its Nvlink, and Licensed from OpenPower power8's, Nvidia could begin offering Home servers with the ability to run everything in a house, and stream gaming services to any shield tablet device in the home. It's nice that Nvidia has its grid service, but some users will want more power for their home based systems. Nvidia needs to get a Power8 license, if they do not already have one, and start offering complete Home server based home systems, that can manage an entire automated house's connected systems. Being able to license the Power8, and soon Powre9 server designs, and offer more powerful than even Xeon, CPUs with high speed Nvlink to stacked memory, and Nvidia's GPUs, All sharing unified memory address space, will make any x86 based solution uncompetitive. Nvidia has positioned itself well in the post x86 dominated world, by integrating its GPU technology, and interconnect technology, so closely to the Licensable Power8 IP/ISA. That recent supercomputer win for Nvidia, and IBM, using the now openly licensable Power8 designs, as well as other Motherboard/server companies like Tyan, offering Licensed Power8 server CPU designs, and power8 motherboards, will allow for more competition in the HPC/server, and home PC market beginning in 2015. The Power8 is a RISC design, that has something that even ARM designs lack, and that is SMT ability, up to 8 processor threads per core, and the open licensing of the power8, and future Power9 designs will create the same level of competition, and innovation that is happening around the mobile market, with no one monolithic manufacturer in control of the CPU supply chain. The Licensed IP market is beginning its takeover of the HPC/supercomputer market, and the licensed power8s, and future designs, will be made into many derived CPU/SOC products, from supercomputers all the way down to PCs/Laptops, and mobile designs. The Power8 design has some definite advantages being a RISC based microarchitecture over the CISC designs, the same advantages that the ARM microarchitecture has, plus Power8 has SMT.

IBM through OpenPower, is doing what ARM holdings did with its ARM IP/ISA, and now IBM like ARM holdings, will become more of a design bureau for the Power* reference designs, IBM is out of the chip fabrication business, but not the CPU microarchitecture design business. IBM however will still be a user of Power8/power* SOCs, as the designer and end user of its own CPUs designs, they will be fabbed by Globalfoundries, and possibly others, who will take licenses and have their own customized Power* made without any middlemen's costs added to the SOC SKUs. You only need to look at the mobile market, and the ARM based custom, and reference designs, and see what is ahead for future PCs/Laptops CPU/SOC SKUs.

November 16, 2014 | 03:09 PM - Posted by drbaltazar (not verified)

Literally streaming game?outch!I all assume h265,nobody in america can afford the bandwith,so basiclyit is a in house toy!men cloud suck!corporation privacy infringing tool might be awesome for them but cloud so far in America is useless for normal .

November 16, 2014 | 03:13 PM - Posted by drbaltazar (not verified)

Gamer want to play wow on the go without having to borrow money from the yet to be born obama the 69th

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