At GDC 2019, Google unveiled what had been expected. Following initial project streaming, the announcement of a streaming service for games follows. Stadia brings games to the PC, the tablet, the smartphone and the TV via the cloud.
Google infrastructure for game streaming
Stadia turns the data center into a gaming platform. Google is using its global network infrastructure with over 7,500 local nodes (edge nodes), which is expected to provide low latency in gaming. The necessary computing power is provided by servers with high GPU performance. While Project Stream still a 1080p resolution was used, Stadia is to stream games with up to 4K at 60 FPS and with HDR and surround sound. Google plans to expand cloud gaming to 8K and 120+ Hertz in the future.
Stadia streams on PC, TV, tablet and smartphone
Stadia does not require a console or box, but streams directly to desktop, notebook, smartphone, tablet or TV. To operate the TV, a Google Chromecast Ultra was used on the GDC stage.
With Stadia also games and videos about games are to merge. Shown was the ability to directly from a YouTube video by clicking on the “Play Now” button, the game shown in just “5 seconds” to start.
Although Stadia should also allow playing with existing input devices such as controllers, keyboard and mouse, Google has presented its own hardware with the Stadia Controller. Reminiscent of a Sony dual-shock controller design with symmetrically arranged analogue sticks, the Stadia Controller features typical controls such as buttons, a directional pad and shoulder buttons. Exclusive are the Capture Button to record and share the gaming experience on YouTube at the push of a button, as well as the Google Assistant Button, which in conjunction with a microphone support by the language assistant offers. According to Google, if developers integrate it, it will be possible to get help with the game by voice command. Via WLAN, the controller should connect directly to the Stadia cloud.
AMD introduces custom GPU
While the players do not require high computing power for playing the games, the data center as a platform in particular a high GPU performance is in demand. The “Custom GPU” of AMD is to achieve a computing power of 10.7 TeraFLOPS and thus a higher computing power than the current game consoles PlayStation 4 Pro (4.2 TeraFLOPS) and Xbox One X (6 TeraFLOPS) together. The graphics chip should have 56 Compute Units and HBM2 memory. AMD currently offers such a configuration with the Vega architecture in the form of the desktop graphics card Radeon RX Vega 56, which comes with its 56 CUs to 10.9 TeraFLOPS.
Also with the main processor Google speaks of “custom CPU” and calls with x86 architecture including AVX2 support as well as 2.7 GHz however only roughly rough data. Hyperthreaded indicates hyperthreading, an Intel-only term for multithreading. Unlike the GPU, however, Google has not named a manufacturer of the CPU; also on the list of partners is missing Intel. Memory is of “16 GB combined VRAM and system RAM with up to 484 GB / s“Speech, which even offers speculation about an APU room. But 8 GB of HBM2 and 8 GB of RAM should be meant. For example, the Radeon RX Vega 64 with its 8 GB HBM2 also offers 484 GB / s.
For developers with Linux, Vulkan and Havok
Even for developers Stadia should be an interface for the creation of new games. Here, Linux and volcano form the basis. With Unity and Unreal, the two leading game engines are already on board as partners, Havok was chosen as physics software.
Doom Eternal will be among the first games on Stadia. The shooter is being developed in parallel for the platforms PC, Nintendo Switch, PS4 and Xbox One. Stadia should also offer the opportunity for cross-platform play.
More than 100 studios are said to have already received dev kits for developing games for Stadia. Google also wants to create games in the future and has, inter alia, brought Jade Raymond on board, which is known, among other things for their work on the assassin's Creed series by Ubisoft. Raymond leads the way Stadia Games and Entertainment Google's own developer studio.
Starting shot this year
In the course of the year Stadia should start in selected countries. Among them, according to Google, the US, Canada, the UK and many other European countries.
Completely unclear is the financial side. Subscribing to other streaming services would be an option. More details, including the scope of the games, are expected in the summer.