Microsoft’s Xbox One Cloud Claims Examined And Ridiculed
Not everyone believes their "for every Xbox One available in your living room we’ll have three in the cloud available" statement.
One of the more interesting claims made my Microsoft during their Xbox One reveal concerned their own cloud computing initiative. They claimed that, thanks to over 300,000 dedicated servers, games would be enhanced in all sorts of ways, like calculating lighting and producing complex models.
They even claimed that "[for] every Xbox One available in your living room we'll have three of those devices in the cloud available." A bold claim indeed, and various parties have decided to tackle them head on. In one corner you have Eurogamer's Digital Foundery to see if what Microsoft proposes is possible.
Basically, a game would have to be structured so that it is broken into parts and said bits & pieces are given to different entities to work on, and afterwards put back together. This actually exists already, thanks to the multi-core processors of certain hardware, like the PS3.
But factoring the cloud into the equation means also facing two very significant challenges: latency and bandwidth. By themselves, they'll be a headache for both game makers and game players alike, but combination sounds like it can be veritable nightmare in certain instances.
When determining which is worse, latency, while definitely a concern, appears to be somewhat workable. Wheras the same cannot be said for bandwidth:
"Wildly variable levels of bandwidth worldwide are another problem, but even the fastest consumer-level internet connections in no way compare to the internal bandwidth of a modern console."
The most compelling question is whether or not all this added horsepower in the sky was factored into the One's creation or not. And to that, Digital Foundry states:
"There's very little in the official or unofficial leaked Xbox One specs to suggest that cloud support was integral to the design of the new console hardware."
The Digital Foundry analysis nice and long and detailed, definitely worth a look when one has the time. Though in the other corner we have Jonathan Blow, who summed up his thoughts in a far more succinct manner. Via Twitter, which Destructoid compiled for everyone, for the sake of convenience.
While Digital Foundry is somewhat skeptical of Microsoft's claims, the creator of Braid and The Witness thinks they are full of it:
"More cloud processing BS… Someone please call their bluff on this.
Also, someone please ask if these fabled 300,000 servers are real hardware, or just the total size of Windows Azure (which then implies XBL would only ever get a portion of that). To put it more concretely: a journalist could compute the installation and yearly maintenance cost for 300,000 servers, and then ask Microsoft where that VERY LARGE chunk of money is coming from (And how it could possibly make business sense for a game console)."