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Microsoft has their head in the cloud - Destructoid

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A qualified Environmental Chemist who happens to live in a fairly dense city with no real environment or chemistry industry.

I review indie games on another blog and you'll see them pop up here if I think the review is a good or interesting one (along with a shameless bit of self promotion)

I also operate another blog reviewing films and I mean t pick that back up when I can.

I've been gaming since the SNES days. I've been in the pro scene before for tribes 2 but hate the present pro scenes and have no interest in going back into it.

I tend to get into quite a few Betas and love ones without NDA as it means I can write about them. I have even beta tested an xbox 360 game in my time (and no not a normal public Beta one )

In gaming I'm normally the guy looking at the shelf below the AAA titles first to see if there are any great hidden gems.

My gaming drug of choice: Timesplitters in any flavour (Why won't you make Timesplitters 4 Crytek, why ????? I need my fix of insanity )
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So cloud processing, itís the future cries Microsoft, more power than anything else. Allowing expanding of games and some grand processing power allowing huge scope beyond anything we can imagine. If it were going to work.

You see cloud processing hasnít be proved for gaming. Onlive didnít take off and had its own share of issues including lag and that wasnít trying to split the games processing between a console and the servers, it was mostly done on the servers.

It should be said that cloud processing has been used in the past by science.

Yes Iím not sure how many people know of this, some may , I didnít know much about it before I was told a while back though. There have been many such scientific research pieces which have †used of cloud computing to crunch numbers. One popular site being Fold It which allowed users to pitch in to help work of protein structures in the form of fun puzzles and for a while it allowed users allow some of their systems spare resources to help computer fold proteins and work out protein structures. Previously a climate modelling program was released that did similar to help find the most probably patterns for future climate. Other such programs have also been used to pitch in to decode genetic structures and generally number crunch to help further science. I believe as far back as 2000 science had one of its earliest cloud bases computing projects which was when the climate modelling cloud system was first brought out so science has is so far ahead of this and has proved it can be done.

The Problem is gaming, well gaming hasnít proved it to be useful as illustrated below.





Yeh gaming claiming it needs to be online or does much work in the cloud has ended badly for it.
Now Iíve been crunching the numbers a bit and well Microsoft saying the cloud could give everyone the power of the equivalent of 2 more console power using the crowd is complete and utter bovine excrement.

Now letís take the numbers we know and can get hold of to prove this. Microsoft said themselves that they have 300,000 servers so thatís a good starting point to work from. Now we need to know network load that they can expect so for this I took steam data provided by Valve about player numbers and a few weeks ago we were seeing 5 million or there abouts peak users at any given point on steam, its dropped a bit recently but still getting to about 4.9 million so Iím going to use 5 million as the standard peak load, which considering Kinect sold 7.7million in opening week its not insane to use steams 5 million peak figure.†

So it now gets worse you see for each user there has to be two cloud systems for them, so thatís 10 million consoles worth of processing power needed. So letís cut this down a little and do it per server and itís about 33.3 consoles per server. So now thatís plausible right ? Until you realise how much power that requires now if we take the information given by Microsoft now thatís 8GB of Ram and according to sources a 1.6GHz processor and scale these to the server needs. Each server needs 266.4 GB of Ram and 53.26GHz of processing power, so those servers well theyíre going to be big and be running pretty how having to support such high processing power, even going with a giant multi-core system thatís still a lot of processing power needed to run this and it will run damn hot. Iím not even that computer minded and Iím pretty sure that most servers arenít that powerful yet, short of special custom built giant servers.†



^Microsoft to build Deepthought to provide enough processing power ?


Now thereís a big problem with the calculation Iíve just done, the problem is itís assuming every single server is used for processing and as such Microsoft canít host any content on them, no content delivery systems, hosting, cloud saving or dedicated servers. Suddenly I can see a really big problem with this idea of cloud computing.†

That's completely disregarding processing speed and data transfer online which too would add to the lag and seeming unresponsiveness (as seen with some games while playing Onlive)

Now what really put it in comparison for me was googling to find out how many servers Google themselves own, while no exact figures are about to run Google and its associated systems there are an estimated 900,000 servers world wide, and yet even google arenít running cloud processing yet, theyíve run trials on it to see about running games on the cloud and having a Google PC gaming store but nothing has really come of it and as such its believed to have been put on hold.

So Microsoft are claiming they will be able to cloud compute using their servers when the load will be near impossible for servers to handle and when a company with three times more servers has actually backed away and refused to go towards a cloud processing future.†

If Microsoft really plan to go ahead with this, all I can say is the forecast looks like heavy rain from cloudbursts.......
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