NVIDIA at GDC 2015: Amazing hardware set to stream
It’s been five years in the making, and after weeks of speculation, Nvidia has announced a new revolutionary television, a game console, and the world’s first game streaming service…ALL IN ONE!
Jen-Hsun the Nvidia CEO took to the stage to announce the the Nvidia SHIELD, a new Android TV/gaming console that’s approximately the size of a small tablet. The SHIELD will be the first 4K Android TV set top box, eclipsing anything out on the market today. During the demo, Jensen showed off a clip of The Avengers playing from the Google Play Store library, complete with in-movie tie ins to Google Search so you can check out more info about your fave actors/actresses while in the middle of the movie. Jensen demonstrated this by excitedly doing a search one Scarlett Johansson, much to the crowd’s delight. It also offers seamless integration with Youtube and other search suggestions.
Next, some music was demoed, as Jensen suggested Justin Bieber (which was met with a chorus of boos). Some Journey then played while Jensen showed off the Google Play Music integration, all accessible in the blink of an eye. Your user info from your Google account will all be synced (as expected) so you can also access all your photos as well.
The SHIELD Remote was shown next, which is a very small, sleek remote that’s slightly reminiscent of the Amazon Fire TV remote. The SHIELD Remote has a voice search button, two mics (one on the top and one on the bottom), a touchpad enabled volume slider along the bottom, and also serves as a bluetooth receiver so you can pair bluetooth devices to the SHIELD.
Android TV is all well and good, but the most intriguing part of the announcement was the reveal that the SHIELD will also be a fully functional gaming console. It utilizes the Tegra X1 chip, giving the SHIELD an unprecedented amount of power. With the TX1, the SHIELD is up to 35x’s faster than Apple TV, and can offer twice the performance of an Xbox 360 at ⅕ of the power, all while being whisper quiet. The SHIELD will be compatible with the SHIELD Controller, and will have a large number of upcoming games available in the SHIELD Store.
“SHIELD will change the way we enjoy digital entertainment at home,” said Jen-Hsun Huang, president and CEO of NVIDIA. “It’s an incredibly powerful, efficient and advanced living room entertainment device. It’s the best Android TV experience. And it can transform into a serious gaming machine. It’s made to game.”
To drive this point home, Jensen brought out a number of guests, starting with Randy Pitchford of Gearbox. Randy announced that the Borderlands series will be coming to SHIELD, and showed a demo of the Pre-Sequel, which was running a full PC version off the SHIELD. I want to reiterate that this is the FULL PC VERSION, not a mobile port like Portal and Half Life 2 was. Next, Croteam showed The Talos Principle running on the SHIELD. Again, it was the full PC version, not a mobile port. Tim Willits of id Software came out next to show Doom 3 BFG Edition; again, the full PC version. Finally, the question of “Will it run Crysis?” was brought up, and Cevat Yerli of Crytek came out to show Crysis 3 running off the SHIELD. However, it was a mobile port….JUST KIDDING. It was the full PC version, of course, running off the latest version of CryEngine. Simply amazing.
“Today we are introducing NVIDIA’s first living room entertainment device,” Jen-Hsun Huang told a crowd of more than 900 press, analysts, and game enthusiasts at an event ahead of the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco Tuesday night. “We think people using NVIDIA’s SHIELD console will love watching YouTube in 4K, thanks to the work NVIDIA did to make its Tegra X1 processor support VP9 video decoding,” says Heather Rivera, YouTube’s director of product partnerships.
“I am positively thrilled that NVIDIA has once again proven their commitment to being the best graphics platform for gamers by making it their mission to bring Borderlands 2 and Borderlands: The Pre Sequel natively to the new SHIELD, driven by the incredibly powerful Tegra X1,” says Gearbox Software President Randy Pitchford.
The SHIELD Store will launch with 50+ Android titles. Amongst the titles shown were Resident Evil 5, Metal Gear Rising Revengeance, and more AAA titles.
The final surprise of the evening was the announcement that the GRID streaming service that was in beta, will now launch as the world’s first subscription based game streaming service, which will run streamed games at 720p or 1080p 60 fps. GRID will launch alongside the SHIELD in May, though no pricing plans were revealed. All that was mentioned was that there would be a basic subscription which will come with a number of free games (many of the games from the beta were shown as free titles), and there will be a premium option where you can buy current and upcoming AAA titles (at full price, by the looks of it), and play instantly via GRID. Titles that were shown included the upcoming Batman: Arkham Knight and The WItcher 3.
I went into this presentation with rumors swirling around about a new VR set being announced or possibly a console. With the announcement of the SHIELD, I’m even more excited because the SHIELD has the potential to replace many components of my entertainment setup into one small, sleek, attractive unit. The best part? The SHIELD will launch at $199. Holy moly.