Many are wondering what the heck this “Cloud computing” touted by Microsoft and somehow echoed by Sony can do and cannot do, and PlayStation 4’s Lead Architect March Cerny has his own answer to that question, as he explained as part of an interview on IGN.
It’s possible to do computing in the Cloud, PlayStation 4 can do computing in the Cloud. We do something today: Matchmaking is done in the Cloud and it works very well. If we think about things that don’t work well… Trying to boost the quality of the graphics, that won’t work well in the Cloud.
There you have it, straight from the Lion’s mouth. If someone tells you that the “Power of the Cloud” will magically boost the visuals of your games, he’s probably pulling your leg.
(Editor’s Note: the following part is not from the interview, and it’s just the Editor’s technical assessment) Of course Cloud computing can somehow free resources to be used with graphics, but that’s an entirely different story altogether: if you offload elements like AI, limited physics, world simulation and similar to cloud computing, the local machine has more resources that can indeed be dedicated to rendering visuals.
The catch is that those elements offloaded to the cloud need to have a very limited data footprint. Larger data footprints will result in interfering with bandwidth to be used for online gaming and connectivity, and even more so will cause the game to be overly reliant on the quality of the internet connection, severely limiting what developers can do with it.
They surely don’t want the game to suddenly break or elements of it to start lagging of behaving unreliably because the user’s internet had a hiccup. This limitation means that the influence of cloud computing on graphics, even when freeing resources for them, is most probably very limited.