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Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Amazon Luna: Introducing Amazon’s Cloud Gaming Service

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Amazon has decided to dabble into the gaming sector, which brings us to the new invention by Amazon. Amazon’s Luna cloud gaming is an advancement in the gaming sector, and its platform is powered by Nvidia GPUs and Windows servers.

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Due to the support from Windows, Luna is able to support more than 100 games and also enable game developers to transfer existing windows games over to the Amazon Web Services (AWS) instance.

This provides subscribers access to cloud stream their games. Publishers like Ubisoft are also supported by the backend Windows to host their digital services (Uplay) on Amazon’s Luna platform.

Hardware

In a report from The Verge, Amazon claims that Luna will run completely with Intel’s Cascade Lake CPUs and Nvidia’s T4 GPUs. It is a standard version of Amazon’s EC2 G4 server instance that operates on Windows. The Nvidia’s T4 GPUs are based on Turing architecture that powers the older generation RTX 2080and RTX 2080 Ti graphics cards.

A single T4 GPU (though Amazon might be using multiple) provides support for the Microsoft’s raytracing technology and 8.1 teraflops of performance. What these all means is that the GPU should provide smooth gaming performance at 1080p resolution, which Luna currently supports.

Amazon claims that Luna will feature 4K soon, but it might be challenging for Luna on this hardware unless they try to dial down graphical settings in some high-end games. Nevertheless, it would be nice to see better specs on Luna.

Amazon has two main cloud streaming competitors, Google and Microsoft. The two competitors use entirely different operating systems and hardware for each of their cloud gaming services. Google operates with a custom AMD GPU capable of providing 10.7 teraflops of GPU performance and a custom x86 processor powered by Linux.

While Microsoft uses Xbox One S hardware in its server blades, which offers just 1.4 teraflops of GPU performance, and they all run on Windows-powered custom Xbox OS. Microsoft also claims to transfer xCloud servers over to Xbox Series hardware, scheduled to be released in 2021.

Sony is also using custom PlayStation hardware for its own PlayStation Now services. Amazon made use of Nvidia hardware and Windows software, and also embraces of its rival services and stores. This gives Amazon a big advantage over Google’s Stadia service.

Stadia have struggled to attract enough subscribers and content to make its model appealing, and Google’s claims of YouTube integration have failed to come to reality. What this all means is that there are only 90 games on Stadia currently, compared to that of Luna, which has more than 100, or that of Microsoft’s Xbox Game Pass, which has 150 games.

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Nvidia’s GeForce has the highest number of games, ranging over 800 games. Some of the games that will be available for the early access for Luna, according to Amazon, are Yooka-Laylee, Resident Evil 7, The Impossible Lair, GRID, and Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons.

Cost

Subscription to Luna Plus will cost $5.99 per month but as part of an invite-only early access program. A custom controller will also be sold at $50 (with an early access discount), though gamers will be able to use PlayStation DualShock 4 OR Xbox One controller and also with keyboard and mouse to play.

The minimum internet connection required to stream games on Luna, as recommended by Amazon, is 10Mps and 35Mps required to play in 4K. Amazon claims that Luna will be available on PC, Mac, Fire TV, and web apps for iPad and iPhone running on iOS 14.

Windows would make it easier for developers to transfer their existing games to Amazon’s Luna service, all with Nvidia’s full driver support. That would lessen the stress compared to that Linux servers and Stadia. That probably one reason why Amazon already released 100 games ready for its Luna service, which launched with an early access phase.

Amazon has made an interesting cloud platform with Twitch integration and content to back it up. It still needs to convince its customers that Luna is worth their time and money, and that is something Stadia has fought against with game console makers like Sony and Microsoft.

Amazon has released no exact date for the official launch of Luna, but people interested can request an early access invitation on the Amazon website.

Adenaya Damilola
Adenaya Damilola is a content creator and an aspiring biochemist. He is interested in music, poetry, and tech. He is also an animal lover.
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