Although Microsoft have been pushing the power of the cloud ever since the Xbox One’s announcement, we have yet to see anything that will help the console push barriers. Granted that Microsoft have showcased a single tech demonstration that gives us a good taste of the cloud’s potential but then again players need to see something in action to have faith in this technology.
Even if Microsoft is able to implement cloud powered games on the Xbox One, they still have to beat the biggest beast of them all, latency. Simply put, majority of the locations across the world, including some places in the USA, do not have latency free connections. Ever a round trip latency of 100 milliseconds will create issues for seamless cloud gameplay. In short, if you are cloud gaming developer, latency is your nightmare and this is perhaps one of the reasons why we may actually never see cloud powered games on the Xbox One in the future. However Microsoft is working to resolving this issue.
In a research paper published by Microsoft, the development team is working on DeLorean. DeLorean is an execution system that is able to cover up or mask latency up to 250 milliseconds. The system’s algorithm is based on predicting future inputs, state space subsampling and time shifting, and misprediction compensation. It also includes algorithms for bandwidth compression which is crucial as it will reduce download times and improve response times.
DeLorean does not work on buffering the games but instead depends on mitigating latency via speculative execution. The system considers the user’s historical actions and based on accumulative data, the system decides a list of actions that are highly predictable. But what about actions that cannot be predicted? For that purpose, state space subsampling and time shifting is used to predict a long list of user actions. State space subsampling also helps in narrowing the important data only, saving bandwidth in the process.
Now there might be a possibility that the predictions were not correct and in this case the system will correct that frame using interpolation. This process is called misprediction compensation and it employs a checkpoint system to recover the data in case of an error. And lastly, the system uses a custom video encoding scheme that will save bandwidth.
The developers have already tested out DeLorean games like DOOM 3 and Fable 3, and according to the research paper the results have been satisfying. We encourage you through the research paper as it has additional information regarding the underlying architecture of DeLorean.