Streaming video games could be so great, if it wasn't for maddening lag time. Microsoft researchers have a solution in DeLorean, a "speculative execution system" that predicts what you'll do next and shows you the most likely result—before you've even mashed a single button.
In a research paper published this week, the Microsoft Research team explained that DeLorean delivers a player's most likely moves ahead of time, loading the video response in advance based on how previous players interact with the game. From the research paper:
DeLorean produces speculative rendered frames of future possible outcomes, delivering them to the client one entire RTT [round-trip time, the time it takes for an input to reach the server and return a response] ahead of time; clients perceive no latency. To achieve this, DeLorean combines: 1) future input prediction; 2) state space subsampling and time shifting; 3) misprediction compensation; and 4) bandwidth compression.
It works astoundingly well: In testing with Doom 3 and Fable 3, DeLorean was able to mask a round-trip time of up to 250 milliseconds, a lag time that would usually make for an utterly unplayable game. Players weren't able to discern a difference between local gameplay and the DeLorean-powered cloud system.
There's a drawback, though: DeLorean's data-heavy setup can send nearly five times as much information than a simple real-time gaming stream. That kind of load would require a seriously beefy connection. Suffice it to say that DeLorean probably won't be coming to your Xbox in the immediate future—but if it does, we'll actually be playing games in the future. [Microsoft Research via TechCrunch]