Streaming video games could be so clutch, 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]