For nearly 20 years, the console wars have been the purview of just three companies: Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo. Of the three, Microsoft is the newcomer, with “just” 17 years in the business, compared with 24 for Sony and 35 for Nintendo if you count from the Japanese release of the original Famicom. Since Sony entered the market with the PlayStation, no firm besides Microsoft has successfully broken into the major console market and one (Sega) was forced to exit it. A great deal of verbiage has been written about the difficulty of breaking into consoles, focusing on the huge amounts of money it typically takes and the need to be willing to take a loss on hardware to push software to market. But now there are rumors that Google wants in on this space, and that it might move on that sooner, rather than later.
Now, you could maybe try to get ahead of some of this with better compression technology and possibly a custom approach to an existing standard, but that’s going to require better hardware for encode/decode. H.265 may crunch video into about half the bandwidth of H.264, but it also eats significantly more CPU power to do it. On the positive side, if Google wanted to go the local route — or offer a box that has a mixture of both cloud and local gaming — it has a better platform with which to do it than it used to. There’s an Android-specific Vulkan API implementation and OpenGL ES 3.2 added support for tessellation, and ASTC texture compression via the Android Extension Pack (AEP).
While Google faces incredibly long odds in any effort to bring a new console to market, both in terms of attracting developer support and building a viable hardware platform, the company does have a few specific advantages it brings to the table. Owning services like YouTube give it a powerful ability to incorporate game streaming and content sharing from its own device. Instead of attempting to stream games from a local router already straining to handle the game itself, Google might be able to serve that data off its own infrastructure, provided you used a Google service.
The most obvious hardware partner for Google in all this, at least if it’s targeting a box that would compete against Sony / Microsoft / Nintendo, is Nvidia. While AMD has done a tremendous job with the PS4 and Xbox wins, Nvidia has expertise in key areas where Google would benefit: ARM CPUs (both hardware and software), Android, GPU design and development (again, both hardware and software), and the microconsole and console business. It’s the ARM and Android expertise that put this one over the edge for Team Green — if, of course, what Google wants to build is a relatively high-end, premium product. If the company is looking to enter the market with something that’d be entirely Google-branded and “owned,” it has a plethora of options, from major partners like Qualcomm to smaller SoC manufacturers like AllWinner.
It’s not clear yet when Google will announce products, if it ever does. Long-running projects that are dropped or picked up on a whim is, after all, kind of Google’s Thing. But the company’s entry into the console market could fundamentally shake up the space, if it can win traction for its offering and platform.
How to Build a Face Mask Detector With a Jetson Nano 2GB and AlwaysAI
Nvidia continues to make AI at the edge more affordable and easier to deploy. So instead of simply running through the benchmarks to review the new Jetson Nano 2GB, I decided to tackle the DIY project of building my own face mask detector.
Sony’s PlayStation 5 Debuts to Strong Reviews
Reviews have come in for Sony's PlayStation 5, and while they're a bit preliminary for the same reason as the Xbox Series X, they're broadly positive about Sony's latest gaming effort.
PS5 Outperforms Xbox Series X in Tests as Sony Promises More Consoles
Two interesting pieces of news today: The PlayStation 5 continues to punch above its weight class against the Xbox Series X, and Sony is pledging that it will get more consoles in stock and into consumer hands, pronto.