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Amazon’s Luna game streaming service is powered by Windows and Nvidia GPUs

Amazon’s new Luna cloud gaming platform is powered by Nvidia’s Windows servers and GPUs. Luna supports more than 100 games thanks to this Windows support, which allows developers to quickly move their existing Windows games to an AWS instance and provide access to streaming in the cloud to subscribers. This support for Windows also allows publishers like Ubisoft to host their own digital services (Uplay) on Amazon’s Luna platform.

Amazon confirmed On the edge that Luna will run on a standard version of the Amazon EC2 G4 server instance running Windows, along with Nvidia’s T4 graphics processors and Intel̵

7;s Cascade Lake processors. Nvidia’s T4 is based on the company’s Turing architecture, which also powers the previous generation RTX 2080 and RTX 2080 Ti graphics cards. One T4 graphics processor (Amazon can use multiple) provides 8.1 teraflop performance and support for Microsoft’s DirectX beam tracking technology.

All this means that it must provide smooth gaming performance at 1080p resolution, which Luna currently supports. 4K, which Amazon says is coming soon, could be a bigger challenge for Luna on this hardware, especially without gaining graphics settings in some demanding games.

Amazon’s Luna controller.
Image: Amazon

Amazon’s main competitors for streaming in the cloud, Microsoft and Google, use completely different hardware and operating systems for their own cloud gaming services. Google has chosen a custom x86 processor and a custom AMD graphics processor capable of 10.7 teraflops GPU performance, all powered by Linux. Microsoft currently uses Xbox One S hardware in its server blades, offering only 1.4 teraflops of GPU performance and all running on a custom Xbox OS with Windows. Microsoft has confirmed that it will move xCloud servers to Xbox Series X hardware in 2021. Sony is also using custom PlayStation hardware for its own PlayStation Now service.

The use of Amazon’s Windows software and Nvidia hardware, as well as the range of competing stores and services, gives it a big advantage over Google’s competing Stadia service. Stadia is struggling to attract enough content and subscribers to make its model attractive, and Google’s promises of YouTube integration have failed. This means that Stadia currently has only about 90 games, compared to more than 150 on Microsoft’s Xbox Game Pass, more than 100 on Luna and more than 800 on Nvidia’s GeForce Now service.

Windows will make it much easier for developers to simply move their existing games to Amazon’s Luna service, with full support for Nvidia drivers. This should be a lot less work than moving games to Stadia and its Linux servers. This is probably part of the reason why Amazon already has over 100 games ready for its Luna service, which launches in the early access phase.

While Amazon is obviously offering an interesting cloud platform that offers content integration and Twitch to support it, the company will have to try to convince users that a pure gaming streaming service is worth the money. This is something that Stadia is struggling with established game console manufacturers such as Microsoft and Sony, which can use their popular console base and offer game streaming as an add-on.

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