I'm new to building computers and just wondering if it would be possible for me to build a mega computer that could distribute games across a network of cheap pc's with no graphics cards. Having all the graphics being rendered on the mega computer? Just like what On Live is doing, but on a small scale.
It would be a small network with one main computer or server, and four cheap pc's.
If it is possible, can anybody recommend how to go about this? How many graphics cards would be needed? etc.
well, the first thing you have to do is either find a program that works like OnLive or create one (either yourself, read very hard, or if you have someone that can program to do it, read still very hard)
the server would possible need a GPU for each client attached, and at least 2 cores per client (assuming you want to game with decent settings)
so 4 clients would be 4 decent GPUS roughly ATI 5770 in power or 2 dual gpu cards like the 5970, and for cpu's looking at 2 Xeons, preferably the 4 core 56xx series for 8 cores (16 threads, remember the HT threads don't add much in terms of performance)
though if you can't get a program or create one, there is no point to this in the first place
oh, if he meant over the internet, would have flat out said don't even bother (because of the cost of internet to do this)
though i just want to know if he found a program that allows him to do this, because if he can't, then he would have to write one himself, and that makes it worthless to do again (as more than likely would be too slow or not work well/at all)
So you reckon I'd still need a graphics card per machine? I was thinking a top end graphics card could have enough power to deal with two moderate games (CoD, WoW etc.) running concurrently. Meaning I could just buy two high end cards to serve the four pc's to save space. The cheap pc's would be ultra small form factor. With the server pc being the bulky guy. As having four bulky guys at this one desk would be a real squeeze and I'm thinking more expensive too.
Maybe I need to have a thread in the software section about what kind of software is best to get this going. Video streaming, like OnLive. Or some other way?
if the games are older, lower settings, and lower resolution (not 1080P) you might be able to get away with 2 cards and one cpu, so a core i7 build might be powerful enough, though keep in mind that if you need more cpu power you really can't add more (though you can get boards with 3 slots if you need more). Though it really depends on the games i know WoW people will run 2-3 sessions on a single gpu (though not the best settings and fps)
as for software, i don't have a clue what for (except being a programmer, i would do it myself, and that is not an invitation, i don't have the time for other people)
On live uses proprietary software they spend years and millions developing to get it to work.
I'm pretty sure there does not exist any equivalent, and definitely no open source (aka free) equivalent. In fact, one of the reason's On Live is cutting edge, is that for the longest time, people regarded what they do as not feasible.
Remember, you're not simply sending a video to someone. You must have 2 way communication, IE, you must somehow software code a command send over the internet to affected your local PC.
Remote access programs (ala windows remote desktop connection) approximate this, but they do not function with games.
If you're simply hooking up multiple screens to the same computer then it's not hard.
Use eyefinity or 3d surround and just run 4 games simultaneously in windowed mode, 1 game in each window.
The problem is then how do you control all 4 games? There's a lot of software out there to allow 1 input, keyboard/mouse to affect multiple games (ala multi boxing).
However, what you need is the opposite, 4 inputs to 4 separate games being recognized. I'm not sure it would be possible to have a PC accept 4 separate inputs simultaneously (4 pairs of keyboard/mouse). You'll have to look into this.
The biggest issue would be the custom programming necessary to associate each input with the correct screen/window of each game.
Its a small hub that connects to a main pc and allows multiple users to harness the computer power of the main pc to run their own user accounts simultaneously. In one demonstration video on youtube a guy had HD video on one users account, an intensive flash web site on another, and google earth on yet another. All ran smoothly.
This led me to thinking, could this be my solution? Has anybody tried this device? Or is there anything similar out there I could research for this project?
Requires HP MultiSeat ms6000 Desktop with Microsoft® MultiPoint Server 2010
Looks like nothing more than a fancy VM implementation. So wouldn't really solve your issue. I don't know of a single VM that virutalizes your GPU, which is what gaming would involve. I'd actually be interested in how Onlive does it.