Nvidia dropped a few interesting announcements at its press event in Montreal today. Here are some of the important highlights:
The 2013 Holiday Game Bundles:
The company is offering new holiday game bundles for upper-mid-range and high-end GeForce GPUs. GeForce GTX 770, 780, and Titan buyers will receive download codes for Batman: Arkham Origins, Splinter Cell: Blacklist, and Assassin's Creed 4 : Black Flag. They also get a $100 off of the company's Tegra 4-based Shield game console. GeForce GTX 660 and 760 buyers will get a reduced bundle with Splinter Cell: Blacklist, Assassin's Creed 4: Black Flag, and a $50 discount on Shield.
Nvidia Gamestream, Shadowplay, and Twitch:
The company announced Gamestream, a technology to stream video to televisions via Wi-Fi (limited to 720p) or Ethernet (1080p) via a Shield console. This isn't particularly new, since we saw an earlier iteration of Gamestream work at the Shield reveal event, but it was impressive to see it work at 1080p on a large 4K screen.
We also saw a Shadowplay demo. That's the technology, also previously announced, that Nvidia uses to capture and encode 1080p video using the NVEnc hardware on its GPU, offloading the workload from the CPU, keeping gameplay smooth during the process. By default, it will automatically save the last 20 minutes of gameplay. Manually invoked, it can save up to 4 GB of video on Windows 7, and is only limited by the size of your hard drive in Windows 8.
The company is partnering with online video provider Twitch. We saw a combined demo of Gamestream, Shadowplay, and Twitch, where streamed video was sent directly to Twitch and viewed by spectators at 620p with only about a two-second lag behind real-time.
This was the big reveal, and it came as a surprise to us. Nvidia created a technology to virtually eliminate many of the worst problems faced by gamers: stutter, lag, and screen tearing. The company calls it G-Sync.
The fundamental root of these problems is the disconnect between the monitor's refresh rate and the rate at which the graphics card produces frames of video. Because a monitor's refresh rate is fixed, and the graphics card can render at a variable rate depending on load, both components inevitably fall out of sync and create the problems our eyes see as stutter and frame tearing. With v-sync enabled, screen tearing is eliminated, but input lag is introduced and stuttering is still possible.
Nvidia's G-Sync leverages Kepler-based GPUs and a module included in G-Sync-enabled monitors to control the frame rate at the source. The GPU dictates the frame rate, not the monitor. Stuttering is almost completely removed, lag is reduced to a minimum, and tearing is eliminated. We saw an incredibly impressive demo that showed two identical PCs (both with a GeForce GTX 760) playing identical content, one with G-Sync, and one without, at 60 Hz. The difference is incredibly obvious, and G-Sync made 40 FPS look incredibly smooth without tearing or lag.
Unfortunately, G-Sync requires its own ecosystem, so new G-Sync-enabled monitors are required, equipped with the new G-Sync scaler, and these monitors are capable of 144 Hz refresh rates. Asus, Ben-Q, Philips, and Viewsonic are already on-board, and we should see the first G-Sync monitors on the market early 2014. In fact, Asus tells us that its VG248QE will debut next year at $400 with Nvidia's G-Sync technology. Nvidia even brought some surprise guests who vocalized their support for G-Sync: John Carmack, Tim Sweeney, and Johan Andersson.
The GeForce GTX 780
Finally, Nvidia announced the GeForce GTX 780 Ti. While it didn't discuss specifications, we suspect it's another spin on the GK110 GPU from the Titan and GTX 780. The company expects this card to be available in mid-November.
Those are the announcements and news from the show so far today, keep checking back with Tom's Hardware for more information on these new technologies.