It’s almost like having a VM of a high-end gaming system on your desktop … but will cost you $35 per month (1 year contract) or $50 per month (no contract).
In the early days of computing, local storage and processing weren’t actually a thing. Instead, your individual computer acted as a terminal, pulling data from a central processing server. Well, the French startup Blade likes it that way and has released a similar system but with a 21st-century twist. Its cloud-computing system, dubbed Shadow, can impart the performance of a $2,000 high-end gaming rig onto any internet-connected device with a screen. And now the company is bringing Shadow to California.
The Shadow system has found widespread adoption throughout France and made its US debut at CES last month. The idea is relatively simple: Instead of having to buy, maintain and upgrade your own hardware, you pay Blade a monthly subscription to use theirs. It’s a concept similar to what NVIDIA did with its GeForce NOW cloud service, Parsec or HP’s Omen PCs, save for the fact that those three are dedicated to gaming while Shadow enables users to run everything from Steam to Photoshop to a host of other business-related applications.
The company has partnered with Microsoft, NVIDIA, AMD and Equinix to create a remote Windows 10 PC that you can access over the internet. At the remote server farm, each of these systems boasts a dedicated NVIDIA graphics card capable of handling 1080p at 144Hz or 4K at 60Hz. For processing, the system relies on eight dedicated threads on an Intel Xeon processor (the equivalent of an Intel Core i7) as well as offering 12GB of RAM and 256GB of storage.
Therefore, it doesn’t matter what hardware you’re using to access the service. Shadow can run on Macs, Chromebooks, Windows PCs, Android, iOS, and a variety of smart TV platforms. However, this does lead to a paradox. Sure, Shadow can deliver 4K quality video streams over the internet, but if you’re trying to watch it on an old 720p monitor, you’re going to be watching that stream in 720p.
Luckily, that doesn’t seem to apply to the rest of the capabilities. Because the Shadow system is, in essence, a remote desktop, it doesn’t matter how old, underpowered or decrepit the device is you’re running it on, just how good the screen is. In fact, at CES, Blade managed to run the Shadow service on Razer’s new phone, running full PC games (e.g., Battlefront II) on the device at 2K resolution and 120 Hz.
What’s also cool is that you’re able to switch between operating systems on the fly. Say you’re virtualizing the Shadow’s Windows 10 desktop on your Mac. Because the Windows 10 OS is running remotely (only using the Mac’s video driver to decode signal), it doesn’t take up any of the Mac’s other local resources. There is no slowdown in the macOS due to the Windows 10 desktop (and vice versa) and you can toggle between them instantly.
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