AMD launched its new Radeon Sky graphics cards today, beginning a new war with rival NVIDIA as both companies try to capture the burgeoning cloud gaming market. Cloud gaming's promise has long been that it would allow anyone to play visually stunning games like Battlefield 4 or The Witcher without a high-end computer, but so far no one has really delivered. Both AMD and Nvidia are now building hardware specifically designed for cloud gaming providers, which will eventually result in better performance for players looking to stream games on-demand from services like OnLive. For players whose games are running on the Radeon Sky series cards, graphically intensive games like Far Cry 3 will play at up to 720p and 30 frames per second, and up to six players may be streaming games off of a single card.
AMD has already courted some of Nvidia's cloud gaming partners
Because the hardware made by AMD and Nvidia operates from cloud gaming companies' servers to stream video to players, both graphics companies need to partner with gaming providers if they want to see their products used. For partners, AMD is attempting to court the very companies already working with Nvidia: it's launching with commitments from cloud gaming providers G-Cluster and Ubitus, both of which have announced partnerships with Nvidia as well. AMD will also have support from CiiNow and Otoy, bringing it two companies shy of Nvidia's six committed partners. Details on when and how partners will implement AMD's new cards haven't been announced, and it's still not clear when any of these partnerships will truly let us play streaming games the way we've been promised.