Amazon’s new Luna cloud gaming platform is powered by Windows servers and Nvidia GPUs. Luna supports over 100 games with this Windows support, allowing developers to quickly move their existing Windows games to an AWS instance and provide cloud streaming access to subscribers. This Windows backend support also allows publishers like Ubisoft to host their own digital services (Uplay) on Amazon’s Luna platform.
Amazon confirmed to The edge that Luna will run on a standard version of Amazon’s EC2 G4 server instance running Windows, with Nvidia’s T4 GPUs and Intel’s Cascade Lake processors. Nvidia’s T4 is based on the company’s Turing architecture which also powers previous generation RTX 2080 and RTX 2080 Ti graphics cards. A single T4 GPU (Amazon can use more than one) provides 8.1 teraflops of performance and supports Microsoft’s DirectX raytracing technology.
All of this means that it should deliver smooth gaming performance at the 1080p resolution that Luna currently supports. 4K, which Amazon says is coming soon, could be more of a challenge for Luna on this hardware, especially without dialing in graphics settings in some demanding games.
Amazon’s main cloud streaming rivals, Microsoft and Google, use entirely different hardware and operating systems for their own cloud gaming services. Google went for a custom x86 processor and a custom AMD GPU capable of 10.7 teraflops of GPU performance, all powered by Linux. Microsoft currently uses Xbox One S hardware in its server blades, delivering just 1.4 teraflops of GPU performance and all running on the custom Windows Xbox operating system. Microsoft has confirmed that it will be moving xCloud servers to Xbox Series X hardware in 2021. Sony also uses custom PlayStation hardware for its own PlayStation Now service.
Amazon’s use of Windows software and Nvidia hardware, as well as its adoption of competing stores and services, gives it a big advantage over rival Google Stadia service. Stadia has struggled to attract enough content and subscribers to make its model attractive, and Google’s YouTube integration promises have not come true. This means that there are currently only around 90 games on Stadia, compared to over 150 on Microsoft’s Xbox Game Pass, over 100 on Luna, and over 800 on Nvidia’s GeForce Now service.
Windows will make it much easier for developers to move their existing games to Amazon’s Luna service, with full support for Nvidia drivers. It 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 was launched in an early access phase.
While Amazon clearly offers an interesting cloud platform here, with content and Twitch integration to back it up, the company will have to try to convince consumers that a pure game streaming service is worth it. This is something that Stadia has struggled with against established game console makers like Microsoft and Sony, who are able to leverage their popular console base and offer game streaming as an add-on.