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Investor Money Goes To Magic Lag Reducing Tech 133

Posted by Zonk
from the i-would-like-that-for-conversing-with-relatives-too dept.
Gamasutra reports on Texas technology company Bigfoot networks, which just received a $4 Million investment to develop a lag-reducing hardware PC card. From the piece: "According to the firm, it will bring to market the world's first Gaming Network Accelerator card, which will allow online gamers to play their favorite games with less lag. The company explained: 'Lag is the number one problem in online video games today, and Bigfoot Networks is the only company in the world whose sole mission is to fight lag', but gave no specific technical explanation about how it intends to do this." Greg Costikyan spells it out on the Games*Design*Art*Culture blog: "So yes, there might be a business here. But if so, it will be a business built largely on bullshit."
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Investor Money Goes To Magic Lag Reducing Tech

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  • Weakest link? (Score:5, Informative)

    by LehiNephi (695428) on Tuesday March 07, 2006 @12:40PM (#14867676) Journal
    I think it's obvious to all of us that the NIC is certainly not the weakest link in a connection. I know there has been some effort to produce NICs that handle the TCP/IP stack onboard, thus reducing the load on the CPU, but the potential difference between NICs is on the order of microseconds, if not less!

    For those of you looking for quite entertaining reviews of products that are quite obviously scams like this, I highly recommend articles like this one [dansdata.com] on Dan's Data [dansdata.com]
    • Not to mention that many (if not most) games use UDP datagrams for non-critical interactions like moving, the most common traffic for a game.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      I think it's obvious to all of us that the NIC is certainly not the weakest link in a connection.

      It's obvious to intelligent people. It's not obvious to top-notch leveraging 24/7 TCO-oriented business-cunts (who synergize front-end e-commerce and harness B2B portals to recontextualize best-of-breed systems in holistic technologies).
    • And here I thought it was an article about the Turbonator.
    • Who says that the card from Bigfoot is a NIC? Just because they call it a network accelerator card doesn't mean that it is a NIC. My guess is that it is a cache card that caches disk IOs since they are one of the biggest slowdowns that I see in most MMORPGs.
    • I would post my links to indexes of crazy "audiophile gear", but I'm not home right now. Just google it though, its sure to come up with some obviously bogus stuff
    • Re:Weakest link? (Score:3, Interesting)

      by 0xABADC0DA (867955)
      Many games will either compress their network traffic or (lightly) encrypt it or both. They don't want the protocol reverse engineered and easily observable because then you get client-side cheats that monitor the stream and add enhancements (information overlays/sounds, os-level keypresses to push buttons in the game, etc). A card that did the decompression/decoding fast in hardware could easily cut a few ms off the delay.

      There are plenty of other ways to squeeze our a few ms on the client side. Sure th
    • For those of you looking for quite entertaining reviews of products that are quite obviously scams like this, I highly recommend articles like this one on Dan's Data

      Thanks for destroying my productivity for the week. Now, when I get home from work, I'm going to sit there reading articles rather than working on more important things, like playing WoW.
    • the potential difference between NICs is on the order of microseconds, if not less!

      Heay! That's the difference between getting a perfect between the eyes frag at a hundred yards, and clipping an eyeball!

      -
    • Plus they obviously have never played any games:

      Lag is the number one problem in online video games today

      Punk-ass campers, script kiddies, and bitchy n00bs are the number 1-3 problems (pick your order) in online video games today. And have been for years now. I'd have to put lag fairly low on the list.
  • Lag attack (Score:4, Informative)

    by dada21 (163177) * <adam.dada@gmail.com> on Tuesday March 07, 2006 @12:40PM (#14867681) Homepage Journal
    Proper optimization of how data is transported in both directions is very important. Analyzing the connection as well as the route to the destination can probably be performed by software or hardware. Once the connection is analyzed, I'm sure there are real time changes that can be performed to better decrease latency and overall lag.

    The question is why perform it in hardware rather than software?
    • Its hard to pirate hardware...
    • The problem lies more in the protocol that the application uses. Does it allow for prediction, based on ping times? Does it transmit movement information on entities that the player can't see?

      If you're going to mess with that datastream, you better be sure the server knows how to deal with the changes.
    • Re:Lag attack (Score:3, Informative)

      by AKAImBatman (238306) *
      The question is why perform it in hardware rather than software?

      Playing devil's advocate for a minute, during video games the CPU is usually otherwise occupied by tasks associated with feeding the GPU and processing AI/Physics. Separating this into a hardware card could provide an explicit processing environment to do such an analysis in real-time without stealing CPU time from the game. Plus, this would then be available to all programs/games running on the machine, not just those that support it. (Conceiv
    • "Analyzing the connection as well as the route to the destination can probably be performed by software or hardware."

      Well duh. Unless you think it might be better done by bioware? I don't think my brain could handle that.
    • Re:Lag attack (Score:3, Insightful)

      by steinnes (774991)
      Analyzing the connection? How do you propose that happens, I doubt anyone is using a protocol for their online game which is so complicated that it has routing functionality built into it at the application level. Also there would have to be a choice of different servers available, and usually (for MMO's at least) people choose their general area in the world, and I think most game services worth their salt then try and find a server for the client to play on which has relatively low latency. When it comes
    • Re:Lag attack (Score:3, Insightful)

      by stienman (51024)
      If you're suggesting static routing (ie, put route information into the packets so they go the route you want them to) then I doubt it's going to help. IIRC many routers ignore that option. Further, it would simply add to the size of the packet and increase processing time at each juncture.

      There are really only two places for lag: the PC itself, and the network. I can imagine a card that optimizes itself for gaming packets. Imagine, for instance, the card estimating the arrival of a new packet comin
    • My first thought when I saw the article was "Traffic shaper". I run one at home and it really helps with latency. But that is software. I suppose I can understand the concept of not wanting to run more software... From a gamers perspective, the less running to interrupt the game, the better. But it's not like a decent traffic shaper takes a lot of processing time. And it is better done in software anyway, at the source - the network stack. It can be done after the fact, but it is more complex to do.
      • do both, have a traffic shaper on the gaming PC(s) to prioritize thier gaming traffic and set QoS for the Router to base it's traffic shaping off of, non game PC's get less priorities, RTS games get medium priority, MMO's get high, and FPS games get maximum priority.

        what would be nice would be a standard protocol for games to communicate what phase of play they are at, that way if Gaming rig A is running Counterstrike and rig B was playing UT, priority could be doled out based on who was closer to the end
  • Reducing lag? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Andr0s (824479) <dunkelzahn@rocketmail.com> on Tuesday March 07, 2006 @12:43PM (#14867716)
    Honestly, I don't see how user-side hardware (or software, for that matter) can reduce online activity lag. Sure, you might try to implement some sort of protocol that evens out the lag a bit by pulling excessive amount of data when 'lag is low' and use it to fill in the gaps when 'lag is high' - but that'd require a certain, no small, amount of heuristics and second-guessing. I'm certain many of early MMO veterans remember the ancient lag issues from the times of real-time simulations - fast ones in particular, such as flight simulators, suffered tremendously from lag-related issues such as phantom opponents (where your 'second guessing' lag-compensators assumed that opponent would continue in a straight line or at the same turn radius/speed, whereas he actually went into some wild maneuver). In the current state of affairs, I'm honestly not sure how much, if any, of the lag in your average MMO is user/connection-side and thus corrigible; games such as World of Warcraft, City of Heroes and Battlefield 2 are actually playable over dial-up - the trickle of packages isn't a lot of challenge even for a stable 56k modem. The bottleneck of modern day MMOs seem to be game servers going slightly ballistic when a certain area gets swarmed by a large number of active player objects (think Ironforge in WoW or Atlas Park in CoH) and therein lies the catch... how do you expect client-side hardware to correct server-side problems?
    • Excellent points -- almost as if I was reading TFA all over again.
  • by Rob T Firefly (844560) on Tuesday March 07, 2006 @12:44PM (#14867723) Homepage Journal
    I wonder if these are the same people as the ones behind the magic cellphone boosting sticker. [infomercialscams.com]
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  • by Stormwatch (703920) <rodrigogirao@NOsPAm.hotmail.com> on Tuesday March 07, 2006 @12:45PM (#14867739) Homepage
    Valve came up with this "PowerPlay" [wikipedia.org] technology, which promised the same thing... but in the end it was as fake as Infinium's Phantom.
  • by elasticwings (758452) on Tuesday March 07, 2006 @12:47PM (#14867757)
    Maybe it's a regular old NIC, but part of the driver just shuts down all your P2P apps and torrents.
    • Y'know, for a lot of people, this might actually be effective. (I'd mod you Informative rather than Funny if I weren't responding.) I've been in a number of on-line situations where another person was reporting poor performance, latency, or lag, only to discover that they'd saturated their link with BitTorrent or similar. They had no idea it might possibly have an effect on their online experience...
  • Sure, why not (Score:5, Insightful)

    by smooth wombat (796938) on Tuesday March 07, 2006 @12:48PM (#14867767) Homepage Journal
    After all, there's a sucker born every minute.*

    This isn't any different than the phantom console, magnets which supposedly help your arthritis or whatever book that Kevin Trudeau [quackwatch.org] is bilking people [consumeraffairs.com] into buying [msn.com] claiming this is information that the government doesn't want you to know about.

    This shouldn't surprise anyone. Not the least of which that there are VC idiots who will gladly pony up the money for a non-existant, never-to-be-made product simply because it has oodles of neat sounding words in its description.

    *PT Barnum never actually said those words but people routinely attribute the phrase to him.

    • Re:Sure, why not (Score:2, Informative)

      by ZombieWomble (893157)
      After all, there's a sucker born every minute.

      And there's a business graduate who wants to take advantage of them. From TFA:

      The company is a start-up company with roots from the McCombs School of Business at the University of Texas at Austin, and was formed by a team of Executive MBA students to improve the performance of online video games.

      Personally, I would've expected a tech start-up to include at least someone with a degree in, you know, technology of some sort...

      • The company ... was formed by a team of Executive MBA students to improve the performance of online video games.

        Personally, I would've expected a tech start-up to include at least someone with a degree in, you know, technology of some sort...


        Right, like during the dot com boom/bust, when a B.A. in Sociology made you a programmer. ;)
    • Or the software RAM expanders, Disk Doubler, DriveSpace.....
      • Or the "web accelerators" that made your "dialup as fast as DSL", when really all they were is a precacher for links in web pages.
  • by Short Circuit (52384) * <mikemol@gmail.com> on Tuesday March 07, 2006 @12:48PM (#14867776) Homepage Journal
    There are many different causes of lag, from network congestion, to I/O limitations on the server and client side. (Ever had an antivirus program start a deep scan in the middle of a match?)

    Right now, with the proliferation of antivirus and antispyware software, I could see something designed to alleviate I/O constrictions as being very beneficial to gamers. Perhaps a battery-backup+cachedrive device to chain between the hard disk and the I/O controller. If an application can request that its data be cached, you no longer have to worry about seek times in reading data off the drive. (You could conceivably reduce your RAM and VRAM requirements, too!)
    • The changes on client side are a matter of milliseconds, and aren't going to make up for the low speed (56k) and congested (cable) connections. Something like that is hoping that your mail gets delivered faster by putting it in a hot pink envelope.

      ~ Wizardry Dragon
      • Not when an automated antivirus scan kicks in. Your useful throughput from your hard drive drops like a rock, and the system can become unresponsive for hundreds of milliseconds at a time.

        That's easily enough to seriously screw up a high-intensity FPS game. When you can't even aim at that sniper you've been trading shots with, you're screwed.
        • by theJML (911853) on Tuesday March 07, 2006 @01:26PM (#14868194) Homepage
          And that's why you shut down your AV when your playing... and chat, and those cd's your burning and those torrents you're pulling from and that pr0n playing on the second screen of your dual monitor setup. Concentrate on the game and all is well. I don't need someone's expensive add-in card to tell me that.

          Now, perhaps we can invent an add-in card that uses subspace carrier waves that will make a direct connection to your opponent instead of wi-fi or copper wires that go through switches and proxies. (oh yeah, and they need to have open source linux drivers, :)
  • by santiago (42242) on Tuesday March 07, 2006 @12:52PM (#14867811) Homepage
    The card must have a reservoir of quantom-entangled particles that can be used to communicate instantaneously with the server (which has the other half of each pair). You'll probably have to subscribe to a service that ships you new bundles of particles each month to replace the bandwidth you use up. Be careful not to do anything important with it, or you'll violate causality, and cause all sorts of trouble for the universe...
  • by Philus (58941) <steigreNO@SPAMfikas.no> on Tuesday March 07, 2006 @12:52PM (#14867812)
    I guess it was just a matter of time before something like this appeared.. The hi-fi industry has cables and magic boxes all over the place, now we get magic hardware.. I'm VERY curious to how they plan to eliminate lag introduced by routers that they have no control over. Not to completely blow them off, but I'm not holding my breath. Seeing is believing.

    I have a semi-decent 5.1 surround setup, and have avoided expensive cables because I simply don't believe in it. Audio cables might benefit from better shielding and low capacitance wiring, but digital signals.. come on man. A bit across the wire that's "worn in the edges" is still a bit, unlike a sound wave.
    • Digital signals are a little more sensitive actually, but audio in general is extremely independant of wire characteristics.

      Baseband audio is only 0-30khz and that's being generous. You can put 30khz across barbed wire fence and it'll sound the same. It's just too low frequency for RF effects to show up unless your wires are 50 miles long, no matter what any "audiophile" says.
      • by brunes69 (86786) <slashdot.keirstead@org> on Tuesday March 07, 2006 @01:19PM (#14868120) Homepage

        Digital signals are a little more sensitive actually, but audio in general is extremely independant of wire characteristics.

        This is somehwat true, but there are two important factors here:

        - In home audio at least, all the digital codecs ship with some levels of ECC. So any minor data lost is irrelevant.

        - Because it is a digital signal and not analog, it is therefore either a perfect transmission, or a flawed transmission. There is no middle ground. If your reciever gets an uninturrupted data stream without obvious bleeps with your crappy 0.99 RCA SPDIF cable, then buying a $40 monster gold plated cable will make no difference whatsoever. If it did, then you would be hearing the interference as very obvious bleeps and bops, or your reciever would be cutting in and out. Digital audio codecs do not gracefully degrade as bits randomly vanish.

        • Digital audio data coming from, say, your CD player to your amp is sent as a plain PCM bitstream. There is no ECC, no error detection or correction. If a bit gets flipped you'd get distorted sound (but you'd have to be very be unlucky to get a very noticable burst of static). Couple that with the whole clock issue (as there's no seperate clock line jitter becomes an issue) and you get something which is distinctly not 100% accurate.
          • When you're talking surround sound (as the GP was), you're talking about Dolby Digital or DTS, both of which include ECC.

        • Because it is a digital signal and not analog, it is therefore either a perfect transmission, or a flawed transmission. There is no middle ground.

          I believe that to be false. Although I never really investigated their claims, some people say that the lack of an external clock on sp-dif can cause audible variations in the sound output. The impression I took away from the discussion was that the timing of the DAC on the end of a sp-dif connection is driven by the clocking of the sp-dif signal itself and thus
          • All of this only matters if you are tlaking about raw PCM data from a SPDIF connection to a CD player or DVD AUDIO player.

            When most people are talking about HiFi, they are talking about Dolby Digital or DTS surround sound, like the GP with his 5.1 setup.

            Both of these binary codecs include ECC and don't care about discrete clock timings any more than an MP3 player would.

          • It's quite easy to drive the receiver's clock off the signal itself. Almost every serial bus of any sort does this. It's a well-solved problem. Of course, a given implementor can still do it wrong, but if you're the sort of audiophile who likes expensive cables, it's almost certain you don't need them for digital signals.
          • i'm sorry to hear that you bought into the bull.

            it is, in theory, possible for your digital signal to get corrupted if it lacks any sort of ECC. the flaw however is that digital transmission is a well solved problem, even cheap unshielded ethernet cable will rarely have data loss issues if terminated and connected properly. the cheap hi-fi digital cables are much better protected from interferance than cat5.
          • I believe it to be false

            THAT'S BECAUSE IT IS.

            Yeah, my 'real audio' stream is a digital signal. Therefore it's either a perfect stream or a flawed transmission.

            Yeah, well, it's nearly always flawed. I can still get it.

            Even CD redbook has ECC, and you get better sounding and worse sounding CDROMS, depending on how well they can correct the 'error'. cf CDMA digital signals.
    • I'm going to get Overclockers jumping down my throat for this, but I think we PC gamers already have to worry about stupid crap like this. We have processors that are specially branded for overclocking, memory sticks specially branded for fiddling with latency timings, and all that sort of stuff. Complete snake-oil BOARDS would be a new thing, but there's plenty of iffy investments out there for PC gamers these days.
      • That's the thing, though - those iffy investments out there for PC gamers would have a tangible effect, even if it's something that a casual gamer would not freak out over.

        Consider getting an extra 2-5 fps in your favorite FPS because you've paid twice as much as "value ram" for the best tweaked ram there is... There's definitely a tangible benefit here, and quite possibly an objective benefit.

        Depending on who you ask, it will be iffy. But will it be tangible?
        • OTOH, not buying "value ram" can mean a LOT for your system stability. Only hard drives fail more often for me than value ram.

          Of course you don't need the overpriced ram with heatsinks and LCD displays on the side. You just need to buy good quality (Kingston, Crucial, etc...) DIMMs.
          • My worst problem is value power supplies. Cheap transformers are scary and they can ruin other components if they are really noisy. I had a +5v line running at 3.7V on a cheapie for awhile before other shit started breaking.
            • I've not had that much trouble with power supplies, but people seem to be more willing to drop the extra $10-$15 on a halfway decent power supply (which is all you really need) than they are on the extra $25-$40 or so for good quality RAM. Perhaps it's becaue they look at the price of their ram, then notice that they can buy the next size up in the value ram for the same price.

              Still, RAM errors are one of the most annoying to track down too. At least with bum power supplies you can put a multimeter in t
        • I maintain that it's a form of snake oil, although a much less blatantly unethical one. "Causal" buyers could easily be duped into overspending on what is for them a worthless product--if you never use the overclocking features of your processor, either because you don't know of them or because you don't want to risk a fried chip, you've paid for nothing. If you expect a performance increase because you've purchased what you were led to believe was a superior processor, when it is actually just a processor
    • "I'm VERY curious to how they plan to eliminate lag introduced by routers that they have no control over."

      By getting the routers to support the NO_LAG bit, of course.

      • Isn't this the same concept as gaming routers [google.com]?

        AFAIK, they just QoS [wikipedia.org] the hell out of everything so that game packets get YOU MUST DELIVER THIS IMMEDIATELY OR FACE CERTAIN DEATH!!! service and everything else gets meh, whenever you like, if you're not busy... service.
  • "So yes, there might be a business here. But if so, it will be a business built largely on bullshit."

    This quote comes to mind every time I hear a new MMORPG is being announced for that overcrowded, money-losing market. Won't be long before they start bundling a game network accelator card and a game network router as freebies.
  • One NIC compared to another will barely ever harbor a difference, and internet hardware is constantly being upgraded with newer/faster equipment (hopefully). The way I see it, perhaps they could speed thing up a bit by cleaning up TCP/IP coding. This is doubtful. Another solution to lag would be a faster system than TCP/IP altogether, but I don't think 4 million would cover the marketing costs after development of a new software and hardware. And the speed of light isn't getting to be any faster.

    The on

    • I'll give you $4 million dollars to come up with a product.

      Wait....

      I just found out some company developed a point mass on a frictionless surface. Sorry, my money's going to them.
  • U.S. Robotics used to sell an "Internet Gaming Modem" that claimed to improve response times by optimizing the route between the player and the server. For playing MMO's, which tend to be hosted on server clusters instead of individual computers, the performance seemed to get worse.

    http://www.usr.com/support/overview-template.asp?p rod=s-game [usr.com]

    http://www.tweak3d.net/reviews/3com/gamingmodem/ [tweak3d.net]

    Their Performance Pro modem also claims to have a gaming mode:

    http://www.usr.com/products/home/home-product. [usr.com]

  • Despite the fact that this is probably smoke and mirrors, the overall attraction is pretty high. The difference between a 30-60 ping and a 60-90 ping is extremely significant at high end gameplay. Consider that hardcore FPS gamers spend $500 on a cutting edge video card to pick up another few frames per second and I think you can safely say that a solution that would reliably lower latency by 20-30ms would sell like hotcakes to the enthusiast crowd.

    Mpath was doomed from the start because they segmented th
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Suck it, net haters. Beta hardware here. Using the special optimized ping utility they supplied with the board:

    C:\>ping www.bigfootnetworks.com

    Pinging www.bigfootnetworks.com [66.219.46.153] with 32 bytes of data:

    Reply from 66.219.46.153: bytes=32 time=1ms TTL=47
    Reply from 66.219.46.153: bytes=32 time=1ms TTL=47
    Reply from 66.219.46.153: bytes=32 time=1ms TTL=47
    Reply from 66.219.46.153: bytes=32 time=1ms TTL=47

    Ping statistics for 66.219.46.153:
    Packets: Sent = 4, Received = 4
  • Could what they are proposing be an RDMA NIC ?

    Imagine I write my software to take advantage of DDP/RDMA/whatever protocols that sit on top of TCP. I do this to reduce the memory copies on the server side (where these NICs are essential) - something like this might help even MMOs where the cost of memory copying in the network stack could be significant (I doubt this however - I mean you can do 2-3 GBit on a modern system with plenty of CPU to spare). Now with RDMA I get direct memory placement so the ho

  • Once I get my new quantum-entangled NIC and running, I'll have zero lag EVAR! "Accelerators"... hah! Try instantaneous reaction!

    • Quantum-entangled? Puh-lease. If all goes according to plan on my new Quantum-Leap NIC, I'll be able to connect backwards through time before the bits were even sent!

      Think of the possibilities! I can get first-post on this article, for starters...
  • by Animats (122034) on Tuesday March 07, 2006 @01:29PM (#14868235) Homepage
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    • Good stuff, but your price is way off. At B&Ms like BestBuy, regular USB cables cost $24.95. Shocking, I know, if you buy online.
  • by BertieBaggio (944287) * <bobNO@SPAMmanics.eu> on Tuesday March 07, 2006 @01:36PM (#14868317) Homepage

    RFC 1925 should be required reading for everyone who thinks they have a bright new idea for a network. In this case the company should pay particular attention to rule number two:

    [2] No matter how hard you push and no matter what the priority, you can't increase the speed of light.

    Since the signal has to travel a certain physical distance, there will always be unavoidable lag. Changing the NIC will have little to no effect, unless you are using some antiquated card that was designed around the early TCP/IP stacks. And gamers are hardly known for not having hardware that is so cutting edge the wounds are still bleeding.

    I'm waiting until some new VC-funded company requests major sums of money to build a NIC that communicates on the basis of quantum enatnglement for zero lag. Not to buy one, you understand, since you can't send information faster than the speed of light -- not even by entanglement.

    And have a read of the RFC I mentioned [faqs.org] as well. Well worth the time.

    • Why don't cell phones ever lag?

      In my experiences with using a cell phone over long distances (distances greater than 500 miles), I have never experienced any lag in conversations. Why are cell phones any different than anything else?

      Of course, it's because when talking about networking, there are hundreds, perhaps thousands, of routers that informations ends up passing through before you end up receiving data. Conversations via cell phone only have to travel through a handful of major routing areas be
      • I dont mean to threadcrap, but that's just not right. First off, your cell phone does lag. Depending on how many groups need to carry your call (intra carrier or inter carrier) there can be many stopover points. Why don't you hear it? Humans arent able to discern much beyond 300ms of telephone delay. Want a fun experiment? Call a friend sitting across the table, then cover the mouthpiece on your phone and talk loudly so you can be heard secondhand via your friend's phone. This will demonstrate just h
      • Umh, maybe because that's circuit switched network and not packet switched one (doh!).

        Make a PPP session with your friend over there, and you will have a lower RTT than by going trough internet ...

  • by xenocide2 (231786) on Tuesday March 07, 2006 @01:38PM (#14868337) Homepage
    This article [cnn.com] gives a few scant details at the bottom about how it's accomplished. Apparently they plan to "offload" part of the work the server does over the internet to your computer's anti-lag card. Might be useful in a MMO where "server lag" does happen. On the other hand, you might as well just buy one of these damn cards for the server and be done with it.

    So this might work to improve things, but it seems that your software would have to be rewritten to use it. And I don't know mow significant it is, but one of the guys behind it is a former Intel chip designer. I guess there's plenty of stupid shitty intel chips in the world, but even they didn't want a piece of this.
    • This conflicts with the #1 rule of game networking: Keep the logic on the server wherever possible. If the client is given control over some part of the game state someone will figure out how to intercept and tweak it, quickly followed by a plague of cheaters and a bad reputation.
    • "This article gives a few scant details at the bottom about how it's accomplished. Apparently they plan to 'offload' part of the work the server does over the internet to your computer's anti-lag card."

      Offload what? There's absolutely no reason why you need a specialized card for a fictitious "lag-causing work" function.

      "Might be useful in a MMO where 'server lag' does happen."

      Again, if there's a function that can be performed on a user's PC, it can be performed on a user's PC already. Any server function o
    • MMORPG servers could accomplish less server lag simply by delegating more work to the client... but they won't, because the client is the enemy. It doesn't matter whether you give the client the calculations to be done by hardware, software, firmware, or an abacus, the server cannot afford to be in a situation where they have to trust any data coming from you because it *will* be compromised by some hacker eventually.
  • The article quotes someone claiming they want to eventually "completely eliminate" lag.

    That's going to be a really neat trick, totally removing distance, the speed of routers, and the speed of the physical loop itself from the loop.

    Maybe they have secret alien ansible technology.

    • even an ansible would lag as it processes and packages the data for transmission, it just is not dependant on distance so you get the same lag across the room and across the galaxy. unless ansible just happens to operate at the same frequency as 10/100/1000 ethernet it won't eliminate lag.
  • Just turn off the porn !
  • I'm with the bandwagon on the BS'o-meter pegging.

    There are multiple kinds of lag:
    1) Server side. Nothing you can do about this, period.
    2) Graphics. Have 200 toons on your screen at once? Have an anti-virus scan fire up in the back ground? burning a DVD while playing a FPS? Enjoy the slide show.
    3) Client side connection. I have 3mb cable from charter, I experience connection lag about never, same goes for those people with DSL and T1/OC3 lines. But if you are trying to play an MMO over a 33.6kbps modem, you'
  • by jevvim (826181) on Tuesday March 07, 2006 @02:40PM (#14868981) Journal
    First, they're terming "lag" as anything that delays your game - network latency, network loss, system latency. I can't envision their card reducing network latency or loss, but it certainly could be optimized for system latency. First off, a lot of network adapters try to play nice by interrupting the system only after multiple packets have arrived (resulting in nearly-full buffers) or after data has been waiting in a buffer for a certain period (sometimes up to 100ms, depending on the card). Creating a "gaming card" that reduces these delays by default (which really avid gamers can reduce as well, since most drivers allow these parameters to be tuned) could allow a company to market a "new network card" that's really just a differently tuned driver set.

    More improbably, though, is that Bigfoot Networks could implement and expose a programmable protocol processor on the card. This won't help existing games, but would enable developers to move some of their protocol closer to the wire, where it may be possible to buffer data more efficiently (send one "game state" packet to the protocol engine, which can then create the multiple unicast packets needed, instead of sending multiple wrapped network packets with effectively the same data across the PCI bus multiple times). However, this will require games to be adapted for it - somewhat unlikely - and even then would only provide significant help for game servers. But since many games - Quake, Half Life, et al - are hosted by home users, it might reduce lag in some situations.

    Of course, without a product to play with or any real announcements from the company, it's just speculation at this point. But I'd love to play with a programmable protocol processor - such a device could open up new opportunities for network efficiency innovation (running PPPoE in hardware, integrated firewalls like the nForce ethernet, not to mention TCP, segmentation, and checksum offloading).

  • Stuart Cheshire's "It's the latency, stupid".

    http://rescomp.stanford.edu/~cheshire/rants/Latenc y.html [stanford.edu]
  • by monopole (44023) on Tuesday March 07, 2006 @03:11PM (#14869273)
    Both Duke Nukem Forever and the Phantom console will have to be redesigned to incorporate this technology.
  • Bigfoot Networks, huh?

    When people name their product or company after something that doesn't exist, then claim to have a secret ultra-cool device that works by magic, ... I think my point here should be obvious.

    Personally I'm beginning to think that these fake companies with "Look, we're not real, teehee" names are all founded by the same guy who just gets a huge kick (and a lot of money) out of it.
  • Most people who have even halfway decent connections are not lagging because of a network.

    Here's an easy way I have people check: ping Google. I've never gotten even 100ms round-trip to Google, and 100ms is still playable -- meaning that somewhere out there, there is a Counter-Strike server that I can play on without lag.

    However, most of the lag will be caused by something else -- generally software. Don't be stupid and get infected with spyware, viruses, and worms. Don't do that on the server side, eit
  • Bigfoot Networks has a job ad [austingamedevelopers.com]. They need someone to make their magic card work.

    Bigfoot Networks, Inc. - Senior Video Game Network Programmer (C++, C, Game Design, Networking)

    Full Time Employee will be responsible for architecture and implementation of programming interface and device driver interaction for a next generation network acceleration device targeted towards video games.

    Responsibilities include API interface architecture and programming, development and implementation of sample implement

fortune: cpu time/usefulness ratio too high -- core dumped.

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