Alienware pulled the wraps off a Skunkworks project called Concept Nyx At the CES trade show in Las Vegas this week, revealing what looks like a gigantic PC tower that would function as a gaming server for an entire household. The concept was created by the company’s “consortium of wizards” that it calls the Experience Innovation Group (EIG), and it has the goal of letting everyone in a house stream any game they want to any device they want, all at the same time. It’s a lofty goal indeed, and something Alienware calls “the future of gaming,” but like all concepts that get shown off at CES (cough, Razer) there’s no indication it actually exists, even in Alienware’s lab. Still, it’s fun to consider its possibilities.
According to Alienware’s landing page for the concept, here’s how it works. You come home from work and like any rational adult you want to shoot some stuff to unwind a bit before bed. The problem is, your kids are playing Minecraft; one on your PC and the other on a tablet. With Project Nyx you could just sit down on your couch and start playing a game on your TV with a controller, without interrupting either of the kiddos’ adventures. In the middle of all this, your spouse could start playing a game on their laptop too, all powered by the same computer; the Nyx monolith. Then, your kids announce they’re going to bed, so you put down the custom Nyx controller, and hop onto your primary PC and resume your game right where it left off. You can even send a request to your spouse to join your game, and all of this happens seamlessly with no latency, of course.
Alienware describes the problem they are trying to solve thusly, “how to simultaneously allow players in a household to easily access their full game library and play on any device, even if they want to change screens during gameplay.” To achieve this they are leaning into Edge computing, which takes the processing power required for gaming out of the cloud and brings it close to where the gamer is, so it is the opposite of streaming services like GeForce Now and Google Stadia. The processing would all be done locally, on the Nyx tower, then streamed over the network to multiple clients with low latency. Even more pie in the sky: Alienware says anyone in the house will be able to access any game, regardless of where it was purchased, all through a custom app that would need to be installed on every device. The company says its technology would allow up to four games to be streamed simultaneously, but there is no mention of any hardware specifications, Internet speed requirements, or what CPU and GPU are actually powering the darn thing.
Like any concept shown off at CES, there’s not many details available such as when it might launch or what it would cost, so take all this information with a large grain of salt. Companies like to show off these futuristic projects just to generate some headlines, but very few of them ever make their way to store shelves. Still, what’s interesting here is how Dell and Alienware are taking gaming in the opposite direction of where everyone else seems to be heading, which is towards cloud-based streaming solutions. Whether or not it will ever actually become a functioning product remains to be seen. Perhaps they’ll decide it’s not cost effective at some point and just, um, nix the whole thing entirely.
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