Outatime: Using Speculation to Enable Low-Latency Continuous Interaction for Mobile Cloud Gaming

Gaming on phones, tablets and laptops is very popular. Cloud gaming — where remote servers perform game execution and rendering on behalf of thin clients that simply send input and display output frames — promises any device the ability to play any game any time. Unfortunately, the reality is that wide-area network latencies are often prohibitive; cellular, Wi-Fi and even wired residential end host round trip times (RTTs) can exceed 100ms, a threshold above which many gamers tend to deem responsiveness unacceptable.

In this video, we demo Outatime, a speculative execution system for mobile cloud gaming that is able to mask up to 120ms of network latency. Outatime renders speculative frames of future possible outcomes, delivering them to the client one entire RTT ahead of time, and recovers quickly from mis-speculations when they occur. Clients perceive little latency. To achieve this, Outatime combines: 1) future state prediction; 2) state approximation with image-based rendering and event time-shifting; 3) fast state checkpoint and rollback; and 4) state compression for bandwidth savings.

To evaluate the Outatime speculation system, we use two high quality, commercially-released games: a twitch-based first person shooter, Doom 3, and an action role playing game, Fable 3. Through user studies and performance benchmarks, we find that players strongly prefer Outatime to traditional thin-client gaming where the network RTT is fully visible, and that Outatime successfully mimics playing across a low-latency network.

David Chu