Google Stadia: The IT infrastructure behind the gaming service

Learn how Stadia provides lower latency and higher quality with its cloud streaming service.

Google Stadia: The IT infrastructure behind the gaming service

Dan Patterson, CNET and CBS News Senior Producer, spoke with Majd Bakar, VP of Engineering with Google Stadia, about cloud streaming. Stadia, which was publicly released on November 19, 2019, is Google's cloud gaming service. This interview, conducted October 2, 2019, is part one of a three-part series. The following is an edited transcript of their conversation.

Majd Bakar: The first thing that you need for cloud streaming to work is, you need to have a very broad and efficient infrastructure to deliver high quality over the public internet. The first thing that you need is that breadth of data centers that are distributed--a very, very fast connectivity from your backbone to other ISPs and into other end users' locations. This is where Google excels. 

We've been building our infrastructure for the last 18 years. We started initially with search and instant search. If you remember the old days when you type, you get the searches as you are typing--that was all based on our infrastructure that we've put together to allow us to distribute that. For cloud streaming, obviously this problem is much harder. We are sending very, very large amounts of data.

SEE: Google Cloud Platform: An insider's guide (free PDF) (TechRepublic download)

We're sending basically 4K video at 60 frames per second, so that's a lot of data, and we've upgraded our network to support that. That's the first part of the technology. The others are encoding technology, so how you encode video. You can press it efficiently to look great but still be able to send it over to those public internet things. In here, in innovation, in H.264 and HEVC, as well as VP9, these codec names--sorry, I'm going a bit more technical here--that have evolved over the last 10 years and allowed us to achieve that. 

The third one is real-time video transmission. Now, you and I are talking over video conference, and that's using real-time communication. It allows us to send this video over the public internet with high quality.

For gaming, we need even further lower latency and higher quality. We use the same technologies that are used here, something called WebRTC, and we enhance it to be more compliant with the requirement of gaming to be able to distribute the video that is for games at a much lower latency.

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