NVidia made a splash at the 2012 GPU Technology Conference (GTC) this week, with the announcement of their first virtual, cloud-based GPU.

CEO Jen-Hsun Huang showed a presentation explaining how the Nvidia VGX, based on the new Kepler architecture, can distribute streaming graphics processing. They're aiming their new tech both at businesses and at gamers, and unveiling a service they call the GeForce GRID.

The idea behind the GRID tech is that games can have a device-agnostic, location-blind future. A droid phone or an iPad doesn't have the physical footprint to cram an Nvidia GTX 670 (and its heatsink needs) on board, but can access the graphics processing power remotely and stream it to your face.

Huang demonstrated the principle on-stage with a demo from upcoming mech shooter Hawken, being played live on a television. Not on a console connected to a television, but rather on a television with an ethernet cable and a controller plugged into it, streaming the game directly.

In their press release, Nvidia promises that the GRID can work just as quickly, if not more so, than being plugged directly into a device with a GPU on board: " The latency-reducing technology in GeForce GRID GPUs compensates for the distance in the network, so gamers will feel like they are playing on a gaming supercomputer located in the same room. Lightning-fast play is now possible, even when the gaming supercomputer is miles away."


While controls and human input still remain an issue, if top-notch streaming graphics processing catches on, the future of on-the-go gaming could see a great boost from the tech. A laptop or tablet that couldn't, by itself, support running a brand-new game now can. For now, Nvidia is partnering with cloud-based game-delivery service Gaikai, who will use the tech, presumably, to make their streaming game offerings snazzier-looking and more responsive.