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Turn Your New Opteron Into A One-Game Console 350

An anonymous reader writes "A new 64-bit Linux CD can instantly turn an AMD Opteron-equipped PC into the ultimate gaming console, according to Super Computer Inc. (SCI). The company has created a distribution of the popular America's Army multi-player strategy game on a bootable Linux CD, that it says was developed in partnership with AMD, nVidia, and the US Army."
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Turn Your New Opteron Into A One-Game Console

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  • by Synic ( 14430 ) on Wednesday October 01, 2003 @11:52AM (#7103953) Homepage Journal
    Why would you ever want a console that only plays a single game? I thought the whole point was being able to switch between games. In this case, the writer of the news blurb fails to realize that you could switch between several such self-booting, self-contained discs (such as the UT2k3 Linux LiveCDs that Gentoo made) and then your PC would be kinda like a console system in that you don't need to muss with drivers or OS configuration outside of the game to set things up properly.
  • by djhankb ( 254226 ) on Wednesday October 01, 2003 @11:52AM (#7103961) Homepage
    There is a project going on called Advance CD [] which utilizes the same concept of the bootable linux CD "game console" though it uses mame... I like the idea of the "Bootable CD game" and could be the next generation of a way to distrubute them? -Henry
  • A games console... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by MaestroSartori ( 146297 ) on Wednesday October 01, 2003 @11:53AM (#7103962) Homepage
    ...but without all those lovely console advantages like the uniform hardware target, well-designed controllers, and (in the case of America's Army at least) some decent gameplay in the games!

    Where do I sign up? :)
  • This would be great. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Simon (S2) ( 600188 ) on Wednesday October 01, 2003 @11:53AM (#7103972) Homepage
    wouldn't a linux distro as gaming OS be the coolest thing ever? if a lot of game developers would focus on one linux distro, and gaming hw makers would focus their drivers developement on it.
  • developed by nvidia? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Comsn ( 686413 ) on Wednesday October 01, 2003 @11:54AM (#7103978)
    but what about ATI cards?

    drop this into an opteron with an nvidia card it should say.
  • by reality-bytes ( 119275 ) on Wednesday October 01, 2003 @11:54AM (#7103983) Homepage
    Okay so I'm replying to myself but is the 'significant' difference here the 64bit port? - Is it wildly different from the 32bit version of AA or is it just quicker?

    Anyone have any further info on this 64bit port as the article seems a little thin in that respect....
  • by scumbucket ( 680352 ) on Wednesday October 01, 2003 @11:55AM (#7104007)
    Sep. 30, 2003

    A new 64-bit Linux CD can instantly turn an AMD Opteron-equipped PC into the ultimate gaming console, according to Super Computer Inc. (SCI). The company has created a distribution of the popular America's Army multi-player strategy game on a bootable Linux CD, that it says was developed in partnership with AMD, nVidia, and the US Army. According to SCI, the GameStorm CD boots directly into a gaming-console-like environment that maximizes hardware access for the game software and cuts out legacy operating system overhead, resulting in the feeling of "a gaming console on steroids."

    SCI says its GameStorm technology fits onto a single CD and essentially turns the PC into an embedded Linux based "console-like" gaming system. The Linux OS scans the hardware, loads a custom distribution of 64-bit embedded Linux, and then runs the game software. The experience for the end-user is fast and powerful game playing that boots in under one minute, without the usual overhead from the legacy operating systems traditionally used in the gaming industry, SCI claims.

    "It feels like a gaming console on steroids and even allows for online access so you can connect to online game servers for multi-player action," said Jesper Jensen, CEO of Super Computer, Inc. "With a pure 64-bit environment and no overhead, SCI has created a powerful single-CD showcase for both AMD and GameStorm technology!"

    SCI's first GameStorm title, America's Army, originally debuted on July 4, 2002, becoming one of the most popular games online, according to SCI. The Army has recorded more than 1.6 million registered user accounts with more than 1 million players completing basic training. Gamers have played more than 130 million missions and the average number of completed missions per day is 450,000, about the same number of times Cmdr Taco has gay sex per day.

    "The fact that America's Army is available in 64-bit on the GameStorm CD allows gamers to get a taste of the next generation of gaming just by inserting a CD and powering up the computer," said Major Bret Wilson, Operations Officer for America's Army.

    "With the AMD Athlon 64 processor and GameStorm technology, AMD is able to showcase a fully-integrated 64-bit environment that delivers performance and realism to the most demanding gamers," said Tim Wright, director, desktop marketing, AMD Computation Products Group. "AMD64 will revolutionize the gaming market by delivering immersive super-realistic environments."

    Earlier this year, Super Computer Inc. unveiled what was claimed to be the world's first AMD Opteron processor-based gaming server cluster, featuring U.S. Army's "America's Army Game," at the 2003 Electronic Entertainment Expo.

    Company Marketing Manager Jay Majumdar says America's Army on GameStorm will be distributed free by AMD with Opteron-equipped PCs, and that the company is now working on porting several more 32-bit and 64-bit games to the GameStorm platform.

    Majumdar notes that Army recruiters will use the CD during recruiting events. "They can run the game on a floor model at Best Buy, and leave the hard drive untouched," he says.
  • by dr_canak ( 593415 ) on Wednesday October 01, 2003 @12:00PM (#7104060)
    There are always posts about where can linux break out and really take over market share (i.e. desktop, server, etc...), and when i first read the story, I didn't really see the point to this. But then:

    From the article:

    "The fact that America's Army is available in 64-bit on the GameStorm CD allows gamers to get a taste of the next generation of gaming just by inserting a CD and powering up the computer," said Major Bret Wilson, Operations Officer for America's Army.

    This really does make sense to me. P.C.s in my mind are just better for the serious gamer, and hardware issues aside, if they can actually get to a point of porting single CD games like this, it could really create an exciting new breed of "console games." I'd love to just pop in a disk of Baldur's Gate, Nascar, Halflife, etc... and get the best of both worlds. Quick access to the game w/o the hassle of an install and all the advantages of the superior AI seen on the p.c. platform as compared to the console platform.

    Add in the capability to save games and "ini" info to a CDR or Floppy and you are good to go.

    just my .02.
  • by ciryon ( 218518 ) on Wednesday October 01, 2003 @12:03PM (#7104087) Journal
    Imagine the day when all games are delivered in this way. You get the best OS available and instantly into action with your hardware fully utilized.

    For the gamers that always want maximum frames per second this must be a dream. Nothing extra claiming memory and other resources in the background. It's just the game and you! Not to mention how this would boost Linux game development.

  • by 0x0d0a ( 568518 ) on Wednesday October 01, 2003 @12:19PM (#7104240) Journal
    It's rare that I look at a new idea being done with Linux and get depressed instead of excited, but this definitely qualifies. This is a fairly bad idea. As people pointed out in a recent Slashdot discussion, OS-with-game means that the game will soon stop working on new hardware for which there is no support, requires rebooting to play the game, doesn't let you take advantages of the OS *anyway* (I mean, the only role the OS plays in something like this is in what kind of sound latency you're seeing).
  • Re:Why? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Asprin ( 545477 ) <gsarnold@ya[ ].com ['hoo' in gap]> on Wednesday October 01, 2003 @12:39PM (#7104467) Homepage Journal

    I think that the real attraction isn't necessarily performance, but the convenience:

    The game developer's life is made easier because they don't have to deal with different desktop architectures, registry cruft or driver versions. Plus, they can tweak the drivers and kernel to optimize performance for their specific game.

    The user doesn't have to install anything to the hard drive, but the HD (or hd or floppy or cdrw or usb flash-drive) are all available for saving games and/or settings.

    Is rebooting to switch games annoying? Maybe if you are talking about solitaire, but I don't think many people duck in and out of CounterStrike for five minutes between phone calls.

    Plus, since the developer can control the ENTIRE hardware driver layer, their costs are going to go down beacuase if you call tech support with a problem, it's NOT the drivers -- you probably have a hardware problem!

    This cancels out every reason you have to buy and X-box except for price, and even that advantage is vanishing with new small-form-factor low-cost motherboards and hard drives.

    Perfect? No. Worth exploring? Absolutely! Maybe the gaming industry should even put together a gaming hardware support standard and develop a heavily optimized Linux Gaming Distro with an API and support tools for game developers. Most of the components are already out there (ALSA, SDL, Hotplug, etc...), they just need to be organized and polished underneath a common .
  • by Asprin ( 545477 ) <gsarnold@ya[ ].com ['hoo' in gap]> on Wednesday October 01, 2003 @12:41PM (#7104487) Homepage Journal

    You need one of these []!
  • (Score:2, Interesting)

    by TrippdOut ( 711482 ) on Wednesday October 01, 2003 @12:42PM (#7104501)
    Of course, it's harder to "acquire" rom images, now that [] is not allowing downloads. It was bound to happen; it's still a shame it did.
  • by pecosdave ( 536896 ) on Wednesday October 01, 2003 @01:10PM (#7104804) Homepage Journal
    Should we forget Movix? [] Movix is a tiny Linux distro that goes at the begining of CDs with movies on them to make them play without having to wory about people having their computers setup properly. I'm planning to make my wedding video and time surrounding (not the actual event of) my baby being born available to my realatives this way. Most of them don't have internet access and those that do aren't necessarily adept enough to get CODECs and the like. Between the Americas Army disk, the UT2k3 Disk, and Movix Linux is finding it's place on Windows machines and theoreticaly computers without hard disk at all. If this keeps going screw the X-Box, make generic consoles with the nForce chip, loads of RAM and no HDD. Save game progress on standard run of the mill smartcards and the like. USB keyboards, joysticks and gamepads will now rule. This is a geniune idea, wonder if I could make a few bucks?
  • by PainKilleR-CE ( 597083 ) on Wednesday October 01, 2003 @01:13PM (#7104837)
    It's probably a tiny fraction of the cost that the Army spends on maintaing and opening recruiting offices, and sending flyers to high school seniors.

    It is a rather small portion of their recruiting budget. One of the early press releases for the game mentioned the actual percentage, but I don't recall what it was. Several articles reference that it cost over $6.3 Million to develop and a few more recent articles mention that it has paid for itself (which earlier articles referenced as 300-400 recruits, meaning that the average cost of recruiting is ~$15,750 per person or more).
  • by Mr. Flibble ( 12943 ) on Wednesday October 01, 2003 @01:24PM (#7104981) Homepage
    Many people here seem to be complaining that this reduces your PC to a console device, which it does in a way. I also see complaints that this will "return us to the days of DOS" with reboots and memory management etc.

    I doubt either situation is the case. What I actually expect is that this is a great short term solution to the problem of not having a mainstream 64 bit OS on the desktop for PC's. This gives the Opteron a chance to shine as the game will be compliled for 64bit, as well as the OS that runs under it - 64bit Linux.

    Microsoft has not released 64bit XP except to subscribers AFAIK - and it won't be available until 2004 anyhow.

    "But wait!" I hear you cry - you could continue to use Linux on the desktop yadda yadda... That is not the target of this thing. It is a quick and dirty solution to getting a 64bit game out the door and into the players hands. Yes - you could do this with Linux alone, and no boot disc, however, most people who play America's Army don't use Linux - or even MacOS X for that matter. They use Windows.

    This then, is a good win for Linux - some of the users may realize that they are using Linux, and become intrigued by it if America's Army runs much better in this form. More "joe sixpack" users may start to take notice of this strange OS. Furthermore, with the lag time that Microsoft will have in getting a 64bit OS out to the public, and with the avalibility of the Opteron right now, we may see more Linux games!

    This is a good thing!

    So stop whining about it, for the love of god. It is no wonder that people may not want to support Linux apps if as soon as one is released in any form, all the slashbots start complaining about it.
  • by forrestt ( 267374 ) on Wednesday October 01, 2003 @01:41PM (#7105187) Homepage Journal
    Actually, it makes a lot of sense. The mass produced CD-ROMs can include software at the kernel level that would enable them to read parts of the CD that are unreadable by copy software. This would be an almost foolproof form of copy protection. I'm not a CD wiz, but I believe it is possible.

    They would also be able to open their market share to users of Windows (tm) as well as those of us who prefer to use an alternative Operating System (i.e. as long as it is x86 it will work).
  • It sucks for game distribution, but bootable Linux CDs that go right into a full featured OS (X, a DE, some kind of Office progs, a browser, etc) is really cool when I want to show someone else Linux.

    I honestly try to show as many people as I can that it is a viable alternative and not just a nerd OS anymore.

    "Linux would be too complicated for me. I'm not really good with computers in the first place."

    "Well... try this and tell me what you think."

    "I can make my desktop look like that!? That's really nice. Oh... and I like these programs. There's a program here like Trillian too. I thought Linux was harder than Windows."

    Hell, I'm putting both my parents on Linux now and my girlfriend just put a second hard drive in her box for a Gentoo installation.
  • by j3110 ( 193209 ) < minus math_god> on Thursday October 02, 2003 @06:54AM (#7112120) Homepage
    I never multitask during games by choice. Some applications demand attention. I've moved every one of those applications onto my cheap laptop. Let's me run Gaim (talk to people while I camp), Mozilla (for cheat codes of course), Mozilla Mail (in case something important actually does come up), and lots of other business-esque software so I can see who's calling (from the phone system) to see if I need to mute before I pick up.

    All the tweaking gamers out there should love this CD thing, for now. Then at some point they'll say, "Hey, you, Linux Geek! Can I copy this to my hard drive?" and of course you install a very compact Linux distro so that nothing else eats the precious CPU. Next you set up Mozilla for them so they don't have to reboot to browse the web. You set up Evolution, then they can get their mail. You set up StarOffice, and they can do their homework. Gamers won't want to reboot to windows except for the games that require it eventually (because they'll be slightly slower... at least that is true with some games like Unreal 1, and anything Quake). More demand for games on Linux (and therefore optimized drivers) is what it's all about, and I'm all for it. Now if NeverWinter would just conform to my theory that Linux is faster than Windows, I'ld be a very happy person! :)

    Hey, I know some people, maybe I try to get Anand (of Anandtech) to run Linux benchmarks on cards to see who has the best Linux drivers. Someone did one back in 2000, but that's a lot dated. If it was in the benchmarks, I think it would help. (I'm very pleased with the NVidia drivers so far, but I haven't compared them to windows as much as I should. I think they use pretty much the same code because OpenGL is OpenGL even on Linux.)

Someday your prints will come. -- Kodak