Modeling and simulation

Scalable Graphics: visualization across all platforms

Date:
Changed on 26/07/2021
20 years ago, researchers at the Inria Nancy - Grand Est research centre tested out the new opportunities opened up by ultra-high speed internet. Xavier Cavin used this new high speed internet to experiment with remote animation with the Scalable Graphics start-up. In 2015, he kept up this momentum by launching Gamestream, which has gone on to become a major player in the world of cloud gaming. Let's take a closer look at this start-up success story.
Visuel du service de Cloud Gaming Pleio
© Gamestream

My birth and the early days of streaming

This video from the early 2000s shows the first days of a new world. In it you can see Inria researchers dreaming about viewing films remotely and storing data on servers - all thanks to ultra-high speed internet. In the early 2000s Xavier Cavin, my founder, was a young PhD student in IT carrying out experiments on parallel visualisation at Inria. It all started for me when Xavier Cavin was in Nancy as a researcher working on the VTHD project (vraiment très haut débit - ultra high speed). It was during this time that he learned how to pool the graphic power of computers in order to achieve remote visualisation and to access the power of supercomputers from his desktop computer. I was created in 2007 by three people who met at Inria labs: Xavier Cavin, who was directing a research project, and his team of engineers. My founders were keen to continue the work started at Inria. What they now had to do was to circumvent these vast supercomputers using clusters of PCs capable of processing information simultaneously and executing multiple parallel tasks. This was a new type of IT architecture. Via streaming, my founders sought to transport the performance of the most powerful computers onto the most ordinary machines, and this on a large scale. They gave me the name Scalable Graphics.

From the oil industry to video games

I bid for my first contracts in 2007 and even won the Concours national d’aide à la création d’entreprises innovantes (A French national competition for innovative start-ups). Initially I was used in the oil industry, where huge processing power is required for the simulators used to explore new deposits. It wasn’t long before I discovered the unpredictable nature of start-up life: after just one year, my main client was bought out by an American company, who chose to do without my services. I bounced back in 2008 when the company NVIDIA presented me to the PSA Group, which felt I could be of use for CAD (computer-aided design). In labs in the automobile industry, engineers model individual elements of machines on their computers. Only a high-performance computer would be capable of bringing all of these models together as part of a general model. Thanks to my capacities in parallel visualisation it was possible to visualise and use this large model on each machine linked to a central computer. With PSA, we filed four industrial patents linked to virtual reality between 2013 and 2018. I am currently working with Thales to develop simulators, and with Corys, a company which specialises in training train drivers. As Xavier Cavin likes to say, “We offer a bespoke service, not off-the-shelf software with quick training and a hotline in case you need help”.

The Netflix of video gaming

2013 saw me enter a new world: the world of video games. Internet streaming makes remote visualisation possible, which is the basis of cloud gaming. What could use up more processing power than a long video game with a strong narrative dimension? And what could be more demanding? Someone watching a film can tolerate the image skipping, but a gamer will lose if their stream cuts out.

Image
Photo de Karen Seror
Verbatim

2015 saw the creation of my little sister Gamestream, which was first used in 2019, quickly becoming “the Netflix of video games”.

Auteur

Karen Seror

Poste

The start-up's marketing director

I now have clients across the globe. In France, I have been working since 2020 with Bouygues Telecom under the name Pleio. For Jérôme Cornu, 5G communications director for the French operator: “Cloud gaming currently provides the best demonstration of how 5G can create a better experience for our customers.” Thanks to me, users of Pleio can play a wide range of games across all platforms. Gamers trust me because of my performance, which is the fruit of skills developed within Inria labs. I have optimised costs and quality by enabling operators to run as many games as possible on Gamestream’s most powerful servers. My algorithms spread the load out over the available machines, going into the code of video games in order to coordinate their needs in terms of processing power. The magic of Scalable Graphics lies in coding”, explains Xavier Cavin.

Photo de Xavier Cavin
© Nancomcy

Xavier Cavin - caught between two worlds

Xavier Cavin is a techy who likes nothing more than solving puzzles and overcoming obstacles. Having been trained as part of an Inria team, he shared an office in the early 2000s with François Cuny, who is currently Inria’s Deputy CEO for Innovation. Together they launched the start-up VSP Technology (Visualization Service Provider) in 2001, laying the groundwork for a future project: Gamestream. In 2007 the researcher transferred his scientific expertise over into marketing and followed his own path alongside two engineers from his research team. Gamestream would never have come about had he not met Ivan Lebeau. Cavin is the tech guy, while Lebeau deals with the business side of things - a set-up that works well in digital companies. It was Ivan Lebeau who dreamt of democratising video games, enabling them to be played everywhere and on all platforms, promoting a responsible approach. Through him the start-up was able to scale up, opening up new markets and attracting thousands of new users every week. Xavier Cavin, meanwhile, has continued to experiment in his laboratory, imagining possible future uses.