AirGPU is a cloud computing or virtual computing service that focuses on providing on-demand access to graphics processing resources. This service has positioned itself as a cloud gaming platform and it appeals primarily to personal computer gaming but has also appealed to other graphics-intensive use cases such as video editing and video rendering.
Pros of AirGPU: Advantages and Important Features
There is a market for cloud gaming and the overall graphics-focused cloud computing. Providers of these services sell the idea of being able to use the latest and most powerful discrete graphics processors on different devices and operating systems without needing to purchase new hardware. AirGPU is one of these service providers. Below are its advantages:
1. Wide Selection of Graphics Processors
It offers various classes of discrete GPUs to cater to different use cases and budget requirements. Each option has different hardware specifications and comes with a virtual central processing unit and random access memory. These include the Nvidia Quadro RTX 4000 and the AMD Radeon Pro W6600 for personal computer gaming via the cloud and the data center series from Nvidia such as the Nvidia Tesla T4 and Nvidia A10G.
2. Unrestricted Geographic Availability
Another advantage of AirGPU is that it operates 22 data centers around the world. Furthermore, unlike competitors such as Shadow PC, it does not restrict signups based on the location or country of residence of interested subscribers. There is also an option for creating different virtual computers in different geographic data centers. This is suitable for people who travel a lot or small organizations with global operations.
3. Metered Pricing and Pricing Options
The service is based on a subscription model. However, instead of a flat rate, the pricing scheme is based on per-hour usage and is dependent on the GPU option. The most affordable option is the Quadro RTX 4000 which is priced at USD 0.65 per hour while the most expensive is the RTX A5000 which is priced at USD 1.55 per hour. Take note that the required cloud storage that uses solid-state drives is priced at USD 3.50 per GB.
4. Compatible Across Different Platforms
AirGPU also supports the most dominant operating systems in the world. These include Microsoft Windows, macOS from Apple, Linux distributions such as Ubuntu and Debian, ChromeOS, and the Android mobile operating system. This means that the cloud-based graphics processing resource and the entire cloud or virtual computer are accessible in a range of computers or devices running one of these operating systems.
Cons of AirGPU: Disadvantages and Main Limitations
AirGPU is not a unique service. There are other providers of cloud computing services in the global market. The biggest players include Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud, and Microsoft Azure. Shadow PC is the closest competitor of AirGPU. Nvidia also has the Nvidia Grid cloud service and the more specific GeForce Now cloud gaming service. Sony has the PlayStation Plus and Microsoft has the Xbox Cloud Gaming. Below are its disadvantages:
1. Expensive For Extensive Applications
The same metered pricing scheme mentioned above is also one of the disadvantages of AirGPU. It remains affordable for casual and intermittent users but the cost would be too high for power users or those who require continuous graphics processing capabilities. The virtualized Quadro RTX 4000 would cost about USD 468.00 per month for round-the-clock operations. This might be too expensive for individuals or small organizations.
2. Limited Graphics Processing Capabilities
AirGPU boasts a selection of different classes of graphics processors. However, based on the list, it is important to note that there are use cases in which it is better to use more capable discrete and even integrated graphics processors. The gaming performance of a cloud gaming platform is also dependent on the speed and overall quality of the internet connection and is not on par with native PC gaming using the latest hardware components.
3. Some Compatibility and Restriction Issues
The service generally works well. A user can theoretically run software in their virtualized computers. However, in several cases, some applications might not work. There are PC game titles that are not optimized for cloud computing and some have anti-cheat features that block cloud computers. It is also important to note that this service cannot be used for heavier workloads like proof-of-work mining and training of AI models.
4. Notable Game Titles With Known Problems
AirGPU has compiled a list of common PC game titles with reported issues. Fortnite and Valorant are the most common examples. FIFA 23 will not run on a Windows Server 2019 or 2022. Escape From Tarkov is only playable on a particular AMD Radeon Pro Series option. Some users have also reported that the overall gaming performance and user experience tend to take a hit whenever livestreaming their in-game feeds.
Rundown: Advantages and Disadvantages of AirGPU
The aforementioned pros and cons of AirGPU boil down to the fact that it is one of the best cost-effective options for users who want to experience PC gaming or perform graphic-demanding workloads without needing to upgrade their computers. However, similar to other cloud computing and cloud gaming services and platforms from providers with not enough moat, its performance would not rival native graphics processing and computing capabilities. Those who want a cloud computing platform for more intensive and extensive applications should consider services from bigger tech companies such as Amazon and Microsoft.