Amazon signs up for 'future of streaming' ORBX

Amazon becomes the first major partner to agree to use lightweight new technology from Mozilla and OTOY for streaming games, video, and software.

One potential future for streaming technology doesn't look much like it does today, and that was enough to convince Amazon Web Services to sign up for it.

Amazon began to offer to AWS customers technology on Tuesday that allows them to stream complex games and software, thanks to a deal with visual rendering firm OTOY to implement the new JavaScript codec ORBX .

AWS customers using Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) G2 will be able to stream complex software and games that require scalable GPU ray traced rendering such as Autodesk 3DS Max and Maya from AWS servers to HTML5-enabled Web browsers.

In addition to hosting the software remotely, eliminating the need for local software installations, the technology sidesteps the increasingly thorny question of DRM on the Web, says Brendan Eich, Mozilla's chief technology officer and inventor of JavaScript.

"The problem with Web-based DRM is that it doesn't prevent people from getting stuff onto Pirate Bay," he said. "But it does prevent you, with the patent-encrusted key acquisition protocol, from moving easily between devices."

With the graphics-processing unit (GPU) based solution, Eich added, content owners can put a watermark on it for free without resorting to a "toxic" DRM system. "If you leak the movie, you're likely fingering yourself" as the leaker, Eich said, concluding that "DRM attracts other 'rent seekers.'"

ORBX, which was co-developed by OTOY, Autodesk, and Mozilla, enables 1080p60 cloud streaming to HTML5 browsers, and thus cuts out plugins, browser-specific video codecs, and native code dependency. All three of those problems have been challenges for the Web to overcome as browsers have moved to an only-HTML-dependent model.

OTOY and Autodesk have developed a high-performance, preconfigured workstation for distribution via AWS called "OctaneCloud" for design professionals. It will offer core Autodesk programs such as 3DS Max, Maya, Revit, and Inventor.

This photograph shows the same graphics software running on several major devices, thanks to ORBX.js. Mozilla

"Designers and engineers have an increasing need to be mobile, accessing the tools they need any time, anywhere, and from any device. Simple viewing and markup of documents is no longer sufficient -- they need to be able to access powerful 3D design applications, be able to do real design work, and not worry about sacrificing performance," Jeff Kowalski, chief technology officer at Autodesk, said in a statement. "This is now possible with technology developed by Autodesk, AWS, and OTOY."

The OctaneCloud Workstation will start at $9.99 per month for GPU instances that can run Adobe Creative Cloud and MS Office, which includes 30GB of storage and 120 minutes of GPU time. If you pay $19.99 per month for GPU instances that can run any 3D application, you get 100GB of storage and Octane Render built in for 300 minutes of GPU time. Throw in another $9.99 a month and you get Office 2013. OTOY will start signing up users this month, with additional storage costing 10 cents per gigabyte. Additional GPU time will cost around $1 per hour.

The next step for ORBX would be to convince a major Hollywood studio to give ORBX and watermarking a chance, though he wouldn't say more than he revealed six months ago about the progress of those talks.

Still, Eich was bullish on the possibilities for ORBX changing how streaming happens.

"We have a shot at moving codecs out of custom hardware. It's good for OTOY because they can just change their codecs over time, it's not burned into silicon. Codecs evolve," said Eich, "And this avoids patent traps."

Updated on Thursday, November 7, at 1:55 p.m. with more pricing information.

Corrected on Thursday, November 7, at 11:37 a.m. to clarify Eich's involvement with ORBX.js. He was not a creator.

 

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