Up to date Dec 17, 2016: Eliminated point out of the Azure Preview (because it’s now GA), linked to simpler technique to disable displays, up to date driver hyperlink

Enjoying Overwatch at 60FPS, 2560×1600, every little thing on Epic high quality, and streaming from the cloud – not too shabby!

It’s no secret that I like the idea of not simply streaming AAA recreation titles from the cloud, however enjoying them dwell from any pc – particularly on the underpowered laptops I normally use for work. I’ve accomplished it earlier than utilizing Amazon’s EC2 (and written a full article for the right way to do it), however this time, issues are just a little completely different. Microsoft’s Azure was first to offer entry to NVIDIA’s new M60 GPUs, fully new beasts that actually set a complete new bar for framerate and picture high quality. They’re primarily based on the newer Maxwell structure, versus the Kepler playing cards we’ve used previously. Hopefully in the future we’ll get the flamboyant new Pascal playing cards 🙂

Earlier than going by this text, I strongly advocate you a minimum of skim my EC2 Gaming article from earlier than so you’ll be able to grasp a few of the ideas we’ll be doing right here. Principally it’ll come all the way down to this: we’re going to launch an Azure GPU occasion, configure it for ultra-low latency streaming, and really correctly play Overwatch, a first-person shooter, from a server over a thousand miles away!

And sure, it appears I at all times have to repeat myself when writing these articles: the latency is simply positive, the decision is superb, it may be very cost-effective (should you don’t overlook the machine on), and all very sensible for these of you obsessed about minimalism (like me). If you happen to’re the hardcore gamer-type who’s knee-jerk response no matter something is “omg i dont trust anything that doesnt have a Zalman watercooled CPU fan or has a ‘hardware-offloaded’ networking card” or should you’re in some form of sunk-costs scenario of already having spent a great deal of cash on a gaming rig, I strongly advocate not studying this text – it’ll solely additional infuriate you. 🙂

Notice that on this article I assume you’re on a pc much like mine (a Macbook laptop computer working MacOS). That’s not a requirement to do that stuff although. You might be on Linux or Home windows as a shopper, although a few of the client-side tooling modifications round a bit. You’ll determine it out!


It’s not the most cost effective factor on the market, however should you’ll simply be enjoying right here and there it may be. Like previously, nearly all of the invoice will most likely come from bandwidth utilization from the server (particularly if youre doing 30+ MBit/s). Additionally keep in mind, there’s $0 upfront price right here. This contrasts dramatically to the 1000’s of {dollars} you’d find yourself paying for a equally spec-ed gaming rig.

  • NV6 Server: $1.35/hr
  • Bandwidth at 10MBit/s: $0.41/hr
  • HD storage: $0.003/hr

Complete at 10MBit/s: $1.76/hr
Complete at 30Mbit/s: $2.58/hr (really useful tho)

Notice: enjoying through the cloud doesn’t make you suck any much less at gaming 😉

Half 1: Creating the Azure occasion

  1. Go to the Azure portal and use the next directions to create a brand new NV6 kind machine (has NVIDIA’s M60 GPU). The K80 machines gained’t work for this since they don’t virtualize the show adapter we want.
    1. Enter the Azure Portal
    2. On the left aspect choose ‘Virtual machines’ and click on ‘Add’
    3. Choose ‘Windows Server’ then ‘Windows Server 2016 Datacenter’
    4. When prompted for the deployment mannequin, choose ‘Resource Manager’ from the dropdown and click on the ‘Create’ button
    5. Enter a reputation and a few credentials for the machine. Be sure that although that the ‘VM disk type’ is ‘HDD’ and the Location is ‘South Central US’ (that is the one location they assist proper now)
    6. When prompted to choose the dimensions (kind) of machine choose ‘View all’ up high and click on on the ‘NV6’ machine kind. Strive to not panic about the price, we’ll solely be utilizing it for a number of hours whereas gaming, not 24/7. 🙂
    7. On the Settings display, most defaults are positive, however do change the Community Safety Group to ‘None’ and switch off Diagnostics
    8. Verify every little thing on the Abstract display and the occasion will launch. Notice that it takes a couple of minutes till your machine is Operating and it’ll have an IP tackle.
  2. Set up Microsoft Distant Desktop in your Mac should you haven’t already. Arrange the machine with the username/password you specified when creating the occasion and the IP tackle listed on Azure. Moreover:
    • Choose ‘Connect to admin session’ on the machine’s properties
    • Unselect ‘Start session in full screen’
    • Choose a decision of 1024×768
    • For ‘Sound’ choose ‘Don’t play sound’ (it’s pointless)
  3. As soon as related, you’ll have to create a brand new person account that isn’t the account you specified earlier. That is essential for some driver modifications and auto-login steps you’ll be doing later.
    1. Proper click on on the Begin button and choose ‘Control Panel’
    2. Then choose ‘User Accounts’ after which ‘User Accounts’ once more, then ‘Manage another account’
    3. Then click on to ‘Add a user account’ and create a brand new person. This would be the accout you’ll use going ahead.
    4. As soon as created, click on on it on the listing
    5. Click on on ‘Change the account type’, choose ‘Administrator’, and ensure
    6. Shut the window and disconnect from the session
  4. Arrange this new person on Microsoft Distant Desktop on the shopper aspect and re-login with the brand new account. You gained’t want the outdated account anymore, so be at liberty to take away settings about it from Distant Desktop.
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Half 2: Normal configuration for making the server extra of a workstation

  1. Run Home windows Replace on it
    • Click on the Begin button and choose ‘Settings’, then choose ‘Update & Security’ and run Home windows Replace there
    • It might probably take some time for this to finish, and even would possibly seem like caught at a sure proportion, however all is okay, simply hold ready
    • As soon as it completes, restart the machine if essential. It’ll most likely take a number of minutes till the machine will likely be again up and working.
  2. Activate ICMP Ping requests with the Home windows Firewall. It’s helpful for debugging.
    • Click on the Begin button and kind ‘Windows Fire’ and choose ‘Windows firewall with Advanced Security’
    • Choose ‘Inbound rules’ on the left aspect and allow the rule ‘File and Printer Sharing (Echo Request – ICMPv4-In)’
    • You need to now have the ability to ping your server machine out of your laptop computer to determine what the roundtrip time is
  3. Disable Home windows Defender
    • Click on the Begin button and kind in ‘Windows Defender’
    • Click on Settings and switch off ‘Real-time protection’
  4. Flip off auto Defragmenting drives (sure this can be a actual downside that’ll occur in the course of your video games)
    • Click on the beginning button and kind in ‘Defragment’ and choose ‘Defragment and Optimize drives’
    • Click on on ‘Change settings’ for ‘Optimization schedule’
    • Uncheck ‘Run on a schedule’
  5. Activate efficiency flags, plus flip off the boot timeout (since we’re on a server)
    • Proper click on the Begin button and choose ‘System’, then choose ‘Advanced system settings’ on the left aspect
    • Within the Efficiency part, click on on ‘Settings…’
    • Within the Visible Results tab, choose ‘Adjust for best performance’
    • Within the Superior tab, choose ‘Programs’ and click on Okay
    • Again to the ‘System Properties’ dialog, click on the ‘Settings…’ button within the ‘Startup and Recovery’ part
    • Uncheck ‘Time to display list of operating systems’ because you by no means get to see that in any case
    • Lastly, choose ‘(none)’ for the ‘Write debugging information’ dropdown
  6. Take away pointless scheduled duties
    • Proper click on the beginning button and choose ‘Computer Management’
    • Increase ‘Task Scheduler’ on the left aspect
    • Now for every of the next in ‘Task Scheduler Library > Microsoft > Windows’:
      • Disable all duties in ‘Chkdsk’
      • Disable all duties in ‘Diagnosis’
      • Disable all duties in ‘DiskCleanup’
      • Disable all duties in ‘Maintenance’
      • Disable all duties in ‘SystemRestore’
      • Disable all duties in ‘Windows Defender’
  7. Disable File and Printer sharing and SMB shopper on the community
    • Proper click on the beginning menu and choose ‘Network Connections’
    • Double click on on ‘Ethernet’. Strive to not be distracted by the alleged ‘40.0 Gbps’ connection the machine has. 🙂
    • Click on on Properties and uncheck ‘Client for Microsoft Networks’ and ‘File and Printer Sharing for Microsoft Networks’
  8. Disable pointless providers
    • Click on the Begin button and kind in ‘Services’
    • For every of the next providers, double click on on it and choose ‘Startup Type > Disabled’ and Cease the service
      • Server
      • Print spooler
  9. Activate auto-login into Home windows. That is helpful to make it sooner to begin enjoying video games after rebooting.
    • Press the Begin button and kind in ‘netplwiz’
    • Click on in your username
    • Uncheck ‘Users must enter a user name and password to use this computer’
    • Then click on the OK button and enter your person’s password
  10. Allow file extension exhibiting and system/hidden file exhibiting
    • Open up the File Explorer and click on ‘View’ up high
    • Put a test in ‘File name extensions’, geez, how is hiding extensions okay?

Half 2.5: Some nice-to-haves

  1. Make the desktop background black (or a non-picture) to minorly velocity up Distant Desktop periods
    • Proper click on the desktop and choose ‘Personalize’
    • For ‘Background’ choose ‘Solid color’
    • Then choose the black coloration under (or no matter coloration your coronary heart wishes)
  2. Flip off notifications of stuff you already instructed it you don’t need on
    • Proper click on the Begin button, choose ‘Control Panel’, click on ‘System and Security’, and eventually click on ‘Security and Maintenance’
    • On the left aspect choose ‘Change Security and Maintenance settings’
    • Uncheck all of the issues that make you’re feeling superior to different folks and don’t have to be reminded about
  3. Activate at all times exhibiting icons within the system tray
    • Proper click on on the taskbar and choose ‘Properties’, then choose ‘Notification area’ > ‘Customize…’
    • Click on on ‘Select which icons appear on the taskbar’
    • Activate ‘Always show all icons in the notification area’
  4. Flip off combining taskbar icons and another taskbar cleanups
    • Proper click on on the taskbar and uncheck ‘Show Task View button’ and ‘Show touch keyboard button’
    • Proper click on on the taskbar and choose ‘Properties’, then choose ‘Taskbar buttons’ > ‘Never combine’
  5. Repair the time zone since you’re not some loopy sysadmin
    • Proper click on the time within the systray and choose ‘Adjust date/time’
    • Choose ‘Time zone’ to be the place you’re
  6. Make the Server Supervisor not begin up each time the pc does
    • Open the Server Supervisor
    • Go to the ‘Manage’ menu and choose ‘Server Manager Properties’
    • Put a test in ‘Do not start Server Manager automatically at logon’

Half 3: NVIDIA M60 video card

  1. You’ll discover that should you pull up the Gadget Supervisor that the motive force will likely be lacking for the M60 video card.

  2. Get the newest NVIDIA Tesla M60 drivers from right here. Typically there are different variations of the drivers talked about on Azure discussion board, so go there if in case you have incompatibility issues.

  3. Do the common Specific set up and reboot when accomplished.

  4. Disable the default show adapter in Home windows or else video games will select the incorrect one
    • Proper click on the Begin button and choose ‘Device Manager’
    • Increase ‘Display adapters’, proper click on on ‘Microsoft Hyper-V Video’ and choose ‘Disable’. Although discover the flamboyant M60 card on there now too!
  5. You’re utilizing the Distant Desktop service in Home windows to manage every little thing. The issue is that everytime you disconnect from the server, Distant Desktop will lock the display (and also you’ll have to CTRL-ALT-DEL to have the ability to use issues). That is no good if we’ll need video games to be working.
    • On the desktop, proper click on and create a brand new shortcut and have it run the command tscon 1 /dest:console and identify it ‘Disconnect’. NOTE: generally tscon 1 isn’t the proper one, attempt tscon 2. you’ll know that it really works should you get disconnected when working this after the remaining steps under.
    • Proper click on on it, choose Properties and click on the ‘Advanced’ button
    • Put a checkmark within the ‘Run as administrator’ possibility
    • Within the subsequent step and going ahead, we’ll be utilizing this hyperlink when needing to log off of Distant Desktop however hold the unlocked desktop out there for different functions
  6. As this video card introduces chance of one other monitor being connected to the server, some video games will get confused which one to make use of. Comply with the directions on this submit (thanks /r/openstack!) to disable all displays however the NVIDIA one.
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Half 3: Audio

  1. Allow audio in Home windows Server (the service is off by default)
    • Click on the Begin button and kind in ‘Services’
    • Double click on on ‘Windows Audio’ and choose ‘Automatic’ for ‘Startup type’
  2. There isn’t a soundcard on the VM. A free product, VB-CABLE handles this fairly properly.
    • Obtain it from right here
    • Extract the zip and run the ‘VBCABLE_Setup_x64.exe’ installer as Administrator
    • After putting in it, Home windows will nonetheless say there’s no put in audio machine, however don’t fear, Steam will choose it up. You may also see it within the Gadget Supervisor.

Half 4: ZeroTier VPN

  1. Azure (like EC2 and others) continues to be very recent with IPv6, and it’s present implementation is just not sufficient to be used right here. We’ll have to pressure disable it in Home windows in any other case some software program would possibly attempt to do a IPv6-over-IPv4 tunnel which ruins every little thing (Zerotier for examples tries to do that).
    • Open up an Administrator PowerShell (click on Begin, proper click on on ‘Windows PowerShell’ and ‘Run as Administrator’)
    • Then run the next:

        Set-Net6to4Configuration -State disabled
        Set-NetTeredoConfiguration -Kind disabled
        Set-NetIsatapConfiguration -State disabled
  2. For Steam In-Residence Streaming to work correctly, you’ll have to arrange a VPN. I strongly advocate ZeroTier for this because it’s one of the best at guaranteeing a peer-to-peer connection between the machines and never re-routing by another server who is aware of the place. Oh and don’t fear, for what you’ll be utilizing it for, it’s free. They’re additionally an excellent moral firm and opensource massive quantities of their core software program.
    • So, go to Zerotier’s web site and create an account there and create a community
    • When configuring the community, there are a number of settings essential:
      • I’d advocate setting ‘Access Control’ to ‘None’. It makes configuration simpler, simply don’t distribute the community id.
      • For ‘IPv4 Auto-Assign’ choose to ‘Auto-Assign from Range’ and choose an IP vary for the VPN. You’ll discover the Managed Routes above will likely be up to date.
      • For ‘Ethernet Frame Types’ unselect IPv6, it’s pointless since Steam doesn’t assist it proper now. Be sure that IPv4 is on although.
      • Write down that Community ID

    • Now, go set up ZeroTier on the server. The Home windows obtain hyperlink is right here. When putting in, choose to approve every little thing, together with the community adapter.
    • On the finish, it’ll give you the ZeroTier One window. Put your Community ID on the backside and click on Be part of. Click on Sure on any Home windows prompts.
    • Repeat the identical set up of ZeroTier once more besides in your laptop computer. The Mac obtain hyperlink is right here. Have it be a part of the identical community.
    • On the ZeroTier web site underneath your community, you need to now have the ability to see the IP addresses of the 2 machines.
    • To check the tunnel works, have one ping the opposite by its ‘Managed IP’. The ping occasions needs to be across the identical as should you pinged the Bodily IP of the opposite machine. Ideally your ping occasions are method decrease than those on this screenshot… I’m trying ahead to when the Azure GPU machines are nearer to the place I dwell!
  3. To optimize the community site visitors and packet sizes Steam In-Residence Streaming makes use of you would possibly want to regulate MTU on the server-side. I found out this quantity by trial and error and utilizing WireShark on the shopper aspect to see when what is meant to be one streaming packet ended up with one huge packet and one tiny one.
    • Open up an Administrator PowerShell and run the next on the server. ‘Ethernet 2’ right here is the identify of the ZeroTier adapter.

        netsh interface ipv4 present subinterfaces
        netsh interface ipv4 set subinterface "Ethernet 2" mtu=1410 retailer=persistent
  4. I’d advocate rebooting now, simply due to all of the quirky community modifications. Notice that ZeroTier will at all times reconnect on each techniques, so should you ever have to make modifications, use ZeroTier One on each techniques to configure community modifications.

Half 5: Steam In-Residence Streaming + OverWatch

  1. Set up Steam (sure, despite the fact that we finally need to play Overwatch, we want Steam’s In-Residence Streaming to work)
    • Click on on the Web Explorer button on the duty bar and go to ‘https://steampowered.com’ and obtain and set up it from there
    • Configure the server Steam to:
      • Save your password and auto-login (if in case you have Steam Guard on, you’ll have to put within the code they e mail you)
      • Account > Beta participation, and choose ‘Steam Beta Update’. Then restart Steam.
      • Associates > Routinely signal into Associates once I begin Steam
      • In-Sport > In-game FPS counter > High-left (elective, however I prefer it since that is the uncooked FPS on the machine)
      • In-Residence Streaming > Allow streaming
      • In-Residence Streaming > Superior Host Choices, and Examine solely the next:
        • ‘Adjust resolution to improve performance’
        • ‘Enable hardware encoding’
        • ‘Enable hardware encoding on NVIDIA GPU’
        • ‘Prioritize network traffic’
        • Notice that every little thing else needs to be unchecked. I’ve messed with NvFBC, however what Steam does for full-screen seize appears to be superior (more often than not). After all, you’ll be able to mess with it later should you’re attempting to debug a recreation. If you happen to attempt to use NvFBC, please see my earlier EC2 Gaming article for directions on the right way to get that arrange (you want to run NVFBCEnable).
      • Interface > Favourite window > Library
      • Interface > Notify me about additions or modifications […], uncheck it
  2. Now lets set up Overwatch:
    1. Obtain and set up Blizzard’s upsell-galore Desktop App for Battle.web launcher thingy
    2. Log into it along with your Battle.web account
    3. Choose Overwatch on the left aspect and set up it
    4. Now wait till it finishes downloading/putting in (takes a couple of minutes, however surprisingly quick!)
  3. Overwatch particularly has some points quitting correctly after being launched from Steam. Luckily a instrument, bnetlauncher was constructed to assist correctly begin/cease the sport. Principally, hold the official Battle.web shopper working, however within the subsequent step use this launcher. Be happy to place it wherever, together with in your Desktop.

  4. To stream video games we use Steam’s In-Residence Streaming performance because it’s essentially the most mature game-streaming tech on the market (that I’m conscious of). The excellent news is you can add non-Steam video games (like Overwatch/bnetlauncher) and it really works nice too.
    • In Steam, click on ‘Add A Game…’ (within the backside left nook of the window) and choose ‘Add a Non-Steam Game…’
    • Overwatch needs to be on the listing, however don’t add it that method. As an alternative, use the ‘Browse…’ button after which choose the ‘bnetlauncher’ app from the earlier step. Then click on the ‘Add Selected Programs’ button.
    • After its added, within the Video games Library, proper click on on ‘bnetlauncher’ and choose Properties. Set the identify to be ‘Overwatch’
    • As a part of the Goal, add ‘ Pro’ after the double-quotes
  5. In your pc (in Steam), configure it as such:
    • In-Residence Streaming > Allow streaming
    • In-Residence Streaming > Shopper choices > Stunning
    • In-Residence Streaming > Shopper choices > Superior shopper choices > Restrict bandwidth to > 30 Mbits/s (do NOT set limitless, it doesn’t work)
    • In-Residence Streaming > Shopper choices > Superior shopper choices > Restrict decision to > Show decision
    • In-Residence Streaming > Shopper choices > Superior shopper choices > Allow {hardware} decoding
    • In-Residence Streaming > Shopper choices > Superior shopper choices > Show efficiency data

Half 6: Let’s play!

  1. Be sure that the Steam shopper is working in your laptop computer
  2. On ther server, absolutely exit Steam and re-open it. After a number of seconds, you need to see the In-Residence Streaming popup saying the 2 machines see eachother.
  3. Use the ‘Disconnect’ shortcut from earlier to shut Distant Desktop
  4. On the Steam shopper, click on the Play button and hopefully the sport will load!
  5. In Overwatch, go to Choices, and set the graphics high quality to Epic, hit the Apply button and restart the sport.
  6. Blissful gaming!!
  • Don’t overlook to Cease the Azure occasion while you’re accomplished enjoying. It’ll be very costly should you don’t. You’ll be able to cease the VM with out shedding your config. If you wish to delete every little thing, ensure to delete the Useful resource Group in Azure

So fairly 🙂

Some particulars

Steam In-Residence Streaming particulars after urgent F6 (bottom-left of display)

  • Right here you’ll be able to see all kinds of fascinating stats: we’re doing 2560×1600 at 60fps through NVENC
  • Latency is round 82ms. As soon as Azure spreads this tech round to all their datacenters, issues ought to actually go down by way of latency.
  • We’re doing a strong 21MBits, although in motion it’ll simply hit 30MBits

Steam In-Residence Streaming additionally shows a rolling latency graph (bottom-right of display)

  • Darkish blue line is time it took to encode the H264 on the server aspect
  • Mild blue line is time it took to switch to the shopper aspect
  • Crimson line is decoding time and show latency

Overwatch’s FPS debugging output (top-left of display)

Steam’s non-In-Residence-Streaming FPS counter (top-right of display)

Thanks for studying! Hopefully this helps out. My day-to-day job is at Envoy, a startup in San Francisco constructing fairly cool merchandise for rethinking usually outdated processes within the office. We’re hiring enjoyable engineers with a ardour for constructing re-thought tech. Try our jobs web page! And positively point out should you’re into streaming video games 🙂

Shoutout to @Karan_Batta for serving to me get began with the GPU machines there!

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