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Playcast to launch high-def upgrade for cloud gaming service

New version will match graphical quality of current-gen consoles, says company

Video and games streaming technology company Playcast has announced that it will release a high definition version of its service with a European operator later this month.

The new version will enable the company to match the video and graphics quality of the current generation of games consoles, it said, and to align itself with the ubiquitous uptake of HD televisions.

Similar to gaming service OnLive, Playcast gives users access to games-on-demand without the need for a games console. Instead games can be streams through IPTV and cable networks that are partnered with Playcast.

"The HD version supports all of Playcast's games library," said Alon Shtruzman, Playcast's COO. "It allows us to bring titles from the world's major game publishers.

"This new solution would allow our PayTV platform partners to provide an additional, premium service, which would further enhance the offering to the user. In a world of fierce competition between platforms, and shrinking gross margins, that's very important."

The new version will support HD at 720p resolution and is available for both MPEG2 and H.264 codec formats.

With MPEG2 a single stream will require 4Mbps compared to the standard 15Mbps for normal video. Using the H.264 codec a single HD stream will require 3Mbps.

Further expansion to 1080i is scheduled for later in the year, the company added.

Dr Natan Peterfreund, one of the authors of the H264 standard, said: "While standard definition is by far the dominant TV transmission technology, many high end gamers expect to play next generation titles in HD.

"It was quite an engineering feat to provide such a leap in game performance and video quality, while reducing the network resources by more than 60 per cent."

Playcast was first launched in Israel in July 2009 after four years in development.