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I have a computer with comparatively weak graphics, and one with comparatively strong graphics. I would like to run a graphics-intensive application on the weaker machine, using the graphics power of the stronger one. Excluding from-scratch development of a solution, is there a good way to do this? If not, is there a non-good-but-also-not-so-sensible way? What kind of bandwidth would be required (estimated) between the two machines to enable such functionality?

Edit: clarification per Wil's request -- this would primarily be a gaming scenario. In real-world terms: I want to play a game on my laptop that's normally taxing on the laptop's graphics resources, using the graphics resources of the desktop machine on the other side of the wall.

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Are these two machines on the same LAN network? Is there some reason you cannot just play your game on the better machine? – ubiquibacon Mar 29 '11 at 21:46
Yes, these machines are on the same LAN. As far as machine choice goes, it's just personal preference. – stack Mar 29 '11 at 21:49
Completely out of left field and clearly has limited choices, but given what you're talking about doing, if you're not familiar with OnLive you might look into it. – Shinrai Mar 30 '11 at 14:42

Bandwidth required - Depends entirely on the size/complexity of the document.

Pretty much all of the big 3d rendering programs (Maya, 3DSmax etc.) support this through Metal Ray, however, typically the require licensing which can get quite expensive.

To help you further, you really need to say what program you are using.

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I've edited the original question to include a note that this is primarily a gaming scenario. – stack Mar 29 '11 at 21:42
I don't know why you mention Mental Ray, as that is not for realtime rendering while modelling - it's for final rendering, which can take hours for a short animation. You can speed it up by using other machines to render frames in a render farm though. – paradroid Mar 29 '11 at 21:53

Laptops are portable, but not all for gaming. That's the disadvantage, it's not all perfect.

It's not so much about bandwidth, more about latency (I guess). If you had a ethernet connection between the two of them, you're basically eliminating that problem. VNC is poor, I just used it to test something on a rubbish computer 2m away and it wasn't pretty just for the desktop. RDP will be hardly better, but possibly worth trying.

You need to try, because it depends on your game, your settings, your network, your computers. It doesn't look like anyone else has tried. Just use RDP or something similar, it's built into windows (Remote Desktop).

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As Chris said, the bandwidth requirements are way to high for real-time gaming rendered in this way.

Besides which, encoding and decoding usually process on much the same architecture as gaming graphics, so your laptop would have as much trouble compressing and uncompressing (to say nothing of doing both simultaneously) the data sent and received so that even if your network were capable of the ultra low latency, super high bandwidth needs of such an application, the low computational power of the laptop would prevent it from benefiting from such an arrangement.

Good news is that there are companies tackling this issue with real-time remotely-rendered streamed high-graphics games. These have been demoed at recent CONs over the last couple years. Bad news is they all say the problem is the bandwidth and latency of the average home internet connection means it'll be ump-teen years before anything reasonable as an realistic application will be feasible.

Regarding TobyLane, I've tried RDP and VNC for gaming and they don't work. Microsoft RDP, in particular, does not support any sort of graphics more complex than videos, and even that more like a slide-show than a video. VNC can be configured to work well with full screen video, but rendered 3d games really go far beyond what VNC is built for. It's worth a try because the tools are free, but you're unlikely to get any further than with other suggestions.

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The bandwidth required to transfer full frame full motion video (3d games) uncompressed is just too high.

While it's possible to send properly encoded video of acceptable quality over a LAN, actually encoding/decoding it in real time is an additional burden that makes it unfeasible for a gaming scenario without additional hardware.

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Check out OnLive is a full platform based on this concept. And start looking for these techs... there are a lot of them. For you specifically check out StreamMyGame.. it's basically what you want.

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More detail would nmake this an answer. – Dave M Feb 28 '13 at 17:54
why would the QA choose this software? what advantages does it have facing others existing? as @DaveM said, please elaborate on your answer. – Lorenzo Von Matterhorn Feb 28 '13 at 18:03

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