Our inbox quickly lit up this morning when we received notice about this NGOHQ article, discussing how NVIDIA had removed the heterogeneous GPU restriction on PhysX in their latest beta drivers. This struck us as a bit of an odd reversal of positions from NVIDIA, and now that we've had a chance to chat with them we finally know what's going on.

As a quick matter of background, starting with the Forceware 186 series NVIDIA blocked GPU/PPU-accelerated PhysX from working on NVIDIA GPUs and AGEIA PPUs whenever a non-NVIDIA GPU was detected as being in the system. It's been a polarizing matter for the GPU community for nearly a year now, with a tug-of-war going on between projects editing the drivers to remove the block, and NVIDIA adding further checks in to their drivers to stop those efforts. In any case, there has been no sign that NVIDIA would be changing their position any time soon.

This brings us to this week's Forceware 257.15 beta drivers and today's clarification from NVIDIA. NGOHQ was correct in that the 257.15 drivers lacked the heterogeneous GPU restriction; however there has been a question of intentions. As we stated previously NVIDIA has held steady to their desire to keep PhysX on pure NVIDIA systems, so to make this change without publically announcing it odd - if only because it deprives them of the chance to sell cards as PhysX accelerators.

We just got done talking with NVIDIA about the matter and they clarified the issue for us. In what we expect is going to be a disappointment for many of you, the lack of a PhysX restriction on the current 257.15 beta drivers is a bug, not a feature - the restriction should have been in those drivers and it was not. NVIDIA will be reinstating the restriction in new downloads of the beta driver and in the WHQL build of these drivers.

Update: NVIDIA tells us that they will also be "fixing" the 257.15 beta driver on their site, so new downloads of that driver will have the restriction in place

Yes, this is a bug in the latest build of PhysX that was packaged with the driver. We'll be fixing this issue ASAP - the WHQL driver launching in early June won't have this issue. -NVIDIA

For those of you heterogeneous GPU users out there looking to use PhysX, there is some good news that can be salvaged from this however: this won't change the fact that previously downloaded copies of beta drivers lack this restriction. With these drivers you can still have heterogeneous GPUs with PhysX without modifying NVIDIA’s drivers, but you’ll be stuck on these drivers for the time being.

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  • shin0bi272 - Tuesday, June 01, 2010 - link

    Youre not thinking about this from a business standpoint. what would you want people to do go buy your competitor's top card then buy a cheap 100 dollar card of yours or buy your top card to get physx and better fps?

    the decision to stop the customer from using physx while theres a competitors board in the system is one to try to get more people who want to play physx games to buy nvidia. Physx is an nvidia product, physx games are best run on nvidia (depending on the level of physx objects), and why in their right mind would nvidia allow someone not using nvidia hardware exclusively, run a game that requires their hardware? You wouldnt complain when your vhs tape didnt fit in your dvd player would you? Because thats about the level of stupidity you seem to have when blaming nvidia for not allowing people buying the competitor's product to use their technology too.
    Reply
  • hackztor - Saturday, May 29, 2010 - link

    You have to remember that their decision is based entirely on business. While it sucks for consumer, its good for them. If you were them you would not want someone to be using an ati card as a physx or even to be using ati as your main and nvidia card as the second. That would degrade the nvidia brand. They spent money purchasing the technology and incorporating it into their cards for free to the consumer, the least a consumer can do is purchase nvidia only cards. A lot of businesses use this tactic and Nvidia is no different. The good side of all of this beta driver is that now if you want physx with ati card, it is possible as long as you stick with this driver set and ones downloaded from before the fixed date and your all set. Reply
  • Jediron - Saturday, May 29, 2010 - link

    Their businessplan sucks, and they better wake up before it's too late. You can make "business" for a while, screwing the comsumer. One day, the consumer will turn their back on you....an then what? Right!
    They are wrong from the start, asking money for theri SLI feature. A feature, which enlarges their videocard sales. So why put a "lock" on it by making it expensive, even before you decide top buy theri videocard?
    No, it's shortsided and that's why they are gonna loose customers, and money on the long term.
    Good business ? No way!
    Reply
  • shin0bi272 - Tuesday, June 01, 2010 - link

    they are only screwing people who buy amd products not nvidia products... unless you count the power consumption and heat levels. Reply
  • Jalek99 - Saturday, May 29, 2010 - link

    In the market there's only one real way for consumers to indicate displeasure, and it's not complaining on message boards. They indirectly just sold another Radeon 5850. Reply
  • geok1ng - Sunday, May 30, 2010 - link

    It is stupid AND short-sighted : it screws Ageia PPU owners and open room for class action law suits from these owners.
    it limits video cards sales: there are people who would happily spend money on a small NVIDIA GPU just for the bragging rights on their ATI systems.
    And the worts consequence of all: it further limits the hardware install base for Physx: game developers do not bother with PhysX because the installed hardware base is small and keeps getting smaller everytime NVIDIA do stupid things like these.
    Reply
  • shin0bi272 - Tuesday, June 01, 2010 - link

    ive got an ageia ppu... its a paperweight compared to my gts250. seriously anyone using one of those cards for physx is out of their minds at this point. If you want physx that bad just buy an nvidia card and STFU about it. Reply
  • mgilbert - Saturday, May 29, 2010 - link

    I thought Apple was the only company arrogant enough to do something like this. I do not now, or will I ever buy anything from Apple.

    My current video card is an ATI. Guess what... I'll never buy anything from NVidia again. I don't know what to think about these companies that give their customers the middle finger...
    Reply
  • shin0bi272 - Tuesday, June 01, 2010 - link

    will you still be saying that in 5 years when the new nvidia card comes out and its 25% faster across the board than the amd card? Reply
  • hackztor - Sunday, May 30, 2010 - link

    Well it works for Apple, and it works really well. They just suprassed Microsoft in market value. Nvidia is not talking about sli for their graphics they just want you to use an old nvidia card. Most of us probably have those around. In the end, I never really care because i just let the existing card do the work. Reply

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