Video games have pushed the computing envelope for years. Ever since Wolfenstein 3D exploded onto the scene in 1992, gaming performance has been a focal point of the performance characteristics of computer systems. In order to compensate for the ever building desire for faster games, graphics card companies began adding 3D acceleration to their hardware portfolio. First came the 3D only add-in card, and then later we saw the birth of the highly integrated GPU combining 2D and 3D functions on one chip.

AGEIA would really like the world to embrace the idea that a discrete PPU will do for physics what the GPU did for graphics. It is true that the complexity of physics in games has been increasing steadily for the past few years. The catalyst has been making physics easier for game developers. Innovations by companies dedicated to physics have produced software physics engines like Havok. This allows game developers to focus on their engines or games while using the latest in real-time physics as a back bone for user interaction.

We’ve seen the joy of ragdolls in recent titles. One of the coolest features of Half-Life 2 is the level of interaction the user has with the world. In any given level, there are plenty of objects to kick, knock or throw around. Who wouldn’t want to be able to play with thousands of objects in any given level rather than tens? What about real looking clothing, hair, or water?

Sure, some approximation of these things can be done on today’s graphics cards. But it’s not yet possible to have characters comb their hands through their hair realistic way. Clothing can’t move or tear like real cloth. Fluids don’t respond to splashes or movement in a proper way. The AGEIA PhysX PPU proposes to bring these features to a game near you.

Why do we need more processing power for physics? Let’s take a look.

Game Physics and the PhysX PPU
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  • azcn2503 - Saturday, April 08, 2006 - link

    Hello all, please get yourself over to http://www.overclockers.co.uk/acatalog/PhysX_Accel...">Overclockers UK to see a list of Ageia PhysX Accelerator cards avilable for preorder in the UK. Scan.co.uk are also listing this item, but they do not have any pricing, specification or availability details. I hope this gets you all very excited; this sort of thing gets me creaming, I tell you. Reply
  • AlphaNex - Monday, May 16, 2005 - link

    I have no problem buying something for my PC thats only used for gaminmg. Im a computer technician for a living and my home PC is used 99% for games, my radeon 9800 does nothing that a 30 dollar ati Rage or something like that cant do.... except for playing games and i paid alot more for it then granny did her intergrated board on her dell. Id buy something like this in a heartbeat if it delivered on its promises. Just imagine true, realisitc physics in a game. This could literally be the Next Big Thing for gaming. Im excited thinking about the possibilities. Reply
  • blackarc - Sunday, March 27, 2005 - link

    I am SOOOO F'ing excited!

    I'm always at least one generation behind on the GPUs simply because pretty doesn't do everything for me... But physics? HuuuHaa!
    Reply
  • Disorganise - Friday, March 18, 2005 - link

    #53 I've yet to use my steering wheel in anything else other than games - and even then only a very small percentage of games.

    Personally I think this thing is very promising. Imagine being able to map the oil, petrol, brake fluid etc, inside all the relevant machanical bits for the race car you're driving....and then up that for all the guys you're racing against and even the proposed card is looking like it'll struggle.
    Add precise tire wear, roads which are made of little stones and tar etc etc. The level of detail 'missing' from todays games is huge.
    Imagine a game where minor flaws are possible in the hardware - an engine or gearbox blows and spews oil and water everywhere, perhaps igniting into realistic flames. or the knife you keep hacking with in half-life becomes blunt and useless, or snaps off the tip. With FPS, damage caused by shooting at walls etc becomes genuine dents and holes accoring to realistic physics and the composition of the bullet and wall.

    The possibilities are incredible. And here's a thought regarding the cost....spend a bit less on the CPU - it won't be working as hard....

    Cheers
    Disorganise
    Reply
  • virtualgames0 - Friday, March 18, 2005 - link

    While physics have gone far in today's games, there is still a LONG WAY to go until it's really realistic.

    You can't blow up walls now. You can't terraform. Most of the stuff in the game world is static and cannot be changed.
    This physX PPU will change that, and will finally allow the gamer to truly interact with the world.
    Sure it'll cost money for these features, but it's still your choice if you want to buy it or not. Saying it sucks, and should fail is ridiculously dumb.
    Reply
  • jediknight - Tuesday, March 15, 2005 - link

    Hmm..
    /me imagines a "MEGA" cell processor..

    CPU as the main hub, connected to GPU, SPU (sound processing unit), PPU, etc. cells..

    all on ONE chip. That's the holy grail, folks..
    Reply
  • patrick0 - Monday, March 14, 2005 - link

    #52, since when you don't need physics for some effects? Reply
  • fitten - Monday, March 14, 2005 - link

    ...and think just how much faster F@H, SETI@HOME, and many of those other distributed computing apps will be if they can get their hands on this :) Reply
  • DerekWilson - Sunday, March 13, 2005 - link

    For science and engineering, we've again got the problem of needing a more direct interface. The functions implimented in hardware via the NovodeX SDK will still be "game physics" ... kinda like "game graphics" ...

    You would never want to use the Unreal Engine as the realtime 3d part of something like ProE or Solidworks.

    Just the same, very acurate physics simulations will want to use different (more precise and slower) algorithms.

    This is why we're calling for a lower level API rahter than an SDK -- note that both games and high end workstation apps can build their realtime 3d engines with the same API (opengl or directx).
    Reply
  • stephenbrooks - Sunday, March 13, 2005 - link

    I think the molecular dynamics people will start to seriously like this technology once the physical equivalent of Shaders come out. I.e. sub-programs defining how each object reacts to ones in proximity to it, while the PPU does the collision detection and kinematics. Reply

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