The idea of hardware accelerated physics has been around for a long time and PhysX on NVIDIA GPUs has had some time to mature. There are more games coming out with support for hardware PhysX and not all of them have completely sucked. So we want to get a better picture of the impact of PhysX on our readers. Is this a thing that matters to you?

Before we get to the questions, last week saw the announcement of several upcoming titles that will support PhysX:

Terminator Salvation
Dark Void
Darkest of Days

Until we actually play the games, we won't know whether the PhysX implementation is any good though. Many of the ideas like debris, fog, smoke, contrails, destructable environments and weapons / fighting effects have seen light in other titles only to fall short of the expectation. But at least Mirror's Edge was able to take some of the same things and package them in a professional and appealing way.

There are more games still that will have support for PhysX in the near future, but other titles we've seen that touted their PhysX support (like Cryostasis) have fallen short of expectations. We certainly see a future in hardware accelerated physics, but, in the eyes of our readers, is physics hardware really "here" with NVIDIA and PhysX, or will OpenCL be the vehicle to usher in a new era in game physics?

To get a better idea of the landscape, we'll be asking two questions about PhysX software and hardware. For the software question, it would be helpful if those who do not have PhysX hardware could answer the question as if they did. We can't limit respondents to NVIDIA hardware owners, but we would like to keep things as fair as possible.

{poll 131:850}



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  • Daeros - Wednesday, May 06, 2009 - link

    So, I guess I am the only one with a 4870 and a PCIe Physx card? To me, it's just like EAX on my sound card. I have it, and it is nice when a game supports it, but I don't buy or avoid games because of their support (or lack thereof) for it. Reply
  • Daeros - Wednesday, May 06, 2009 - link

    Why is there no Edit button? Anyway, the other thing I wanted to say is I have never been a fan of using the GPU for other (in-game) things. If you use it to transcode video (and I do), great. But modern games are taxing enough on my system (Q8200@3.2, 4870 1GB, 4GB DDR2@900, 300GB Velociraptor) that I don't want 10% of my video card working on something else. Maybe it's b/c I game on a large CRT that supports very high (2048x1536) resolutions, but I don't think I'm alone on this. As I said, I value Physx, just not enough to sacrifice noticeable performance for it. Reply
  • aguilpa1 - Wednesday, May 06, 2009 - link

    I would love to have more realism in the physics of in game environments but find apps like Badaboom encoder and Photoshop CS4 acceleration infinitely more useful. Reply
  • bludragon - Wednesday, May 06, 2009 - link

    Is how I wanted to answer the 2nd question... Reply
  • haplo602 - Wednesday, May 06, 2009 - link

    hw accelerated physics is a nice future option, but the current implementation is still not where it should be.

    and when the future is heading towards multi-core CPUs, I don't see a reason to use GPUs for physics acceleration.

    I can see some reason to use stream processors in large scale physics sims (scientific experiments) or large scale online games that can actualy use it (EVE Online). But tying this to any piece of hardware that has limited support is not a good idea.
  • McRhea - Wednesday, May 06, 2009 - link

    I upgraded to a 4890 after owning an 8800GT. Before the 8800GT I had an X1800XT.

    I couldn't care less about PhysX. When I upgrade next year, if I can find an Nvidia card for cheaper than an ATI card, then I'll switch back to Nvidia. I have no loyalty to either company, and will support whoever has the cheaper card, as long as the cards are equivalent. IMO the 4890 is equal to the 275, but I was able to get my 4890 for $185 after rebate and instant cash back. If the 275 had been cheaper, I would have gotten that card.

    I think of PhysX as a bonus, kinda like getting a 8GB USB Flash drive when you purchase something else (HD, TV, Case, whatever). It's a nice surprise and bonus, but it wouldn't factor into my decision, ya know?
  • Repr - Wednesday, May 06, 2009 - link

    unless every graphics card will support it i dont care about it. its a nice extra, but nvidia only putting it on there own gpu's makes it nearly totally useless Reply
  • crimson117 - Wednesday, May 06, 2009 - link

    Do any sports games make use of PhysX? Or is sport physics just not complex enough to need a separate card?

    I'm thinking the impact of a tackle on a football carrier - their weight, their velocity, their balance could all be put together to create a more realistic tackle.

    So far when I think of PhysX, I think of enhanced particle explosions, wavy fabric, and wavy water, and nothing that actually affects gameplay.
  • Slakey - Wednesday, May 06, 2009 - link

    PhysX isn't useful for anything that actually affects game logic because of the time involved in moving data back and forth from the video card.

    You could have something similar to Burnout where there's a neat looking tackle simulation after some simpler code determines whether or not there actually was a tackle.
  • DerekWilson - Wednesday, May 06, 2009 - link

    I think that might only be a part of the issue.

    Beyond this, developers aren't ready to tie any required feature or offer significantly different game play modes for PhysX because they aren't interested in alienating owners of AMD and Intel hardware or spending an extraordinary amount of time on things that only a subset of their audience will be able to benefit from.

    There are things that could be hardware accelerated that are required for gameplay, but that will have to wait until people really want and need that first.

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