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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  • psychoticdream - Saturday, May 29, 2010 - link

    smacks of monopoly or unethical business practices doesnt it?

    i mean there's proof enough that it really works so it means they are intentionally disabling it

    then again its nvidia, these guys arent known for being honest or upstanding.
  • shin0bi272 - Tuesday, June 1, 2010 - link

    yes its legal because its nvidia's property. Its like remember when amd cpu's used to fit in intel motherboards? When amd started making its own boards (or intel sued them to stop that I dont know which happened) they were no longer interchangeable... you cant sue amd for not making cpus that work on intel boards anymore.

    For those of you who dont remember 1994... amd used to make a risc printer chip but got tired of making drivers for every OS so they added some x86 registers to it and reformed it into a cpu. It was an alternative to intel's cpu and it was touted as faster but I dont know if it was or not (I went with the cyrix chip... biiig mistake). Anyway, when intel started making these huge slot style processors amd started making their own motherboards and the two roads diverged.

    You cant go sue amd for not making a slot style processor (even though there was a slocket adapter out there for 20 bucks) because amd chose to go another route. It was their decision and while it might have hacked off a lot of their customers its still legal. Same thing with nvidia choosing not to allow physx if theres an amd board in the system. Not a wise decision (shows that they are not a "cool" company) but its their call and they made it.
  • greylica - Friday, May 28, 2010 - link

    Then you pay a full product to have 75% functionality because they are wanting a polarized market. (Do you remember the remarketed emu10k1 ?). Then, an analogy is when you buy a car but can´t use the gasoline as you wanted ( generally a better one) because your car manufacturer entered an agreement with a gasoline distributor flag, and you don't have any control over it because your car won't start when a sensor find other gasoline. Do you need more reasons than this to hate proprietary softwares ?
    Is it a bug ?
    Yeah, a bug that provides a great functionality that people are hacking to have, a Bug for Nvidia, not for the users. Nvidia, we pay for a full product, with decent and unlocked software, not a proprietary software blob full of defects (caped functions).
    You deserve people sharing those drivers at any form, and at an incontrolable rate.
  • descendency - Friday, May 28, 2010 - link

    It's a bug alright. The symptoms for said bug is "declining GPU sales". Though, it's not due to heterogeneous PhysX processing. Reply
  • KIAman - Friday, May 28, 2010 - link

    I agree. I have a feeling they expect heterogeneous users to use the beta while nVidia only users to stick with WHQL.

    This saves nVidia from losing face by reversing their hardcore PhysX policy while giving all the GPU mixing whiners a chance to be happy, unofficially.
  • dalingrin - Friday, May 28, 2010 - link

    I just bought a new Radeon to replace my GTS 250. I thought about trying to use my GTS 250 for PhysX but, after turning on the PhysX indicator to see how many games actually use gpu physx I have decided not to bother. Unfortunately, the vast majority of Physx games are cpu only. Reply
  • Lonyo - Friday, May 28, 2010 - link

    I think you mean "fortunately". If most games were GPU PhysX then that would mean that NV and their unfriendly (to the consumer) tactics would be working. Reply
  • spiked_mistborn - Friday, May 28, 2010 - link

    I have been disappointed by Nvidia in the past with things similar to this, so while I am not an ATI fanboy, I prefer to avoid Nvidia products due to poor software support. First it was poor audio drivers and long times between updates with the Nforce2. Then the Nforce3 was advertised as supporting 64-bit operating systems of the future and never had drivers released for Vista or Windows 7. Also it did not support AGP cards from ATI in those OS when using a dual-core CPU, but Nvidia GPUs worked ok. The ATI AGP cards, such as Radeon 3850, worked fine in Windows 7 with VIA or SIS chipsets and had drivers.Very strange... I currently have a Radeon 5770 and have been considering picking up a used Ageia PPU on ebay to try out, but after hearing this I wish someone would flush the toilet on PhysX so the smell goes away. I haven't looked into it, but hopefully something like Havoc, or an open alternative will be released for OpenCL or even DirectCompute. If we don't send a message to these companies that we don't like artificial software limitations imposed on hardware that we have purchased they are just going to keep doing it. Reply
  • Qasar - Friday, May 28, 2010 - link

    i posted a question regarding windows 7 and nForce 4, here:

    i then sent an e-mail to nVidia in refards to this and my last post contains nVidia's replies :

    i have the 64 bit RC of Win 7 installed and running just fine, but according to nVidia when i e-mailed them about windows 7 drivers for the nforce 4 chipset, i recieved this :

    in the 1st e-mail reply :

    "The nForce4 chipsets are EOL and do not meet Microsoft's 7 System Requirements and this is the reason why we do not distribute any driver for the nForce4 chipsets. However, you can always use Windows 7 in-box driver with the nForce4 chipset. If the Windows Vista driver works fine for the nForce4 chipset, then, I suggest you to continue using the Vista driver for stable performance "

    and the 2nd reply :

    " However, the nForce4 series of chipsets are not compatible with the Windows 7 OS as these chipsets was manufactured by using the old technology which are now not capable of supporting the software and hardware required by Windows 7 operating system. So due to these drawbacks, the nForce4 series of motherboard cannot be used with Windows 7 OS "

    now where does it say in the windows 7 hardware requirements specifically what hardware is and is not compatable with windows 7 ?? Ie Chipsets.......

    i am currently using the 64 bit Vista drivers, which i have been using since probably July when i installed the RC to try out 7, and now would like official windows 7 drivers from nVidia for the OS, as i plan on getting the retail release of Win 7 for my main comp, as well as possibly 2-3 other nForce 4 based comps. i also have some friends which are running nforce 4 based motherboards as well..

    would official win 7 drivers be any different the vista drivers ?? or is this a case of nVidia not making " offical " win 7 drivers just because the chipset has been moved to EOL for them, even though there are probably ALOT more people out there that are also running the Nforce 4, and there for it comes down to being a case of nVidia is just not interested is supporting its customers with something as simple as a driver ??

    hows that for more BS from nVidia ???
  • shin0bi272 - Tuesday, June 1, 2010 - link

    wow that sucks dude... im using an asus p4p800 deluxe running a 3ghz socket 478 p4 and it works just fine with the win 7 drivers. Granted its not 64bit but its older than your board and works just fine. Reply

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