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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  • lyeoh - Thursday, May 14, 2009 - link

    I voted "not useful", not because it's "not cross platform".

    It's not useful because it is not ubiquitous. And so it's hard to actually add anything to gameplay (game mechanics).

    If the CPU offloaded game stuff that actually mattered to PhysX it would cause the game to work very differently on PCs without PhysX. Game producers don't like that. Also makes multiplayer support harder - if PhysX mattered in the Game, then both players would need matching PhysX behaviour.

    As it is, game makers will just use PhysX to help simulate eyecandy stuff like dust, flags flapping around etc.

    I'd rather use the spare FLOPS to increase the frame-rate.

  • sanjeev - Thursday, May 14, 2009 - link

    Current state of gaming titles and thier support looks marginal (I am on gtx260 ), but I hope and expect, if intelligibly implemented - one extra difficulty level added to most of the titles.
    Like to see environment deciding your skill ( i mean ,besides extra zombies and their accuracy at diffrente levels).
    And I guess physX, helps in making things more natural. But does it help when u have game titles full of cartoons (no logic)?.
    I would love to see pressure, gravity, humidity, wind ... take on interactively on the user.
    hmm. i have a doubt. does physX alter the sound processing dynamically - say i enter a location with slightly high atomspheric pressure - does the pitch change? i mean, like how we see in movies. or will the developers play a pre-recorded sound at a particular Atm pressure?.

    So comming to the questions(PhysX acceleration in buying software)
    PhysX HW support + good implemented titles - most likey i'll buy most of the softwares (ok . i'll limit myself to FPS and RTS)

    about next question (PhysX in hardware buying decisions)
    - i did enjoy PORTAL, Crysis (besides others)- 10/10 for both.
    what more could have been added to these title. ( i am not sure if physX was implemented in these title already -(i'm lazy to check now ). But, if it was implemented, i hardly noticed ).
    i guess people on non-PhysX hardware too should have equally enjoyed. So when u have good titles on hand - PhysX - hardly matters - maybe a BONUS (when intelligibly implemented ): Add an EXTRA LEVEL to your game when you start comparing with non PhysX hardware.
  • zagood - Wednesday, May 13, 2009 - link

    But that doesn't mean I don't want the effects that are _possible_ with physx in my games. If/when anyone makes a fully supported and useful hardware accelerated physics (or even raytracing) video or add-in card, I'll jump right on it.

    They're just not there yet.
  • mikepers - Monday, May 11, 2009 - link

    How do you ask "How Important is PhysX when buying software/hardware?" and then not have a simple choice like "Not Important; Physx doesn't factor into my buying decisions."??

    Since there was no choice like that I picked "Not useful" for both. However, I don't care that it's not cross platform I just don't care about it at all at this point.

    I happen to own an 8800gt and a GTX260 core 216. The main way that PhysX has impacted me is that the driver files increased in size and provide no benefit. They should leave PhysX separate. If there's ever a compelling reason to use it I can download and install it myself.
  • enki - Sunday, May 10, 2009 - link

    I'm sure there are people who care about cross platform meaning different OSes. But how about those who don't really care about that (say only run windows) but don't want to be tied to nVidia and want something that works on all cards like physics for DirectX?
  • eastyy - Thursday, May 7, 2009 - link

    well i have to say i think the physx card was doomed to fail

    Being dedicated to such a small thing was a bad idea....i think with it they should have done it so in tandem it boosts perforamce and takes some of the load off the cpu and gpu then it would have done well

    if there was a card that dealt soley with textures....or water affects that would be almost as ridicoulous

    I mean if it increased frame rates say by a additional 10fps....and it had the physics boost as part of it to...would have been alot better
  • Ananke - Thursday, May 7, 2009 - link

    Since ATI performance and visual quality is equal or better than Nvidia per dollar, the marketing benefit from having Physics declined. Nvidia is slowly loosing this battle, because they were so greedy to not go the open source way. Same happened to Sony, they lost ground to Samsung...

    Anyway, if I am to choose between ATI and Nvidia, the leading reason will be future expandability. ATI allows asymmetric CrossFire, and there are more motherboards supporting that than SLI. Physics alone is not good enough reason to lock myself to Nvidia hardware. At the very moment when GPU standard for calculation similar to CUDA and open source happens to ATI hardware, Nvidia sales will just dive....and that is coming with Win 7.
  • araczynski - Thursday, May 7, 2009 - link

    i don't see why with all these multicore cpu's sitting there mostly idle during gaming, that these calculations can't be offloaded to the sleeping cores.

    heck, even some of the gpu stuff could probably be thrown there.
  • DON3k - Thursday, May 7, 2009 - link

    See this thread in their official forums, with lots of testing and screenshots to show that Ageia PPU cards do not function with PhysX software if using any of NVidia's last few driver sets. Software and games will work with the old cards if you install the older 809 drivers, including Cryostasis and Sacred 2 and Mirror's Edge. Why would NVidia render the cards useless? To force the purchase of their GPUs, maybe? Others report same findings - In NVidia Forum Hardware, General Discussion, titled ' Ageia PhysX PPU ' -"> - Zero response from NVidia. I also reported his via their Customer Feedback option on their site.
  • papapapapapapapababy - Thursday, May 7, 2009 - link

    X Not useful; Hardware physics doesn't matter until it's cross platform

    X Not useful; PhysX is irrelevant as it is not cross platform

    x yes

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