Exclusive John Carmack Interview, Part 2: Nvidia vs Intel vs ATI

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billysundays

What Ageia did, even if it didn't deliver what it hyped, was make many people aware of the need for hardware acceleration of physics, which, without a doubt, has its merits. Graphics have developed in leaps and bounds and, in comparison, physics have lagged far behind simply because, until Ageia, virtually no one was talking about giving it hardware acceleration, and why not? Its just as important and just as computationally complex. Valve's position has been that claims that CPUs are bottlenecking the progression of physics is an exaggeration, but lets consider the controversy regarding LucasArts decision not to port "The Force Unleashed" to the PC.

LucasArts claims that it would take a high end, expensive $4000 PC to run the game, which would mean too many PC gamers would be left out in the cold for it to be a viable option. This has PC gamers up in arms. How is it possible that their $2000 rig can run Crysis, but it can't handle a game being ported to the Wii and PS2? They're even going thru the trouble of making a version for every portable device under the sun. They're obviously snubbing the PC, right, just following a market trend? But its not the game's graphics prowess that's the problem, the problem is its ambitious physics engine. Actually three sophisticated physics engines, the Havoc engine for general physics, NaturalMotion's Euphoria engine for on-the-fly character animation and complementary artificial intelligence, and Pixelux Entertainment's DMM engine for dynamically destructible objects (in case you don't remember "dynamically destructible objects" was one of the effects Ageia tried to flaunt in their earliest tech demos). The physics are simply too much for most CPUs. LucasArts wouldn't have any problem dumbing down the physics for the Wii and PS2, its expected (Euphoria doesn't even support last gen consoles), but no PC gamer would accept a dumbed down version on their elite machine.

Who knows, maybe if "General Purpose GPUs" had been developed earlier, LucasArts might have decided to create a PC port of "The Force Unleashed", which is exactly my long-winded point. CUDA might not just be good for Physx but for any physics engine. We don't need Valve or id to change their minds about Physx, we just need them to accept the idea of hardware accelerated physics, like maybe deciding to port their physics engine to CUDA. It could also benefit any gaming application that would find significantly more performance or headroom running on the GPU than CPU, such as artificial intelligence or procedural animation. Of course, these new in-game, heavy processing duties would require more GPU performance, which might give consumers a reason to invest in a mutil-GPU solution even for those of us who, at present, SLI just doesn't scale well enough to provide a reasonable performance incentive when considering cost. And ultimately, as far as Nvidia is concerned, this might be what CUDA is really all about, selling more GPUs. I mean SLI doesn't seem to have taken off as well as everyone hoped.

I have to admit, though, it's hard to be hopeful about CUDA. First, as far as physics acceleration goes, it must prove itself to perform as well as or better than a dedicated PPU, or at least close to. That might not be a problem, considering its likely that Ageia's PPU really didn't have any "special sauce" to it, which hopefully we'll soon find out now that the Physx drivers have been released from Nvidia. It must also be able to run on ATI cards (AMD, whatever). Then Nvidia has to get the industry to adopt CUDA, and convince consumers to invest in expensive, mutli-GPU solutions. Its just seems far fetched to me, and even if they somehow successfully accomplish all this, you know it'll be about five years before we see the fruits of Nvidia's labored ambition. Still, that doesn't deter me from dreaming of a future where we put a much stock into game aspects such as particle counts as we do in polygon counts.

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Terri

I strongly disagree with you, gator, and your lack of understanding of the software/hardware behind everything shows a bit of ignorance.  I will give you that JC hasn't really made a "killer" game in a long while, he does build the engines, which sell and are usually used for some of the great games out there.

 JC is a pioneer and one of THE guys to go to as far as graphics development.  His predictions about things outside of 3D models and the like, I take with a grain of salt, but he's usually dead on with those.  Does he understand how to make a good game?  Eh...  not exactly.  Does he know how to make a game pretty?  Definitely.  His random psychobabble took a long time for me to understand, but after coding in 3D for a number of years, I can appreciate and understand his insights.

One of the BIGGEST problems with the PhysX cards is that you're adding another processor/card to be used through the system bus.  Why waste $300 or have an extra video card do this all when you have multiple cores in your computer?  It's pointless, in my opinion.  So, we can either use a framework that is dependent on an additional "card" (just like how you need a great video card to play a good game), or you can build it into the actual machine itself, utilizing EXISTING hardware.

His biggest complaint/issue with PhysX (if you read), is that it's going to make a huge gap between people who can play a game and cannot.  He's in the industry to advance the technology, but also to make money -- if you start knocking out one of your demographics, it's not a good business decision.  Have you noticed how a lot of people are griping that the Wii has so many damn accessories?  It's getting more expensive than just the PS3 or 360 alone.  Furthermore, you use like an accessory per game.  Mario Kart Wii has its steering wheel and you use it for that one game.  How about the tennis racket?  Or the Wii blaster?  All of those are pointless things.

The huge things that Carmack is talking about right now is using multiple processors for HUGE performance, and you can kind of infer that he sees Physics going this way.  That way you're not limiting people to needing the extra card for PhysX.  He's really building off of the common trends, namely the PS3/360's multiple core support, as well as the direction of PC's right now (although we don't have 8 cell processors in a computer... yet... but still, we have quad cores and 2 sockets, so 8 equivalent cores if you're bleeding crazy).  And the only way we're able to utilize the CPU's good anymore SCREAMS that we need to use multiple cores, since we can only go so fast on one core.  Have you noticed a single cored processor hasn't really gone past 4-5 gHz on its own?  The way to increase speed = more processors.  This is EXACTLY what he's talking about.

Carmack is *not* the best game developer and you shouldn't see him as that.  You should see him as someone who understands the mathematics and other technical psycho-babble that you'll never want to learn to make this game.  He helps advance the technology and directs it, truly as a futurist which explicitly comes to rendering.  If he weren't around, we would NOT have the games we do today.

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gatorXXX

Ignorance of not understanding software/hardware? Look, Phsx had to start somewhere. It' started as hardware and lookey here....it's now software. Yes while it was an add in card much like a GPU or sound card, it still could have been useful to some degree at that time. You have sound on your MB, but you still buy an X-Fi, you can have integrated graphics, but you still buy that ATI 4870x2. Why? Because they add something you want OR need that the MB integrated crap can't provide. Sure JC doesn't want to code for something extra because of the gap in people who have it and people who don't, but ya know, some developers still code for EAX. The ear candy you get when OWNING an ADD in CARD such as an X-Fi or Audigy series. The game still works and sounds good without it, you just don't get that amazing surround sound. If he and others took the time to support new hardware whatever the case no matter how minute it would have been, developers would have played upon it and we'd already have PhysX 4.0 by now.

But in any case, at that time, multiple threaded anything(CPU's) was still under development so it wasn't even a thought to use multiple threaded software in the mainstream. So how could you implement the use of more cores when they hadn't been invented yet? So if you wanted phsx, you had to buy the hardware at that time. Just like buying an X-fi for True EAX. JC and others was just to damn lazy to code for something extra  cause it's much easier to code for cell procs. Now with the advent of more cores, yeah, it's possible. Will he? Prolly not.

As far as EXISTING hardware, what do you think Nvidia is doing with their GPU's and physx? Implemented as software. All you need now is a GPU that supports it and voila!! It's there. I agree it should and could be implemented to utilize a core or two on our existing MUTI CORE cpu. So whatever to the downfall of physx add-in cards (which I do think is best) and hail the software to utilize existing hardware. So now do you think JC will code physx for nvidia based gpu's now that it's software? Prolly not. Still another thing to code for. You can have ANY GPU and play a game that has physx capabilities, just that it gives you the choice to ENABLE OR DISABLE it in your graphics settings. SOOOOO, where is the gap of people if you can disable it and the game works fine?? He's just LAZY and would rather code for consoles...or the mac...poor soul....

I think you need to read your own comment again before calling someone ignorant. AS when physx was put to first use....ATHLON 64's (single core) was the proc to have!! Because DUAL AND QUADS WEREN'T INVENTED YET!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Now it's pointless to have one, even 3 years ago.....but not then!

Whats funny is that I don't even own an Nvidia gpu, nor have I ever owned a PhysX card...and nor do I really care to have them! What's funny also is that I get you morons worked up talking about JC and hearing about how much you love him and want to have his cell child!!!! LOL and if if I want predictions, I'll read the National Enquirer.

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gatorXXX

well said man!!

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XOPN

It's turned into a Carmack Fanboy war. Lol at the grind stone comment. We're supposed to get behind this guy because he's been at it along time? So has Valve and Nvidia and they have a major deference of opininon then this guy does. Come on, the guy develops for Macs. lol Seirously tho I don't care about how much exprenice he has his games are basic.....very basic. And if that and his web browser games is the future I weep for gaming as a whole. "Doom"-ed to action games with space marines.

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gatorXXX

Amen!!!! Couldn't have said it better!

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nickg

Carmack rules.I love id games.

Quake live FTW.

 

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bcweir

John Carmack doesn't have to be right 100 percent of the time.  But quite frankly, I'm astonished to see how little respect people are giving him.  John Carmack has produced probably one of the biggest selling games of the modern era, and in doing so, I'm sure he's learned a thing or two about what works and what doesn't.  Yet we've got "armchair quarterbacks" who haven't really done anything to contribute to the gaming industry, except maybe buy some really crummy products, then blame John Carmack when they don't meet their expectations or don't bother reading the reviews.

 

The guy has clearly paid his dues, and doesn't need to prove himself to couch potatoes who don't really have an informed background on the gaming industry or technology as a whole.  John Carmack wasn't sitting on his bumps surfing the net and playing armchair quarterback.  John Carmack put his nose to the grindstone and put out a product that sold millions of copies.  John Carmack doesn't owe any apologies to critics who haven't done anything but suck the oxygen out of the discussion on game development.

I find myself in agreement with Mr. Carmack.  PhysX was an overly hyped technology that promised much and delivered little in return.  Crysis is one of the most advanced and demanding games available, and it doesn't rely on some overhyped, ineffective technology like PhysX to work.

 

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gatorXXX

OK then!!!! do you have a PhysX??? NO? Then shut up!! Game developement? All ID's games are the same!! THE SAME!!! And so what if he's learned a thing or two...we all have....and I don't cry about JC if I buy a game and it sucks...his games suck...same ole BS game to the next. NO innovation. I will give him the respect when he puts out a game that makes ME go...WOW, this is really bad ass!!! Until then, i"m not ploppin down 60 bucks to play the same game over and over. Yeah he's sold millions of copies....so what....so have other developers with great games and even games that suck. AND physX never took off cause of people like JC that didnt support it. Now that Nvidia has the software and will be implementing it, watch it take off and do some wonderous things. So if anyone is shortsighted, it's JC and um....YOU!!

 

Don't like it?? Piss Off!!!

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Pixelated

Another pissed off PhysX card owner. Don't get mad at us because you bought a PhysX compatible motherboard and a $300 card that was worthless before you even took them out of the box. Dude seriously, the whole PhysX thing was a total gimmick. Physics in games sure. But not some hokey card to do calculations that your CPU and GPU can do without special hardware and drivers. "Ageia PhysX failed because John Carmack didn't support it! WAAAAAAA!!!!!"

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gatorXXX

WOW, you know alot!! I don't own one!!! HAHAHA and I never did. It only seems like a gimmick now that it NOW can be implemented into cpu's or gpu's with software. But at that time you had to have the card but see where the innovation comes in? Now they say....WOW, you know, we can use cpu's or gpu's to do this job! But without the initial juncture of physX, it would't be initiated into anything. So get a grip, get a life, and buy a slurpee!! snif......

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mmc007

I don't get it.If you don't like him don't read his interview.I never asked your opinion what you think.

You are not only person in this world who's opinion does matter.There are million's of people who would die to hear Carmack's interview.

Thanks.

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gatorXXX

Agreed. But I dont see why some of you hold him up like he's a god. I bet you'll vote for "the chosen one", "the messiah", "the all knowing barry"........barrack obama!!!!......my opinion doesnt matter. but its my opinion. I can express it in any manner i see fit. this is america and according to first amendment of the constitution, i can say what I wish. But if you dont like what I say, dont read my comments!

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mmc007

That is what i also trying to say,this is america and according to first amendment of the constitution, Carmack can say what he wish.But if you dont like what he say, dont read his interview.

And  thanks for the suggestion really appretiate it.

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anonuser

If you really haven't noticed yet, gatorXXX is a huge troll and probably an alter of tehR0XX0Rz..

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mmc007

Nice interview.A bit short though compared to the part 1.

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nickg

Great interview MPC.Good job.

Its always good to heartechnical stuff from one of the most intelligent and honest person in the industry.

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gatorXXX

 HAHAHA.......ok

Don't like it?? Piss off!!

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gatorXXX

 Has anyone really read this article and how he beats around the point with useless phyco babel? like......"we can take a general purpose processor with special DMA's and no caches and add a 30mhz vector across all megatextures to move up a thread maybe not and utilize its parallelism with a pretty clean code of cuda that has 128 banks doing all the multitasking with 32 sections of wide realism and you get 5.769% of utilization.....good gawd...that is what he sounds like.....lol

Don't like it? Piss Off!!

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billysundays

has anybody noted that the character of "J.P." in "Grandma's Boy" is a satire of John Carmack?

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XOPN

Seriously I agree with gatorXXX. This guy is so irrelevant it's sad all
he cares about is consoles and pretty much popo anything he considers
"PC Gimmicks". News flash for Carmack tho, PhsyX is being used across
ALL platforms not just the PC. Physics tech aren't important huh? That
explains why Doom 3 had such stiff physics. ID is basically a console
and for some ungodly reason Mac developers. Talking to him is pointless
now don't you think? How about talking to people who are actually
making GOOD GAMES!

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gatorXXX

 Thank you guys for the last 2 posts!! That is exactly what I was trying to say!!

 

Don't like it?? Piss off!!

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b_boy_69_00

I love id's games.  I've probably played everything they have put out.  But the problem with them now a days is that they are two linear.  Gamers want something like Oblivion or even Mass Effect even in their FPS's.  Crysis, were in not for the playability issues, would trump everything that id has done in the last 10 years because of its openness but still containing pleny of action.  I love id, but if I wanted to walk down dark hallways and shoot stuff I would go back and play the original Doom instead of paying $60 for a brand new game with the same old gameplay.

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gatorXXX

Yeah, it's broken....either fix it or shut up.

Don't like it? Piss off!!

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zioburosky13

If it ain't broken, don't fix it.

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gatorXXX

 OOOOO, john Carmack yet again. Why does MPC hold this guy in such high regards? Sure he's smart and is pretty successfull, But you look at all his games, including all the new rage and doom photos.......THEY LOOK THE FREAKIN SAME!!!!!!!!!!!! Different monsters and new mazes with a few different colors but absolutely no innovation.

 

Don't like it? Piss off!!

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Antilogic81

Funny, ET doesn't look like doom3 but it uses the engine...perhaps it's OMG the art director/designer who needs a swift kick in the balls. Last I checked JC isn't an art director.

 

What id has done and I've seen this since quake 3 came out, is it makes a game with a killer engine, and then it sells the engine it has promoted with the game...remember Call of Duty the first one? That was on the Quake 3 engine. 

 

As for your comments about his technobabble...JC is if you had read anything about him, like Masters of Doom, you would know he's incredibly eccentric...he doesn't think like you or many other's do. To him a perfectly simple concept might be incredibly complex for you or I...but the street goes both ways...JC used to think that storylines in games were like plots in porn movies...they were nice but no one really gave a crap about them. He's learned from that mistake obviously. But it clearly shows he's eccentric...its not him trying to show how awesome he is. I honestly think his career has done that enough for him...honesty, I remember when people were ready to lynch him when he made his comments about Vista saying "he doesn't know anything about OSes why are we listening him?"   Then 4 months later everyone starts complaining about Vista but no one says "damn JC was right about this". 

 

 

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mmc007

Carmack was also right about DX10 from the begining,that it brings nothing novel in gaming.Even the biggest supporter of DX10 crytek is dropping the Dx10 support from crysis warhead.

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gatorXXX

 Your right!! You don't need to have a physX excelerator to play games! I don't have one and dont really care. BUT, It's technology that CAN be utilized. JC said that about physX in hindsight. but he doesnt care anyways cause if you have read other articles about him, he doesnt like PC's. Thinks gaming should be done on a console. Period. And eccentric he is. But its still technobabbel cause MOST people arent programmers and don't care about half the crap he says even if hes right or wrong. I'm sure he had a complimentary copy of vista LONG before it released, so his comments about vista is estruded. Knew it first hand before you or I could figure it out for ourselves so that doesnt make him right about vista, he just knew it first. Now, about his games, the engines him/they come up with are great, but still not innovative. All his games are run and gun, shoot em up as fast as you can, sure they look pretty, but I'll stick with games that require at least some thought to it to win. His buddy Hooper there says there will be some sort of multiplayer but acted as if it were of an annoyance to code for it. Again, aimed at console run and gun mentality. What I'm saying is, I want to buy a good game with intense play, not a great engine with the same ole same ole. So he needs to sit back, code new engines for companies, and stay out of new game making and let the innovations fly with new technologies cause it seems to be according to this article, that to him, its to hard to code for pc's.

 

Don't like it?? Piss Off!

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Antilogic81

As long as JC keeps dishing out amazing engines for games and essentially revolutionizing the way we look at  and understand the graphic medium, I'm going to support his decisions. That doesn't mean I'm not happy with his console ideas/support...but he has a point. It would be nice to not have to upgrade just about every year just to get the high settings on my PC games. 

As for your criticism on the run and gun genre id is stubbornly stuck to. I can sympathise, but I don't know a single game they haven't made that isn't really a promotional strategy to sell a game engine. Except for their early creations. But I do like the idea of him slinging code for another type of game...that would definently turn heads. 

 

"If reality is based on the perceptions of the individual, then reality as a whole (that is to say, the perceptions of everyone) is inherently flawed..."

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gatorXXX

I agree with you totally!!

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mmc007

I Agree with Antilogic81,also he is right about Physx accelarator.No games had really benefited from Physx ppu card.

Plus Crysis does have better physics than anything else is out there,you don't need an physx accelarator to play them.

 

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XOPN

agreed

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