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id Software’s John Carmack gave Ageia some physics action—in the form of turbulence—when he told bootdaily.com that he is “…not a believer in dedicated PPUs.” But it looks as though neither Valve nor Crytek—developers of two other important game engines—are prepared to join the PhysX faithful, either.
The limited installed base of PhysX cards is one of the biggest hurdles for Valve. “We all hate cliché’s,” says Valve’s director of marketing, Doug Lombardi, “but it’s the chicken-or-the-egg problem. The current designs for a PPU (physics-processing unit) offer some advantages in what can be achieved technically. But there’s a bigger question mark with respect to adoption rate, and that has a real-world impact on how many games support them.”
Asus and BFG are the only hardware manufacuters offering PhysX cards today.
Crytek’s Cevat Yerli, executive producer and director of Crysis, points out another problem with supporting a physics processor: The need to create a gaming experience that’s different enough from what’s possible on mainstream hardware to justify the gamer’s investment in the hardware without making an entirely different game for the majority of gamers who don’t have the hardware.
In an interview with Maximum PC’s editor-in-chief Will Smith, for an October issue cover story, Yerli says “We are not supporting GPU or dedicated physics processors for a variety of reasons. The main one is that we did not want to change the core gameplay physics for our min-spec configurations. We have been optimizing our dynamics code for many years now, so it can run robust and as optimally as it can on CPUs of previous generations while also taking advantage of newer multi-core architectures. So you are best equipped with a quad core—if you have the budget—but Crysis will do great on dual-core configurations as well.”