Valve and Crytek won’t support PhysX any time soon

Valve and Crytek won’t support PhysX any time soon

Ageia’s executives, meanwhile, argue that the best hardware for accelerating physics is a processor specifically designed for that application. As Ageia’s vice president of marketing, Michael Steele, puts it: “A truly large-scale physics solution that enables developers to add lots of physically simulated primitives into their games requires hardware that is massively multi-core—we’re talking tens to hundreds of cores. It takes high amounts of floating-point throughput, on par with the [IBM/Sony/Toshiba] Cell processor. It takes highly independent processing to handle the irregular nature of physics—GPUs don’t have this. And it takes high amounts of memory bandwidth—CPUs don’t have this.”

CPU cores have been designed to each execute single-thread programs as fast as possible, and their cache systems are optimized for such operations. The AGEIA PhysX processor has been designed to optimize the execution of many parallel threads of mixed integer and floating-point operations with high entropy data access. On so many dimensions, multi-core CPUs fall short.”

Valve’s Lombardi doesn’t necessarily disagree with Steel’s views, allowing that “…the current designs for a PPU offer some advantages in what can be achieved technically.” And as he points out, physics helped move lot of copies of Half-Life 2. “Players told us with their dollars that this was an important move forward,” says Lombardi. “Subsequently, we’re investing to expand the physics simulation systems of the Source engine and are always evaluating the scope of hardware that will best bring these experiences to life.”

But we gather that PhysX won’t be within that scope in the near future, because as Lombardi points out, other alternatives—primarily multi-core CPUs—already enjoy more market- and mindshare: “When the GPU was the big new idea, it just wasn’t possible to achieve what Mr. Carmack did with GL Quake and what others were doing to pioneer advanced graphics via any of the existing pieces of the PC of that era,” says Lombardi. “Physics routines such as those in Half-Life 2 were achieved in 2004 on millions of non-PPU enabled PCs. Today, multi-core CPUs are opening the door for advanced AI, advanced physics, wildly faster performance, and more—and it’s shipping in just about every new PC being made.”

Does this lack of key developer support spell doom for Ageia? Not necessarily. After all, they still have Epic Games’ Unreal Engine 3 in their corner. All they need now is that one killer app that will make everyone a believer. As Lombardi puts it “It’s going to require something truly wicked that’s only possible on a PPU to move customers and developers to it.”

4

Comments

+ Add a Comment
avatar

amrhsn

Play Half life 2 ep2 and witness incredible physics engine performance without using any add-in cards. Imagine what can be accomblished if steam developers had used a dedicated physics card!!

avatar

JC's Demon Slayer

The biggest problem, is that they're still $200! I refuse to spend that kinda $$$ on something that's been out for a few years, and never changed price.

avatar

RightARM

Just integrate a smaller physX chip into the dam high end gamer motherboards and take away the choice. That's what has happened to every other add in card that can use's the pci-x/pci bus.

I thought you knew?

avatar

vaemor

I'll never support physX; it was a good idea at first (a long time ago) but as GPU & especially CPU progress well, progressed.. people realized it was unnecessary and/or unworthy of an extra card/crap.

Log in to MaximumPC directly or log in using Facebook

Forgot your username or password?
Click here for help.

Login with Facebook
Log in using Facebook to share comments and articles easily with your Facebook feed.