What's this? PhysX enabled on a GPU with a driver? For those that remember (or more for those that don't), NVIDIA acquired Ageia, developer of PhysX, in February of this year. It was just a matter of time before they implemented the technology, but exactly how was th question.
The details of PhysX implementation are now available:
We've already seen some information on PhysX with regards to 3DMark Vantage and Unreal Tournament 3. Today, we get to take a glimpse into what else NVIDIA has been up to with PhysX, which, according to NVIDIA, is "the most popular physics API in the world with over 140 shipping titles across all major platforms, including the PC, Wii, Xbox360, and Playstation 3." At the heart of the PhysX technology lies the claim that in-game physics leads to more realistic gameplay. We can't help but agree with that claim. Just think about how enjoyable rag-doll physics has been over the last several years. Picking up and throwing a Combine soldier with the gravity gun in Half-Life 2 just wouldn't be the same without some physics calculations going on in the background. With PhysX, though, NVIDIA hopes to take things to all new levels, of course, by utilizing the tremendous computing power of the GPU, rather than relying on the CPU.
Although we've been hearing about PhysX for only several years, it seems like it's been much longer than that. We think it's great to see what NVIDIA has been able to accomplish with PhysX and its acceleration on the GPU in the short time since the company acquired Ageia. We are all for games becoming more realistic. Imagine more debris or perhaps individual boards in a fence being destroyed one at a time ore cloth ripping when you shoot it. You can do more than just imagine, though. With this PhysX Pack (and the right GPU and drivers of course), you can go and check out all of that for yourself.
We bet that at least a couple of you are wondering about multi-GPU support. We learned a couple of days ago that NVIDIA plans to support a couple different modes for PhysX and multiple GPUs, but it is important to note that both are in the early stages of development. In SLI mode, both GPUs take on the physics and graphics workload equally. In Multi-GPU mode, on the other hand, the primary GPU (like a GTX 280) is dedicated to 3D graphics while the secondary GPU (like a 9600 GT) performs only PhysX calculations. This mode will be supported on both SLI and non-SLI motherboards.
Stay tuned to HotHardware for more PhysX coverage as the technology develops.
Update - 8/7/08:
We wanted to update the article after getting a few questions about the availability of the PhysX Pack. You will be able to download PhysX Pack #1 on August 12 at nvidia.com. PhysX Pack #1 includes the following content:
- Full version of Warmonger
- Full version of Unreal Tournament 3 PhysX Mod Pack (you will need Unreal Tournament 3 to play)
- Latest patch for Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter 2
- Sneak peek at the Nurien upcoming social networking service, based on the Unreal Engine 3 (with built-in benchmark)
- Sneak peek at the upcoming game Metal Knight Zero (with built-in benchmark)
- All new NVIDIA “The Great Kulu” tech demo
- All new NVIDIA “Fluid” tech demo