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Developed by Nvidia Corporation
Latest release 2.8.1 / September 2008
Operating system Windows Vista, Windows XP, Mac OS X, Linux (32-bit, not GPU accelerated), Wii, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3
Type Physics simulation
License Proprietary, Freeware, Commercial
Website Nvidia PhysX developer site

PhysX is a proprietary realtime physics engine middleware SDK originally developed by Ageia (acquired by Nvidia in February 2008[1]) as the NovodeX SDK. The term PhysX can also refer to the PPU add-in card designed by Ageia to accelerate PhysX-enabled video games. Video games supporting hardware acceleration by PhysX can be accelerated by either a PhysX PPU or a CUDA-enabled GeForce GPU, thus offloading physics calculations from the CPU, allowing it to perform other tasks instead - potentially resulting in a smoother gaming experience.

Middleware physics engines allow game developers to avoid writing their own code to handle the complex physics interactions possible in modern games.

The PhysX engine and SDK are available for the following:

Nvidia provides both the engine and SDK for free to Windows and Linux users and developers[6]. The PlayStation 3 SDK is also freely available due to Sony's blanket purchase agreement.


[edit] Nvidia Acquisition

In February 2008, Nvidia bought Ageia and the PhysX engine and has begun integrating it into its CUDA framework, which already has multiple drivers for Linux, effectively rendering the PhysX add-in card redundant.[7] With Intel's cancellation of Havok FX, PhysX is currently the only available solution for physics hardware acceleration.[8]

In August 2008, Nvidia released drivers that allow GeForce 8 series and above video cards to implement PhysX processing.[9]

[edit] Hardware

[edit] PPU

A physics processing unit (PPU) is a processor specially designed to alleviate calculations from the CPU, specifically calculations involving physics. Soon after the release of Ageia's PPU, graphics card manufacturers announced plans to implement similar functionality via the GPU.

[edit] GPU

A graphics processing unit or GPU (also occasionally called visual processing unit or VPU) is a dedicated graphics rendering device for a personal computer, workstation, or game console. Modern GPUs are very efficient at manipulating and displaying computer graphics, and their highly parallel structure makes them more effective than general-purpose CPUs for a range of complex algorithms such as accelerating physics using PhysX. A GPU can sit on top of a video card, or it can be integrated directly into the motherboard. More than 90% of new desktop and notebook computers have integrated GPUs, which are usually far less powerful than their add-in counterparts.

Any CUDA ready GeForce graphics cards, GeForce series 8 and newer, can take advantage of PhysX without the need to install a dedicated PhysX card.

[edit] PhysX P1 (PPU) hardware specifications

ASUS and BFG Technologies bought licenses to manufacture AGEIA's only hardware PPU - the PhysX P1 w/ 128MB GDDR3.

  • Multi-core MIPS architecture based device with integrated physics acceleration hardware and memory subsystem with "tens of cores"[10]
  • 125 million transistors[11]
  • 182 mm² die size
  • Memory: 128 MB GDDR3 RAM on 128-bit interface
  • Interface: 32-bit PCI 3.0
  • Sphere collision tests: 530 million per second (maximum capability)
  • Convex collision tests: 530,000 per second (maximum capability)
  • Peak Instruction Bandwidth: 20 billion per second
  • Peak Power Consumption: 30 W
  • Fabrication Process: 130 nm
  • Price: Between $100-$250 in the USA, £75-£145 (inc VAT) in the UK

[edit] Competition

The major competitor to the PhysX SDK is the Havok SDK, which is used in more than 150 games, including major titles like Half-Life 2 and Dead Rising.[12] However, Havok does not currently support hardware physics acceleration. Since Havok's take-over by Intel, AMD and Intel are now concentrating their respective efforts on Havok physics for their respective platforms. ATI is now in the works with Intel to use ATI Stream (equivalent of CUDA) to use Havok through hardware.

[edit] Title support

There are many titles that use the PhysX SDK, but not all include support for PhysX hardware and instead only support Nvidia based GPUs.[13][14]

[edit] Games

The following games feature PhysX support (list may be incomplete):[15]

[edit] Other software

[edit] References

  1. ^ NVIDIA Corporation (2008-02-13) (html). NVIDIA completes Acquisition of AGEIA Technologies. Press release. Retrieved on 2009-03-18. 
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^ Sony Computer Entertainment, Inc. (2005-07-21) (PDF). Sony Computer Entertainment Enters Into Strategic Licensing Agreement With AGEIA. Press release. Retrieved on 2006-08-23. 
  5. ^ "Playstation 3 gets free PhysX from Nvidia". Kotaku. 
  6. ^
  7. ^ "PhysX For CUDA, Linux Support A Given?". Phoronix. Phoronix Media. 2008-02-14. Retrieved on 2008-02-14. 
  8. ^ Shilov, Anton (2007-11-19). "GPU Physics Dead for Now, Says AMD’s Developer Relations Chief". Xbit Laboratories. Retrieved on 2007-11-26. 
  9. ^ "GeForce Power Pack". Nvidia Corporation. 
  10. ^ "PhysX FAQ". NVIDIA Corporation. 
  11. ^ Legit Reviews - ASUS's AGEIA PhysX P1 Card
  12. ^ "Titles that use Havok Products". 
  13. ^ "The Unofficial AGEIA PhysX Links & Info Page". 2008-10-21. 
  14. ^ "Physx games, list, links, comments". HardForum. Jelsoft Enterprises. 2007-01-08. 
  15. ^ "PhysX Games List". nZone. Nvidia Corporation. 
  16. ^ "AGEIA Joins Futuremark's 3DMark Benchmark Development Program". FindArticles. BusinessWire (CBS Interactive). 2006-09-27. Retrieved on 2008-11-03. 
  17. ^ The Game Creators (2006-03-22). The Game Creators Integrate AGEIA PhysX Technology into DarkBASIC Professional. Press release. Retrieved on 2006-09-23. 
  18. ^ "Adobe Director 11". Adobe Systems. Retrieved on 2008-11-03. 
  19. ^ "Overview". DX Studio. Worldweaver. Retrieved on 2008-11-02. 
  20. ^ Alexander, Leigh (2008-08-19). "Emergent, Nvidia Integrate PhysX Into Gamebryo". Gamasutra. Think Services. Retrieved on 2008-11-05. 
  21. ^ Dobson, Jason (2007-06-18). "Emergent Adds DX10, PhysX To Gamebryo". Gamasutra. Think Services. Retrieved on 2008-11-05. 
  22. ^ "NxOgre". Ogre Wiki. Retrieved on 2007-09-14. 
  23. ^ Boeing, Adrian. "Engines". Physics Abstraction Layer. Retrieved on 2007-11-18. 
  24. ^ "Simulation Overview". Microsoft Robotics Developer Center. Microsoft. 
  25. ^ "Unity Features". Unity Technologies. Retrieved on 2008-11-03. 
  26. ^ "The Unreal Physics system". Epic Games. Retrieved on 2008-11-02. 

[edit] External links

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