|GPU physics for the masses - NVIDIA's PhysX Pack 1|
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GPU physics for the masses - NVIDIA's PhysX Pack 1
If I earned a pound every time I heard or read about the wonders of GPU-based physics, I'd probably have enough to buy a tank of fuel for my car right now. Believe me, that's a lot of cash. Sadly, I don't get such a payment any time GPU accelerated physics is mentioned, which is a shame, as for the past few years we've been fed a regular diet from both of the major graphics IHVs about it, none of which has really amounted to much in real terms if we're quite honest.
However, the slightly surprising acquisition of AGEIA, and in particular their PhysX technology, suggested that accelerating physics on the GPU was no longer going to be a case of all mouth and no trousers, and indeed since that purchase NVIDIA have been working hard on several fronts to bring this particular piece of functionality beyond the frame of mere hype and into a reality that would give NVIDIA the edge over the competition.
Perhaps most importantly, NVIDIA's own developers have been working hard on translating the PhysX API so that it can run on their own graphics offerings, a job made undoubtedly easier by the presence of their own C-like CUDA language. Indeed, whatever your thoughts about GPU physics or NVIDIA, it has to be aid that moving PhysX to run on the GPU has happened quicker than most of us imagined.
This success has also seen NVIDIA keen to present these new capabilities to the wider public - The firm's GT200 launch featured plenty of PhysX-related promotion and discussion, and indeed an extension of that hard work on a promotional front is why you're hear reading this article right now.
The final piece of the puzzle is, of course, getting developers on board - There is plenty to think around on this particular front, much of which we'll doubtless be discussing later, but once again today's launch is designed to prove that NVIDIA not only has some developers committed to using PhysX for in-game physics, but also for using it to its full potential via the powers of GPU acceleration.
In short (and as the title suggests), our ramblings today surround the pending release of NVIDIA's "PhysX Pack 1", which is made up of a GPU PhysX supporting graphics driver (177.79) for all GeForce 8, 9 and GTX 200 series parts, an actual PhysX driver to enable that support (v8.07.18), and a handful of demos and the like to show off the power of PhysX on NVIDIA GPUs, most of which we'll be looking at very shortly later in this article.