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NVIDIA's GeForce Power Pack 2 - GPU PhysX revisited - Warmonger, Metal Knight Zero, Nurien Print E-mail
Written by Hanners   
Tuesday, 02 December 2008 01:00
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NVIDIA's GeForce Power Pack 2 - GPU PhysX revisited
UT3, Crazy Machines 2&heading=NVIDIA's GeForce Power Pack 2
Warmonger, Metal Knight Zero, Nurien
3DMark Vantage, PhysX screensaver
- Warmonger, Metal Knight Zero, Nurien


Warmonger is a game you may or may not have heard of, but let's get the good news out of the way first - It's free.  This title is another Unreal Engine 3 powered game, and is a multi-player title that makes extensive use of PhysX physics effects to add an extra dimension to gameplay via destructible environments and the like.  The GeForce Power Pack 2 introduces some new levels to this game via its latest v2.5 update.

Click for full-size image
Click for full-size image

For our testing here, we'll once again be targeting 1920x1200 with 4x anti-aliasing and 16x anisotropic filtering enabled with our GeForce GTX 260 part, and using five different fly-by timedemos from the games "Siege" map.

The level of benefit seen from using GPU-based PhysX varies wildly dependant on the amount of physics processing required by each timedemo.  At best, we can see our Core i7 940 keeping pace with a GeForce GTX 260, but once the amount of on-screen physics effects is ramped up (particularly in the first and last timedemos) we see a massive performance increase from moving physics processing to the GPU.  Moving this processing further onto our GeForce 9600 GSO sees additional performance benefits over letting the GeForce GTX 260 alone handle everything, with around a 10-20% increase in frame rates the norm when using that particular board as a dedicated PhysX card.

Metal Knight Zero

We now move away from already released and established titles to cover a couple of games that are still in development.  The first of these is Metal Knight Zero, a multi-player first-person shooter being developed by Object Software.  Again, it makes heavy use of PhysX in the version 0.6 alpha build we were provided by NVIDIA (although the final game will allow for the level of physics of used to be adjusted, as it doesn't actually impact gameplay itself), from particle and cloth physics through to destructible environments.  In the build used for our testing today, the graphical side of the game is still a way off being finished, so it doesn't look as polished as the final product is expected to, but you can see a couple of screenshots of how it's shaping up below.

Click for full-size image
Click for full-size image

Once more, 1920x1200 with 4x anti-aliasing is our target, as we test via a provided walk-through timedemo of the game using both GPU and CPU accelerated PhysX processing.

Once again, running PhysX on the CPU causes frame rates to tank, while moving this workload to the graphics board gives us over a 200% increase in performance - Certainly not to be sniffed at.  Letting the GeForce 9600 GSO take on the PhysX workload while the GeForce GTX 260 handles graphics further increases performance by a relatively modest (but still handy) 6%. 


Our next pre-release title is called Nurien, and is a bit of an interesting beast considering that it's actually being designed as a graphically intensive, next-generation social network by a Korean developer called Nurien Software, which is (once again) powered by Unreal Engine 3.  Think Second Life but with less flying penises.  Probably.

Click for full-size image
Click for full-size image

As you can see above, the demo provided by NVIDIA (which uses a version 0.7 pre-release build of the title) allows us to express our feminine side by taking in a fashion show of sorts.  This also gives plenty of physics-based possibilities, from flowing, moving skirts as the models walk to moving hair as they shake their head.  There are also moments when said skirts fly up a little too high, and you can see the model's underwear, thus also appealing to my masculine sensibilities.

Anyhow, this particular demo is limited to 1280x1024, so we've run it here in that default state on our graphics board.

This particular demo scales excellently across our various configurations - While performance is okay using a CPU, it drops close to single digits at times when a lot is going on on-screen, while using the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 260 for PhysX processing more than doubles the average frame rate, putting it some way beyond the sixty frames per second mark.  Using a dedicated PhysX GPU in the form of the GeForce 9600 GSO only improves this further, giving us an additional performance increase of close to 25% and bringing us close to a three digit average frame rate.

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