Velocity engine shows potential for CPU physics

Velocity engine shows potential for CPU physics

The Velocity Tornado demo shows how a CPU can simulate 3,500 boxes and 200 soft bodies swirling around the environment.

There’s been something of a glut of gaming physics demos over the last few months, from AMD’s Havok GPU-physics demo to the demos in Nvidia’s latest Graphics Plus Power Pack, but this latest demo of the Infernal Engine’s Velocity physics system adds a new twist – it’s all done on the CPU. Of course, this is nothing special in itself; both Havok and PhysX can run on the CPU too, but it’s amazing what can be done on a CPU with an engine that scales properly over multiple threads.

US tech site [H]ardOCP has just published a number of videos of the Velocity Physics system in action, and it’s impressive to watch in action. The video with the real wow-factor is the Tornado demo. The demo starts off with 1,000 boxes being added to a scene from Ghostbusters: The Videogame, which are shortly followed by 200 soft bodies using ragdoll physics. A tornado is then switched on, swirling the boxes and the soft bodies around so that they interact with the environment. This is impressive enough in itself, but another 2,000 boxes are then added to the scene, and it shows no sign of slowing down.

Of course, the demo was run on a very powerful CPU – a Core i7 with Hyperthreading enabled, but it’s still interesting to see what can be done on a mainstream CPU with an optimised engine. It’s also worth listening to the guy taking you through the demo in the video. “I’m pretty sure we’ve never seen GPU-enabled physics to be able to do anything on a scale like this,” he says, “and our physics engine will scale essentially on an unlimited number of CPUs.” He also adds that “this frees up the graphics card to do the real work that it needs to do, and allows the CPU to really shine.”

If you want to see how the engine scales with more threads, it’s also worth watching the Plinko board demo. The demo shows a number of balls on a Plink board, and starts with just one thread before showing what canm be done using up to eight threads on a Core i7 with Hyperthreading.

Developed by Terminal Reality, the Velocity Physics part of the Infernal Engine promises an array of physics effects. According to Terminal Reality this includes advanced hair and cloth simulation, realistic human body physics with “anatomical joint constraints and simulated muscles/tendons” and advanced dynamic destruction of scenery and environmental objects. The Infernal Engine will also be used as the basis of Ghostbusters: The Videogame.

Would you rather have gaming physics handled by a multi-core CPU, leaving your GPU free for the hard work of graphics rendering, or would you rather use a GPU (or perhaps a second GPU) for hardware-accelerated physics effects? Watch the demo, and let us know your thoughts in the forums.


Discuss in the forums Reply
ch424 16th April 2009, 14:13 Quote
“and our physics engine will scale essentially on a limited number of CPUs.”
I'm pretty sure he says unlimited CPUs in the video!

It looks pretty cool though :)
MajorTom 16th April 2009, 14:31 Quote
@ch424: Yeah he does :)
Bauul 16th April 2009, 15:01 Quote
Looks like those Crysis vids that were rendered at 0.3fps. Most impressive, if still unrealistic. I'd much rather see one box that wasn't an infinitely existing, none-4th dimensional, indestructable blob than a million unrealistic ones blowing about.
arcticstoat 16th April 2009, 15:20 Quote
Originally Posted by ch424
“and our physics engine will scale essentially on a limited number of CPUs.”
I'm pretty sure he says unlimited CPUs in the video!

Fixed - thanks.
p3n 16th April 2009, 15:32 Quote
Looks pretty neat, although by the 3rd perfect lap of the tornado it becomes a little less impressive!
Ending Credits 16th April 2009, 15:38 Quote
K, now do it with spheres.
harveypooka 16th April 2009, 15:53 Quote
Now do it with cats.
Jozo 16th April 2009, 16:13 Quote
Do it with chicken

Very impressive demo!
harveypooka 16th April 2009, 16:15 Quote
How about this:

A cat juggling spheres riding a chicken?

They could maybe throw into some hand grenades for kicks.
Evildead666 16th April 2009, 17:17 Quote
MMMmm saw this earlier.
Looking very good, but would rather have the option to buy a midrange graphics card to put into my system, than another processor.... ;)
[USRF]Obiwan 16th April 2009, 17:32 Quote
I'm not impressed, did you see the 3000 barrel explosions with cry engine.
Goty 16th April 2009, 18:36 Quote
The later videos show similar demos being run on Core2 CPUs, so you don't need an i7 to get the same quality effects.
LordPyrinc 16th April 2009, 20:42 Quote
Thanks for the link Obiwan. The 3000 barrel explosion is pretty sweet!
tejas 16th April 2009, 21:19 Quote
err hello bit tech readers... the demo needs to be done with cheesecake to really impress. Cheesecake physics simulation on Core 2 Quads and Duo as well as on i7 please!
lonegunman 16th April 2009, 21:50 Quote
Wow, that barrel demo really shats on the Velocity demo... or does it, try reading the comments from the creator of the barrel demo...

"This is the first map of the PC game crysis edited by the sandbox2 editor from crytek. It represents not the real framerate of the game with my computer system.

I made this video just for fun in one day.
The real framerate without rendering was around 0.2, that means every 5 seconds a picture in some parts, so its not playable in realtime in the year 2008.
To get this smooth video, i recorded each frame and processed all pictures to a 30 frame/sec. video"

Not quite as impressive at 0.2 FPS now is it! Makes the Velocity demo look far more impressive.
docodine 17th April 2009, 00:28 Quote
Originally Posted by [USRF
Obiwan]I'm not impressed, did you see the 3000 barrel explosions with cry engine.

But that wasn't real time. :-P
JyX 17th April 2009, 10:19 Quote
No... 0.2 fps... practically not useful.

i7? Meh! I wonder how well would this scale with a quad socket Operton system? it would only cost around 10k but who cares when we can swirl more boxes! yupeee!
Bauul 17th April 2009, 13:01 Quote
Originally Posted by docodine
But that wasn't real time. :-P

Exactly, see my post at the top of the page.
dec 18th April 2009, 02:45 Quote
and the road to 32 core CPU's begins.......
JyX 18th April 2009, 14:43 Quote
^ finally
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