AMD demonstrates Havok with GPU acceleration

AMD demonstrates Havok with GPU acceleration

Havok Cloth can simulate a number of environmental cloth effects, including thick cloth, such as the rug and curtains, and soft bodies such as the cacti.

Just as we expected, AMD has just demonstrated GPU-accelerated physics at the Game Developers Conference (GDC) in San Francisco. According to AMD, the session included a demonstration of Havok Cloth accelerated on AMD GPUs via OpenCL.

Commenting on AMD’s demonstration of GPU-accelerated Havok physics, Havok’s vice president, David Coghlan, said that “Havok is committed to delivering highly optimised cross-platform solutions to our game customers and we are pleased to be working with AMD to ensure that gamers enjoy a great user experience when running Havok-powered games on AMD platforms”

Coghlan also added that “unlocking the parallel processing capability of AMD’s hardware provides real advantages to our customers, and the greater the total computing resources available, the better the gaming experience developers can deliver.”

The technology has also been endorsed by Saber Interactive, developer of TimeShift and the Saber 3D engine. Saber’s chief operating officer, Andrey Iones, said that "Havok’s awesome toolset has allowed us to deliver astonishing physics interactions in our games, including detailed real-time destruction and complex ragdoll models, and we are excited about using ATI Stream technology to pursue more astounding in-game accomplishments.”

The announcement coincided with Havok’s revelation that Havok Cloth is, in fact, the fastest-selling Havok product ever. Originally released in March 2008, the Havok Cloth SDK allows developers to create realistic material effects, including clothing and environmental cloth such as rugs or flags, while also taking advantage of multi-threading across a variety of CPUs. This includes the Cell processor found in the PlayStation 3, and now crucially also supports AMD’s GPUs via OpenCL.

As the technology has been demonstrated running on OpenCL, there’s theoretically no reason why Nvidia wouldn’t be able to support this on its own GPUs either. In fact, in a recent Q&A session, Nvidia's director of product management for PhysX, Nadeem Mohammad, said that "we would be thrilled to work with Havok and accelerate Havok on GeForce. I don’t see that as conflict at all with our PhysX efforts – it would be a great complement." Mohammad also pointed out Nvidia had previously worked with Havok on Havok FX, and added that "we already have OpenCL drivers, and we were the first to demonstrate GPU acceleration in OpenCL."

In the meantime, however, Nvidia is still very much pushing its own PhysX technology, and recently revealed its new APEX tools at GDC as well. Among APEX’s features is APEX Clothing which, like Havok Cloth, will enable game developers to easily create detailed cloth effects. The APEX toolset also includes tools for creating destructible objects and vegetation with realistic effects. Nvidia was also keen to point out that APEX is scalable across a variety of platforms, starting from the Wii and going through various processor technologies all the way to GPU acceleration via CUDA.

Do you consider hardware physics support to be a solid selling point for graphics cards, and would you rather that your hardware supported PhysX or Havok? Let us know your thoughts in the forums.


Discuss in the forums Reply
Narishma 27th March 2009, 12:20 Quote
Isn't Havok owned by Intel?
pizan 27th March 2009, 12:44 Quote
Yes it is, but ATI licensed it before Intel bought it. I think...
salesman 27th March 2009, 13:47 Quote
You know all I want to hear from amd right now is info on their new video card release. *sigh*
perplekks45 27th March 2009, 13:56 Quote
I don't care who or what makes my games better, as long as it's available on all platforms. :D
I still don't see too many games using either PhysX or Havok to create something special but realistic physics is just one of those details that seperate the good from the outstanding.
phuzz 27th March 2009, 14:16 Quote
Doesn't the Source engine use Havok?
Although the usual question of "will this run on my PC?" will get even more complicated if we have to take physics performance into account as well.
perplekks45 27th March 2009, 14:43 Quote
Not if AMD does Havok, nVidia does Havok and ports PhysX to OpenCL. Then we can just use everything on everything. :)
thehippoz 27th March 2009, 15:01 Quote
physx sucks.. it did before nvidia took them over and since it's nvidia only- it still sucks.. of course they want to work with havok.. look at crysis for example, it uses the cpu for physics on it's own engine- there is nothing wrong with cpu physics if it's done right.. it's just another gimmick for nvidia to make more money

I've seen nothing physx does other than create hype.. havok been used in alot of games- porting it over to the gpu maybe add some more functionality- as long as it works on all cards as it does currently, I don't see any problem with that.. nvidia does nothing well but marketing nowdays.. all that suki suki from the 8800gtx turned them into the aig of the computer world imo :D

physx (before nvidia) had a demo called cellfactor.. the game played just fine on old hardware without a ppu.. I dunno if you all remember that fiasco.. I'm glad havok is going to the gpu, what's up with physx anyway, it doesn't work on ati or any other graphics card what's the point
HourBeforeDawn 27th March 2009, 18:25 Quote
I have said this many time, over and over, wont matter much once DX11 and OpenCL hit the scene with their own physics engines more companies will use that rather then physX and havok...
perplekks45 27th March 2009, 18:43 Quote
I know every game and its little sister features Havok today but I meant they didn't create anything special with it.
Evildead666 27th March 2009, 20:00 Quote
Originally Posted by perplekks45
I know every game and its little sister features Havok today but I meant they didn't create anything special with it.

Mainly because up until now they only had a cpu with 'maybe' two cores...have to go with the masses.
A compatible ATi GPU will be a 2xxx upwards, so 300 shaders+ or so...
wuyanxu 27th March 2009, 20:12 Quote
how about water and realistic fog? Mirror's Edge had better effects than that, PhysX demo by nVidia of a woman walking down a catwalk also seems more impressive.
Cobalt 27th March 2009, 21:26 Quote
Demos are rarely a good indicator of performance. Once you add in actual game logic and control it tends to go to peices.
LordPyrinc 28th March 2009, 00:11 Quote
I'm all for more realistic environments. Items actually behaving the way they do in RL makes the gaming experience that more immersive.

Probably not the best example, but when I first played started playing Fear 2 and heard something rolling across the floor behind me in the hospital I was a bit surprised when it turned out to be a pill bottle I had knocked over. Just the little things like that are slowly getting better. I can't wait to see what games/hardware in the next 5 years will be capable of.
Saivert 29th March 2009, 00:46 Quote
I think thehippoz needs to move to a communist country. He doesn't understand commercial interests and competition in technology.
HourBeforeDawn 29th March 2009, 02:03 Quote
Originally Posted by Saivert
I think thehippoz needs to move to a communist country. He doesn't understand commercial interests and competition in technology.

lol and you need to study up on what Communism is ;)
Comet 29th March 2009, 22:53 Quote
Well I think that if NVIDIA want their solutions to be supported once DX 11 is out they really need to port it to OpenCL. It is only logical that people don't like having to choose between having one or the other. And for NVIDIA since now AMD is really showing that they also have a physics capable solution it is only logical for them to convert their solution to OpenCL and avoid a physics engine war that they would loose since developers and customers do not want closed formats. OpenCL will be used in DX11 and that is the future.

What NVIIDA wants is to sell its physics solution to developers. IT started by showing they had hardware accelerated physics but now that both companies have that it is only about middleware companies supporting one system or the other. IF a developer doesn't need to worry if that solution will work in one hardware or the other that is no longer an issue
r4tch3t 2nd April 2009, 03:41 Quote
Originally Posted by Cobalt
Demos are rarely a good indicator of performance. Once you add in actual game logic and control it tends to go to peices.
The whole reason right here that GPU physics is a good thing. The game logic and control is performed on the CPU, and with the physics offloaded more can be done on the CPU. Like better AI for instance. With Havoc being coded for GPUs now it can be done on either depending on the resources available. If they have a powerful CPU and slow GFX card then it can be done on the CPU. If they have a decent CPU and a decent GFX card but run a lower res screen the physics can be offloaded to the GPU.
john125 2nd April 2009, 08:20 Quote
I think this is a very subjective test.
ATI licensed it before Intel bought it. But...
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