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Nvidia doesn't care what physics library devs use

Nvidia doesn't care what physics library devs use

Tony Tamasi, Nvidia's Director of Content and Technology, has said that he doesn't mind what physics library developers use, as long as it runs on Nvidia GPUs.

In a recent interview, Tony Tamasi, senior vice president of Content and Technology at Nvidia, said that he doesn't have a particular preference to what physics library game developers use, as long as it runs on Nvidia's GPUs.

"We've been working on physics for a very, very long time - back in 2005, we showed off our first GPU-based physics demos using the Havok library," explained Tamasi. "Havok could never really decide if they wanted to do the GPU or not and I'm a little sceptical of whether we'll ever see GPU-based Havok physics.

"In the end, we decided to acquire Ageia because they'd already got a really nice SDK designed for parallel processing - we just did a C for CUDA implementation and we've been doing that ever since. We've also been helping the Bullet Physics guys with their GPU implementation - it's based on our OpenCL samples and they've been using Nvidia hardware to do their development.

"Anyone who wants to do physics on the GPU is all goodness for us, so if the Havok guys get around to doing some OpenCL stuff on the GPU, that's good for Nvidia. All we really want is to see lots of GPU based implementations - we did the PhysX thing because we wanted to get the ball rolling."

We then went onto discuss the future of game physics and whether we'll ever see real gameplay physics in PC games given that there are very few PC exclusive titles these days. Tamasi said that we're already starting to see gameplay physics being introduced into games such as Batman: Arkham Asylum - there's just more of it in the PC version.

"Partly, this is more of a game design choice than a technological barrier [for consoles]," he explained. "It is clear if game developers want to really do a good job of taking physics to the next level, they actually do have to really think about it. If they want to have walls that can be destroyed, their AI needs to solve for all new visibility and path finding capabilities."

"Frankly, we're still in the early days of physics, much like 3D in the early days where you had Z-buffer and bilinear filtering - things are obviously quite different nowadays. I'd say we're on the cusp of physics taking off, and it's not just physics - it's simulations in general."

It's pleasing to hear Nvidia say that it doesn't matter what physics library game developers use, as long as it runs on the GPU, because GPU-agnostic game physics is what gamers have wanted ever since the major players first started talking about improving gameplay physics. Whether developers will adopt something other than PhysX though is another question entirely - a lot of that is going to depend on the tools available for alternative libraries to PhysX. Moreover, game developers are unlikely to get the same level of support from Nvidia's DevTech team if they opt for a GPU-agnostic library, such as Bullet Physics.

We spoke to a number of Nvidia's DevTech engineers during our visit to San Jose and one thing they all said was that the investment in improving the tools for implementing PhysX isn't likely to slow down. Ease of implementation is hugely important to developers (and publishers) and so it could be a while before we see widespread adoption of GPU-agnostic physics libraries.

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9 Comments

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Elton 14th October 2009, 11:43 Quote
Well...That's not a smart thing to say.
Evildead666 14th October 2009, 11:49 Quote
If its only Nvidia GPU's that can do the Physics, and Nvidia keep their drivers locked down, it won't be going anywhere....
Developers are just going to peeve all of the ATi players out there, and there are more and more of them.
gavomatic57 14th October 2009, 12:57 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Elton
Well...That's not a smart thing to say.

When it is taken out of context, maybe. However...
Quote:
"Anyone who wants to do physics on the GPU is all goodness for us, so if the Havok guys get around to doing some OpenCL stuff on the GPU, that's good for Nvidia. All we really want is to see lots of GPU based implementations - we did the PhysX thing because we wanted to get the ball rolling."

That changes things somewhat.
Quote:
We've also been helping the Bullet Physics guys with their GPU implementation - it's based on our OpenCL samples and they've been using Nvidia hardware to do their development.

I see this as another example of Nvidia getting off their backsides and working with developers on all sorts of GPU physics implementations - so if you want GPU physics of any type, it has probably been tested the most on Nvidia GPU's.

It also looks like GPU agnostic physics is what Nvidia wants too.
cheeriokilla 14th October 2009, 17:00 Quote
They mention Batman: Arkham Asylum but I think Red Faction: Guerrilla is a big hit on the PhysX boys, Havok works on all hardware therefore it will become the primary API for physics based gameplay... You can't build a game like Red Faction with PhysX and discard all ATI systems.

The Frostbite engine that the Battlefield franchise uses to deliver all the destruction is also based on Havok.
Tim S 14th October 2009, 17:04 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by cheeriokilla
They mention Batman: Arkham Asylum but I think Red Faction: Guerrilla is a big hit on the PhysX boys, Havok works on all hardware therefore it will become the primary API for physics based gameplay... You can't build a game like Red Faction with PhysX and discard all ATI systems.

The Frostbite engine that the Battlefield franchise uses to deliver all the destruction is also based on Havok.

I think you'll be surprised. There's a lot of excitement (from AMD, Nvidia and a bunch of devs we've spoken to) about Bullet... mainly because it's open source and is being ported to OpenCL.
HourBeforeDawn 14th October 2009, 20:03 Quote
this just means they realized that devs rather use a open or universal physics standard then one that limits their audience to one card maker which isnt good for business lol nVidia saw this and figured well better start saving are ass from the loss in what we wasted on PhysX that honestly in the whole time they have had it really didnt go anywhere.
gavomatic57 15th October 2009, 00:39 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by HourBeforeDawn
this just means they realized that devs rather use a open or universal physics standard then one that limits their audience to one card maker which isnt good for business lol nVidia saw this and figured well better start saving are ass from the loss in what we wasted on PhysX that honestly in the whole time they have had it really didnt go anywhere.

But it wasn't wasted - the exercise was a fore-runner for every other GPU physics solution that will follow, including Bullet - Physx gets ported to CUDA, CUDA and OpenCL are closely related (Nvidia are head of the OpenCL implementation group), Physx provides a base from which to move forward.

Clicky
Clicky
Saivert 17th October 2009, 07:22 Quote
Yeah. I don't get why lots say NVIDIA is hostile towards OpenCL when they are part of the standards group. Time to get facts straight.
PhysX was just a small thing in this and it was a good idea at the time. Ageia didn't go anywhere with it's PPU cards (how many bought those really) and PhysX made more sense on the GPU.

I think it's mostly ATI owners who bash on this 'cos they somehow want great physics in their games but when NVIDIA does it, it is lame. People are stupid as usual.

Also you have to separate GPGPU frameworks (CUDA, OpenCL) from Physics frameworks (PhysX, Havok, Bullet).
I think a lot of people get confused over this.
Any physics framework can run on whatever you want (GPU, CPU, or a special PPU as in the case of the Ageia cards).
It's just that PPUs and GPUs are faster at this than traditional processors.
Wossack 19th October 2009, 11:16 Quote
Anyone else think he looks like fred flintstone in that pic?
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