AMD announces support for Havok Physics

Written by Tim Smalley

June 12, 2008 // 2:16 p.m.

Tags: #amd #havok #intel #nvidia #physics #physx

In what will no doubt add an interesting twist to the shape of today's industry, AMD has announced that it will work with Havok to optimise the Havok Physics engine on the company's full range of products.

AMD says that there are "over 100 developers and 300 leading titles already using Havok's physics engine," making it "the leading developer of game physics."

Naturally, this includes both AMD's CPUs and its ATI Radeon graphics cards and looks to be a case of two fingers at Nvidia. Indeed, Nvidia recently told bit-tech that PhysX has around 150 supported titles across all platforms.

We spoke to an Nvidia spokesperson who turned down the opportunity to comment at the time, but said that he'd come back to us with more information "very soon."

There are some things to think about here – the first is that the industry is starting to split, with proprietary technologies appearing on either side of the fence. I don't think that's a good thing for the PC gaming industry, as you'll get a situation where developers choose to develop for one particular hardware vendor (or two in the case of Havok).

Another thing to think about is that Havok is a wholly owned subsidiary of Intel, and Intel doesn't have a GPU at the moment – its bread and butter is in CPUs and will continue to be that way until 2009-2010. We've got to wait for Larrabee until Intel joins the fray and that makes me wonder how long it's going to be before we see GPU-accelerated Havok physics.

A lot of the groundwork would have already been done because ATI first talked about GPU-accelerated physics back at Computex 2005; however, the question is whether Intel will want to allow Havok physics to be accelerated on the GPU at the moment. After all, the company seemed upset by Nvidia's push to move video encoding and transcoding tasks onto the GPU—and to deliver massive performance increases in the process—so I can't help but wonder if Intel will hold GPU-accelerated physics off until it releases Larrabee.

Intel will want a bunch of killer applications (or at least middleware) available for developers to use as soon as Larrabee is available – one of those will very likely be physics, and another will be something revolving around Project Offset.

What do you make of all this? Discuss in the forums.

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