HardOCP just posted an article exploring the distinction between hardware acceleration for “effects” physics, which typically run on the GPU, and “gameplay” physics, which typically run on dedicated silicon such as Ageia’s PhysX hardware. The issue with today’s GPU physics is that it’s difficult to hook into meaningful events within the physics simulation. You could simulate 20,000 bullets from a Gatling gun, but you wouldn’t be able to know when those bullets were striking targets in order to deal damage in your actual game system (when I asked a Havok rep about this at GDC, I was told the easiest solution is to do your own collision detection based on the objects’ positions, which seems like a lot of legwork).
The article interviews representatives from ATI, NVIDIA, Havok, and AGEIA. It ends with a predication that hardware-accelerated physics simulation will gain some serious traction over the next two years:
There is already one dedicated hardware processor on the block; Ageia with their PhysX processor. On the GPU side of things we believe that Windows Vista’s DX10 and DX10 GPUs will be the real start of physics acceleration on the PC using GPUs. Even though today’s GPUs are capable of effects and gameplay physics acceleration DX10 GPUs are really better suited for them. Hopefully 2007 and its released gaming titles will give us a much better look at just how hardware enabled physics will push gaming evolution.
Read the entire article for all the details.
- Ageia’s PhysX: Success or Failure?
- Joint Task Force PhysX Trailer Released
- Nuts About Physics: Switchball
- Microsoft Planning “Direct Physics” for DirectX?
- iPhone Physics Games Launch in July