PhysX is a proprietary realtime physics engine middleware SDK developed by NVIDIA (originally by Ageia, formerly known as the NovodeX SDK). PhysX can also refer to a PPU add-in card designed by Ageia to accelerate PhysX-enabled video games. Video games supporting hardware acceleration by PhysX can be accelerated by either a PhysX PPU or a CUDA-enabled GeForce GPU, thus offloading physics calculations from the CPU allowing it to perform other tasks faster, and as such, the whole system can provide a higher framerate, resulting in a smoother gaming experience.
Middleware physics engines allow game developers to avoid writing their own code to handle the complex physics interactions possible in modern games. Sony has licensed the PhysX SDK for their PlayStation 3 video game console.
The PhysX engine and SDK is freely available for Windows and Linux systems, but hardware acceleration currently works only on Windows.
In February 2008, NVIDIA bought Ageia and the PhysX engine and has begun integrating it into its CUDA framework, which already has multiple drivers for Linux, effectively rendering the PhysX add-in card redundant. With Intel's cancellation of Havok FX, PhysX is currently the only available solution for physics hardware acceleration.
In August 2008 NVIDIA released drivers for the GeForce 8 series and above video cards to implement the PhysX processing on the video cards.
A physics processing unit (PPU) is a processor specially designed to alleviate calculations from the CPU, specifically calculations involving physics. Soon after the release of Ageia's PPU graphics card manufacturers announced plans to implement similar functionality via the GPU.
A graphics processing unit or GPU (also occasionally called visual processing unit or VPU) is a dedicated graphics rendering device for a personal computer, workstation, or game console. Modern GPUs are very efficient at manipulating and displaying computer graphics, and their highly parallel structure makes them more effective than general-purpose CPUs for a range of complex algorithms such as accelerating physics using PhysX. A GPU can sit on top of a video card, or it can be integrated directly into the motherboard. More than 90% of new desktop and notebook computers have integrated GPUs, which are usually far less powerful than their add-in counterparts.
PPU Stats and specifications (1st Generation)
- Multi-core MIPS architecture based device with integrated physics acceleration hardware and memory subsystem with "tens of cores
- 134 million transistors
- 182 mm² die size
- Memory: 128 MB GDDR3 RAM on 128-bit interface
- Interface: PCI
- Sphere collision tests: 530 million per second (maximum capability)
- convex collision tests: 530,000 per second (maximum capability)
- Peak Instruction Bandwidth: 20 billion per second
- Power Consumption: 30 W
- Process Size: 130 nm
- Price: Between $100-$250 in the USA, £75-£145(inc VAT) in the UK
The major competitor to the PhysX SDK is the Havok
SDK, which is used in more than 150 games, including major titles like Half-Life 2
and Dead Rising
. However, Havok does not currently support hardware physics acceleration. Since Havok's take-over by Intel, AMD and Intel are now concentrating their respective efforts on Havok-physics for their respective platforms.
GPU Board partners
The following games feature PhysX hardware support:
Many more titles also use the PhysX SDK, but not all include support for PhysX hardware but instead use Nvidia based GPU's.
NVIDIA Software Support
- PhysX Links at Developer.NVIDIA.Com:
- NVIDIA PhysX Features
- Get NVIDIA PhysX Now!
- NVIDIA PhysX SDK Release Notes
- NVIDIA PhysX Middleware & Tools Partners
- NVIDIA PhysX Tips and Tricks FAQ
- NVIDIA APEX
- NVIDIA PhysX SDK Developer Forums
name="darkbasic-pro-physx">The Game Creators. The_Game_Creators_Integrate_AGEIA_PhysX_Technology_into_DarkBASIC_Professional. Press release. Retrieved on 2006-09-23.