Nvidia Reportedly Limits PhysX Support to Nvidia-Only Graphics Sub-Systems

Nvidia Disables PhysX for Systems Containing ATI Radeon in Addition to GeForce Graphics Adapter

by Anton Shilov
09/29/2009 | 09:59 AM

In spite of the fact that Nvidia Corp. once promised to enable processing of physics effects made using PhysX application programming interface (API) on any graphics processing units (GPUs), the company recently started to disable PhysX support on systems that use ATI Radeon graphics cards for rendering and Ageia PhysX or Nvidia GeForce processors for physics effects computing.


Starting late July, 2009, and ForceWare 186.x drivers, Nvidia decided to disable PhysX whenever ATI graphics card is used for graphics rendering. Even though it was definitely not a trivial task to make both ATI Catalyst or Nvidia ForceWare drivers or Nvidia PhysX system software work on the same system at the same time in order to run graphics rendering on ATI Radeon and PhysX on Nvidia GeForce or Ageia PhysX physics processing unit, some people could still use such a configuration.

“PhysX is an open software standard any company can freely develop hardware or software that supports it. Nvidia supports GPU accelerated Physx on Nvidia GPUs while using Nvidia GPUs for graphics. […] For a variety of reasons – some development expense, some quality assurance and some business reasons Nvidia will not support GPU accelerated PhysX with Nvidia GPUs while GPU rendering is happening on non-Nvidia GPUs,” said a specialist from Nvidia customer care, reports Ngohq.com web-site.

Nvidia’s move is rather strange, considering the fact that it officially positions its PhysX as an open standard that can be utilized even by its arch-rival ATI, graphics business unit of Advanced Micro Devices. On the other hand, for Nvidia, PhysX and Stereo 3D Vision technologies are tremendously important these days since they are exclusive for company, who cannot offer an alternative to ATI Radeon HD 5800-series graphics cards, the only DirectX 11 GPUs at the moment.

For Nvidia, the primary task is to sell its multimedia chips. Formally, the company should hardly care whether its GPUs are installed into systems featuring other graphics cards to process PhysX or make other tasks since it still gets its revenue for its products. Cutting PhysX support for not “all-Nvidia” systems may be rather dangerous since this limits PhysX support to exactly the installed base of the GeForce and does not allow to use it on machines featuring even other graphics accelerators. On the other hand, this ensures that those, who need PhysX should only upgrade to Nvidia graphics boards while keeping the old card for PhysX.