Ageia, the company which was the first to announce a dedicated chip for physics effects calculation, may be planning to allow end-users to install more than one PhysX accelerators in one system. However, it is still unclear how exactly users may benefit from it.
Recently released drivers by Ageia implement a revamped version of technology called hardware scene manager (HSM) that now uses so-called “compartments”, which allows “utilization of multiple PhysX cards in future versions”. Theoretically, Ageia’s future drivers should be able to “split” the scene into multiple three-dimensional “compartments” assigning a dedicated physics processing unit (PPU) for each.
It is highly likely that Ageia will have to release a PCI Express version of its PPU first and only then tout multi-PPU environments. Moreover, as modern graphics sub-systems are sometimes not capable of rendering many particles that Ageia PhysX generate at decent speed, putting two or more PPUs per system and creating even more physics effects that need to be rendered will require significantly increased graphics processing power and without it two or more PPUs per computer will be useless. On the other hand, more than one PPU per system may be used for non-gaming applications.
Ageia’s PhysX is the world’s first physics processing unit (PPU), which offloads software physics processing from central processing units and graphics processing units to it. The architecture of the PhysX PPU is tailored for multi-threaded processing of vertexes, which allows game creators to develop detailed, soft and precise animation and simulation of movements, hair, clothing, liquids, fluids and other. Currently Ageia’s PhysX is the world’s first and only dedicated physics processing unit, but the company expects more startups to offer similar technology.
To take advantage of advanced capabilities the PhysX has, game developers have to create games using Novodex SDK supplied by Ageia, which requires some additional effort from them. According to Ageia, more than one hundred games designed for and supporting the Ageia PhysX processor are in development from over 60 software creators and publishers.
Currently Asustek Computer and BFG Technologies offer PhysX add-in cards with 128MB 733MHz GDDR3 memory designed for PCI bus.