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Nvidia Corp. said that it could eventually port computing of physics effects created using PhysX middleware to OpenCL application programming interface (API) and capable hardware. This may actually enable acceleration of physics effects processing on graphics chips to work on ATI Radeon hardware.

At present PhysX middle-ware is used to make physics effects on various platforms, including video game consoles and personal computers. In virtually all the cases processing of physics effects is performed on the central processing units – x86 chips in case of PC, Cell in case of PlayStation 3 or PowerPC in case of Xbox 360 – however, there are handful of games that can take advantage of physics computing on Nvidia GeForce graphics processing units (GPUs) that support CUDA technology. The latter is virtually Nvidia’s proprietary API and is naturally not supported by chips developed by ATI, graphics business unit of Advanced Micro Devices. Due to such limitations not a lot of game developers are implementing GPU PhysX and enabling acceleration using DirectCompute or OpenCL is one of the best ways to popularize processing of physics effects on graphics processors.

“In the future it is a possibility that we could use OpenCL, but at the moment CUDA works great. [Our GPU] architecture allows for acceleration by other things like OpenCL. Nvidia works very closely with The Khronos Group, actually Neil Trevett is president of the group and he’s part of Nvidia, so we’ve been driving that standard also, and it’s an excellent standard,” said Nadeem Mohammad, a director of PhysX product management at Nvidia, in an interview with Bit-tech web-site.

Porting PhysX to OpenCL is a natural thing to do since the standard is supported both by central processing units (CPUs) and GPUs, hence, this would make PhysX middle-ware much more universal, something, which is important to compete against providers of competing engines, such as Havok, a division of Intel Corp.

However, Mr. Mohammad warned about possible performance issues with non-Nvidia hardware, claiming that ATI is much behind Nvidia when it comes to GPU computing.

“If we start using OpenCL, then there’s a chance that the features would work on ATI, but I have no idea what the performance would be like. Previously, looking at things like Folding@home, ATI GPU computing performance seems to be behind Nvidia. That probably reflects the fact that their GPU computing solution is probably a couple of generations behind ours,” said Mr. Mohammad.

Nvidia did not elaborate when it plans to port PhysX to OpenCL.

Tags: Nvidia, Geforce, ATI, Radeon, CUDA, PhysX, OpenCL, GPGPU

Discussion

Comments currently: 7
Discussion started: 04/28/10 08:39:42 AM
Latest comment: 04/28/10 07:28:00 PM
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1. 
Nvidia did not elaborate when it plans to port PhysX to OpenCL.


I bet it will happen when an other opencl physics engine is released.
0 0 [Posted by: uibo  | Date: 04/28/10 08:39:42 AM]
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Pretty much... This is as simple as realizing that developers have less and less of a reason to embrace their proprietary solution.
0 0 [Posted by: siuol11  | Date: 04/28/10 10:05:13 AM]
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2. 
Hah, Nvidia is always slinging mud at ATI. If they're so confident their gpu's are better at computing then ATI's, why don't they port PhysX ? They are dividing the gaming market with their proprietary standards. Silly corporate logic.
I see them as the microsoft of gpu-land
0 0 [Posted by: bre  | Date: 04/28/10 10:14:44 AM]
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3. 
This article is referencing an interview posted over a year ago. How is this news, exactly?
0 0 [Posted by: Reputator  | Date: 04/28/10 11:10:35 AM]
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4. 
WOW you are right !!! This is ridiculous for Anton to publish this as news !!!
I suspect Anton's agenda is to keep Nvidia in the news somehow... All the more reason I will never buy Nvidia, it's all trickery and manipulation !
0 0 [Posted by: TrueGamer  | Date: 04/28/10 12:08:20 PM]
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5. 
lol.

It's also a lie because Richard Huddy came out and actually SAID PUBLICLY (months ago) that they've tried to negotiate with nVIDIA about opening up PhysX, probably through some smoke-filled back-room deal, but they weren't having it. This is the nVIDIA way. Take something with potential, and then run it into the ground over arrogance.

That being said, OpenCL runs ~2x(+) as fast on GTX480 than 5870 according to the most comparable benchmark to physx, GPU Caps Viewer.

That means if nVIDIA actually DID port it for open use, and developers did use it for their engines, they could likely run at a higher level for eye-candy or a higher resolution if it became an actual foundation to the game's engine (interactive) on similar-class hardware. The later physics PhysX type we haven't seen because of it being proprietary...just mostly useless particle effects. This would put their products in a better light, as since they own the API (and developers...) the physx level per resolution/setting would be tailored towards an acceptable load for their products in each class.

I'm not going to pretend ATi's OpenCL won't get better and that's a deterrent to nVIDIA, as noone wants to be beaten at their own game. It will (especially if the rumor of 4D instead of 5D is true for next gen so they could potentially pack in more shaders) but I wouldn't be surprised if come NI vs Fermi 2 (28nm), a similar nvidia 'pro' part could still outpace an ATi "xt" part in OpenCL, and therefore PhysX in OpenCL. That could certainly be a incentive to buy an nVIDIA part all-else being equal, or even an ATi part being slightly faster.

While that's just a hypothetical pondering, both those are reasons why nVIDIA should seriously consider opening PhysX up, and soon. Speed in something relevant beats having something irrelevant the other doesn't EVERY SINGLE TIME. Just ask ATi about tessellation...
0 0 [Posted by: turtle  | Date: 04/28/10 04:26:54 PM]
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6. 
Nvidia has failed time and time again to have a "killer app" for PhysX. When Ageia was around, there were a couple of promising PhysX titles like GRAW. Cell Factor was a disappointment, then GRAW2 just didn't do it.. Unreal Tournament 3's much-delayed implementation of PhysX with a couple add-on maps proved to be lack-luster in popularity. Much, much later on, Mirror's Edge, a good game, had a few niche uses of PhysX but it was hardly missed with ATI-only consumers. Finally, there was supposed to be the killer-app for PhysX -- Batman: Arkham Asylum. While the game was somewhat more bland for ATI users without PhysX, it only pissed off the owners of ATI cards while many realized that the effects could have been done just as well or better using Havok or similar engines. Watch the video here: http://consumer.hardocp.c...=MTY0NCwsLGhlbnRodXNpYXN0 and see how impressive Infernal Engine's Velocity physics that uses OpenCL for both multi-threaded CPU and GPU utilization. I played the Ghostbusters video game and it was awesome. Even Half Life 2 several years ago still had some impressive physics that did not need stupid physx. With new 6-core CPU's on the way, Nvidia knows that if they keeps PhsyX proprietary and unoptimized, it will go the way of the Glide Dodo that could only do 16-bit color. I think it would just be better if Nvidia let PhysX go and adopt Infernal's OpenCL engine:
http://www.infernalengine.com/tech_physics.php
0 0 [Posted by: Bo_Fox  | Date: 04/28/10 07:28:00 PM]
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