by Anton Shilov
08/22/2007 | 10:39 PM
Ageia, currently the world’s only provider of dedicated physics processing units (PPUs) for personal computers (PCs), announced on Wednesday at Games Convention conference its first physics accelerator for mobile computers. While Ageia targets the rapidly growing segment of high-performance laptops for gamers, it is unlikely that mobile PhysX card will sell in significant volume.
Ageia PhysX 100M is a specially designed solution that can provide equal performance compared to already shipping Ageia PhysX add-in cards for desktop personal computers, but with power consumption not exceeding 10W, according to Ageia. The chip designer claims that the solution is developed in a way to allow notebook creators to integrate the PhysX 100M into their designs without substantial problems. Nevertheless, considering that print-circuit boards of notebooks usually have no free space, integration of PhysX into mobile computers may not be an easy task to accomplish.
Ageia claims that “leading” notebook producers will present their solutions featuring PhysX 100M soon, though, it does not pre-announce any actual notebooks from its partners. It can be expected, however, that those machines will be aimed at hardcore gamers on the go, therefore, the laptops will be pretty large and powerful. But despite of the fact that Ageia only positions PhysX for games at this time, the chip itself may be used in a variety of applications and the company said early this year that it was working with software designers on employing PPUs into other applications.
“The PPU can be used for accelerating other calculations in scientific, engineering and financial applications such as DCC [digital content creation], video encoding/decoding, financial options pricing, CAD applications, medical imaging etc. We are working with partners on each of these applications,” said Manju Hedge, chief executive of Ageia, in an interview, adding that the company plans to offer software that would allow running generic C code on the PhysX chip.
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.