Graphics Chips Must Be Capable of Physics Effects Processing – Chief Exec of Nvidia

Nvidia Equates Physics Processing with Programmable Shading

by Anton Shilov
10/14/2009 | 11:06 PM

Nvidia Corp.’s chief executive officer believes that hardware processing of physics effects on graphics processing units (GPUs) in about a year will be as important as programmable shading today.


“By the end of next year, if your GPU cannot do physics simulation, what is a fool! If you cannot do physics simulation, what can you do? It’s like today, having a GPU that cannot do programmable shading, what it does?” said Jen-Hsun Huang, chief executive officer of Nvidia, reports Expreview web-site.

The fact that the number of video games that can take advantage of hardware physics effects processing using PhysX application programming interface can be counted on fingers does not seem to be evident for the head of Nvidia.

At present Nvidia PhysX (which it acquired with Ageia company in early 2008) is the only API that allows hardware physics effects processing on GPUs. Besides, Havok, an Intel-owned software company, is working on middleware that will be able to enable GPU-accelerated physics effects using OpenCL. In addition, there are other software companies working on DirctCompute/OpenCL physics effects engines.

Both ATI, graphics business unit of Advanced Micro Devices, and Nvidia have been talking about GPU-accelerated physics processing for about three years now, but apart from several not really popular games that take advantage of PhysX, there is no software that actually takes advantage of computing capabilities of modern graphics processors.

Perhaps, the situation will change with the popularization of Microsoft DirectCompute 11/DirectX 11 and OpenCL APIs, however, the prediction that in a year GPU-accelerated physics effects processing will become an essential part of all video games seems to be rather strange. At the end of the day, the vast majority of video games today still use DirectX 9 graphics effects (since modern game consoles are based on DX9-like architectures) despite of the fact that DX10 has been around for nearly three years now…