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Ageia Technologies, the creator of the world’s first physics processing unit, and 3DMark, a leading developer of benchmarks, announced that Ageia had joined 3DMark benchmark development program (BDP) and will from now on define the features and capabilities that the future versions of 3DMark will test.

“Ageia brings a wealth of knowledge and experience in hardware acceleration of real-time physics to the BDP, and their advances in the marketplace offer great promise to the PC gaming environment" said Oliver Baltuch, Futuremark’s vice president of sales and marketing, North America.

Ageia’s join of the 3DMark benchmark development program may indicate that Ageia foresees broader usage of its PhysX processor by future games, which may be a correct assumption as next-generation Unreal Tournament and some other influential titles will use Ageia’s physics technology and will take advantage of the dedicated physics processor.

But while it is indisputable advantage that future games will obtain realistic physics effects, there seem to be a fierce battle for physics effects ahead. Apart from Ageia, there is Microsoft Corp., who develops physics application programming interface for graphics processors and there is Havok, which develops physics engines that work on graphics chips as well as single- or multi-core processors. It is unclear how this war of standards will influence 3DMark, as Microsoft also participates in BDP.

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.

Futuremark BDP members are able to influence 3DMark roadmap and implementation, access specification documents and pre-release versions, receive briefings from Futuremark and some other benefits. Currently two computer makers – Dell and Velocity Micro, one software maker – Microsoft Corp., seven chip designers – AMD, ATI, Intel, Nvidia, S3 graphics, SiS and XGI, as well as one graphics cards maker – Sapphire Technologies – participate in the 3DMark development program.

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