NVIDIA GPU PhysX Pack Preview - HotHardware

NVIDIA GPU PhysX Pack Preview

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By now, you are probably wondering what it takes to process PhysX on a GPU. Well, if you have a GeForce 8, 9 or GTX200 Series video card, then your GPU can become a physics processor once you install the 177.79 GeForce driver and the PhysX driver (v8.07.18), both of which will be made public on nvidia.com by August 12, 2008.

The next logical thing to wonder about is what demos, applications and games can actually take advantage of this technology. As we mentioned on the previous page, NVIDIA claims there are over 140 shipping titles across all major platforms, including the PC and the latest consoles. For a list of PhysX-enabled games, go to: www.nzone.com/object/nzone_physxgames_home.html. Evidently, this list is not up-to-date (or just not complete or we're just missing something) as there are not 140 titles listed. Regardless, you can get a good idea of the variety of PhysX games available there.

A couple of the more notable games on that list are Unreal Tournament 3 and Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter 2, both of which are featured in this first PhysX Pack and neither of which require an introduction.

Unreal Tournament 3: As many of you are probably already aware, the physics in UT3 are already accelerated by the PhysX API. The CPU can handle the workload because it isn't very intense. So, to really test GPU PhysX in UT3, you have to install the NVIDIA Unreal Tournament PhysX Mod Pack, which introduces three new maps (Heatray PhysX, Lighthouse PhysX, and Tornado PhysX) that were designed to make heavy use of GPU PhysX. The Heatray PhysX (see the first screenshot to the right) map contains the following physics-related elements:
 
• Hail
• Destructible scaffolding with wooden debris
• Destructible wall pieces with rock debris
• Destructible cover/barriers with wood & rock debris
• Destructible electronic displays/billboards with e-paper debris
• Gas canisters that fly around when shot, then blow up
• Movable cover: boxes, containers, dumpsters
• Gravity-wave cannon that pulls debris/hail from the environment and blasts it into its target
• Exploding barrels (non-physics) that destroy nearby destructible objects

 

Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter 2: GRAW2 was designed to utilize PhysX throughout the entire game whenever PhysX is set to High or Extreme. Additionally, the game ships with a map called "Ageia Island." This level takes PhysX usage to another level by simulating almost everything. Plus, most stuff is destructible, and very little is pre-animated/scripted. Using a GPU to crank out PhysX effects in the Ageia Island map would allow you to see the following effects:
 
• Foliage that is affected by wind and players movement
• Palm trees that sway in the wind and break from gunfire and explosions
• Destructible objects (houses, wooden/metal fences, watch towers, walls of sandbags)
• Cloth simulation for clotheslines, tents, and camouflage nets
• Kinetic damage from objects like falling roofs
• All impact and explosion effects are simulated using fluid debris

 

We were surprised to learn that PhysX is being utilized not only in games like UT3 and GRAW2 but also in a new social networking service/game called Nurien. Like other social networking services and games, Nurien is all about expressing yourself and establishing your own unique online identity. Unlike other social networking services and games, Nurien actually features mini games that make use of NVIDIA PhysX. One such game, called Runway, is based on the Unreal Engine 3. Nurien and Runway are still under development, but the demo (v0.7) we watched was very interesting and included cloth simulations (i.e. skirt and curtain movements), hair, and smoke particles.

As with other NVIDIA launches, there are tech demos to showcase the technology. If you are still with us and are really interested in NVIDIA PhysX, we strongly suggest you check out the Fluids Tech Demo. This demo contains two different scenes, both of which are very cool and definitely worth your time. According to NVIDIA: "The primary purpose of the NVIDIA PhysX Fluid Demo is to illustrate Smooth Particle Hydrodynamics (SPH)-based particle simulation technology accelerated by the NVIDIA GPU."

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Where is Farcry2 or Crysis Warhead support or any of the relavent triple A Titles. Unreal tournament 3 being really the only title on that list i played it just doesn't have staying power yet. I hope to see that change in the next 2 years as game designers will start actively persueing this new tech now that there is a little better saturation with nvidia owning the tech and it being in current gen hardware.

Fold on

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It seems like this type of announcement will only help increase the support for bigger titles.

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I agree. With nvidia owning them there should be much more money thrown in to the game. Also were do I get this physx pack? I have the drivers already.

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My understanding is that it will be available next week sometime.

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