Havok and NVIDIA team up to deliver hardware physics processing on GPUs through the use of SLI

At the Games Developer Conference (GDC) NVIDIA announced a strong partnership with Havok, to leap into the forefront of physics processing. However, despite the trend to offload physics processing to a dedicated processor (such as AGEIA's PPU), Havok and NVIDIA announced that using SLI, a second GPU can be used to perform physics computations. The feature is customizable and a user can set their SLI configuration in either graphics+physics or graphics+graphics (traditional SLI) modes.

Utilizing Havok FX and NVIDIA graphics technology, game developers can now implement sophisticated physical phenomenon such as debris, smoke, and fluids that add immense detail and believability to game environments. Game designers can include advanced physics effects without burdening the CPU and slowing game-play, since the effects are simulated and rendered on the GPU.

We previously talked about Havok and its HavokFX engine, which is a low level engine used in a host of games to accelerate physics and provide realistic looking animations. NVIDIA states that offloading physics to the GPU will bring greater value for both developers and gamers, since no extra hardware and extra development is required.

With extra processing power on tap through the use of an SLI configuration, users will have the ability to choose. Not all games will be physics heavy, but may be graphics effects heavy. In a case like this, the user would benefit greatly by having the ability to turn his second GPU into regular GPU mode. The cost is already spent on having an SLI configuration. The user would get the added bonus of being able to switch to physics SLI mode if the application demands so. Clearly the direction of physics that NVIDIA is taking is keeping users from having to go with a dedicated physics processor.

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