Manufacturers tell DailyTech where AGEIA is headed

I recently had the opportunity to sit down with AGEIA board partners to see where the company was going. 

Arguably, the largest complaint AGEIA board partners have is there is no single entity guiding reviewers and marketing.  BFG, ASUS and others must rely on their own marketing teams to push the review guides and benchmarks.  Furthermore, the largest problem with AGEIA's marketing right now is there is no competition.  There is no singular way to benchmark PhysX against a competitor like NVIDIA-Havok or ATI's physics processing, which should be announced later today.

The golden chalice for physics processing would ultimately be a $100 add-on card, even if the card provided only half of the performance supplied by a full blown AGEIA card.  Currently, at $280, a PhysX card costs more than a serious video card upgrade, such as a GeForce 7900GT.  Almost anyone will tell you, if you're upgrading a system from a 6600GT the benefit is in grabbing a new video card rather than a PhysX processor.  However, at $100, the gain for someone using a mid-range card becomes much more justifiable if PhysX supports a title you own already.

Unfortunately, manufacturers tell us ASIC that AGEIA runs on costs more than $100.  As a result, the company is currently exploring plans to go the other direction with PhysX.  Corporate planning roadmaps reveal that the company is "looking into" the possibilities of multiple-PhysX cards and multiple PhysX chips on a single PCB.  Instead of appealing to the masses, the direction appears to appeal to the super-enthusiast.  Certainly, if AGEIA can substantially ramp production of its ASICs, we may see such a card.  Perhaps UMA-esque memory support to reduce the cost of onboard memory as well.

Ultimately, AGEIA's success will still hinge on middleware support.  It's not to say that AGEIA's middleware isn't good. On the contrary, from the developers we've talked to, AGEIA's middleware is excellent even when compared to the likes of Havok, but there is no easy "fix" to implement without incorporating hooks in the game engine in very early stages.

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