Print 60 comment(s) - last by jtesoro.. on Feb 7 at 9:02 PM

BFG AGEIA PhysX Accelerator
The physics battle heats up

FPS Labs is reporting that NVIDIA will soon announce its intention to acquire AGEIA. FPS Labs' Stu Grubbs has no financial terms for the deal, but notes that his confidential source expects the deal to become official sometime this week.

AMD batted around the idea of purchasing AGEIA in November 2007, but considering that the company is still recovering from its ATI acquisition, that idea was put to rest rather quickly. It should be interesting to see how AMD will respond to the news if the announcement comes this week -- especially considering that AMD has already declared GPU-based physics dead.

A successful acquisition of AGEIA would give NVIDIA the firepower to go up against Intel which purchased physics software developer Havok in September.

The last time that DailyTech covered AGEIA, its PhysX 100M mobile physics processor was sharing chassis space with dual GeForce 8700M GT graphics cards in Dell's $2,700 XPS M1730 World of Warcraft Edition notebook.

If NVIDIA has its way, NVIDIA GPUs and chipsets may have an even closer synergy with AGEIA hardware in the future.

Updated 2/4/2008
Just moments after this story went live, NVIDIA sent us the official PR announcing its acquisition of AGEIA (further details will come forth on Wednesday):
NVIDIA, the world leader in visual computing technologies and the inventor of the GPU, today announced that it has signed a definitive agreement to acquire AGEIA Technologies, Inc., the industry leader in gaming physics technology. AGEIA's PhysX software is widely adopted with more than 140 PhysX-based games shipping or in development on Sony Playstation3, Microsoft XBOX 360, Nintendo Wii and Gaming PCs. AGEIA physics software is pervasive with over 10,000 registered and active users of the PhysX SDK.

“The AGEIA team is world class, and is passionate about the same thing we are—creating the most amazing and captivating game experiences,” stated Jen-Hsun Huang, president and CEO of NVIDIA. “By combining the teams that created the world’s most pervasive GPU and physics engine brands, we can now bring GeForce®-accelerated PhysX to hundreds of millions of gamers around the world.”

“NVIDIA is the perfect fit for us. They have the world’s best parallel computing technology and are the thought leaders in GPUs and gaming. We are united by a common culture based on a passion for innovating and driving the consumer experience,” said Manju Hegde, co-founder and CEO of AGEIA.

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RE: Hmm...
By SirLucius on 2/4/2008 5:58:55 PM , Rating: 3
Agreed. If they just releases separate physics cards under the Nvidia name they'll run into the same exact problem Ageia is facing now. Nobody wants to buy dedicated physics processors if no games support advanced physics. But no developers will jump on the physics bandwagon if nobody has the hardware to support it.

Hopefully Nvidia will figure out a way to integrate physics into their new GPUs without significantly driving up the costs. This way more people will have physics capable hardware without having to spend more money and take up another PCI slot in their cases. Once people have the hardware, I think we'll see more developers implement physics into games.

RE: Hmm...
By TomZ on 2/4/08, Rating: 0
RE: Hmm...
By DOSGuy on 2/5/2008 1:46:22 AM , Rating: 4
A dedicated processor will destroy a general purpose processor in any test. CPUs can go quad core, and graphics cards can go SLI/CrossFire, but they will always lose out to a dedicated processor. No matter how many cores CPUs end up having, someone will devote an entire die to that task, whether it be hardware decryption for set-top boxes, or floating-point math co-processors from ClearSpeed. Dedicated processors also achieve that performance at a lower cost, and drawing less energy than it would take to reach the same performance with a bunch of general purpose processors.

Instead of adding more cores, CPU/GPU companies traditionally make their processors more competitive with dedicated processors by adding dedicated hardware to their general purpose processors. If physics are important to Intel or AMD, they could add a "physics processing unit" or special instructions designed to speed up that particular task. VIA added dedicated cryptography encryption/decryption hardware into their CPUs, and ATI and Nvidia both added hardware encryption for media content creation to their GPUs. Nvidia can now incorporate PhysX logic into their GPUs if they choose to. I won't predict what their plan is, but I can assure you that any dedicated chip that they produce, or dedicated physics processing unit that they add to their GPUs or chipsets, will blow away any general purpose processor in the same task, no matter how many cores it has.

RE: Hmm...
By kelmon on 2/5/2008 3:16:22 AM , Rating: 2
Relatively unimportant. Sure, a dedicated processor will be faster than a general purpose one but I already have 2 processors in my laptop and desktops have as many as 8 now, so I'd rather make better use of existing resources than introduce something that will almost never be used.

RE: Hmm...
By mindless1 on 2/6/2008 11:23:49 AM , Rating: 2
If that were feasible they'd do it, but have found there is not enough realtime processing power from the CPU because it was not designed for this. Since it is a feature only gamers would make much use of, it makes more sense for it to be a cost borne by video card buyers not everyone as it would be if integral to the CPU design. I suppose we could instead argue about whether there should be more forks in processor offerings as there are in video card offerings but that seems too much of a niche market for a CPU manufacturer while exactly what a video card manufacturer thrives on.

RE: Hmm...
By Visual on 2/5/2008 5:08:55 AM , Rating: 2
But the problem is, how dedicated is this thing really?
Look at graphic processors for example, they are now highly programmable and are more or less becoming general purpose.
So wouldn't it be natural that the physics processor's evolution goes the same way - you'd be trying to make it more and more universal, general, and eventually it won't be too different than a cpu or gpu.

RE: Hmm...
By qwertyz on 2/5/08, Rating: -1
RE: Hmm...
By murphyslabrat on 2/5/2008 10:53:32 AM , Rating: 5
That, my friend, was a very bold statement.

RE: Hmm...
By tastyratz on 2/6/2008 3:22:54 PM , Rating: 2
Not entirely, it was more blunt and simplified than plain bold.
Sounds like what he is saying relates to a very realistic line for Nvidia to follow. Any dedicated circuitry increases costs. There is a very strong chance that Nvidia will simply release higher end gpu's with physics processing, or stick the Aegia's chip onboard making the videocard/Physic processing unit a single offering. This will likely be shed from lower tier products to save on costs.

RE: Hmm...
By BansheeX on 2/5/2008 3:50:44 AM , Rating: 2
Nobody wants to buy dedicated physics processors if no games support advanced physics. But no developers will jump on the physics bandwagon if nobody has the hardware to support it.

Welcome to the PC model of gaming.

RE: Hmm...
By retrospooty on 2/5/2008 8:35:13 AM , Rating: 2
To an extent maybe... With a small 3rd party startup like ageia using a proprietary hardware/software package that is true. But in the past Open GL, and currently DirectX prove that theory wrong.

By a large margin, the best graphics have always been PC, and still are today.

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