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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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By kilkennycat on 2/4/2008 8:04:15 PM , Rating: 2
In this thread there seems to be a pervasive thought that nVidia needs to have some special-purpose silicon within their GPUs for physics. And hence the speculation that this is the major reason for buying Ageia. Wrong. The next gen nVidia silicon currently in full development is targeted for BOTH GPGPU purposes (read physics == just one specific class of complex algorithm processing ) AND graphics-GPUs. The next-gen (GP)GPU silicon from nVidia will have double-precision data-paths throughout, essential for high-speed complex-math computations.

nVidia is probably acquiring Ageia specifically for their extensive PHYSICS-ALGORITHM know-how and together with the Ageia folk, will figure out how to most efficiently integrate their algorithms into their (GP)GPU silicon, maybe with some minor architectural accommodation to improve computational efficiency when dealing with this class of algorithm. No dedicated physics processor... the next-gen GPGPU with a dedicated library of very efficient physics-processing functions.

No doubt nVidia has big plans to use Ageia's technical expertise to address PC game-physics, (which actually is best handled by a pairing of a CPU-core - for the bulk-physics with the GPU(s) handling the particle-physics)

However, the biggest impact of the acquisition may be on the industrial and professional applications of their GPGPU creations. This is a rapidly-expanding and very highly-profitable area of business for nVidia, thanks in part to the powerful parallel math-processing on their GPUs enabled by nVidia's CUDA toolset. An extended version of the current CUDA toolset, with a powerful physics-processing library would be attractive to many areas of engineering development where any extra time spent can represent many $$ lost in opportunity-cost.

The PhysX chip in its current discrete implementation on an antique-technology PCI board is finally a truly dead-duck. R.I.P.

By edborden on 2/4/2008 8:42:11 PM , Rating: 3
I disagree. nVidia is already doing what Ageia has had years of trouble accomplishing. They have the history, contacts, money, partners, expertise, and personnel to drive their technology through the game developers themselves. That's what's important here.

Consider what has been the problem for Ageia all this time? The main issue has been getting developer support to implement the technology, right? They've had a killer product (in my opinion), but couldn't get enough developers to actual implement it to create the market for gamers to have any reason to buy it. Man, tell me that doesn't sound exactly like the type of problem that nVidia has chewed up and spit out over the past few years.

They don't have to add one thing to Ageia and they can make a bunch of money because they just have to sell it, which will be cake for them.

I blogged about this :

"Well, there may be a reason why they call them 'Mac' trucks! Windows machines will not be trucks." -- Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer
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