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The pair will investigate the use of Radeon GPUs for physics processing

Physics processing has promised to bring more realism into the world of PC games since AGEIA first announced its PhysX card. To date, physics processing in most video games hasn’t become the big draw that many hoped it would.

AMD and Havok announced this week that they plan to optimize physics processing for AMD hardware. Havok already has a well defined user base with over 100 developers using its Havok Physics engine and it says that 300 leading game titles currently use its Havok engine.

AMD says that Havok’s physics engine will scale well across the entire AMD line. This includes its processors and its ATI Radeon video cards. AMD says that it and Havok will investigate the use of the Radeon GPU to manage aspects of in-game physics.

AMD isn’t alone in looking to the GPU to process physics. Rival NVIDIA purchased physics hardware and software maker AGEIA. NVIDIA announced that it was purchasing AGEIA in February 2008. The purchase virtually ensures that physics processing makes it to NVIDIA graphics cards in force.

Intel purchased Havok in September 2007 and at the time Intel said that Havok would become a key element in its visual computing and graphics efforts. Despite the proclamation at the time the purchase was announced by Intel, physics has not been seen as a key component in Intel’s product strategy yet.

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By Haven Bartton on 6/13/2008 4:26:33 PM , Rating: 3
I don't get it. Intel buys Havok, but gives them the autonomy to optimize for AMD processors?

RE: Huh?
By Sungpooz on 6/13/2008 4:32:17 PM , Rating: 5
Hope you know Intel and NVidia have been throwing mush at each other lately.

RE: Huh?
By Haven Bartton on 6/13/2008 4:36:09 PM , Rating: 2
I'm not familiar with the term "throwing mush".

Regardless, as long as Intel actually owns Havok, it doesn't seem to be a wise business decision to allow AMD hardware to share optimizations with Intel's.

RE: Huh?
By jbzx86 on 6/13/2008 4:40:36 PM , Rating: 2
It does if Intel just wants NV to break and give them SLI licensing for their chipsets. Its just a bonus if they can strong-arm NV out of the market. After all, PhysX is supported by NV right now and they are going to make it open licenesed.

RE: Huh?
By Haven Bartton on 6/13/2008 4:43:29 PM , Rating: 2
Ah, so basically Intel's hatred for nVidia is fueling their desire to help AMD/ATI push them out of the market?

Guess that makes sense.

RE: Huh?
By SandmanWN on 6/13/2008 5:16:20 PM , Rating: 5
Or it could simply be a way of getting as much info as possible from a discrete graphics manufacturer (AMD) so that they can move their(Intel) own discrete graphics program along.

Careful what info you share AMD.

RE: Huh?
By herrdoktor330 on 6/13/2008 5:35:57 PM , Rating: 2
I was just getting ready to say that.

But in the short term (before Larrabee), ATI graphics cards are the most appealing option for someone that wants to use a superior chipset from Intel and still use multiple GPUs. Unless you want to fork over thousands of dollars for a Skulltrail setup, Crossfire is Intel Friendly.

RE: Huh?
By AlexWade on 6/13/2008 8:20:18 PM , Rating: 1
I was thinking that Intel could be letting this happen so that when the AMD/Intel lawsuit comes to trial, Intel can point to this as proof that they didn't use unfair and illegal business tactics. "If we are so anti-AMD, why did we let our subsidiary optimize their product for our rival?"

Maybe not. But it is something strange about it.

RE: Huh?
By theapparition on 6/16/2008 7:39:03 AM , Rating: 2
Are you trying to imply that Intel doesn't have the capability to make a top tier graphics chipset? They surely do, but with already being the #1 integrated chipset manufacturer, where's the incentive. Best performance doesn't equate to most revenue.

RE: Huh?
By Vanilla Thunder on 6/16/2008 8:03:09 AM , Rating: 2
Your enemy's enemy is your friend.


RE: Huh?
By Locutus465 on 6/14/2008 2:07:56 PM , Rating: 4
Are you aware that Intel still has licensing deals with AMD for Cross Fire? This is actually a very good move on both their parts, Intel supports AMD Cross Fire on their chipsets, AMD wanted a physix component to compete with nVidia but couldn't afford it, intel doesn't have anything capable of doing what the Radeon can do.... Solution? Team up, both chipmakers win.

RE: Huh?
By decapitator666 on 6/14/2008 3:37:11 PM , Rating: 2
Intel does not have any accelerated physics at the moment.. waiting for larrabee to come might give the initiative away to physX. Besides that blocking AMD might give them incentive to join the green team resulting in two hardware acceleration opponent even further pulling the momentum towards the green team. Giving AMD the opportunity to use Havok while intel tries to get larrabee working, is a good strategy.

From AMDs side.. going along with Havok does not preclude that they might support PhysX later.. being the only product to support both.. So also for AMD its a win win..

So intek wins AMD wins, while nvidia has to play nice towards AMD to have them support physX

RE: Huh?
By Lonyo on 6/13/2008 4:32:36 PM , Rating: 2
Sounds good for consumers!

RE: Huh?
By HOOfan 1 on 6/13/2008 5:17:07 PM , Rating: 1
I would be more up for an open source physics. It will suck if you can only take advantage of games using Havok engine if you have an ATI card or if you can only take advantage of PhysX engine if you have a nVidia card.

Seems to me that Havok is more widespread at the moment so that may be better for those with ATI cards, but knowing the licensing musble nvidia has in the gaming industry, that may be changing soon.

Hopefully with the burgeoning multi-core CPU market, there will be decent emulation or Havok and PhysX acceleration on the CPU front and gamers won't lose the functionality of games due to the videocard they chose to buy.

RE: Huh?
By FITCamaro on 6/14/2008 7:47:46 AM , Rating: 2
Yeah there definitely needs to become a standard physics API. Makes all the calls the same, just your implementation varies. Unfortunately it will take someone like Microsoft to do this.

But yeah, you shouldn't have to choose one GPU over another based off who's physics they support.

RE: Huh?
By overzealot on 6/14/2008 1:22:55 PM , Rating: 2
Both are software physics engines, which currently do their calculations on the CPU. I could say PhysX has hardware, but it's not required, and practically obsolete.
Both can potentially use GPU hardware to do calculations.

I can't see why you feel your hand is being forced.

RE: Huh?
By decapitator666 on 6/14/2008 3:39:53 PM , Rating: 2
As long as physics is not part of directX (dx11?) its proprietary only.. just like in the 96-99 era of the last century with 3D acceleration..

RE: Huh?
By PrinceGaz on 6/14/2008 10:30:40 PM , Rating: 2
DirectPhysics 11 (or 10) would be a helluva lot better than the road we are currently going down, which is the same road we travelled twelve or so years ago.

Granted, there are only two competing solutions here- Intel/AMD with Havok, and nVidia with AEGIA, but they are two competing solutions which currently require different incompatible hardware otherwise they must be emulated on the CPU. Wind the clock back to 1996 with various graphics-card manufacturers using their own 3D API and games needing to support each specific card or fall back to using software-rendering. It's the same old story, except this time around, games are unlikely to offer the choice of deciding which physics-engine to use.

For the good of PC gaming, this war has to be won very quickly, by either one physics API being adopted by everyone, or both being supported by them all after a bit of contract negotiating (I feel the latter is more likely). Admitedlly, hardware physics is totally unnecessary for gaming and PC gaming can do fine with software physics-engines especially with ever more prelavent dual- and quad-core CPUs, but a physics-engine war will stifle development of all in-game ohysics regardless of the engine it uses.

RE: Huh?
By ochentay4 on 6/13/2008 4:56:57 PM , Rating: 2
i ask the same thing! this is definitely strange

RE: Huh?
By Neamhtearanntacht on 6/13/2008 5:10:35 PM , Rating: 2
Keep your friends close, and enemies even closer.

Maybe they are setting a trap for when Larrabee runs with Havok.

RE: Huh?
By batman4u on 6/13/2008 5:24:53 PM , Rating: 2
Intel And AMD dont have the same competition like 2 years ago. so intel and its chipset needs a good bond with a good Video Card Manufacturer to counter NVidia and its SLI, and what better than using Havoc to improve relationship and besides intel and havoc never said that by improving performance with AMD proccesors wont at the same time improve with Intel at the same time

RE: Huh?
By Neamhtearanntacht on 6/13/2008 5:37:47 PM , Rating: 2
I understand your relationship (like EMC and DELL) part, after all Havok was bought to make money, a business decision. But, Do Intel need to worry about SLI? Looking forward as I was with reference to Larrabee and CPU + GPU integration. I don't think Intel will have to counter NVidia's SLI. By simply doubling number of cores on Larrabee (tick, tock). With both running Havok, Intel would have the upper hand owning the physics engine. I think it is a trap for AMD, what can they do?

RE: Huh?
By wordsworm on 6/13/2008 6:01:23 PM , Rating: 2
I don't get it. Intel buys Havok, but gives them the autonomy to optimize for AMD processors?

hmm... let's try. AMD + Intel = huge market share for the Havoc. If it works, and it dominates the market, then I'd think that would be the reason Intel wants AMD to license Havoc.

RE: Huh?
By MonkeyPaw on 6/13/2008 7:14:57 PM , Rating: 2
There could be many reasons that this is happening. One might be because AMD/ATI have open sourced the driver code and show much good will towards using their GPUs for other things. The HD line of cards have lots of power for certain parallel code, like FAH for example. Also consider that just because company A owns company B doesn't mean the 2 agree and collaborate on everything. I know of a few situations where the above scenario holds true. Intel may own Havok because they see potential in the concept and wish to keep it going, merely to capitalize on it later. If no software makers adopt this physics engine, then Intel will never be able to take advantage of it down the road. Intel certainly wants parallelism to grow, and using ATI's balanced HD architecture should help that cause because it's free and available now. nVidia chooses to keep thier technology closer to the hip, so they get left behind, at least for the moment.

RE: Huh?
By fxyefx on 6/14/2008 12:34:22 PM , Rating: 2
Sounds to me like Intel is throwing a few jellybeans AMD's way to keep them nourished just enough to not crash and burn. Which would be bad for everyone (more antitrust stuff going on internationally against Intel, etc.)

And this way, Intel can kind of use AMD as a pilot company to develop/popularize the GPU acceleration for the Havok physics engine, then capitalize on it later once the market hits a critical mass. They'd avoid taking the risk of being the first one on the ship or at least the cost of being the first ones to garner attention for it.

Intel's capacity to flood the market with cheaper and somewhat less complex GPUs in the future far surpasses any volume/marketshare lead AMD would be able to get with the small head start.

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