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ATI's physics goes on the back burner

During ATI's 2006 third quarter financial results conference call this morning, ATI CEO Dave Orton revealed to analysts that despite demonstrating physics processing earlier this year, volume availability will not be for another "9 to 12 months." Orton indicated that the technology was still undergoing testing and preparation. Interestingly,  ATI indicated earlier that its physics technology was already on the market and needed only driver updates.

DailyTech has attempted to test some physics-enabled demos on a pair of Radeon X1900 XTX boards but drivers were not ready. Interestingly, ATI demonstrated physics on its RD600 chipset at Computex earlier this year but a year from now, ATI's RD600 will more than likely be phased out. In fact, ATI said during the call that it was already developing and testing RD700, its next generation core logic.

After ATI's announcement about its own physics solution during Computex, AGEIA responded by indicating that ATI's method was crude and did not really address the core needs of physics processing. AGEIA also indicated that its own widely accepted technology was already available on store shelves. AGEIA's availability argument was somewhat called upon by ATI customers, citing that ATI too had boards already in the market. Orton's announcement today unfortunately reaffirms AGEIA's point. Many ATI customers will have to wait a while longer.

Details on ATI's R600 core -- the replacement for its X1900 family -- is expected to be available late this year or in early 2007. It is unclear whether or not ATI's physics API will continue to support the X1900 family a year out from now.

Update 06/30/2006
:  We earlier reported that "retail availability" was not to be available for 9-12 months.  Instead, Orton's exact meaning was for "volume availability," and as such DailyTech has changed the article text. Will Willis, Senior PR manager for ATI sent us the following comment about ATI's physics solution:
Dave’s reply was that we won’t see physics in volume (i.e. hundreds of thousands of cards being used for physics) and therefore a material revenue stream from physics for 9-12 months (i.e. another 3-4 quarters) as that’s when there will be some substantial volume of ATI graphics cards being used for physics purposes.

ATI GPU’s that support physics acceleration are already in retail (i.e. the X1900 and X1600 series of cards for example).  All that’s required is a driver update that enables physics processing, and more importantly, game content which we expect around the holidays.  We’re very likely to see revenue from physics before 9-12 months, but as Dave said it won’t be in volume, it will likely be early adopters.
Willis claims content for ATI physics will be available this holiday season already.  However, there is no word yet on the driver other than it is "several weeks out."

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RE: Slow And Steady Wins The Race
By segagenesis on 6/29/2006 10:46:02 AM , Rating: 3
PhysX is suffering the same fate that killed off the Kyro series of chips (remember when everyone salivated over these "ATI/nVidia killers"?) which is lack of good support. With the first game showcasing PhysX being at best ho-hum performance benefits you wont be getting people to line up in stores over this. In a similar vein I remember how the Kyro II would be twice as fast as a Geforce 2 MX (its competition) in Quake 3 but in just about every other game there were massive bugs or it ran incredibly slowly.

Perhaps its not thier fault because they are not developing the games but at the same time its not helping thier situation the games available to use it dont really use it well.

RE: Slow And Steady Wins The Race
By Slaimus on 6/30/2006 10:37:16 AM , Rating: 2
A comparison with S3 Savage would be just as good. S3 had more technologically advanced chips, but they were hampered with poor drivers and slow memory.

RE: Slow And Steady Wins The Race
By Wolfpup on 7/1/2006 11:07:07 AM , Rating: 2
You've GOT to be kidding!?! S3 and Kyro having more advanced chips? Not even close! S3 was the first with texture compression (I think), but other than that they made no contributions at all to graphics).

Those guys were trying to fight Nvidia and ATi's LOW end cards. And what's the point in that? Even someone going for a low end card is better off buying from a brand with proven drivers.

But...yeah...chicken and egg problem for that physics card. We don't even have proof that it's better than a CPU or GPU doing nothing that physics, but even if it is, it won't be used to change GAMEPLAY until almost everyone has one, and that won't happen until it's used to enhance gameplay. Don't know how they thought they could get around that issue.

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