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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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By Nelsieus on 6/29/2006 11:03:23 AM , Rating: 2
After ATi created massive uproar about their own Physics processing, I'm betting that it had an impact on not only Aegia(and their progress, as competition tends to do), but also sent a signal to game developers that Physics is something to get serious about. But now that it will be nearly another year before we can expect physics processing from ATI, who do you think the market/industry is going to begin to accept?

I mean, look at Crossfire. It was slow and steady, and now practically representing a very minute number of the people who actually own a multi_GPU solution. If ATi's physics approach takes the same route, I'm betting Aegia will prosper nicely at ATi's expense (for a.)not being able to deliver on time and b.)creating uproar about physics processing - kind of like their own marketing for Aegia, which I'm sure Aegia is now appreciating.)




By Boxster17 on 6/29/2006 7:04:20 PM , Rating: 2
The main reason I think that you're wrong is quite simple...how many games out there actually make use of physics right now? Sure UT2007 and Crysis and those next gen games will probably support it but those aren't coming for a little while yet, so I think they'll be just fine with waiting that long as nobody is going to buy these things to support physics if there's no games, or not many, that will take advantage of it.


By gersson on 7/1/2006 10:19:07 AM , Rating: 2
Crysis developer said they won't use advanced physics. Only the CPU


"And boy have we patented it!" -- Steve Jobs, Macworld 2007

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