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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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DirectPhysics
By Matrinix on 6/29/2006 1:21:48 PM , Rating: 3
For all you know, DirectPhysics might be an adaption of the Ageia PhysX SDK into DirectX. The PhysX SDK works with or without a physics accelerator so it would be a good choice for Microsoft. Also, If any of you have used the Microsoft Robotics Studio, you will know that Microsoft chose the Ageia PhysX Physics Engine for their robotics simulation program. Also, if DirectPhysics was to implement the PhysX SDK, then that would unify the Physics Acceleration model, because then everyone could use DirectPhysics with any form of physics acceleration (no hardware/PhysX/NVIDIA&ATI through HavokFX). And since HavokFX will most likely be engineered to work with DirectPhysics that will allow all hardware-accelerated physics engines to be able to use any physics accelerator and still recieve benefits. This will overall cause physics acceleration to be widely accepted much quicker.




RE: DirectPhysics
By GoatMonkey on 6/29/2006 3:36:20 PM , Rating: 2
It would be nice if MS would take it a step further and make a DirectParallelProcessing or more generic than just physics. That way general business or scientific applications could take advantage of the big parallel performance numbers you get from these types of processors. It could be used for recalculating spread sheets or various scientific calculations.

I remember reading something about someone using a new GeForce card to make an awesome sort routine, that was massively faster than a regular CPU, by using all of the parallel processing available in a GPU.



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