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Intel reaches definitive agreement to purchase physics software developer Havok

Intel has announced it has signed a definitive agreement to purchase software developer Havok, Inc. Havok provides various software development tools to digital animation and game developers and is one of the largest providers for software physics.

“Havok is a proven leader in physics technology for gaming and digital content, and will become a key element of Intel’s visual computing and graphics efforts,” said Renee J. James, Intel vice president and general manager of Software and Solutions Group.

“This is a great fit for Havok products, customers and employees,” remarked Havok CEO David O’Meara. “Intel’s scale of technology investment and customer reach enable Havok with opportunities to grow more quickly into new market segments with new products than we could have done organically. We believe the winning combination is Havok’s technology and customer know-how with Intel’s scale. I am excited to be part of this next phase of Havok’s growth.”

A recent trend is to offload physics processing to either a GPU or dedicated physics processor. So far, though, Ageia, ATI, and NVIDIA have not made much headway in the physics market.

Both NVIDIA and ATI have previewed CrossFire and SLI Physics, however, neither company has delivered any actual physics hardware yet. It’s pretty interesting to note that both ATI and NVIDIA’s physics solutions rely on Havok FX. However, it is unlikely that Intel’s acquisition of Havok will affect Havok’s partnership with either AMD or NVIDIA.    

“Havok will operate its business as usual, which will allow them to continue developing products that are offered across all platforms in the industry,” said Renee J. James regarding the future of Havok.

Essentially, Havok will operate as a subsidiary of Intel and will continue to operate as an independent business. This reinforces the belief that current partnerships will not be affected.

Havok has partnerships with many of the largest names in the gaming community such as Microsoft, Sony, Nintendo, NVIDIA, and AMD. Havok has provided software physics for games like Halo 3, The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, Half Life 2 and Lost Planet: Extreme Condition.

In addition to providing software that adds physics realism to games, Havok also provides physics for professional software such as Autodesk’s 3DS Studio Max 9

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By Operandi on 9/16/2007 7:59:40 PM , Rating: 4
Unless Havok and/or Intel wants to be taken to court they will continue to support AMD GPUs and CPUs.

By jak3676 on 9/16/2007 10:54:46 PM , Rating: 2
Sure it will continue to work, but for some unknown reason the compiler won't be as optimal as it used to be for AMD/ATI.

By InternetGeek on 9/16/2007 11:33:54 PM , Rating: 2
I think this has been discussed before. It's not like Intel makes AMD processors run slower on their compilers. Intel's compiler simply doesn't optimize its code for AMD processors, meaning, it doesn't take advantage of AMD's particular implementation to perform certain operations or sucessions of them. Which is something it does for Intel processors.

I don't think Intel wouldn't mind including AMD-oriented optimizations if AMD provided them. But AMD might not be too keen of doing that in fear of spilling any strategic bit of information to Intel.

In the other hand, AMD has access to Intel's bits that can be obtained from any particular Intel-oriented optimization given that anyone can download Intel's compiler from their website for free.

By stonemetal on 9/16/2007 11:50:41 PM , Rating: 2
Yes actually they do. Say you compile some code with the intel compiler it generates several code paths for new processors that support some version of sse and another for older processors that don't. Code generated by intel will check to see if you are running an intel chip not just a chip that will support sse before deciding to use the sse optomized code path If your non intel chip properly reports the supports sse bit intel's compiler will not allow it to run sse code.

By Justin Case on 9/17/2007 1:24:36 AM , Rating: 2
What kind of "strategic information" would AMD be giving Intel that Intel doesn't already have? You think Intel can't reverse-engineer AMD's CPUs (or vice-versa)? They already share a lot of information (about current CPUs, not future ones, of course), and a lot of the stuff is covered by patents so they wouldn't be allowed to copy it anyway.

I'm sure Intel's compiler coding team will gladly include AMD optimizations... about one day before they're fired. ;)

Intel is a business. If they can optimize for their chips while "unoptimizing" for the competition, you can be sure that's what they'll do (in fact, they already do it; changing the CPU manufacturer id string on an AMD CPU to report "genuineintel" makes some code run faster - not a huge difference, though; the last thing Intel wants is another anti-trust lawsuit).

AMD has a simple way to answer: deliver a compiler of their own, or work with 3rd party developers to optimize for their platform (which they already do - including open-source compilers, so there goes your theory about Intel "not having access to the information").

Compiler and CPU are two sides of the same coin (something Intel learned the hard way with the Itanium).

By melgross on 9/17/2007 12:21:53 AM , Rating: 2
That depends on what the contracts say. Many say that either party can refuse to re-enter negotiations after the contract period is over.

If that happens, Intel might not be obliged to continue to supply this to them. AMD could sue, but it doesn't mean they would win.

On the other hand, now that Intel owns the company, AMD might feel too open to Intel if they continue using the code. They may want to develop their own.

By Samus on 9/17/2007 5:21:26 PM , Rating: 2
That's fine, ATI has their solution to Physics already cooked up. It's nVidia that has to get on the boat now.

"Intel is investing heavily (think gazillions of dollars and bazillions of engineering man hours) in resources to create an Intel host controllers spec in order to speed time to market of the USB 3.0 technology." -- Intel blogger Nick Knupffer
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