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AMD Shows Off GPU-Accelerated Havok Physics


AMD has come good on promises that GPU-accelerated Havok physics would be demonstrated at GDC, showing off Havok Cloth (shown in the video below) running on ATI hardware.

Havok Cloth was ported to OpenCL enabling it to run on AMD hardware as per ATI Stream programs. One advantage of using OpenCL is that Havok switch between GPU and CPU on-the-fly, as shown by AMD. Additionally, given that OpenCL, GPU-accelerated physics should be possible without any 'extra' coding over what's needed for Havok on the CPU - as both processors can run the same code - Havok shouldn't find it too hard getting developer support.

On a more disappointing note, AMD wouldn't talk about any performance boost - or lack thereof - as GPU-based Havok is currently only a proof of concept, rather than a completed implementation.

Interestingly, there's nothing to stop an OpenCL version of Havok's physics engine running on nVidia graphics hardware - albeit in competition to PhysX. We'll have to wait and see what happens on that front.


March 30, 2009, 5:51 pm

The first feature film with a cloth simulation like that was Monster's Inc... in 2001! Makes you wonder what we'll be able to do on a home PC in another 8 years.


March 30, 2009, 7:04 pm

The only difference is that the clothes in Monsters Inc wasn't rendered in realtime.


March 30, 2009, 8:30 pm

@Evren Well.. errrr yes, I'd save that's a safe assumption. Not many cinema chains can afford to build a render farm in every projection booth lol.


March 31, 2009, 4:17 pm

Sorry I wasn't clear I suppose. The technique Pixar and likes are using is called offline rendering. In other words, what we see on the screen is not a video capture of a realtime rendering of the animation. This below is taken directly from Pixar site:

"The next step is rendering, which is translating all of the information in the files that make up the shot -- sets, colors, character movement, etc -- into a single frame of film. Each frame represents 1/24 of a second of screen time and takes about six hours to render. Some frames have taken as long as 90 hours."


March 31, 2009, 6:08 pm

"Each frame represents 1/24 of a second of screen time and takes about six hours to render. Some frames have taken as long as 90 hours."

Sounds like Crysis on most PC's.


April 1, 2009, 12:05 am

I think jopey understand it wasn't real-time - (s)he was saying only eight years ago it was impressive for a Hollywood studio to pre-render fabric now you can do it in realtime on a home PC, so maybe in eight years we could see monsters inc rendered realtime on a home PC.


April 1, 2009, 4:01 am

Yes, thanks joe. I thought I was pretty clear, I guess not enough. The rendering pixar do is actually ray tracing, which is far more process intensive than the rasterization technique used on PC games... so the comparison of how long a frame takes to render isn't a good comparison. The cloth simulation like in the video is a different process and replaces the animation work with a representation of real physics. That cloth physics work was first shown in Monsters Inc... now it can be done on a home computer... so in another 8 years we might see water and physics simulations like this..


... on our home systems. That is of course unless we aren't all using that new "onlive" thing.

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