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Nvidia Pushes PhysX For PlayStation 3


Nvidia Pushes PhysX For PlayStation 3

Nvidia is continuing its quest to proliferate PhysX to as many games developers as it can. The latest move - a licensing agreement with Sony Computer entertainment - will see PhysX middleware made available to PlayStation 3 developers at no cost.

Nvidia will provide a binary version of the PhysX SDK to registered PS3 developers, enabling them to use the physics engine API, which as you no doubt know not only produces "games that not only look as realistic as possible, but also provides gaming experiences where the world's literally come to life."

Given the closed nature of consoles - that is, everyone has the same hardware - PhysX implementation should equate to more than just eye candy. Currently the best PhysX effects we've seen on the PC - Mirror's Edge being a notable example - haven't added anything but atmosphere to the games in which they are included. Admittedly not an entirely bad thing.

We'll have to wait and see if any PS3 developers actually take up Nvidia's offer of free PhysX for their PS3 titles. We can but hope we see some awesome physics-based games as a result.




March 18, 2009, 3:17 pm

It's too late in the day for the PS3 and havok is the way to go.

prag fest

March 18, 2009, 4:18 pm

@ hank

Disagree, PS3 has been on a roll of late, to the point my 360 is gathering dust. And how can a software physics engine be the way to go with all that GPU power waiting to be used?


March 18, 2009, 4:35 pm

@prag fest

Hmmm.... OK LOL

prag fest

March 18, 2009, 5:03 pm

@ hank

We shall agree to disagree :)

Matthew Bunton

March 18, 2009, 7:01 pm

@prag fest would that be a downhill roll?

Sorry couldn't resist. I also own both consoles and the only one gathering dust is the PS3. In actual fact my PS3 main role is as a Blu Ray player.

I wish it wasn't the case but it is.


March 18, 2009, 9:45 pm

... The PS3 was Sony's pawn in the HD format wars. As a gaming console it's not the way to go, for media, perhaps.


March 19, 2009, 12:23 am

I use my PS3 *far* more than my Xbox - the only real use that's had recently was to play Halo Wars. And that was only primarily because I was reviewing the game.

Matthew Bunton

March 19, 2009, 1:32 am

@Hugo - I fail to see why.

The 360 has a far wider games library and a better online gaming service. In addition multiplatform games tend to run and look better on the 360.

Apart from Blu Ray I cannot see any other advantage.

As I stated earlier I have a PS3 and have done since the US launch unfortunately it has not impressed me.


March 19, 2009, 2:41 am

"Apart from Blu Ray I cannot see any other advantage."

What good is Blu- Ray when the movies are so damn expensive!?

Matthew Bunton

March 19, 2009, 4:01 am

@Ohmz - It depends upon where you shop but yeah UK prices are still too high.


March 19, 2009, 4:52 am

They're all opinions Matthew ;) YMMV.

I personally can't see much merit in any of your arguments (PSN is just fine, I don't really know why people insist on criticising it; 'far wider games library' is, well, just wrong; console exclusives are about equal; multiplatform games differ in appearance between consoles so 'better' is purely subjective; hardware failure for the PS3 is 10% that of the 360; cost is about equal if you compare the hardware capabilities of each).

Anyway, I don't want to get into a pissing contest about which is better, but my point is that depending on your exposure/usage, then of course your experiences and opinions on it will differ.

Matthew Bunton

March 19, 2009, 8:32 am

@smc8788 - Well it seems you already have.

I could argue my point but see little benefit in doing so, each to their own I guess.


March 19, 2009, 3:33 pm

@ Matthew - That was exactly my point ;) And perhaps I did take my point a little far..

Someone else could easily see each of those points differently and argue them to the hilt (I've heard them all before anyway!), but that doesn't make them any more valid to the other person.

To be honest I think they're both excellent consoles with their own merits, so if one person prefers one over the other then it's pretty hard to argue that point.


March 19, 2009, 9:39 pm

Admittedly the games I play are on the 360, PS3 and the PC, but I feel that by owning a PS3 and a good PC I'm not missing out.


March 20, 2009, 3:17 pm

Back on topic - @prag fest, you refer to Havok as a "software physics engine" (implying that PhysX is a "hardware" physics engine), which is wildly inaccurate. Havok and PhysX are just physics APIs. Both will run on a CPU in software and both can be significantly accelerated by using a massively parallel processor with a more limited instruction set (i.e. a GPU).

The distinction between a "hardware" engine and a "software" engine is very, very hazy these days - GPUs no longer just accelerate fixed functions - they offer a wide bank of highly programmable processors which happen to be optimised for certain mathematical functions. Those functions are (by design) very useful for a graphics engine, but you can use them for many other purposes (e.g. physics, folding@home, probably AI in the future). Any highly parallel task is a potential candidate for porting to run on a GPU using CUDA/OpenCL/CTM or whatever.

In all honesty, Havok and PhysX effectively expose more or less identical functionality in different ways. Either would likely be a competent industry standard, but for now they are competing for dominance to become that standard. It is a landgrab, and there isn't time for Havok or PhysX to grow organically - both APIs need support from big industry players, hence the Nvidia/PhysX partnership and Intel's acquisition of Havok. Getting the support of a console manufacturer would be a massive coup, hence why Nvidia is pushing for PhysX on PS3.

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