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Old February 23, 2007, 08:29 AM
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Default TechGage offers an outlook for Ageia's PPU

Is it the year of the PPU?

"2006 was quite the year for those of you following the computer enthusiast world. Throughout last year, we saw the materialization of Conroe from Intel as well as their uber powerful Kentsfield CPU which basically mated a pair of Conroes on one chip. AMD had their answer in the form of 4x4 which places a pair of CPUs on one motherboard and while this isn't exactly original, and certainly not a first, it has its place in the hearts of the enthusiast. Also in 2006, we saw the first DX10 card in NVIDIA's 8800GTX/GTS.
Last March, we were fortunate enough to cover one of the earliest advances of the year at the GDC. It was at the GDC that Ageia debuted their PhysX card to the public. And it was at the GDC that Ageia showcased the card and what it was capable of. Ageia saw the future of PC games progressing towards more interactivity and their concept was simple: to create an atmosphere that gives the user the ability to interact with virtually anything in the game and in turn, to make the experience as realistic as possible.
There had been physics in games for quite a while and one notable company is Havok. Known for their work on the Half Life 2 series, they have a strong showing with their software driven approach to physics. Ageia saw this, but also saw the eventual limitations in the current hardware. How can a CPU and GPU alone, both being taxed by the games of the time, also calculate object interaction needed to give the games a more lifelike feel? Their approach was a simple one. Let the CPU do what it was intended to do and let the GPU do the same. They set out to build a stand alone card that would handle the in-game physics by itself and they would give the software to make it happen away for free.
At the GDC, we saw some very interesting ideas and an impressive game demo: Cell Factor. With nothing else immediately available, Ageia was waiting on the games. This would be a shared experience for Ageia and the end users who were early adopters and jumped aboard the PhysX train from the start."

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Old February 26, 2007, 02:59 PM
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With GPU manufacturers putting more and more physics calculations on the GPU and developers writing physics onto a seperate core on dual and quad core machines, I wonder at the point of a PPU.
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Old February 26, 2007, 03:24 PM
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Old February 26, 2007, 03:35 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SKYMTL View Post
With GPU manufacturers putting more and more physics calculations on the GPU and developers writing physics onto a seperate core on dual and quad core machines, I wonder at the point of a PPU.
I was wondering the same thing. I think Ageia should just call it quits.
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Old February 26, 2007, 06:24 PM
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I've been keeping up on the progress of AGEIAs PPU since the beginning, and like so many other people, I am not really that excited for anything they are offering right now. I still think it's way too early to even consider buying a card, as they have a lot of work to do in way of convincing developers to support the technology.

I am still hopeful though... better physics in games could make for a more enjoyable experience. Right now, it's up to the developers to support PPUs... whether it be PhysX or the GPUs themselves.

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Originally Posted by Gav View Post
I was wondering the same thing. I think Ageia should just call it quits.
Are you serious? Their existence right now doesn't hurt anything. The only thing that can come out of this is better physics in our games. Even if the PhysX card itself fails (some say it already has), their SDK is popular with games already on the market. I don't want to see them call it quits. If anything, stop with the card and just sell their SDK to game developers... then we could just use our GPUs as a PPU.
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