John Carmack has spoken out on the subject of dedicated PPUs, stating that “I’m not a believer.”
He believes that multi-core CPUs are a much better proposition for developers wanting to do physics calculations as their adoption is becoming more widespread.
Carmack is another big name in the world of game developers that has turned away from Ageia’s PhysX in favour of multi-core CPUs. Valve Software’s Half-Life 2: Episode Two and Crytek’s Crysis both do advanced physics calculations across CPU cores, and Remedy’s Alan Wake is another game that will make great use of the CPU for physics calculations.
There is also a third camp in the physics world and that’s the GPU guys at AMD and Nvidia. They’ve both been pushing Havok FX for a while now, but we’re yet to see games making use of the new GPU-accelerated physics API.
Ageia’s PhysX card has had a pretty rough ride since its launch last year, mainly because of the lack of killer content supporting the title. The barrier of entry, it would seem, is too high and the benefits of owning a PhysX card are limited.
Epic’s Unreal Engine 3 uses PhysX hardware to calculate physics but details on how are still lacking. Hopefully we’ll find out before the game launches because every game we’ve seen so far that uses UE3 hasn’t implemented support for PhysX, since it’s optional. Could the PC versions of Gears of War and Bioshock – both games that are based on UE3 – benefit from using a PhysX card?
John Carmack, Processor, CPUs, PPUs, Multi-core