What is a physics processor?

The original AGEIA physics processing unit (PPU) is purpose-built to meet the unique requirements of physics algorithms. These represent an environment that's much different than a general purpose CPU.

NVIDIA CUDA-enabled GPUs accerlate NVIDIA PhysX to deliver even more physics processing power.

What is physics for gaming?

In gaming, physics is all about how objects in your game move and react to the environment around them. In many of today's games, objects just don't seem to act the way you'd want or expect them to in real life. Currently, most of the action is limited to pre-scripted or 'canned' animations triggered by in-game events like a gun shot striking a wall. Even the most powerful weapons can leave little more than a smudge on the thinnest of walls; and every opponent you take out falls in the same pre-determined fashion. Players are left with a game that looks fine, but is missing the sense of realism necessary to make the experience truly immersive.

What is the AGEIA PhysX Processor?

The AGEIA PhysX Processor is the first dedicated hardware accelerator for PC games that enables dynamic motion and interaction for a totally new gaming experience. It's available from leading system and add-in card makers today.

NVIDIA acquired AGEIA Technologies in early 2008 and continues to evolve the entire PhysX platform from both a software and hardware perspective.

What is the AGEIA PhysX Accelerator?

The AGEIA PhysX Accelerator is an add-in card based on the PhysX processor. It enables enhanced physics in games that have been designed to support hardware-accelerated PhysX.

Which graphics cards can accelerate NVIDIA PhysX?

All GeForce 8 series graphics cards and above with at least 256MB of local onboard graphics memory and at least 32 cores will be able to accelerate NVIDIA PhysX. If you intend to use an NVIDIA supported graphics card as a dedicated Physx card, the other graphics cards in the system must also use an NVIDIA GPU.

Will running PhysX on a GPU slow down gaming performance?

Running physics on the GPU is typically significantly faster than running physics on the CPU, so overall game performance is improved and frame rates can be much faster. However, adding physics can also impact performance in much the same way that anti-aliasing impacts performance. Gamers always enable AA modes if they can because AA makes the game look better. Gamers will similarly enable physics on their GPUs so long as frame rates remain playable. With AA enabled, running physics on a GPU will generally be much faster than running physics on a CPU when AA is enabled. PhysX running on a dedicated GPU allows offloading the PhysX processing from the GPU used for standard graphics rendering, resulting in an optimal usage of processing capabilities in a system.

Can I run NVIDIA PhysX on my motherboard GPU?

NVIDIA PhysX API uses the GPU (Graphics Processing Unit) to process the physics environment calculations in games and applications which support NVIDIA's Physx. Physics calculations can be very complex and therefore as a system requirement, a GPU must feature 256MB of dedicated local video memory, support NVIDIA's CUDA technology and also have 32 cores or higher. If an NVIDIA motherboard GPU or a NVIDIA graphics card does not meet these requirements, you will not be able to use the GPU to process NVIDIA Physx calculations.

Does PhysX scale across the GPU and CPU? If yes, does that mean having a faster CPU enhances PhysX performance or visual quality?

PhysX uses both the CPU and GPU, but generally the most computationally intensive operations are done on the GPU. A CPU upgrade could result in some performance improvement, as would a GPU upgrade, but the relative improvement is very dependent on the initial balance of the system. An optimized PC with the right mix of CPU to GPU horsepower will be the best balanced solution.

Intel and AMD say it’s better to run physics on the CPU. What is NVIDIA’s position?

PhysX runs faster and will deliver more realism by running on the GPU. Running PhysX on a mid-to-high-end GeForce GPU will enable 10-20 times more effects and visual fidelity than physics running on a high-end CPU. Portions of PhysX processing actually run on both the CPU and GPU, leveraging the best of both architectures to deliver the best experience to the user. More importantly, PhysX can scale with the GPU hardware inside your PC. Intel and AMD solutions, which utilize the Havok API, are fixed function only and cannot scale.

How does PhysX support heterogeneous computing?

PhysX shows how heterogeneous computing delivers the best user experience. While the game is running, the PhysX system executes portions of the physical simulation on the CPU and other portions on the parallel processors of the GPU. This ensures all the components of a balanced PC are used efficiently to deliver the best experience.