Epic's Tim Sweeney talks PhysX, Havok FX

— 10:27 AM on May 12, 2006

nV News managed to borrow Epic Games CEO & Lead Programmer Tim Sweeney for a little chat about Ageia's PhysX and Havok's Havok FX physics acceleration technologies, among other topics. Sweeney sheds some light on the PhysX implementation in the upcoming Unreal Tournament 2007, which is one of the biggest games on Ageia's list of PhysX-supporting titles:

[We will implement PhysX in] explosions to have physically interacting particles. We are also looking at fluid effects seeing where we can use those. Gee, blood spurts sound like they might be a good candidate. A lot of other special effects like that, where they don't affect the core gameplay, so that players with the physics hardware and players without the physics hardware can all play together without any restrictions.
Sweeney also talks down the PhysX implementation in Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter, which appears to yield lower frame rates with PhysX acceleration enabled than without. "That seems like it's just a messy tradeoff that they made there," he claims. In addition to PhysX, Sweeney also talks about Havok FX, an API that harnesses Shader Model 3.0-compliant GPUs for physics acceleration:
That's a good approach, they have some cool technology there. . . . It seems to be lower precision physics, however, than you have for the rest of the game, which is problematic. You really want all the physics in the entire world to be drawing with a constant level of precision, so you don't have to make weird trade-offs there. I guess there is also the trade-off with that, in that if your GPU is doing both physics and graphics, then you are not getting the full utilization out of the system.
Finally, Sweeney discusses a number of other subjects, including DirectX 10, unified shader architectures, and Intel's upcoming Core 2 Duo processor. He also throws a few jabs at the Pentium 4 in the process, about which he says: "It sucked all along."
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