Dedicated hardware physics acceleration doesn't seem to have taken off since the launch of Ageia's PhysX physics accelerator last summer, but the company is still plugging away. Ageia's latest effort is the Adaptive Physics EXtensions, or APEX, development platform. APEX is built around Epic Games' Unreal Engine 3, and it will be bundled at no extra charge with the engine starting early next year.
According to Ageia, APEX is intended to allow developers to implement in-game physics—both in software and in hardware—more easily in their titles. It will include three main components, which Ageia calls Pipeline Offload, Scaling Level of Detail System, and Pre-built Verticals.
Pipeline Offload will allow developers to offload the majority of physics processing as well as some game code onto a PhysX processor. APEX isn't all about PhysX, though; the second component, Scaling Level of Detail System, will allow developers to scale in-game physics depending on the host machine. With this system, APEX can scale to single-core and multi-core PCs with or without PhysX accelerators. The third component—Pre-built Verticals—is a set of "highly tuned, physically-driven scenario libraries which enable developers to quickly enable specific advanced physics features."
APEX will launch as part of Unreal Engine 3, but Ageia has further plans beyond that. Although it apparently won't be offered as a standalone kit like Havoc, Ageia says APEX will be distributed with "other leading game engines."