Havok, AMD demo OpenCL-based physics at GDC

Just as expected, AMD and Havok teamed up to show GPU-accelerated gaming physics at the Game Developers Conference this week. The two firms have posted a press release to that effect, saying their demonstrations included “the first OpenCL supported execution of Havok Cloth™.”

What’s Havok Cloth? Pretty much what you’d expect: a runtime and toolset that lets developers add physically simulated cloth to their games. The official videos on this page show the technology applied to a dress, close-fitting pants and a shirt, a ponytail, a cape, and a variety of other cloth-like materials.

Of course, since Havok is using OpenCL, it doesn’t seem to be strictly targeting AMD graphics processors. The announcement states plainly, “Havok will enable game developers to offer improved performance and interactivity across a broad range of OpenCL capable PCs.” In case you missed the memo, both AMD and Nvidia plan to offer early OpenCL driver support in the first half of this year. That means Havok could also run on GeForce GPUs and compete head-to-head with Nvidia’s PhysX.

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    • UberGerbil
    • 14 years ago

    I expect they’ll treat it like OpenGL: if the hardware vendors want to provide a “native” OpenCL implementation as part of their drivers, fine, but the default OpenCL in Windows — if it exists at all — will just be a wrapper for DX Compute Shaders.

    • StashTheVampede
    • 14 years ago

    OpenCL may not have Microsoft as a backer, but that doesn’t mean they won’t support it (since it’s a royalty free license, no owner other than the standards body).

    • Palek
    • 14 years ago

    /[

    • eitje
    • 14 years ago

    Blizzard also supported Glide & D3D with Diablo 2.

    • ltcommander.data
    • 14 years ago

    With AMD and Intel both moving towards CPUs with built-in GPUs, I don’t think they would mind co-operating to give nVidia the squeeze.

    • Sanctusx2
    • 14 years ago

    …doesn’t Intel own Havok?

    edit: Oh just noticed it says AMD GPUs. So I guess it’s more like AMD’s ATI division working Intel’s Havok division rather than the parent company’s collaborating.

    • Meadows
    • 14 years ago

    I’m still trying to figure it out but continue to fail to get what the funny part was. The only humorous addition I’ve seen was no51’s reply.

    • Meadows
    • 14 years ago

    Don’t forget that Havok has supported all the next-generation special effects we’ve seen in PhysX-“enhanced” titles, except nobody had the guts to actually implement them and then advertise the resulting game in nVidia’s face.

    • Meadows
    • 14 years ago

    I would’ve thought “profit” is a positive “income minus expenditure” result, so you really didn’t need to stress that it was after the expenses.

    You’re making a mistake somewhere, Havok is a closed, proprietary method, OpenCL has little to do with that fact.

    • Silus
    • 14 years ago

    NVIDIA didn’t stiff innovation. The industry had two well-known physics APIs and one got the vast majority of the adoption at first (Havok), but NVIDIA added a new “punch” by allowing better effects, being processed in real time, since AGEIA only provided those through the need of new hardware,

    Havok is as proprietary as PhysX, so I pretty much laugh at those that defend one over the other, using that argument. A standard is something that can be used by everyone, not one that you need to pay for and neither Havok or PhysX fit the bill in that regard. It all comes down to what one provides over the other and given how advanced GPU Physics acceleration done through PhysX is, I would have to give a nod to that one at this point.

    And the contracts signed by industry giants such as EA, to use PhysX in some of their next games, is pretty much proof of that.

    • khands
    • 14 years ago

    No, but that would be even better.

    • clone
    • 14 years ago

    your talking about a game that is earning Blizzard / Activision $500 million profit annually after expenses.

    it’s the exception in the industry not the rule and with that type of income they can afford to support everything.

    an open / universal standard is the way to go and if it’s to be Havok so be it, Nvidia’s choice to go it alone whether by choice or circumstance is daring while stifling innovation, adding uncertainty in the industry and potentiallyl increasing developer costs…… overall I’m on the sidelines on this one although I won’t support a non universal standard from any company.

    • Flying Fox
    • 14 years ago

    But wouldn’t you need the Beach Volleyball edition to properly shows the physics off? 😉

    • Goty
    • 14 years ago

    This is the death knell for PhysX, assuming the implementation isn’t complete junk. Developers would much rather support one implementation of a physics engine that works across “all” hardware rather than support a proprietary engine AND and open one, even if it ended up being slightly less capable.

    • ltcommander.data
    • 14 years ago

    The advantage of OpenCL for Havok is that it’s broadly supported by not only ATI and nVidia but also Intel and PowerVR. Presumably the same Havok can be hardware accelerated on Larrabee (prebably why Intel is supporting it) and also on handheld devices like cell phones which generally use PowerVR GPUs. OpenCL is of course compatible with Windows (including Windows XP), Mac OS X, and Linux unlike DirectX 11 Compute Shaders.

    • Meadows
    • 14 years ago

    “Nobody” is rather harsh, I know at least one game that simultaneously supports OpenGL and Direct3D, and it’s called World of Warcraft. Lone as that game may be, it’s influential enough to make a difference.

    • asdsa
    • 14 years ago

    This thing here kills PhysX. Nobody want’s to support two distinct APIs (Glide vs Direct3D).

    • VaultDweller
    • 14 years ago

    I hope this is used for the next DOA game!

    • Kurotetsu
    • 14 years ago

    God, the next Dead or Alive that comes out should this ever be ported to console will be glorious.

    • poulpy
    • 14 years ago

    Nice and friendly eh?

    Yes I understand what CUDA is: it is a -relatively speaking- high level language, C like that allows one to harness the power of a GPU for Physics or whatever use one wants.

    I guess you could have a wrapper OpenCL -> CUDA -> NVIDIA HW like you could have OpenCL -> Brook+ -> ATi HW but like OpenGL -> Glide -> 3dFX HW this is neither very elegant nor the optimal solution.
    IMO you’d want this built as close as possible to the HW in the drivers.

    The quote in the article you point to is from a PR not a final design decision given by the head of engineering or whatever.

    Edit:typo fix

    • khands
    • 14 years ago

    Theoretically, (and I’m not 100% sure on this either), you’ll be able to use OpenCL to utilize CUDA and Brook+ (IE, the programming language for your GFX card regardless of maker), so it would turn it into a matter of efficiency on the language/hardware’s part.

    • no51
    • 14 years ago

    Realistic breast physics, here we /[

    • Meadows
    • 14 years ago

    Oh? I was also under the impression that this is something low-level enough, like CUDA.

    • flip-mode
    • 14 years ago

    LOL, I found that quite funny. Edit: Meadows, you need to simulate yourself a sense of humor. I am pretty sure DDB has seen a simulated cape before.

    • khands
    • 14 years ago

    Yeah, I know, my brain has been a little cross-wired lately, should read more like “I hope PhysX starts getting implemented via OpenCL”.

    • Meadows
    • 14 years ago

    OpenCL isn’t supposed to “encompass” PhysX, or Havok for that matter. Think of it as an alternative to nVidia’s CUDA programming layer, or Stanford’s Brook+ (which is principally architecture-independent, but generally used for AMD videocards only as nVidia promotes CUDA instead).

    • Meadows
    • 14 years ago

    NVidia would better not lock out Havok in those upcoming drivers, or I’ll shift to the red side as soon as the DirectX 11 meteorite executes impact. Even the thought makes me cringe now, but I will.

    • Meadows
    • 14 years ago

    Capes have been simulated since the earliest days of Havok many years ago, this thing here can only make them tear now.

    • poulpy
    • 14 years ago

    Well it’s pretty much ineluctable IMO as MS solution will be Windows centric.
    OpenCL will become the OpenGL of Physics and run on any platform.

    This does spell the end of CUDA like Glide back in the days but worse as it never really had any use outside of the uber-end of the folding enthusiast crowd. Don’t know how much money Nvidia spent on it in the race to “get one over ATi” but that doesn’t hit me as the wisest investment they’ve made.

    • DrDillyBar
    • 14 years ago

    Now everyone can have a cape that look real, even us without CUDA support.

    • Flying Fox
    • 14 years ago

    So unless Microsoft decides to buck the flow, we may be heading down OpenCL’s path. The sooner we move to a unified API the better.

    Given that we have Direct3D and OpenGL on the graphics side, I won’t be surprised if we are going to have 2 “unified” APIs eventually. But here is to hoping.

    • khands
    • 14 years ago

    Here’s hoping PhysX either gets integrated into OpenCL with Havok, or gets replaced by it.

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