Ageia to ship Cell-optimized PhysX SDK for PS3

The press release just hit my inbox:
MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. – March 21, 2006 - AGEIA™ Technologies, Inc., the pioneer in hardware-accelerated physics for games, today announced that the latest version of AGEIA PhysX™ SDK version 2.4 will become available to registered PLAYSTATION® 3 game content developers on March 31, 2006.

The AGEIA PhysX SDK is highly recognized for its extensive physics functionality and multithreading capabilities, which are uniquely suited for the multicore architecture of the Cell processor adopted on PLAYSTATION® 3. The latest AGEIA PhysX SDK version 2.4 is optimized for the Cell processor, adding mind-blowing physics action to the high-definition graphics of PLAYSTATION® 3 titles.

In the 2.4 release, several components of the AGEIA PhysX pipeline have been offloaded from the PPU of the PLAYSTATION® 3 to the SPUs; developers can fully control the component deployment. This has resulted in a 50% reduction in maximum PPU load, leaving more room for game code and smooth frame rates.

We've known for a while that Sony and Ageia were working on a Cell-optimized version of PhysX. I believe Sony's engineers are actually helping port Ageia's multithreaded physics engine to the Cell SPEs. The performance claims for this Cell-powered version of PhysX are, I suppose, typical of the squishy performance claims of the console world, but I wish we knew more about its potential than "a 50% reduction in maximum PPU load." I'll have to see what more I can learn about it.
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