PC Perspective has an interesting article about ATI's take on GPU-accelerated physics. Earlier this week, NVIDIA announced a partnership with Havok that would enable Havok FX, a GPU-based hardware physics API, to work on GeForce 6- and 7-series graphics cards. ATI made no such announcement, but the fact that the Havok FX website only mentions Shader Model 3.0 support as a requirement hinted that the API would work on ATI graphics cards as well.
At the Game Developers Conference, PC Perspective says it received word straight from ATI that Havok FX will indeed work on its GPUs. Naturally, ATI also claimed that its cards will handle physics processing faster than NVIDIA's. ATI cites the R580's 48 pixel shaders, which it says can provide up to 375 gigaflops of floating point power, as well as its dedicated branching logic and highly threaded cores as architectural advantages for physics processing. At this stage, however, even the real-world performance implications of GPU-based physics processing are a mystery; any claims about which manufacturer will end up with the upper hand remain purely speculative.
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