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GeForce 8 graphics processors to gain PhysX support

Cyril Kowaliski
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During Nvidia’s fourth-quarter financial results conference call, Nvidia shed a little more light on its acquisition of Ageia and what it plans to do with the firm’s PhysX technology. Nvidia CEO Jen-Hsun Huang made no announcements regarding the deal until asked in the question-and-answer session, but he was happy to divulge a decent number of details.

Huang revealed that Nvidia’s strategy is to take the PhysX engine and port it onto CUDA. For those not in the know, CUDA stands for Compute Unified Device Architecture, and it’s a C-like application programming interface Nvidia developed to let programmers write general-purpose applications that can run on GPUs. All of Nvidia’s existing GeForce 8 graphics processors already support CUDA, and Huang confirmed that the cards will be able to run PhysX.

We’re working toward the physics-engine-to-CUDA port as we speak. And we intend to throw a lot of resources at it. You know, I wouldn’t be surprised if it helps our GPU sales even in advance of [the port’s completion]. The reason is, [it’s] just gonna be a software download. Every single GPU that is CUDA-enabled will be able to run the physics engine when it comes. . . . Every one of our GeForce 8-series GPUs runs CUDA.

Huang thinks the integration will encourage people to spend more on graphics processing hardware, as well:

Our expectation is that this is gonna encourage people to buy even better GPUs. It might—and probably will—encourage people to buy a second GPU for their SLI slot. And for the highest-end gamer, it will encourage them to buy three GPUs. Potentially two for graphics and one for physics, or one for graphics and two for physics.

Last, but not least, Huang said developers are “really excited” about the PhysX-to-CUDA port. “Finally they’re able to get a physics engine accelerated into a very large population of gamers,” he explained. Huang was unwilling to get into a time frame for the release of the first PhysX port. However, considering this will be purely a software implementation and Nvidia now has Ageia engineers on its payroll, the port may not take too long to complete.

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