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Details on Nvidia PhysX - please read

Discussion in 'Graphics Cards' started by Mussels, Mar 24, 2010.

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  1. Mussels

    Mussels Moderprator Staff Member

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    I'm posting this here to help clarify some things i keep seeing around the place about PhysX - there seems to be some large misconceptions and misunderstandings relating to it.


    PhysX is a Physics engine made by Ageia, and bought out by Nvidia. It supports software mode, and hardware acceleration.

    In pretty much every thread i see about Nvidia vs ATI (so, anything involving video cards really) someone ALWAYS mentions PhysX, either that Nvidia is superior for having it, or that ATI cant do it (or can with a second Nvidia card) and various other things.


    Well, heres the part no one seems to mention: How many games actually USE it?

    This Wikipedia page looks impressive - check out all those titles, even a few big names in there (Batman AA, Borderlands, dragon age, etc).

    Ok cool, so hurry up Mussels and get to the point.

    The point is which of those titles support HARDWARE acceleration - as in, which games actually benefit from having an Nvidia GPU.

    [​IMG]

    Hmmm, 15 games. Lets count the big titles: Unreal tournament 3, Mirrors edge, Batman AA and GRAW 2. Ummm, yeah. Less than impressive.

    When you consider that in those games PhysX pretty much amounts for non-interactive 'looks only' physics effects (waving cloth, or random added debris that hurts FPS and not helps) PhysX starts to lose its shine. In fact the only reason it seems to have taken off is a program not listed, and thats 3Dmark vantage. Vantage uses PhysX to calcluate the CPU score, so Nvidia users get a massively higher CPU score in the program.


    So after my wall of text, whats the point? Hardware PhysX is basically worthless, do NOT base any purchases based on hardware physX support.


    P.S - this is not an nvidia bashing thread, which many of these turn into. Should this happen i'll just lock the thread - at least then people can still read the truth about PhysX without having to get yelled at by fanbois from both sides of the fence.
    Last edited: Mar 24, 2010
  2. Grings

    Grings New Member

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    I've always disabled it in the Nvidia driver anyway, but didnt actually realise how few games used it

    I did try using my old 8800GTS as a dedicated physx card, and saw no difference in any of the supporting games, now i know why...
  3. brandonwh64

    brandonwh64 Addicted to Bacon and StarCrunches!!!

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    im hoping to use it when my VisionTek 5850 gets here tomorrow. I will have a 9600GT as physx
    Crunching for Team TPU
  4. Mussels

    Mussels Moderprator Staff Member

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    And uhh, what games do you intend to use it on?
  5. surfingerman

    surfingerman New Member

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    ehh not a bash thread eh... could have fooled me.. i didnt see ANY positive notes up there.. surely it has positive notes.. would be fair and balanced to add some
    gaximodo says thanks.
  6. Mussels

    Mussels Moderprator Staff Member

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    Such as?

    This is about hardware physX - which has very little benefit over software PhysX. If it was a bash thread, i'd be talking about how it tends to be buggy and crashy as well, i'm not. I'm trying to educate people about the fact that just because a game supports physX, it does NOT mean having an Nvidia card with hardware physX will provide any benefit whatsoever.
  7. brandonwh64

    brandonwh64 Addicted to Bacon and StarCrunches!!!

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    borderlands, BC2, metro 2033, and more
    Crunching for Team TPU
  8. r9

    r9

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    PC performance at 99% of the time is GPU bottlenecked. Some how I always thought that CPU is way to go for physics. So making spare unused cores doing physics sounds to me more logical than doing physics on something that is already used at maximum. And reading this some one provable is going to say that from the demos that ATI/NV did that GPUs are superior in that aspect but CPU are more easier to program for.
  9. qubit

    qubit Overclocked quantum bit

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    Thanks for clarifying this for everyone, Mussels. Indeed, current implementations of PhysX only bring in a bit of eye candy, which is a waste for this technology. I've run the PhysX demos from nvidia and it looks really awsome when done properly.

    I still haven't figured out how to actually see it in action in UT3, either. I've enabled it and used the right map, but still didn't see it. I have no idea what I'm doing wrong and just gave up. :confused:

    I'd like to see an industry standard physics API, that's implemented properly in grade A games. Instead we've got two proprietary systems (PhysX and Havoc) that aren't being implemented properly, which sucks.

    If this thread isn't yet a sticky, it should be. :)

    qubit - GTX 285 owner.
    Last edited: Mar 24, 2010
  10. HookeyStreet

    HookeyStreet Eat, sleep, game!

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    Good read, thank you. I always felt PhysX was 'a bit of a gimmick', youve cleared things up for me :)
  11. Mussels

    Mussels Moderprator Staff Member

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    Good work on actually reading the first post, where i point out that it wont work >.<

    BC2 and borderlands dont support hardware physX. I'm not sure on metro - i've not played it, and its new enough its possible its not on the list. There is a complete list, from nvidias site, where only 15 games are listed - these are the only game titles that get hardware PhysX support (with the exception of some brand spanking new games that arent listed yet, not that i'm aware of any)
  12. brandonwh64

    brandonwh64 Addicted to Bacon and StarCrunches!!!

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    Here is a current list. i didnt realize it was so small

    [​IMG]

    SOURCE
    DeathByTray and Mussels say thanks.
    Crunching for Team TPU
  13. Mussels

    Mussels Moderprator Staff Member

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    thanks brandon. I didn't realize people wouldn't click the links in my first post, and that pictures would be necessary. I might as well add that image to the first post.
  14. brandonwh64

    brandonwh64 Addicted to Bacon and StarCrunches!!!

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    Alot of people just skim through the post to get the main idea (im guilty of it most of the time too). its always good to have picture up for us :)
    Crunching for Team TPU
  15. bobzilla2009 New Member

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    I've always thought of physX as just some marketing crap which didn't amount to anything significant. Sure, if nvidia released an absolutely killer card (which they haven't since the 8 series) which was worth the price then physX would be a nice extra on a very small selection of games.

    But it's like buying a card based on how it looks. Sure, you'll feel fuzzy when you first get it, but after 10 minutes it'll be in the case and unlikely to be looked at again, and only the real performance is what determines the card. It's just some bells and whistles that nvidia use to try to justify their ridiculous prices.
  16. Lionheart

    Lionheart

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    Thanx for posting this up Mussels, physics never interested me anyways:D
  17. brandonwh64

    brandonwh64 Addicted to Bacon and StarCrunches!!!

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    Mussels!!!!!! High Five Post!!!! [​IMG]
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  18. phanbuey

    phanbuey

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    physX is an interesting idea... but the fact that it is proprietary will kill it.

    Doesn't DX 11 have some sort of GFX physics built in? I think once a standard adapts physics on gfx hardware it will really take off - as it is a great idea, and considering AMD's cards have a bazillion simple shaders - it might work well.
  19. Mussels

    Mussels Moderprator Staff Member

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    DirectX 11 does not have a physics engine built in, however it does have DirectCompute, which is an open version of nvidias Cuda/ATI's stream. If someone writes physics for DirectCompute, then bam - all DX10 (and up) cards have access to a unified physics engine.
  20. brandonwh64

    brandonwh64 Addicted to Bacon and StarCrunches!!!

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    If they are going to do this physx thing then instead of working on certain games, it should be work on EVERY game no matter who makes it.
    Crunching for Team TPU
  21. Bjorn_Of_Iceland

    Bjorn_Of_Iceland

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    BC2 and Bordelands definitely does not. Metro 2033 does though.

    Here is a vid comparison:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bt8DEEEMTHw#movie_player
    Nothing too dramatic though.. in fact you cant see difference at all except for "pebbles".

    Still the best implementation of hardware Physix is Batman AA for me.
    Mussels says thanks.
  22. Mussels

    Mussels Moderprator Staff Member

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    and as always, the PhysX in batman AA has very little to do with Physics itself - its just eye candy, and most of it would work without physx, they literally just turn 'debris' off if you dont have PhysX.
  23. phanbuey

    phanbuey

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    yeah me too I really liked it in Batman... i think a unified direct compute - what mussels mentioned will make it worthwhile for game devs to actually use the technology and more quality games will actually use it.

    Right now its not worth to put in the time and effort to render 'extra pebbles' and have to use the physX technology, thus adding another layer of complexity, where more can go wrong. Extra pebbles and flow cloths are nice and all...
  24. Mussels

    Mussels Moderprator Staff Member

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    looking at that youtube link, all i can help but see is this:

    PhysX off seems to deliberately look worse. Theres a weird bubble-blur effect to simulate the 'gas' coming out the end of the gun at 1 minute in, whereas the physX on version gets a 'cloud'

    Now tell me, why on earth do we need super accurate clouds of gas? The only other difference in the shot is that a few small amounts of debris collect on the floor - and if they're anything like GRAW2 and mirrors edge, they likely fade away in 20 seconds anyway.

    1:30: grenades. all it does is add random debris into the explosions and a bigger/longer lasting
    cloud of smoke (i'm seeing a trend here...)


    If those were the differences between say, DX9 and DX11 in a game - you can bet your ass people would be screaming about how useless it is. Since its an Nvidia tech, people dont seem to care? thats the part that confuses me. Debris is hardly a feature i'd pay for in 16 games (15 in list + metro)
    a_ump and heky say thanks.
  25. phanbuey

    phanbuey

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    The idea is that it is a different way of rendering debree... and yeah, people will pay for the smallest, most minute improvements in gaming quality - nvidia tech or not. And for games like GTA, mode debree would be awesome.

    I mean what the hell was dx10? to me the difference was fancy water and better ambient lighting. And look how many ppl bought DX10 cards way back when because they were dx10. This is no different.

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