Friday, March 20th 2009

AMD to Demonstrate GPU Havok Physics Acceleration at GDC

GPU-accelerated physics is turning out to be the one part of specifications AMD is yearning for. One of NVIDIA's most profitable acquisitions in recent times, has been that of Ageia technologies, and its PhysX middleware API. NVIDIA went on to port the API to its proprietary CUDA GPGPU architecture, and is now using it as a significant PR-tool apart from a feature that is genuinely grabbing game developers' attention. In response to this move, AMD's initial reaction was to build strategic technology alliance with the main competitor of PhysX: Havok, despite its acquisition by Intel.

In the upcoming Game Developers Conference (GDC) event, AMD may materialize its plans to bring a GPU-accelerated version of Havok, which has till now been CPU-accelerated. The API has featured in several popular game titles such as Half Life 2, Max Payne II, and some other Valve Source-based titles. ATI's Terry Makedon, in his Twitter-feed has revealed that AMD would put forth its “ATI GPU Physics strategy.” He also added that the company would present a tech-demonstration of Havok technology working in conjunction with ATI hardware. The physics API is expected to utilize OpenCL and AMD Stream.

Source: bit-tech.net
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226 Comments on AMD to Demonstrate GPU Havok Physics Acceleration at GDC

#1
Mussels
Moderprator
stream processing is similar to Nvidas CUDA.
Posted on Reply
#2
ShadowFold
randomflip said:
I need a question answered. Froblins the demo and ATI Stream Processing, is the stream processing similar to Nvidia's Physx? If so, is it an example of mass physics?
No Havok will be. Stream has nothing to do with gaming, it's more for business type stuff.
Posted on Reply
#3
DarkMatter
ShadowFold said:
True that! But from what I've seen on Half-Life 2 I think it will have actual mass physics. Play Garry's Mod and spawn a ton of boxes or something, it doesn't start lagging until you spawn about 50-80 of them(for me), the only thing I've seen from PhysX is fancy cloth and glass, who cares? I want mass physics and explosions!
With PhysX you can spawn 5000 boxes and still no lag at all in a 8800 GT. You have all those much boxes in the PhysX screensaver.

Only reason why you are not seing that kind of utilisation is because of the pressure of Intel and AMD.
Posted on Reply
#4
WarEagleAU
Bird of Prey
I thought Physx and Havok were pretty much using the same API and software and what not? Im all for AMD getting behind the physx deal but I hope its not like betamax, VHS :/
Posted on Reply
#5
FordGT90Concept
"I go fast!1!11!1!"
WarEagleAU said:
I thought Physx and Havok were pretty much using the same API and software and what not? Im all for AMD getting behind the physx deal but I hope its not like betamax, VHS :/
It is, and backed by popular demand, VHS/Havok wins. Havok has time on its side as it has been used in many games long before Ageia showed up out of no where.
Posted on Reply
#6
Mussels
Moderprator
If you look at how physx is being used, it makes me wonder if its flawed somehow.

Havok: moving boxes that the player can use/jump on. Hell look what they can do in Gmod with the engine, i built a flying spaceship using in game havok physics, then crashed it into the moon. epic.

Ageia/Nvidia Physx: glass and cloth, hailstorms and a tornado map in UT3 I'm yet to see INTERACTIVE physx. Why? is it because it'd be too similar to Havok, or is it because it just cant do it?
Posted on Reply
#7
Error 404
ShadowFold said:
True that! But from what I've seen on Half-Life 2 I think it will have actual mass physics. Play Garry's Mod and spawn a ton of boxes or something, it doesn't start lagging until you spawn about 50-80 of them(for me), the only thing I've seen from PhysX is fancy cloth and glass, who cares? I want mass physics and explosions!
I play Garry's Mod a lot, and the fact that the current Source engine only uses one core of my CPU to run everything and still not lag until I get some really physics-heavy stuff happening (like the 50 boxes example), its a testament to how good Havok is.
What I want to see if fluid dynamics! I want to be able to pour water into a box, and have boxes float on water because of displacement and not a pre-set bouyancy level!
I've considered upgrading to an ATI card once I have some money, and this would be a great reason for me to get one.

Just checked, and my Orange Box pack has the ATI logo on it.
Posted on Reply
#8
FordGT90Concept
"I go fast!1!11!1!"
I think it's because Havok was designed by gamers, for game developers. They knew that it is only useful to developers if it has collision detection as well.

NVIDIA, on the other hand, focus on "eye candy." They don't see the value nor necessity in collision detection and thus, assume it will be handled separately. It takes twice as much work for the programmer because they have to wrap collision detection code around the PhysX.


At the same time, what you saw could just be a graphical demonstrator and not really be about gaming/development. It's hard to say. What is certain is Havok is well received in developer circles and NVIDIA is going to have a very, very hard time unseating it.
Posted on Reply
#9
Mussels
Moderprator
FordGT90Concept said:
I think it's because Havok was designed by gamers, for game developers. They knew that it is only useful to developers if it has collision detection as well.

NVIDIA, on the other hand, focus on "eye candy." They don't see the value nor necessity in collision detection and thus, assume it will be handled separately. It takes twice as much work for the programmer because they have to wrap collision detection code around the PhysX.


At the same time, what you saw could just be a graphical demonstrator and not really be about gaming/development. It's hard to say. What is certain is Havok is well received in developer circles and NVIDIA is going to have a very, very hard time unseating it.
collision detection is the term i needed when writing m post, thanks.
Posted on Reply
#10
ShinyG
The fact is that both Intel and nVidia are big players and they are trying to set standards. That's why both are trying to convince everybody they are right and the other guys are idiots.

So, Intel and AMD are both involved in Havok. Havok is already implemented at a CPU level with palpable results in the gaming world. Convincing developers to use their already accumulated expertise to implement these at a GPU level using AMD's SDK is far easier than it is for nVidia to convince them they should ditch everything and come join the green side of physics.
Fans will always say PhysX is better because it's "green" but I think we should let developers decide...
Posted on Reply
#11
Error 404
Mussels said:
collision detection is the term i needed when writing m post, thanks.
Collision detection is going to be very important in future games IMO; the scenario of spawning heaps of boxes in gmod relies upon collision detection, and if a GPU could handle that then it would make the amount of collisions possible be raised by a huge factor.
In the future, I hope to see games that have collisions like ricocheting bullets and shrapnel, or even the ability for props to warp or shatter realisticly under impact, instead of just disintegrating or a image of a bullet hole appearing.
That would be frickin awesome! :rockout:
Posted on Reply
#12
FordGT90Concept
"I go fast!1!11!1!"
Error 404 said:
Collision detection is going to be very important in future games IMO; the scenario of spawning heaps of boxes in gmod relies upon collision detection, and if a GPU could handle that then it would make the amount of collisions possible be raised by a huge factor.
In the future, I hope to see games that have collisions like ricocheting bullets and shrapnel, or even the ability for props to warp or shatter realisticly under impact, instead of just disintegrating or a image of a bullet hole appearing.
That would be frickin awesome! :rockout:
There is no 3D game it isn't important in. Without it, you, your units, your allies, your foes, the guns, the wammo, and everything else that can move will fall through the floor and never stop falling until it throws some mathematical exception.

The thing is, most (if not all) games can get by with very simplified physics including collision detection. It is literally as simple as this:
code:
if (z < floor)
// you fell off the map
else
// you're still on, or above, the floor


Even simulating a bullets motion isn't very hard. What makes it hard is details:
a) Is there wind blowing?
b) Is gravity involved?
c) Is there humidty?
d) What's the air pressure and density?
e) What is the muzzle velocity?
f) Do we make objects react to impact? If so, how complex?
etc.

Add on top of that, the volume of bullets created by a minigun. Then add on top of that 20 enemies firing mini guns at you at the same time. Do you make the enemies all show and their hits just a probability with no physics at all? Do you just not allow that many miniguns in the scene at a time? etc.

The early games broke down the physics of firing to as simple as this:
code:
if (cursor.target == enemy.hitbox)
// enemy hurt
else
// not hit


As the average computer grows more powerful, developers are adding more and more physics calculations, triangles on characters/walls/objects, and more objects that aren't attached to something.

But, as always, it is the graphics that are still killing performance more than anything else (binary sucks for graphics). So the more physics calculations you add, it is still the ability to render graphics that is dragging the performance down. Physics, except in games that are centered around it like World of Goo and Portal, just aren't that high of a priority.
Posted on Reply
#13
shk021051
is this physics only fo 4890 or all 4800 series?
Posted on Reply
#14
btarunr
Editor & Senior Moderator
shk021051 said:
is this physics only fo 4890 or all 4800 series?
Every ATI GPU Since Radeon HD 2000 series (all of which are capable of stream-processing).
Posted on Reply
#15
Wile E
Power User
I remember they ran a gpu physics demo back in the X1950 days.
Posted on Reply
#16
btarunr
Editor & Senior Moderator
Both ATI and NVIDIA announced GPU-physics support in reaction to Ageia back then. NVIDIA had something it called "Quantum Physics Technology", which was listed in the specs of 8800 GTX / GTS. Neither really had an approach.
Posted on Reply
#17
shk021051
what is time Havok Physics realese?
Posted on Reply
#18
FordGT90Concept
"I go fast!1!11!1!"
It was first released in 2000 and appeared on 150 games since.
Posted on Reply
#19
alexp999
Staff
Not taking a dig at Physx, but isnt Havok a lot more effeceint and use less resources on the CPU?

I have seen Havok on loads of games, especially on the 360, but hardly ever physx.
Posted on Reply
#20
FordGT90Concept
"I go fast!1!11!1!"
Havok is growing with CPU power (Havok FX was supposed to run on ATI and NVIDIA cards but it might be canceled). PhysX is really quite pointless when Havok does the job without requiring/recommending additional hardware.
Posted on Reply
#21
Mussels
Moderprator
alexp999 said:
Not taking a dig at Physx, but isnt Havok a lot more effeceint and use less resources on the CPU?

I have seen Havok on loads of games, especially on the 360, but hardly ever physx.
as has been said, havoc is Physics as we know it, while PhysX is just looks with no substance.

Look at mirrors edge, the physx does nothing but make glass and cloth look better when shot.
Posted on Reply
#22
alexp999
Staff
Thats what I have never got about Physx, it never seems to do that much but consumes tons of resources in the process.

Ragdoll physics of havok on the other hand are quite spectacular.
Posted on Reply
#23
btarunr
Editor & Senior Moderator
The one department where PhysX looks more promising than Havok, is destructible environments (DE). We got just a small glipse of that in Warmonger. DEs need a lot of processing, which is why GPUs and PPU have been able to keep up. You're not throwing barrels at your enemy, you're breaking a wall that accurately crumbles down into a large number of fragments.
Posted on Reply
#24
alexp999
Staff
btarunr said:
The one department where PhysX looks more promising than Havok, is destructible environments (DE). We got just a small glipse of that in Warmonger. DEs need a lot of processing, which is why GPUs and PPU have been able to keep up. You're not throwing barrels at your enemy, you're breaking a wall that accurately crumbles down into a large number of fragments.
What was the physics engine that the force unleashed used for its destructible environments?

EDIT:

Ahh wait here it is:

DMM Engine

That game used three physics engines! :eek:

Havok - General Physics
Euphoria - Character physics
DMM - Environmental Physics
Posted on Reply
#25
btarunr
Editor & Senior Moderator
PhysX does the job of all three: General (fluid, projectiles, - as in Warmonger, UT3), Character - as in Mirror's Edge, and Environmental - as inWarmonger, Cryostasis.
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