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AMD Showcases Havok Physics... Again?

By - Source: Tom's Hardware US | B 14 comments

A few years ago, AMD demonstrated hardware-based physics running on a GPU. Now it seems that the company is dipping its toes back into those waters again at GDC 2009.

This Thursday at GDC '09, AMD's Neal Robison and Jules Urbach will present Having Your Cake and Eating it Too: Increasing Game Realism, Scale and Reach, a 60-minute sponsored session that explores how improved realism in games doesn't necessarily have to increase development time and effort. The big "shock" here is that the session will deal with hardware game physics and game realism, something that hasn't been touched by AMD/ATI for a long while.

"Hear the latest on game computing featuring open, standards-based physics with OpenCL and ATI Stream, and increasing content scalability through server-side rendering powered by AMD's Fusion Render Cloud," reads the session detail over on the official GDC site (link). According to AMD Software Manager Terry Makedon, Havok is indeed the partner of choice, and the company plans to demonstrate ATI hardware-accelerated physics during the presentation (Twitter). "Go check out the session if you are around, should be educational," he said.

ATI originally dabbled in hardware-accelerated physics almost three years ago, displaying Havok FX running on ATI hardware and revealing that physics isn't just for looks, but can effect gameplay. The topic virtually dissipated, and was followed by Intel's purchase of Havok in 2007. However, ATI's return to Havok should not come as a surprise given that both companies announced a joint venture back in June 2008.

“As the complexity and visual fidelity of video games increases, AMD wants to take advantage of opportunities to improve the game experience,” said Rick Bergman, senior vice president and general manager, Graphics Products Group, AMD. “By working with the clear market leader in physics software, AMD can optimize our platforms to consistently deliver the best possible visual experience to the gamer.”

According to AMD, Havok Physics scales extremely well on the AMD Phenom X4 and the other quad-core products in addition to the entire line of AMD processors. The company also said last year that AMD and Havok planned to investigate the "massively parallel" ATI Radeon GPUs to manage "appropriate aspects of physical world simulation in the future." As it stands, that future will be revealed on Thursday.

"ATI GPU Physics strategy and ohhh maybe a demo [is] being thrown down next week at GDC. If you're there GO see it," said Makedon.

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  • 0 Hide
    gamerk316 , March 24, 2009 7:29 PM
    Heh, Backbreaker and the NaturalMotion team will shut everyone up at GDC this year. Thats when Physics will be shown off.
  • 5 Hide
    The Schnoz , March 24, 2009 8:23 PM
    AMD is in the perfect position to support both PhysX and Havok. If they are smart they will do so.
  • -8 Hide
    lire210 , March 24, 2009 8:29 PM
    i want physx and amd waaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhh
  • 2 Hide
    curnel_D , March 24, 2009 9:11 PM
    The SchnozAMD is in the perfect position to support both PhysX and Havok. If they are smart they will do so.

    Wont happen. Not only are they working closely with havok (and officially supporting PhysX would likely start a nosedive for havok), but to support PhysX, they'd have to buy the rights to use it off of Nvidia, who likely wont make it cheap. This would not only put AMD at the mercy of one more of it's direct competitors, but also kill their idea of price/performance. Nvidia is smart enough to know that if AMD came knocking, they could charge just enough to keep AMD's prices above Nvidia's so that they get 'all' the money.

    Havok sounds like AMD's best option, and it's too bad they couldnt buy them out before intel did.
  • 2 Hide
    jerreece , March 24, 2009 9:32 PM
    curnel_dWont happen. Not only are they working closely with havok (and officially supporting PhysX would likely start a nosedive for havok), but to support PhysX, they'd have to buy the rights to use it off of Nvidia, who likely wont make it cheap. This would not only put AMD at the mercy of one more of it's direct competitors, but also kill their idea of price/performance. Nvidia is smart enough to know that if AMD came knocking, they could charge just enough to keep AMD's prices above Nvidia's so that they get 'all' the money. Havok sounds like AMD's best option, and it's too bad they couldnt buy them out before intel did.


    Course, this also means AMD will own nVidia in certain games, and nVidia will own AMD in certain games. Unless software developers design a game to run either Havok or PhysX (doubtful) you'll be completely at the mercy of whomever makes your favorite game.

    Sure you can play Mirror's Edge without PhysX, as you will future titles. But you just may find yourself without that option should you have the wrong brand of video card for the particular game you want to play.
  • 5 Hide
    SneakySnake , March 24, 2009 9:41 PM
    Havok is already used by pretty much everyone, Nvidia just hypes Physx up like crazy. Physx has nothing the Havok doesn't have, and most game programmers have worked with Havok before so it should be a no brainer for AMD to start hyping it up to compete with nvidia
  • -1 Hide
    The Schnoz , March 24, 2009 10:03 PM
    curnel_dWont happen. Not only are they working closely with havok (and officially supporting PhysX would likely start a nosedive for havok), but to support PhysX, they'd have to buy the rights to use it off of Nvidia, who likely wont make it cheap. This would not only put AMD at the mercy of one more of it's direct competitors, but also kill their idea of price/performance. Nvidia is smart enough to know that if AMD came knocking, they could charge just enough to keep AMD's prices above Nvidia's so that they get 'all' the money. Havok sounds like AMD's best option, and it's too bad they couldnt buy them out before intel did.

    Yes but AMD doesn't have that much stock in the success of either. What do they care if Havok fails? Havok is owned by Intel. If they support both they will have a one up on both Intel (whom I suspect will put Havok acceleration in CPUs sometime soon) and Nvidia who are practically forced to only support one or the other. AMD is also in a great position because by supporting both they can decide to put Physics accelaration in GPUs and/or CPUs. Imagine being able to have physics acceleration of PhysX and Havok just by having a AMD CPU and/or GPU. Nvidia can't match it because they only have PhysX and only make GPUs, and Intel can't match it because they only support Havok (if you can call it support, really they just own it) and their GPUs suck donkey ass. I have a feeling Larabee will support Havok too. Also, Nvidia cannot charge much more to AMD for PhysX licensing than they do other companies, otherwise it would be illegal. They can decide not to licence it to them but thats not in their best interest. I say AMD should support both to set them apart from the competition. I know one reason I stick with Nvidia right now is PhysX and I don't even use it beyond my 3D Mark Vintage scores.
  • 0 Hide
    megamanx00 , March 25, 2009 1:27 AM
    I just hope they finally pull through this time. If they had pursued it earlier, instead of killing it off, then PhysX wouldn't have been such a big deal for nVidia. Of course the devs wouldn't like coding for two different physics setups :) .
  • 0 Hide
    Slobogob , March 25, 2009 1:40 AM
    Been there, done that. I won't believe anything they say until i can download a driver that enables Havok physics on my ATI card.
  • 0 Hide
    eklipz330 , March 25, 2009 1:58 AM
    Quote:
    “As the complexity and visual fidelity of video games increases, AMD wants to take advantage of opportunities to improve the game experience,” said Rick Bergman


    More like "we don't wanna be left in the dust and let nvidia take the lead...again"

    not a fanboy here, but that's what im really hearing. hey competition is NEVER a bad thing. do what you gotta amd to stay in the game
  • 5 Hide
    Anonymous , March 25, 2009 3:26 AM
    Pfft, I say just wait for directPhysics so there's a standard that everyone can use. No different from how the graphics APIs went. If directPhysics ends up being adopted by everyone (and if Microsoft does it right, why wouldn't everyone?), then nVidia and Intel will have both (for the most part) wasted their money.

    Wait for a standard. Blu-ray/HD-DVD anyone?
  • -1 Hide
    Dmerc , March 25, 2009 6:21 AM
    I just wish that there was an open source version that was not controlled by Nvida, AMD or Intel. It would make it much easier for Devs to create games and not have to worry about cutting their market in half by own using Physix or Havok.
  • 2 Hide
    neiroatopelcc , March 25, 2009 10:41 AM
    DmercI just wish that there was an open source version that was not controlled by Nvida, AMD or Intel. It would make it much easier for Devs to create games and not have to worry about cutting their market in half by own using Physix or Havok.

    I believe an open source version won't work. If devs have direct influence you'll need 8 versions of it for 8 different games to work properly. It'll end up like opengl - basicly useless.
    All it truely takes is for microsoft and some linux nerds to start developing a subset of directx that handles physics, and an equivalent library for linux to do the same stuff on the medival platform.
  • 0 Hide
    aracheb , March 25, 2009 4:15 PM
    The SchnozYes but AMD doesn't have that much stock in the success of either. What do they care if Havok fails? Havok is owned by Intel. If they support both they will have a one up on both Intel (whom I suspect will put Havok acceleration in CPUs sometime soon) and Nvidia who are practically forced to only support one or the other. AMD is also in a great position because by supporting both they can decide to put Physics accelaration in GPUs and/or CPUs. Imagine being able to have physics acceleration of PhysX and Havok just by having a AMD CPU and/or GPU. Nvidia can't match it because they only have PhysX and only make GPUs, and Intel can't match it because they only support Havok (if you can call it support, really they just own it) and their GPUs suck donkey ass. I have a feeling Larabee will support Havok too. Also, Nvidia cannot charge much more to AMD for PhysX licensing than they do other companies, otherwise it would be illegal. They can decide not to licence it to them but thats not in their best interest. I say AMD should support both to set them apart from the competition. I know one reason I stick with Nvidia right now is PhysX and I don't even use it beyond my 3D Mark Vintage scores.
    \



    If amd is smart enought, will implement the PHysx In their CPU.. and the Havoc in the GPU.