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Nvidia Smokes 3DMark Thanks to PhysX

By - Source: Tom's Hardware US | B 53 comments


Mountain House (CA) - Nvidia’s released two powerful weapons with its GeForce 9800 GTX+ graphics card: The company can now compete against AMD’s brilliant Radeon 4850 graphics card on price and the company finally has an answer to ATI’s dominance in 3DMark benchmarks. You can bet the farm on Nvidia claiming the highest scores in the physics discipline.

We were able to get a first impression of the PhysX performance of Nvidia’s latest cards by using the company’s ForceWare Rel177.39 drivers and an executable file named PhysX 8.06.12.exe. We found that the new ForceWare driver has serious installation problems and the software felt a bit rushed to us although since our initial tests, Nvidia has corrected the problems.

Aside from that hiccup, Nvidia appears to have a jewel on its hands. The results we saw in the CPU Test 2 - Crash’n’Burn Physics discipline were impressive. So, how much more physics horsepower does the GPU deliver in physics than the CPU?

Our Intel Core 2 Extreme QX9650 clocked at 3802 MHz delivered a CPU score of 15,005, which jumped to 42,436 using a single GTX 280 card. With two GTX 280 boards, we got 42,374 CPU marks, and three GTX 280 boards resulted in a CPU score of 41,387.

The decreasing score of the 2-way and 3-way SLI configurations are not surprising, as PhysX uses only one GPU and currently isn’t multi-GPU scalable. So, the lower score should be expected, especially since the SLI bridge is taking its toll: CPU cycles are consumed because of the synchronization between two or three cards. Additionally, there is an increased saturation of PCI Express bus.

It is interesting to note the overall 3DMark score. Compared to the preceding driver, the GTX 280 performance index jumped by 2000 3DMarks (17%) for a single-card configuration. With two cards, the performance index jumped by a massive 5343 3DMarks. This is an astonishing 25% increase from one driver version to the other.

However, Triple-SLI showed that even our 3.8 GHz CPU limited the capability of the GPUa - since one CPU apparently cannot feed all three GPUs. We witnessed a performance increase of only 17% compared to CPU-only physics.

Nvidia’s new PhysX driver delivers a higher score only in Performance mode, while the Extreme mode is predominately GPU bound, which means that the impact of a faster CPU is limited.

Nvidia promised that it will deliver PhysX API compatible with all GeForce 8 and 9 cards in July. For now, PhysX only works on the GeForce models GTX 260, 280, 9800GT, 9800GTX, 9800GTX+ and 9800GX2.

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  • -4 Hide
    grieve , June 20, 2008 10:03 PM
    Nice, good news from the Nvidia corner.
  • 3 Hide
    dmacfour , June 20, 2008 10:13 PM
    Yeah and how many games can use PhysX? Two?
  • 4 Hide
    nachowarrior , June 20, 2008 10:19 PM
    i think it's nice, but it's still synthetic. It'll likely be like any other new tech introduced into the field... and will take several generations to actually be useful. I'll save my money untill it may or may not be useful... and with only one video card company owning it... i doubt that game developers take full advantage of it... with any luck havoc will either be fast enough, or cheap enough, or easy enough for developers to keep pushing physics based games farther without worrying about hardware... this essentially throws the 3dmark score down the toilet IMO.
  • Display all 53 comments.
  • 1 Hide
    lopopo , June 20, 2008 10:31 PM
    It's always the same crap nowadays. You would think that after such a long time the computer industry would realize that it's cohesiveness and standards which create a healthy marketplace. It's cohesiveness of standards that makes possible USB and PCI. How does this apply to this article? Look up how many games have some physics support and how many others fake them. Without software whats the point?
    This segment of the economy (computers/software)needs to have a road map as a whole, or else it's just more of the same: Quad core processors with SMT when most programs don't even scale well to 4. Build a SLI/CF rig but drivers don't scale as they should. Best of all the USB 3.0 fiasco.
  • -1 Hide
    nachowarrior , June 20, 2008 10:48 PM
    agreed lopopo, see my statement about form factors using "atx" and "micro atx" as eg's
  • 5 Hide
    caamsa , June 20, 2008 11:02 PM
    Like I give a rats a$$ about a 3D mark score. Now how about a review of the new 4850. I am sick of hearing about Nvidia all the time.
  • 1 Hide
    NarwhaleAu , June 20, 2008 11:07 PM
    I'd be impressed if Nvidia released this 6 months ago instead of the day after the HD4850 smoked the 9800GTX.
  • -2 Hide
    goonting , June 20, 2008 11:30 PM
    Nvidia Smokes! Nvidia Cuda! Nvidia GTX 2XX! wow 3 in a row
  • 2 Hide
    techguy911 , June 20, 2008 11:42 PM
    some of the game that physx supports:

    Game Title Developer Platform
    2 Days to Vegas Steel Monkeys PC
    Adrenalin 2: Rush Hour Gaijin Entertainment PC
    Age of Empires III Distineer Studios PC, Mac
    Age of Empires III: The WarChiefs Distineer Studios Mac
    Alpha Prime Black Element Software PC
    Auto Assault Net Devil PC
    Backbreaker Natural Motion TBA
    B.A.S.E. Jumping Digital Dimension Development PC
    Bet on Soldier: Blackout Saigon Kylotonn Entertainment PC
    Bet on Soldier: Blood of Sahara Kylotonn Entertainment PC
    Bet on Soldier: Blood Sport Kylotonn Entertainment PC
    Beowulf Ubisoft PS3, X360
    Bladestorm: The Hundred Years' War Koei PS3, X360
    Captain Blood Akella PC, X360
    Cellfactor: Combat Training Artifical Studios, Immersion Games PC
    Cellfactor: Revolution Artifical Studios, Immersion Games PC
    City of Villains Cryptic Studios PC
    Crazy Machines II FAKT Software PC
    Cryostasis Action Forms PC
    Dark Physics The Game Creators PC
    Desert Diner Tarsier Studios PC
    Dragonshard Atari PC
    Dusk 12 Orion PC
    Empire Above All IceHill PC
    Empire Earth III Mad Dog Software PC
    Entropia Universe MindArk PC
    Fallen Earth Icarus Studios PC
    Fury Auran Games PC
    Gears Of War Epic Games PC, X360
    Gluk'Oza: Action GFI Russia PC
    GooBall Ambrosia software Mac
    Gothic 3 Piranha Bytes PC
    Gunship Apocalypse FAKT Software PC
    Heavy Rain Quantic Dream PC
    Hero's Jorney Simutronics PC
    Hour of Victory nFusion Interactive X360
    Hunt, The Orion PC
    Huxley Webzen, Inc PC, X360
    Infernal Metropolis Software PC
    Inhabited island: Prisoner of Power Orion PC
    Joint Task Force Most Wanted Entertainment PC
    Kuma\WAR Kuma Reality Games PC
    Magic ball 3 Alawar Entertaiment PC
    Mass Effect BioWare PC, X360
    Medal of Honor: Airborne EA Los Angeles PC, X360
    Metro 2033 4A Games PC
    Mobile Suit Gundam: Crossfire BEC PS3
    Monster Madness: Battle for Suburbia Artificial Studios PC, X360
    Monster Truck Maniax Legendo Entertainment PC
    Myst Online: URU Live Cyan Worlds PC
    Open Fire BlueTorch Studios PC
    Paragraph 78 Gaijin Entertainment PC
    Pirates of the Burning Sea Flying Lab Software PC
    PT Boats: Knights of the Sea Akella PC
    Rail Simulator Kuju Entertainment Ltd PC
    Red Steel Ubisoft Paris Wii
    Rise Of Nations: Rise Of Legends Big Huge Games PC
    Roboblitz Naked Sky Entertainment PC, X360
    Sacred 2 ASCARON Entertainment PC
    Sherlock Holmes: The Awakened Frogwares Game Development Studio PC
    Showdown: Scorpion B-COOL Interactive PC
    Silverfall Monte Cristo PC
    Sovereign Symphony Ceidot Game Studios PC
    Sonic and the Secret Rings SEGA Wii
    Speedball 2 Kylotonn Entertainment PC
    Stalin Subway, The Orion PC
    Stoked Rider: Alaska Alien Bongfish Interactive Entertainment PC
    Switchball Atomic Elbow PC
    Tension Ice-pick Lodge PC
    Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter GRIN PC, X360
    Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter 2 GRIN, Ubisoft Paris PC, X360
    Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six Vegas Ubisoft Montreal PC, PS3, X360
    Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Double Agent (multiplayer) Ubisoft Shanghai PC, X360
    Tortuga: Two Treasures Ascaron Entertainment PC
    Two Worlds Reality Pump PC
    Ultra Tubes Eipix PC
    Unreal Tournament 3 Epic Games PC, PS3, X360
    Unreal Tournament 3: Extreme Physics Mod Epic Games PC
    Warfare GFI Russia PC
    Warmonger: Operation Downtown Destruction Net Devil PC
    W.E.L.L. Online Sibilant Interactive PC
    Winterheart's Guild Zelian Games PC, X360
    WorldShift Black Sea Studios PC
  • 3 Hide
    SykaSirKits , June 20, 2008 11:58 PM
    I personally believe that 3 way SLI is stretching it in terms of a typical PC enthusiast, even for a power user or custom PC builder. Right now the driver and software support doesn't warrant such a purchase or ridiculousness. It makes more sense, to me at least, to work on producing a better SINGLE graphics card capable of the same, if not more feats, than multiple ones stringed together in some "ganged" configuration sharing almost the same bus lines. I have to say although I am an avid NVidia fanboy, I have little experience with ATI cards (except for my desktop which is 2 years old and has an ATI radeon XPress 700 card which was "state of the art" at the time). What the future will bring, in terms of SLI, is really a question of who's willing to support such extravagant hardware configurations.
  • 1 Hide
    dmacfour , June 21, 2008 12:50 AM

    Any how many of those would you actually play? Compare that to the amount of big titles that have come out since PhysX was introduced. The question is who cares if Nvidia has PhysX support when all of about 20 big name games support it. Unless you like the inflated 3Dmark score.
  • 0 Hide
    L1qu1d , June 21, 2008 1:32 AM
    There is a a whole list of games that use PhysX on Nvidia website including one of my favorites Unreal 3:D 
  • 2 Hide
    mr roboto , June 21, 2008 1:34 AM
    I like how they don't even tell you what version\year of 3DMark they are talking about.
  • 2 Hide
    stabgotham , June 21, 2008 1:46 AM
    Techguy911: who plays those games, though (outside of Mass Effect and UT3...both of which I am surprised to see on that list)???
  • 0 Hide
    cal8949 , June 21, 2008 2:31 AM
    since nvidia and ati are starting to add on physics to their cards. it would be worth it for the programmers to use a physics engine. they're not going to spend time for physics for the 2% of the pc gaming world. this is a good move, tomorrow games will support physics and i love it

    i don't even know anyone with a physics card and that's why there's no games that support it.

    there will be ati headlines all next week when they release their cards, it seams like toms never wants to post early reviews. because half of them are fake
  • 5 Hide
    bosnian81 , June 21, 2008 3:32 AM
    Couple of things:

    1. Is there anyone who really cares about synthetic benchmarks over the real ones? What good does getting a high score in 3DMark is when it doesn't mean much in real games. If these were meaningful, 2900XT would be the king of the hill when it came out.

    2. Are you guys sponsored by NVidia? Like many have already posted, 3 out of 5 topics in the Headline section are about NVidia, while 4850 review is nowhere to be found. You know the card is on sale now and it has single handedly brought the price of 9800GTX down by 40% in month and a half? And we are talking about GDDR3 version of the card. What will GDDR5 do? If 4870 better than 4850 as much as 3870 was better than 3850, in a month GTX 260 and 280 will be at least 25% cheaper, if not more (and your recommendation of a $400 card will look very silly).

    I am not a fanboy (I own 8800GTS). I am just glad that ATI is back and hopefully can flex its muscles hard enough for NVidia to realize that charging $400+ for a video card is ridiculous. Seems that days of ripping customers off are over.

    3. What is up with the red circles on the picture? You guys know that MS Paint is included with your computer?
  • 3 Hide
    Ixad , June 21, 2008 3:33 AM
    If only NVidia had allowed XFire to function on their motherboards, maybe ATI would have sided with the Green Team against Intel, and selected PhysX instead of Havoc. Perhaps then the industry would finally start a shift towards a unified standard. With so many developers financially dependent on NVidia's support at this point, however, this now seems less likely than ever.

    The lack of a unified standard, is *not a good thing*. Vantage has it's uses, but it is, in the end, a synthetic, and does not always accurately reflect the performance we as end users see in games.

    As someone that owns a NVidia based system (NForce 6 motherboard and SLI'd 9 series GPU's)I am very happy to see the promise of built in physics support through CUDA coming to fruition. I am less excited at the lack of a unfied standard that all GPU's can support, however.

    That being said, I have read all I care to about CUDA, or NVidia's laughable claim that the CPU is "dead technology". I hope to see at least some sort of nod towards ATI's major accomplishment sometime next week when I check the site. I am dissappointed that the most exciting thing since the 8800GT to hit mainstream gaming gets launched by the Red Team this week and 2/5 stories continue to feature NVidia propaganda (the GTX280 review not withstanding, I very much enjoyed the review of that card).
  • -5 Hide
    jujubefruit , June 21, 2008 6:21 AM
    I am confused, The game physics library (dll) for most games come from Ageia. The hardware version like physics processor, also come from Ageia.

    Nvidia bought Ageia, right?
    AMD bought ATI right?

    So when it comes down to physics in gameplay, this article sounds like AMD is leader in physics in gameplay. How is this posible when Nvidia owns Ageia? Who's the sucker here? Wake-up people.

    IS there a reason why AMD miraculously has leadership in physics in gameplay? AMD only bought ATI. What's the matter with you pc gamers? Where's your brains? Duh, did you crash it in oblivion? Again?

    The article should start with a rephrase bold font saying "once again, Nvidia take great leadership in physics in gameplay showing everyone how AMD is playing catchup yet again..."

    Hey, I love AMD, I love AMD cpu, but AMD did not buy Ageia. Period. Any question?

  • -4 Hide
    dragonsprayer , June 21, 2008 6:27 AM
    this article has me confused - i think i miss read it. does the new gpu logic make the cpu faster in 3dmark06? wow - my bad - no ones perfect!
  • 6 Hide
    pingu_Z , June 21, 2008 8:12 AM
    Call me crazy but from what I have seen the 4850 in most cases edges out the 9800 GTX, and the 4850 is beaten out by the GTX 260. So if this 9800 GTX+ is in fact slightly faster than the 4850 does it not encroach upon the GTX 260 by a very close margin, for what would be roughly half the price? If in fact true this would make me as a potential customer call into the question the worthiness of the 260 as a viable product.
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