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ATI Runs PhysX With Modified Drivers

By - Source: Tom's Hardware US | B 37 comments
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Haifa (Israel) - This one did not take long: We already knew that Nvidia is working on a CUDA version for x86 CPUs, but said it would leave a modification for ATI GPUs to others. Eran Badit of told us that he has done it already and was able to get the Nvidia PhysX layer to run on ATI Radeon cards.

After playing with Nvidia’s CUDA SDK and PhysX SDK, Eran apparently got the PhysX layer to play along with Radeon cards. He mentioned that enabling PhysX support on Radeon cards is not particularly difficult, leading us to believe that physics on graphics cards may not so much be a technology problem but a game of politics.

Eran said that he will be offering the ATI PhysX-enabling utility on as soon as he gets his hands on more hardware to check the application on more than one graphics card. We are told that he is testing hardware already, which means that the software should be available "soon".

On his first run, Eran got a 22,606 CPU score in 3D Mark Vantage, enhancing the overall score to P4262. A comparable system without PhysX-support will cross the finish line at about P3800.

We are told that there is currently no relationship between and AMD’s PR team, which means that Eran does not have access to Radeon 4850 or 4870 cards. Check the website for the software to become available this weekend.

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  • 0 Hide
    enewmen , June 26, 2008 6:53 PM
    This keeps getting better. So, I expect a standard Physics API sometime in the see-able future.
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    nukemaster , June 26, 2008 6:56 PM
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    DXRick , June 26, 2008 7:12 PM
    DirectX has always been a hardware abstraction layer (HAL) that gives developers the same API that will work on all video cards that support it. Making the PhysX SDK work the same way would be the best solution for game developers, so that they don't have to write different code for the different video cards.

    The fact that Nvidia has developed PhysX to only work on their cards, is not doing any favors for game developers. Time will tell if they are developing PhysX purely for their own selfish interests or actually care about the needs of game developers....

  • Display all 37 comments.
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    hannibal , June 26, 2008 7:29 PM
    The Nvidia is worried about Havok, this may be the only way of making Physx more appealing compared to Havok... The problem is that they can make Physx so that it will run much faster on Nvidia cards by clever programing... well at least the situation is now better than it was some time ago.
    I still think that we need DirectPhysic api, from MS to make this clear...

    One link more:

    All in all very interresting thing to happen! There is allso very active discussion of this subject in Futuremark discussion board. Many people have very passionate opinions in this matter indeed!

    ATI's responce was not so polite, but I hope that they make official move towards GPU physiscs soon enough, so that the playing field will be leveled again.
  • 0 Hide
    martel80 , June 26, 2008 7:36 PM
    Isn't this some kind of bootleg? I mean nvidia could perhaps outlaw the software as they don't get royalties for the PhysX technology they own.
    It's like those bootleg Sound Blaster drivers that enabled Dolby Digital (or DTS?) on cards for which the royalty hasn't been paid.
  • 0 Hide
    one-shot , June 26, 2008 7:44 PM
    cool is my response
  • 4 Hide
    Mr_Man , June 26, 2008 9:25 PM
    I don't think Microsoft should make it. That would turn out like DirectX 10, meaning us Linux-users couldn't play it out of the box with Wine very easily, if at all.
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    kilkennycat , June 26, 2008 9:53 PM
    I suspect that nVidia might just require some license revenue for PhysX calls at GPU driver level. They now own all of the PhysX IP. I doubt if AMD/ATi will get a free ride here, and from the article it seems as if nVidia would be very willing to discuss the subject in detail with ATi.
  • 1 Hide
    nekatreven , June 26, 2008 9:59 PM
    Keeping DX10 and other advanced gaming tech off of Linux is (sadly) probably in the interest of most of these companies right now. Its not like someone 'forgot' to write in native linux support for DX10...they wouldn't even put it on XP for crying out loud.

    Its unfortunate, but keeping it from working out of the box on linux is kind of the point. The only thing that will really ever change this is linux gaining more market share.
  • 1 Hide
    nukemaster , June 26, 2008 11:46 PM
    Nvidia will be releasing it for all 8000, 9000 and 200 cards in the future.
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    liemfukliang , June 26, 2008 11:48 PM
    Please make it enable for other Nvidia Card beside the 4 official one.
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    Anonymous , June 27, 2008 2:47 AM
    Here my 2 cents for what they are worth. The only thing PhysX has going for it right now is the Unreal Tournament 3 engine that uses PhysX as its physics API. There are ALOT of games coming out running with the engine which is really the only good thing for PhysX right now. Havok has been much more widely used in the past and will be in the future since it has been around for so long and it is designed to run just fine on any card be it nVidia or ATI. Had nVidia not bought PhysX it would have faded into the back ground as yet another failed technology. Fortunately nVidia saw a cheap deal on something they could use and license to other people and make money from. Who is going to come out on top is up for grabs as it stands not Havok has a much wider user base and the benefit of running on any GPU hardware where as up until these hacked drivers PhysX was going to only run in nVidia hardware.
  • 1 Hide
    Mathos , June 27, 2008 5:26 AM
    If this works out right, this will also improve the performance of the ATI cards in the games that are their current weak points.... Namely those that use the Unreal Engine 3 that benefits from PhysX support.
  • 0 Hide
    niz , June 27, 2008 9:14 AM
    I have an 2 8800GTXs but the drivers with Physx in them detect the card and only allow you to install it on 9xxx cards and newer. There is hardly if any differece between the 8800GTX GPU and the 9xxx GPU other than clockspeeds. Its obviously nVidia are playing marketing games to get people to needlessly 'upgrade' rather than any actual technical need.
    Now even ATI cards can use this before it even will install on my Nvidia 8800GTX which especailly proves my point.
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    spaztic7 , June 27, 2008 1:45 PM
    This is great and all, but will it really matter in games? Do you really want your video card wasting power on Physx when it could be rendering more frames (assuming the game in a taxing game where it uses the GPU at 100%)?

    Havok has more then enough power in that to generate very good physics. HL2 and that engine shows software base physics is very good, not to mention that Havok is not only used in games, but also other renderings for things like weather, military, movies, media, so on and so forth.

    The age old question, is Physx even worth it or is it just a sales gimmick?
  • 2 Hide
    MxM , June 27, 2008 3:32 PM
    I do like Physx approach much more than Havok's. To have specialized hardware is much better than general purpose software run on general purpose processor. It is also cheaper - you do not need to upgrade video card AND processor for the next gen games, just video card with PhysX.
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    spaztic7 , June 27, 2008 4:28 PM
    I do like Physx approach much more than Havok's. To have specialized hardware is much better than general purpose software run on general purpose processor. It is also cheaper - you do not need to upgrade video card AND processor for the next gen games, just video card with PhysX.

    The thing today is, Physx won’t be its own slap of hardware anymore. It's controlled by Nvidia and does whatever Nvidia tells it to do. Physx is now more or less software controlled but for, as we see now, any hardware to run.

    It’s cool to see it run, but is it worth it?
  • 0 Hide
    arrpeegeer , June 27, 2008 6:41 PM
    Props to someone lone soul in Israel doing what...a more responsible company should be doing.

    Corporate politics makes me want to puke sometimes. Well, almost all the time.
  • 0 Hide
    chechak , June 27, 2008 6:46 PM
    ATI and Physx=stable performance
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    silversound , June 27, 2008 7:08 PM
    So is CUBA an open program or API?
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