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.