No more doubts about the impact of physics processing in the graphics industry. Following Ageia's announcement to offer a physics card last year, Nvidia and ATI have been somewhat quiet about the future of hardware-based physics processing. Now, the two firms appear to be trying to catch up quickly.
Nvidia recently announced that it will use excess pixel horsepower in dual- ore quad-graphics card systems to enable physics via its SLI driver software. As previously expected, ATI presented its idea how to calculate the natural behavior of thousands of interacting objects - such as in flowing water, windswept hair or explosions - through an additional graphics card.
Half a year ago, the company was thinking about a load-balancing approach, similar to Nvidia's idea. Now we hear that ATI will try to convince gamers to buy a third graphics card, which will be used exclusively as physics processing unit. Other than Ageia, ATI will give gamers a choice of different physics performance capabilities. A card based on the X1600 graphics processor will be the minimum requirement to run physics; more speed will be offered through X1800 or X1900 units.
The company claims that, depending on the graphics chip, a third card will offer up to four times the performance of Ageia's standalone physics card.