Just after AMD detailed its newly available FEMFX deformable physics library that was added to the GPUOpen library set, Nvidia announced Wednesday that it will also be working with the Finite Element Method. As it turns out, the PhysX 5.0 SDK is around the corner, set to land sometime in 2020.
The FEM method is already considered an industry standard in the automotive and manufacturing industries. Although it requires a large amount of power to complete the accurate simulations needed in these industries, for graphics and gaming simpler meshes can be used to calculate more basic physical interactions to keep workloads manageable. Of course, the finite element method doesn't have to be used on all objects in a digital environment -- only those the developers wish to have the physical properties associated with it.
Unfortunately, Nvidia didn't detail what additional features it would be implementing in PhysX 5.0. It did say that for fluid simulations the discrete element method (DEM) would be used, as well as smoothed particle hydrodynamics.
Nvidia will also be implementing arbitrary meshes, which will simulate cloth or rope. Paired with this, the cloth or fabrics can also have inflatable properties as well as interact with the air around them by means of simple aerodynamic lift and drag simulations, so throwing around inflated objects should behave differently from, say, rocks.
Of course, what we're hoping for is that Nvidia's SDK and AMD's developer tools will somehow play nicely with each other, though that's probably asking for a lot. Chances are that anything developed with Nvidia PhysX 5.0 will require an Nvidia GPU to run.
Nvidia didn't say when exactly it will unleash the PhysX 5.0 SDK, only that more details would be available near the launch.