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Carmack: Hardware Physics A Bad Idea

How does it feel when one of the biggest developers of this era thinks your product is a big waste of time and money? That kind of opinion is like a swift kick in the groin, but that's basically what id Software's John Carmack said--not in private behind closed doors--but during a Q&A session at QuakeCon 2009 when asked about his thoughts on hardware physics.

"I think I was fairly public about my thinking that that was a really bad idea, and in fact it was pretty clear to me from early on that the whole idea for that was to do a startup to be acquired," he answered.

As he indicated, Carmack made his feelings regarding hardware-based physics well known in the past (story), stating that he wasn't a "believer" in physics processing units (PPUs), and that multiple CPU cores would be much more useful in general. He also previously said that some tasks would work just fine when GPUs finally get "reasonably fine-grained context switching and scheduling."

But his answer during the QuakeCon 2009 Q&A session seemed more like an attack on Ageia and its PhysX PPU that was eventually assimilated by the Nvidia collective. "I actually had a really quite negative opinion about stuff like that because they went out, they evangelized, they got some people to buy a piece of hardware that I didn't think was actually a good technical direction for things on there; certainly was going to be supplanted by later generations of more integrated compute resources on there," he continued. "I don't think it was a good idea, I certainly wasn't a backer of the company, and I hope NVIDIA didn't pay a whole lot of money for them."

Ouch. To catch the full-blown attack on hardware-based physics, check out Carmack in action captured here on YouTube.