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Valve explains Multicore Gaming

During a recent Hardware Day event in Bellevue, Wash., Valve spent about an hour with journalists to explain its vision for modifying the Source game engine to take advantage of multicore processors. More than one processor core will be able to not only r

During a recent Hardware Day event in Bellevue, Wash., Valve spent about an hour with journalists to explain its vision for modifying the Source game engine to take advantage of multicore processors. More than one processor core will be able to not only r

There are several ways to thread games: The easiest way is referred to as "coarse threading: This approach will put entire tasks, such as rendering or AI, onto different cores. Coarse threading apparently does not scale very well, resulting in a speed gai

There are several ways to thread games : The easiest way is referred to as "coarse threading : This approach will put entire tasks, such as rendering or AI, onto different cores. Coarse threading apparently does not scale very well, resulting in a speed gai

Fine grain threading yields more performance: This technique divides tasks across multiple cores - and brings a 6x improvement when all four Kentsfield cores are exhausted.

Fine grain threading yields more performance : This technique divides tasks across multiple cores - and brings a 6x improvement when all four Kentsfield cores are exhausted.

Valve's approach is a combination of coarse and fine grain threading to allow a maximum usage of all available cores.

Valve’s approach is a combination of coarse and fine grain threading to allow a maximum usage of all available cores.

Besides development, there's, of course the question, how threading will pay off for the gamer. Simple answer: Higher frame rates and more intelligent realism.

Besides development, there’s, of course the question, how threading will pay off for the gamer. Simple answer : Higher frame rates and more intelligent realism.

So far, highly complex physics were limited to very few games and expensive add-in cards. Valve believes that physics, or particle simulation can be calculated on multicore processors. Intel's first quad-core processor achieves …

So far, highly complex physics were limited to very few games and expensive add-in cards. Valve believes that physics, or particle simulation can be calculated on multicore processors. Intel’s first quad-core processor achieves …

… about six times the particle performance of a single-core Pentium 4 3.2 GHz.

… about six times the particle performance of a single-core Pentium 4 3.2 GHz.

Particle simulations can be used in various scenarios, such as this bouncing light demo, …

Particle simulations can be used in various scenarios, such as this bouncing light demo, …

… fire and smoke …

… fire and smoke …

… or realistically moving and falling objects such as these boxes and chairs.

… or realistically moving and falling objects such as these boxes and chairs.

More processing power will allow game developers allow to also control many more intelligent objects. In this example, 500 critters were motivated to dynamically align in a certain shape.

More processing power will allow game developers allow to also control many more intelligent objects. In this example, 500 critters were motivated to dynamically align in a certain shape.