Silicon Valley chip maker AGEIATechnologies Inc. today introduced its Physics Processing Unit (PPU) at the Game Developers Conference (GDC). The company’s debut product, the AGEIA PhysX, will be the first dedicated physics semiconductor chip to be used in next-generation game platforms. Major game companies such as Ubisoft and Epic Games are developing titles that take advantage of the new hardware.
While most game developers use software-based physics engines to enable objects and characters to interact in a realistic way, AGEIA asserts that dedicated physics hardware is needed to maximize the potential of today’s gaming platforms. The company says that by performing advanced physics simulations in real time, the PPU can respond to environments and gamer actions in a way that makes for a more immersive experience. AGEIA is likening the debut of the PPU to the introduction of the GPU (Graphics Processing Unit) in the late 1990s.
PhysX will offer a host of advanced features including universal collision detection, rigid-body dynamics, soft-body dynamics, fluid dynamics, smart particle systems, clothing simulation, soft-body deformation with tearing and brittle fracturing for destruction of objects in gaming environments.
AGEIA has also released a software development kit designed to help game developers create hardware-accelerated titles. The company says the NovodeX Physics SDK is already in wide use by game developers, many of whom expect to have hardware-accelerated titles available by Christmas, 2005. AGEIA boasts that NovodeX is also the only multithreaded physics SDK on the market today and says that it will give developers a head start in preparing for tomorrow’s multiprocessor PCs and game platforms.