Microsoft Buys Havok Physics From Intel

Microsoft today is announcing their acquisition of Havok Physics from long time owner Intel. Used in a large number of AAA games as middleware and psysics engine, Havok is known for enabling complex 3D physics based solely on CPU compute power. While some may worry that Microsoft will no longer develop Havok publicly and turn it in-house, the software giant is reassuring the community that it will continue to license out the software.

Havok was originally acquired by Intel back in 2007. Back then, Havok was actually working with ATI (AMD) and Nvidia on developing a GPU based physics engine called HavokFX. That effort was largely shelved when Intel swooped in, with the chip giant focusing the core development onto the CPU side of things. Nvidia ended up pursuing GPU physics with their purchase of Ageia and PhysX. With Microsoft now back in charge and given the relatively weak CPU found in the Xbox One, Havok now finally push forward a third-party GPU physics engine capable of running on AMD and likely even Nvidia hardware.

Another interesting point is the potential for integration between Dx12 or the next DX and Havok. With a new firm in charge, Havok may push for an implementation that is, let’s just say, more equitable for all CPU vendors. For AMD, this can only be good news as one of the most popular physics engines is now moving from the hands of a competitor to a partner. It will be interesting to see how Microsoft will manage this purchase.

AMD Says Nvidia Sabotaged Witcher 3 Performance

There was an internet war  earlier this week as gaming fans decided that, once again, Nvidia’s GameWorks technology was messing with the performance of its games on AMD hardware.

At first it was the racing game, Project Cars that attracted the attention of the vast Reddit community, with people stating that the game is built on a version of PhysX that doesn’t work on AMD hardware.

In response, AMD’s corporate VP of alliances Roy Taylor responded with a tweet, saying “Thank for supporting/ wanting an open and fair PC gaming industry.”This was  followed by a Reddit reply from Nvidia’s GameWorks director Rev Lebaredian, saying that “PhysX within Project Cars does not offload any computation to the GPU on any platform, including NVIDIA. I’m not sure how the OP came to the conclusion that it does, but this has never been claimed by the developer or us; nor is there any technical proof offered in this thread that shows this is the case.”

With complaints flowing in, Project Cars developer Slightly Mad Studios joined the ongoing battle, and proceeded to place the blame for the game’s issues squarely on AMD. “We’ve provided AMD with 20 keys for game testing as they work on the driver side,” said Ian Bell. “But you only have to look at the lesser hardware in the consoles to see how optimised we are on AMD based chips.”

Whilst AMD seems to have made up with Slightly Mad Studios, the company is facing yet another supposedly GameWorks-related struggle with CD Projekt Red’s fresh release The Witcher 3. The game makes use of several GameWorks technologies, one of  which adds tens of thousands of tessellated hair strands to characters, dramatically decreases frame rate performance on AMD graphics cards, sometimes by as much as 50 percent.

A developer from the company stated :

“Many of you have asked us if AMD Radeon GPUs would be able to run NVIDIA’s HairWorks technology—the answer is yes! However, unsatisfactory performance may be experienced, as the code of this feature cannot be optimized for AMD products. Radeon users are encouraged to disable NVIDIA HairWorks if the performance is below expectations.”

AMD make it sound that Nvidia isn’t willing to share the source code for its proprietary graphics APIs like HairWorks and HBAO+. Without that source code, AMD can’t optimize its drivers for Nvidia’s tech. Nvidia responded to the claims and refused to go along with the argument that access to source code would solve AMD’s problems.

You can disable the HairWorks feature to return your frame rate, but obviously, you will lose some of the phenomenal detail.

Thank You to arstechnica for providing us with this information

Image courtesy of GameSpot

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt GeForce GTX Bundle Now Available

NVIDIA has previously indicated that they will be shipping a copy of the most anticipated RPG game of the year, The Wither 3: Wild Hunt, along with select graphics solutions. For those who are not familiar with the game, The Witcher titles are excellent storytelling RPGs, with a lot of branching quests and morally ambiguous choices.

In the latest title, NVIDIA made sure that the game uses advanced graphics. By ‘advanced graphics’ we mean that CD Projekt Red, The Witcher’s developer, has teamed up with NVIDIA to add its new techniques and the latest effects in order to bring fantastical scenes to life with the help of NVIDIA GameWorks effects, including HBAO+, HairWorks, and PhysX.

NVIDIA is apparently giving a copy of the title bundled with its “Undeniably Epic” GeForce GTX 980, 970 or 960 graphic cards, for both desktop and notebook solutions. A list of retailers can be found here.

Source: GeForce

NVIDIA Just Made Its PhysX Source Code Free

‘Free’ looks like the word everyone is using recently when it comes to technology. After we saw Epic make its Unreal Engine 4 available for free, it now looks like NVIDIA is taking the same approach with its PhysX technology by giving away its source code for free.

While some bits of the PhysX technology were available for free on Windows, the developer now has given the full source code, which means that it will include the PhysX Clothing and PhysX Destruction features.

By having the full source code free and available for anyone out there, developers will be able to take full advantage of this world-class physics effect in their games, as well as speed up the adoption of the technology in future games.

Unreal Engine 4 itself has the Clothing and Destruction technologies integrated into the engine. However, developers can now add the technology in their own game engines, should they choose not to use the UE4 engine.

The aforementioned technology has been seen in titles such as Batman: Arkham Asylum, Batman: Arkham City, Bioshock Infinite, Borderlands 2, Lords of the Fallen, Monster Hunter Online, Daylight, as well as the upcoming title, The Witcher 3.

All PhysX technologies can be found in the NVIDIA GameWorks library, including the latest version of PhysX, namely 3.3.3. It is said that the latter version brings improved stability and performance, along with features such as constrained rigid body dynamics, collision detection, scene queries, character controller, particles, vehicles and much more.

The GameWorks library can be found on GitHub and accessed via the NVIDIA GameWorks Developer Program.

Thank you Guru3D for providing us with this information

NVIDIA Makes PhysX 3.3.3 Free to Unreal Engine 4 Developers

Following the free release of Unreal Engine 4, Epic has announced that, in partnership with NVIDIA, developers using Unreal will have access to NVIDIA’s PhysX 3.3.3 physics engine, plus its source code.

statement from Epic Games reads:

“Today we’re excited to announce an expansion of that partnership with NVIDIA providing all UE4 developers with not just binary but C++ source access to the CPU-based implementation of PhysX 3.3.3, including the clothing and destruction libraries, through Epic’s Unreal Engine repository on GitHub.”

Epic is making great strides to make its game developer resources available to prospective creators for free, though the Unreal 4 agreement carries a 5% quarterly royalty charge on shipped games after the first $3,000 profit.

Epic’s statement continued:

“This means that the entire UE4 community can now view and modify this PhysX code alongside the complete C++ source code for UE4. Modifications can be shared with NVIDIA who will review and incorporate accepted submissions into their main PhysX branch, which then flows into future versions of UE4.”

Source: Dark Side of Gaming

Nvidia Shows Off GameWorks PhysX FleX

Nvidia has just released a new video which showcases their latest GameWorks PhysX Flex features. The software is a great demonstration of their powerful development tools and shows how easy it is becoming to create simulation based real-time visual effects.

The demonstration highlights advancements in rigid body stacking, particle piles, soft bodies and fluids, which may sound like gibberish to some of you, but the video is pretty self-explanatory.

PhysX Flex is incredible and the new smoke effects are especially impressive. I’m eager to find out what kind of load these would have on a commercial GPU, although if I know Nvidia, the rendering will no doubt be very efficient on the newer 9xx series cards.

Thank you DSO Gaming for providing us with this information.

Nvidia PhysX Adds Massive Visual Improvements to Metro Redux

Metro Redux is rapidly approaching its release date and it is shaped up to be far more than your average re-release. Redux will see Metro: 2033 and Metro: Last Light get a massive overhaul and Nvidia are on board to help the developers at 4A Games make it even better.

GPU accelerated PhysX effects are being added to both games, and everything from the geometry, enemy encounters, lighting and level transitions have been tweaked and fine tuned for better performance, fidelity, immersion and more.

Metro: 2033 has received a massive graphics engine overhaul and both games now aim to offer up PnP tessellation, higher resolution textures, higher quality effects, 4K resolution support, PhysX and more.

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The game is set for release on August 26th in the US and will launch in Europe on the 29th.

Thank you TweakTown for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of TweakTown.

PhysX and APEX Confirmed Features on PlayStation 4

In the world of games development PhysX and APEX are big business and while the PlayStation 4 may sport AMD hardware, many games developers rely on Nvidias API to create their titles. Nvidia has announced that they will officially support the Sony PlayStation 4 and that it will be bringing both the Nvidia PhysX and APEX SDKs (software development kits) to the system.

Of course since the hardware is AMD based, we still don’t know how it will actually run and it will be interesting to see how the features are integrated, but as strange as it sounds to do such a think given the hardware on offer, I think its great that developers have the choice of both Nvidia and AMD based SDKs to get the best out of their games and of course, their existing game engines and development tools.

Both PhysX and APEX are vital tools for creating collision detection, the simulation of rigid bodies, cloth, fluids, particles and many more objects in a digital environment. Sure its unclear “how” they will do this on AMD hardware but Nvidia have been quick to point out that their software has been designed to run on a variety of CPU architectures, which can be accelerated by any CUDA enabled Nvidia GPU (Series 8 and above). Its really not impossible to achieve, given the broad variety of PC hardware that is on the market, the SDK needs to be highly flexible anyway, so tailoring it to the APU hardware of the PlayStation 4 could be achieved either directly or via emulation.

Sure Nvidia will ideally want their software running on Nvidia hardware, but it also won’t want leaving out of the deal. In today’s financial climate its becoming more apparent that Sony don’t have exclusive hardware with their next console, given that its using the next-gen Jaguar cores that AMD will be using in future APUs of their own, similar in design to certain aspects of the PlayStation 4, yet its also clear than AMD don’t have exclusivity in how Sony use the AMD hardware and its likely those terms have been relaxed to enable both AMD and Sony to essentially make more money, such as by adding support for Nvidia PhysX.