Start-up Ageia demonstrated a physics processor at Game Developers Convention (GDC) that could bring the laws of nature to games, making for a much more realistic gaming experience.
Ageia has announced its physics processor "PhysX" that is designed to free up and complement the CPU and the GPU of a PC to take on the task of calculating movements and interaction in games. This new chip, which can handle fluid dynamics with up 40,000 to 50,000 simulated particles per screen, gelatinous characters, windswept hair, loose flowing clothing, finite element analysis and lots more, should be well positioned to take the predictability out of video games.
Since PhysX however is additional hardware in a computer, it requires software to be specifically written for it. Ageia therefore offers its NovodeX SDK to developers. According to Hegde, software programmers have been working with the software for about a year already and expect to make "five to 15" games with support for PhysX available by Christmas of this year. Supporting developers include Ubisoft and Sega, Hegde said.
Hardware should be available in the same time frame. Ageia is a fabless company but has TSMC as one of its major investors and manufacturer for PhysX chips. Hegde envisions the chip to become available in high-end, mid-level and entry-level versions on various platforms including motherboards and add-in cards. He hesitated to comment on pricing that should be expected for add-in cards, but mentioned that a range from about $100 to $400 would be realistic.