Physics: Videogame revolution

If you're a PC owner, you have the pleasure of being at the bleeding edge of gaming technology. And PhysX, a plug-in piece of hardware for PC designed purely to deal with physics effects, is the next step. In basic terms, PhysX handles the physicality of a game world. The propeties of an object, whether it be water, rock or paper. But the potential is huge.

Think of a graphics card as a 16-lane motorway. 15 lanes go one way, from the whirring hardware to the screen in front of you, but only one lane goes in the other direction, from the screen to the hardware. With plenty of memory, graphics cards easily handle the propeties of objects. But they struggle with interaction.

PhysX is the same motorway, but with the lanes split equally - eight one way, eight the other. This means PhysX can handle what objects do to each other, or what you do to them. It can also handle terribly complex objects, like liquids.

But enough techno-babble. Here's a short movie showing the main differences between a PC with PhysX, and a PC without it. To do this, we've used the same PC, but switched on or off the PhysX card. In the clips without PhysX, the juddering is a result of the graphics card having to do all the work - the visuals and the physics. Keep your eyes peeled for the impressive lava-interaction in the final clip.

Above: The game is CellFactor Revolution, a game created by Ageia to demo the PhysX technology. Our PC is an AlienWare, with AMD Athlon 64 Dual Core (2.41 Ghz), an ATI Radeon X1900 and 2GB RAM

June 27, 2007

Think of a graphics card as a 16-lane motorway. 15 lanes go one way, from the whirring hardware to the screen in front of you, but only one lane goes in the other direction, from the screen to the hardware. With plenty of memory, graphics cards easily handle the propeties of objects. But they struggle with interaction.

PhysX is the same motorway, but with the lanes split equally - eight one way, eight the other. This means PhysX can handle what objects do to each other, or what you do to them. It can also handle terribly complex objects, like liquids.

But enough techno-babble. Here's a short movie showing the main differences between a PC with PhysX, and a PC without it. To do this, we've used the same PC, but switched on or off the PhysX card. In the clips without PhysX, the juddering is a result of the graphics card having to do all the work - the visuals and the physics. Keep your eyes peeled for the impressive lava-interaction in the final clip.

Above: The game is CellFactor Revolution, a game created by Ageia to demo the PhysX technology. Our PC is an AlienWare, with AMD Athlon 64 Dual Core (2.41 Ghz), an ATI Radeon X1900 and 2GB RAM

June 27, 2007