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Wednesday, March 9, 2005
Unreal 3 using Ageia Physics, Aspyr Connection
12:28 PM | Conrad Quilty-Harper | Comment on this story

Ageia, a semiconductor company which specializes in physics processing has announced a Physics Processing Unit (PPU). It operates in a similar way to other processing units like Graphics Processing Units (GPUs) by offloading physics data onto a dedicated chip, leaving the main CPU free to carry out other tasks. The new chip is called the PhysX and claims to offer substantially greater physics processing compared with conventional CPUs.

Today posted a Q&A session with Epic Games' Tim Sweeney on the subject of Ageia PhysX. Epic Games is listed as one of Aegia's featured partners and will be using the technology in Unreal 3. Interestingly, on the same Aegia page that lists Epic as a partner, Aspyr Media is listed.

In the interview, Sweeney regards PPUs as important as the addition of GPUs to speed up 3D games performance. He believes that Physics Processing Units will usher in a new age of "realistic dynamic environments" and "large scale particle simulation".

From the interview:

GameSpot: Can you give examples of how a game might be able to increase realism with the help of a PPU?

Tim Sweeney: When people talk about physics in recent games, they mostly think of Unreal Tournament 2004's vehicles or Half-Life 2's dynamic objects. There, you have 10 or perhaps 100 big objects interacting physically in an otherwise static environment. Knocking chairs and tables around is fun, but that's hardly the apex of physics simulation.

The next steps are realistic dynamic environments, fluid simulation, large-scale particle simulation, and other very large-scale physical phenomenon. If you look at a modern action or sci-fi movie, and what's possible with the non-real-time computer graphics effects there, it's clear that major new physics innovations will be introduced into gaming as hardware performance increases 10x, 100x, and more.

To read the full Q&A, check out the press release or take a look at the tantalizing Aspyr connection, follow the respective links below.

Aegia Technology: PhysX (Aspyr listed as Featured Partner)
GameSpot Q&A with Tim Sweeney
Aegia Press Release
Aspyr Media

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