GPU Configurations and Final Thoughts
With all the technical talk out of the way, what is ATI saying about GPU configurations and how they’ll work in your system?
In a current generation system shown above, the CPU is doing the physics work, the GPU is doing the graphical work.
ATI is telling us that their cards will also support rendering and physics acceleration in a single GPU configuration as shown here. If the game being played, at the resolution the user selects, is able to render more frames than necessary per second than required for adequate visual quality, the extra GPU cycles can be utilized in physics calculations.
An even better solution, for the user and for ATI, is that you have two ATI GPUs that can split the rendering and physics calculations between the two different cards. What is most impressive to me is that ATI has assured me that these two cards do not have to run in CrossFire mode, and thus they do not have to be the same GPU. If you have an X1900 XTX now, and in about eight months you buy a new ATI 2800 XTX, you can save your X1900 XTX for physics calculations. As of now, NVIDIA has said they do not support this feature but see the value in doing so. Hopefully that means the feature will be coming soon as the upgrade opportunities this offers readers are fantastic.
Over the past two weeks I have gone from a very limited knowledge of gaming physics coding and technology to having more information in my head than I ever thought possible. While the solutions from all three of the current physics news-makers differ quite a bit, AGEIA, NVIDIA and ATI are at least talking about physics which is good for our industry and gaming in general. As gaming physics becomes more prominent, users will see the advantages of physics acceleration and force game developers and hardware vendors to innovate for the benefit of everyone.
ATI feels that their solution is more than capable of competing with AGEIA, should the physics coding and API work be done to the necessary level They are going to start providing the tools necessary to do it, though they do have a lot of work to do if they want to catch AGEIA in that department.
If you haven’t read up on all the physics information here at PC Perspective, I highly recommend you check out our two articles on AGEIA’s PhysX technology and our look at NVIDIA and Havok FX’s partnership in physics acceleration.
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