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Nvidia offers 'PhysX' for Sony PlayStation 3

Graphics chipmaker signs license agreement to provide PhysX tech, which enables game objects to respond in a realistic way to physical events, for the game console.

Updated on March 18 at 8:00 p.m. PST with additional information throughout.

Nvidia on Tuesday said it has signed a license agreement with Sony to provide PhysX technology for the PlayStation 3, whereby Nvidia becomes the official tools and middleware provider for Sony PS3.

Nvidia's PhysX technology--based on the laws of physics--enables game objects to respond in a realistic way to physical events. More conventional technology uses a canned response, in which the same response is repeated over and over.

For example, a window breaks, or a person falls the same way every time. In a PhysX-enabled football sports game, however, the angle and velocity of the impact is calculated by the graphics processor to generate a real-time response that is different practically every time.

The agreement with Sony Computer Entertainment covers tools and middleware for the PlayStation 3. Nvidia is now an official Tools and Middleware provider for Sony PS3, according to Bryan Del Rizzo, an Nvidia spokesman. "This new relationship means a couple of changes in how the PhysX SDK for PS3 is managed. As a Sony Computer Entertainment Tools and Middleware provider, Nvidia will now be exclusively responsible for maintaining and enhancing the PS3 PhysX SDK," he said.

Rizzo continued: "Additionally, while Sony has a license to distribute and support users of the binary version of the PhysX PS3 SDK, Nvidia will now be responsible for licensing the source code PhysX SDK for PS3 as well providing direct support to all source code-licensed PhysX PS3 developers," he said. "This newly announced tools and middleware relationship with Sony closely mirrors the licensing and support model that has existed for years with Microsoft and its Xbox 360 platform and complements our plans to support future console platforms."

Nvidia described the SDK as "a full-featured (application programming interface) and robust physics engine, designed to give developers, animators, level designers, and artists unprecedented creative control over character and object physical interactions by allowing them to author and preview physics effects in real time."

In December, Electronic Arts and Take-Two Interactive Software adopted Nvidia's PhysX technology.