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We finally sit down with Ageia

We finally sit down with Ageia

We just got out of our meeting with Ageia, our first with the PhysX chip vendor, and we learned quite a lot. First, despite rumors that Microsoft was shipping a Direct Physics extension to its forthcoming DirectX 10, Ageia told us that although it would be great for game physics development in general if Microsoft did include such a feature, Redmond has issued no announcement along those lines.

We also learned a little about the PhysX chip's future. Ageia said that, like graphics cards, new driver updates can bring new features to the PhysX cards, so the familiar mantra of "make sure your drivers are updated," which you should currently be following for your 3D card (and pretty much everything else, for that matter), holds for the PhysX cards as well. We also asked about the cards' PCI interface and what the future might hold for PhysX and PCI-Express. Apparently the big feature that will require the greater bandwidth of PCI-E is cloth behavior; draping, tearing, billowing, and so on. Ageia acknowledged that there would be PCI-Express versions of the chip eventually, although it wouldn't specify the date.

Ageia no doubt has a tough road ahead of it with an expensive product, currently limited application support, and the general difficulty of explaining why consumers should care about accelerated physics. It also has a distinct advantage in that the much anticipated Unreal 3 engine goes out to every developer with PhysX development software built in. Seeding it like that makes it easy for game developers to help spread the word about physics if their games use it to good advantage. Following a few partnerships this week, Ageia now has roughly 45 current or upcoming game titles that will take advantage of its chips. Now it's up to the developers to come up with games that will put the PhysX chip to work and get the buying public excited. It's also not the only one in the game, as the Nvidia/Havok partnership has earned attention as well. We meet with Nvidia tomorrow, and we're anxious to grill them.