According to the latest news on the web, Godfrey Cheng, Director of Technical Marketing in AMD's Graphics Product Group, is reported to have said that PhysX would most likely disappear if they remained a closed and proprietary standard. “There is no plan for closed and proprietary standards like PhysX,” stated Cheng. “As we have emphasised with our support for OpenCL and DX11, closed and proprietary standards will die.”
EA and 2K have recently announced their plans to adopt PhysX across all of their studios worldwide. When asked about the impact that this move would have on the PC gaming industry, Cheng is reported to have stated that the company could not comment on the competitor's business model, but it shouldn’t be too easy to sustain support by monetary incentives. He said that the product itself needed to be very strong and competitive.
From Cheng's point of view, Havok technologies and products are the leaders in physics simulation, which explains why the company chose to collaborate with it. Moreover, it seems that AMD plans to invest even more in this technology as well as in others, plus develop partnerships beyond Havok, meant to enhance gameplay.
According to Cheng, Havok would be considered the leader in physics simulation by game developers as well, yet this would mean that both Electronic Arts and 2K Games have announced adoption of PhysX against their studios’ will. He stated that people would have to pay attention to what “licensed” technologies the different announcements stress on. The idea that should surface is whether the change is to affect the physics simulation / tool stack within a game or on an entire series of games developed by the same studio. “Remember PhysX also has game physics libraries in addition to its new GPU based products,” said Cheng.
“An agreement to support PhysX may be for a limited portfolio of features. If you recall, Ageia had tremendous difficulty giving away its technologies and products for free whereas Havok could charge licensing fees. The quality of Havok's product and support hasn't changed nor has the preference by the developers for Havok. Games developers and studios are always interested in NRE and co-marketing deals which may be the catalyst for recent PhysX announcements.”
As many of you might remember, ATI also promised GPU-accelerated Havok Physics on its Radeon graphics cards series. According to Cheng, the company is still working on that plan and it “will provide more clarity to our work once more milestones have been achieved between AMD and Havok”.
“Our guidance was end of this year or early next year but, first and foremost, it will be driven by the milestones that we hit. To put some context behind GPU based physics acceleration, it is really just at the beginning. Like 3D back in the early 1990s. Our competition has made some aggressive claims about support for GPU physics acceleration by the end of this year. I.e. Support in many titles.... but we can count the titles on one hand or just one or two fingers,” added Cheng.
“It should be noted that title support for GPU accelerated physics simulation is NOT the end game. The end game is having GPU physics as an integral part of game play and not just eye candy. If it is optional eye candy, GPU physics will not gain traction. The titles we have seen today with shattering glass and cloth waving in the wind is not integral to game play and the impact on the game's experience is minimal. We are looking for ways to integrate GPU physics better into game play. Or even things like AI instead of focusing on eye candy / effects physics.”
Cheng's statement proves a point from a certain perspective. The PhysX implementation in some games does not add much to the gameplay experience, but it’s rather an addition of “eye candy”. The future will tell whether AMD will be able to bring to us Havok Physics running on Radeon GPUs and what OpenCL and DirectX 11 Compute will change in the industry. Radeon owners will have to wait a little more, just the same Intel is expected to do until Larrabee joins the party.
AMD: PhysX Will Die, Havok Is the Future