PhysX Demo


Vitor, a reader, sent me a link to an awesome game demo developed just to show off what the PhysX engine by AGEIA can do. If you’ll recall, the PhysX engine is also available to PS3 developers to use in their PS3 games.

Anyway, this demo is actually on the PC, not a console, but it gives a taste of the kind of fun that can be had with physics. I especially appreciate the Jedi Force Push -type effects that the soldiers are capable of. The battle playfield is rather small. It actually reminds me of the one level in Quake II that my friends and I have a blast with. It’s quite small, but you jump around a lot to go from platform to platform.

Cool stuff, thanks Vitor.

GameTrailers.com – CellFactor Demo Video
CellFactor: Combat Training (official website)

As well, Mark Rein of Epic Games had some interesting things to say in an interview:

Shack: What are your thoughts on AGEIA’s PPU hardware? Any thoughts about how that’s going to take off?

Mark Rein: One thing AGEIA’s done that’s really smart is that–well, if you’ve seen our PS3 demo, and this is really version .1, really not a finished performance at all, but we’ve got some really great cool physics things going on PS3. They’ve done a really good job of optimizing their library to work well with the SPUs in the Cell processor, which means we’re going to be able to get a lot of physics performance out of PlayStation 3. Also on Xbox 360 to some extent, but definitely on PS3 we’re going to be able to get a lot of physics capabilities out of that. Which means that, to bring [games using those methods] to a PC, you’re probably going to need the hardware. Or you could maybe scale it up even further on the PC, I believe, with their hardware. I think that bodes really well for them if developers go nuts and do really cool physics on PlayStation 3, then if people want to play it to that level on PC, they’ll buy the card. So it’s a matter of them coming out with great applications, great games that use it. I know Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter will be using the hardware, and Unreal Tournament 2007 will be using the hardware. Not today, but eventually. So I think that’s pretty exciting for them, and I think it’s going to be pretty cool.

In other words, to get the kind of physics performance you’ll be seeing on the PS3 on a PC, you’ll need to buy the PhysX hardware card and plug it into your PC. How often do I have to say “cool stuff” ?

ShackNews – Interview: Epic’s Mark Rein

[Edit: IGN has some more coverage of the PhysX PC board.]


Written by: Blackstaffer - News Contributor


  1. #1 by Vitor on March 30th, 2006

    Exciting, exciting! The physics look amazing. Makes you really anxious to see a FPS using this!

  2. #2 by Michael on March 31st, 2006

    So, the PhysX card will be in the ps3? That is totally awesome, but by having an unexpected card in there that retails fro $300, we can now say for sure that that ps3 will be expensive, which isn’t nessarily a bad thing for what we are getting; the ps3 is totally going to be awesome. When I saw the PhysX card in action, I was disappointed cuz I thought that the ps3 had already been beaten before it even had the honor of launching, then to my amazement, I find out that the ps3 will have a dedicated physics card. This is really going to be a monster of a machine- I mean like bosses on God of Wat big.

  3. #3 by Project51 on March 31st, 2006

    PhysX Hardware in PS3 !?

    What !? PS3 will have hardware PhysX !? I still don’t have X360… but if PS3 will have that thing… then I’ll get PS3 for sure.

  4. #4 by Henning on March 31st, 2006 [ 0 Points ]

    Whoa guys, that’s not what’s being said!!! :)

    This is what’s being said: the PhysX library of computer code was originally meant to run on a hardware PhysX card. They ported the library to the Cell processor, and now it runs on the Cell. And it runs quite well.

  5. #5 by Michael on March 31st, 2006

    Henning, please elaborate. How can the ps3 have physX abilities without the card? Also, its been said that the physX (card) when run on a pc can free up with cpu and gpu by something like 40%, so more things can be pulled off. Can the same performance increase be accomplished by just running physX code on the ps3?

  6. #6 by Henning on March 31st, 2006 [ 0 Points ]

    The PhysX library is a bunch of software. Game developers, when they write the software for their game, can tap into the PhysX software to do physics stuff. On a PC, the PhysX software knows all about the PhysX hardware card, and gets the hardware card to do all its dirty work.

    In the case of the PS3, the PhysX software library has been modified. Instead of talking to the PhysX hardware card to do the dirty work, it gets the Cell processor to do the dirty work. The Cell is very good at this kind of thing (much better than a general purpose processor like the Pentium).

    So to a programmer, they just have to use the PhysX software library, and it will do the rest. A programmer who knows how to use PhysX on the PC will probably know almost everything he needs to know to do the same thing for the PS3.

  7. #7 by Black Guy on March 31st, 2006

    Physics libraries have been around for a long time; this is nothing new. What is unique is the hardware solution provided by the Physx libraries. I’m curious but I’m a little reserved on this thing though. Can it actually benefit gameplay? iSaw a comparison video of GRAW explosions running w/ and w/o the add-in card. W/o the add-in card the explosions were pretty weak but w/ it, they looked more convincing. iAlso noticed that it looked exactly like the explosions in the X360 version of GRAW. iDon’t know if Physx is available for X360 developer but clearly the system is very good @ physics calculations as well if the video iSaw was any indication. iTHink the X360 dev use havok, a competing library.

    Anyway, from what iRead, iSeems like this will b more of a visual thing that something that will fundamentally improve the dynamics of gameplay. That could change but iCheck it out on my friend’s computer 1st. He always gets the latest toys and I’m sure he’ll buy this.

  8. #8 by Henning on March 31st, 2006 [ 0 Points ]

    Actually, I think PhysX is available for Xbox 360 developers too. I can’t remember off hand where I read that, so take it with a grain of salt! I’m, oh, 60% sure I guess. :)

    As well, I’m 95% pretty sure that Havok is also available to PS3 developers.

  9. #9 by Henning on March 31st, 2006 [ 0 Points ]

    As to whether or not it benefits gameplay? It depends on how developers use it. But I think that anything that makes environments more immersive would be great.

    Last night I was playing GRAW, and my friend Steve was hiding out behind a create. It would have been great fun to kick the crate and have it push Steve into the water!


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