ATI Takes on Physics

ATI has let the cat out of the bag this morning in Taiwan when it comes tackling in-game physics. Not surprisingly, they will be teaming with Havok.


ATI & Physics

This morning ATI got a few of us together in order to show us their new physics technology. Godfrey Cheng showed off what he referred to a آ“Boundless Gaming.آ” ATIآ’s goal with Boundless Gaming is to provide the most immersive gaming experience as possible. The initial hardware that will drive this Boundless Gaming platform is an Intel Core 2 Duo processor bonded with an ATI CrossFire X1900 dual video card configuration Do however expect an AMD Boundless Gaming platform as well very soon.

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ATI claims that their CrossFire configuration has been specifically optimized for Intelآ’s Core 2 Duo processor and we got to see it in action. The third element that finishes the Boundless Gaming triangle is actually another Radeon X1600 or better being utilized as a physics processor or PPU. ATIآ’s physics will have support for Havok FX as well as asymmetrical configurations meaning gamers can delivery physics in a 1+1 and a 2 +1 Crossfire configuration.

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ATI says they have the best physics processing in the world stating that their branch execution unit eliminates much overhead as compared to team Green. Also ATI says they are going to be simply faster than an Ageia PhysX card even with using a X1600 XT and that a X1900 XT should deliver 9 X the performance of an Ageia PhysX card. ATI does not see their physics technology as an offload for the CPU but rather processes a new category of features know as آ“effects physics.آ”

As for launch dates, ATI stated they are now rolling the technology out to game developers with Havokآ’s support. Hopefully we will see games by the end of the year or early next year. ATI states that Boundless Gaming will be rolled out when the need exists in the market place.

ATI did show us several demonstrations, some of which were very impressive. Below are pictures of an Intel Badaxe motherboard running a Conroe processor that has a 3 16x PCIe slot configuration. There are three X1900 XT video cards installed. Two are doing CrossFire graphics and the third X1900 XT is being used at the physics processor.

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The pictures below show a chess piece demo where parts are dropped onto the table nonstop as they cascade off the side. Also, in an attempt to upstage NVIDIAآ’s physics demo earlier this year, ATI doubled their number of boulders rolling down a hillside to 20,000.

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So where does that leave the normal guy that does not have a spare mortgage to fund his next gaming machine? ATI did also have another Intel Conroe system running a Crossfire 2+1 configuration, where an X1600 was being used for physics in conjunction with two X1900 XT video cards for graphics. So if you have an آ“oldآ” X1600 ATI video card laying around, you might want to hang onto it for future uses as a physics processor in a new box.

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Certainly Boundless Gaming looks to be a promising technology that will further put the squeeze on Ageia while hopefully bringing more value to those of us that are used to retiring old video cards. That said, I am sure a few of you would like the prestige that comes along with telling your buddies that you have three X1900 cards in your box.

ATI left us saying, آ“Expect new Crossfire revisions early next year to overtake SLI. We are not here to play second fiddle.آ”

For those of you looking for the full press writeup from ATI, we have zipped us a PDF for your reading pleasure.