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Quote:
Havok announces that its flagship middleware engine, used on many a PS3 (e.g., MotorStorm), Wii, and Xbox 360 game (not to mention PC, of course) is now at v4.5. "Havok 4.5 allows game developers to scale game content to thousands of dynamically-driven game objects and characters, harnessing the full power and speed of next generation architectures."


Now for what puts the .5 in 4.5, so to speak: Havok also revealed that this version is fully optimized for the PS3, capable of harnessing the FULL power of ALL the SPUs. "Havok architecture now scales strongly across all SPUs and runs between 5 and 10 times faster than Havok 4.0 for a typical game scene on the PS3."


If you're trying to get the vague idea of what Havok 4.0 on the PS3 looks like, we invite you to click on this backlink, to be whisked away to last year's article about Havok 4.0 at CEDEC. The highlight there was that, according to a presentation slide, Havok 4.0 on a PS3 Cell ran comparable to a triple-core PC. Now, if Havok's PR is to be believed, multiply that by 5 to 10.


Now if we only had a video, that would make our day.

Sweet!
 

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They're up to version 4.5 already? The last time I recall a version being mentioned was with Max Payne 2 because it was the first game to use v2.0 which was a huge improvement. I guess Oblivion was v3.0 even though I didn't notice a dramatic improvement at that time.
 

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Nice grammar in the article.
 

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I'm guessing 4.0.


Anyway, this is news great, and could actually lead to some great physics whne SPUs are fully utilized. CELL=POWERFUL!
 

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this is actually extremly important as most game producers are using off-the-shelf engines to produce games, so to have really good PS3 support built into the engine means that future games will be able to use full power of PS3, easier...
 

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Havok needed to do this. Ageia is pretty much giving their physics software to developers, trying to ensure a market for their PPU on the PC. Ageia has said many times their PPU is similar in architecture to Sony's Cell, so its a good fit for them.


A ton of devs have taken Ageia up on their software, like Epic. All Unreal Engine 3.0 games use Ageia's PhysX. For devs using PhysX, it should be easier to "fluff up" the physics, especially on PS3/PC exclusives(read non Xbox games, and PC's with a PPU). Ageia's had some trouble getting a larger install base in PC's(they want PC gamers to fork over another $300 in their PC's for a proprietary add-in card, so its not surprising the market they target has had a tepid response so far.)


Their software ain't bad, though. Many, many game developers are using it. Check out some of the Cell Factor videos and have a look.


Havok licenses are expensive, at least 6 figuers per title. Yeah, Havok software and support is probably better than Ageia's, but considering the licensing costs, it should be.
 

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5 to 10 faster? Wow, they really removed a bottleneck somewhere!


What is interesting me a lot more is the way the load is done in Ageia and Havok.


Ageia is using an addon card on the PC that seem to work like a co-pro in the 486 era. It was king to do floating-points calculation but not much better for 1+2. Ageia 'cpu' is very good at what it does which is keeping physics 'states' updated and moving.


Havok is more on the software side, usable on any cpu (even gpu, I think it's Nvidia that like it) as long as they can calculate everything.


Now if we forget about what the game engine choose to use, they are both doing the same work, keeping physics 'states' realistic. I'm not sure if Ageia would run on a PS3 cell or poor Xbot360 cpu, but Havok or any other similar physics engine surely will.


That bring me to the AMD/ATI merger. Seem strange? Follow me.


You have a GFX cards corp that say to everyone that they can do physics on their gpu, you can use your main card or even add a second or third (beside cross-fire) gpu card just to do the physics, it's all good. But why use your main gfx cards to do physics while also doing graphics? You are not using it at 100% for graphics? Sure seem that way. I know we don't always use 100% of the gpu but it looked strange anyway.


How about the normal cpu? Sure it's the one that has been doing physics for the last century! Maybe not perfect but it might be because it was doing everything else and was already quite busy.


This link to the current cpu/gpu market. CPU doing the MHZ war ended up frying themselves. AMD put a thermal sensor so that overclocker know before it smell bad and smoke come out, Intel put a sensor to downclock their cpu if they overheat (which they do at 100% usage) quite fast). Gpu are sleeping on the switch but still going for the fastest prize year after year.


More pipes, faster, more bandwith, PCI-E? too slow already.


SOLUTION?


A single CPU that will replace cpu and gpu and physics cards. The cpu might have many core, many pipes, it's not important.


It will distribute the load according to what's happening, so no lost cycle.


Let's say it has 100 pipeline. They can be cpu, gpu or physics related.


Example, you are in a game, near the shore of a lake and the scene is very nice to look at. There is 70 pipes used for gpu related computation (the water, the sand and the sky), 30 for cpu/physics. Now, you turn around, there is a fire running into the forest behind you. Now there is 60 pipes used for physics calculation with 30 used for gfx. You move thru the forest to get to a rebel camp where there is a huge firefight waiting with 90 enemy firing from all direction. There is at that point about 70 pipes used for 'normal like' cpu computation to keep track of the action while 20 are used for gpu functions.


It's not that the look get bad as there is some action or physics does'nt apply when looking at a nice scenes, it's more like the current gpu dropping frames on what it consider a little less important at this particular moment.


The nice thing is that this new 'processor' won't have any unused pipes since they will be dynamically attributed by the engine.


I'm sure AMD/ATI merger was the first sign of that and now we learn that Intel is going into the dedicated graphics cards market. I think they want to prepare themselves for what's coming up.


I even think I read that the Ageia were not that great because when cool physics stuff were created, the cpu had more load to keep track of some object to communicate with the physic engine (and keep the action flow normal), maybe if it was directly on the cpu, with fast access like the memory controller of the Athlon, it would be seemless.


The PS3 will do physics as needed on the Cell processor dividing load between that and everything else a cpu should be doing.
 

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After reading a bit more updated info on Ageia, it looks like Ageia just fired their CEO , Manju Hegde. Hegde was the lead engineer and "man with the plan" for Ageia. Its his name that appears on most of their hardware patents, ect. They haven't convinced the PC gaming community that their hardware is necessary. Considering the price of a top end gaming PC, convincing folks they need to shell out another $300 for their rigs is a tall task to say the least.


IMO, I'd say Hegde's strategy of practically giving away their PhysX software to spur a market for their PhysX hardware has bombed pretty hard. Many devs, like Epic, are quick to snap up Ageia's software offer, but then don't put any game-critical material in their games that would require PhysX hardware. The PC gaming crowd(of which I belong) is a smallish target audience anyway.


PC physics code seems more destined to end up in the GPU if anything, and I'm not even bringing up multi-core CPU's here. Maybe Ageia's loss will be Sony's gain, ensuring a lot games that can easily work with the Cell, from a physics point of view............


...........or, given PhysX's architectural similarities to the Cell, maybe Ageia's expirience with the PPU is the canary in Sony's preverbial mine.........
 

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That is definitely great news, but developers need to be careful when announcing things like this. People are going to assume the first showcases of the new engine are what the PS3 can do at maximum capacity. Hopefully it's not, and in two years we'll be saying "I never thought the PS3 could do that!"
 

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Oh MY! it seem I was right with my guess!

Nvidia moves one step closer to its own CPUs


Incredible!


I'm not sure if Nvidia was the precursor of this when they decided to do some motherboard chipset but now it seem everyone will go for it's own cpu/gfx solution. I just hope everything keep beeing compatible, even if MS removed the HAL (hardware abstraction layer) from vista.


What a mess!
 

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Its the reason why I don't doubt their console. PS3 has serious potential to be great, as long as the devs take it slow, and make it happen.


X360 is good for programmers because of the DXAPI and XNA. Its why M$ is best at software.


So hopefully SONY and other 3rd party members make that Black BoX SHINE
 
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