The Asus PhysX P1 card implements a hardware version of the Ageia PhysX API to improve the visual quality of actions in PC games. The P1 card sold for $270 in 2006. The card came with a full DVD version of Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter. Considering the game is $50 the card seems to be much more reasonable in price.
- Ageia PhysX
- 533 MHz MIPS 32/64 processor
- 125 million transistors
- 130nm feature size TSMC
- 182 mm² die size
- 32-bit PCI 3.0 3.3V
- 128MB Samsung GDDR3
- 128-bit memory access
- 12GB/s memory bandwidth
- 773 MHz memory clock
- 20 billion instructions per second
- 530 million spherical collision detections per second
- 533,000 convex collisions detected per second
- Molex supplementary power
- 26W idle TDP
Its interesting to note that the Samsung memory is actually faster rated than the PhysX card uses. The memory is capable of 1000MHz.
The MIPS architecture processor has SIMD capability wich mades it suitable for game The MIPS architecture has fully pipelined double precision multiply-add units which give it the performance needed for physical calculations. The Physx SoC uses multiple MIPS cores.
Middleware physics engines allow game developers to avoid writing their own code to handle the complex physics interactions possible in modern games. PhysX has provided physical simulation for more than 300 games.
PhysX positioned itself as the solution to poor game graphics. Explosions are difficult to render and the PhysX card adds the processing performance needed to make the rendering far more realistic.
PhysX also provided better gravity effects so that jumps were more realistic etc. Bullets do not travel like a laser, but rather fall as the travel until they finally hit the ground. Darkest of Days features a PhysX benchmark and there is also a video available showing how the PhysX improves atmospheric FX.
Cryostasis uses PhysX extensively to create the blowing snow that can push the player across the ice. Metro 2033 uses smoke and atmospheric effects of radiation to create a better looking apocalyptic environment.
In the beginnings of 3D Gaming, characters and worlds were basically built from boxes with decals on them. As technology has advanced, the boxes have become more geometrically detailed polygons, and the decals have become more accurately shaded and lit textures. The classic Doom 2 used the CPU to handle all of the game functionality. The exploding barrels are n early example of an application that would be enhanced by the PhysX card.
Early games had to be more hard coded to actions. PhysX provides the performance needed to compute the action making a game less predictable. A hockey player would be able to move and twist with game play more more responsively. The spectator crowd in the game would also be more natural looking.
Today there are now hundreds of titles that use PhysX to enhance game play.
- Explosions that create dust and collateral debris
- Characters with complex, jointed geometries, for more life-like motion
- Spectacular new weapons with incredible effects
- Cloth that drapes and tears naturally
- Dense smoke & fog that billow around objects in motion
NVIDIA announced in February 2008 they were buying Ageia who was the developer of the technology. Immediately NVIDIA moved to orphan the card as they announced that they would integrate the API into their GPU product line. Shortly thereafter new drivers were released that disabled our card.
We were offended by the actions of NVIDIA who left purchasers of the P1 card twisting in the wind with an instantly obsolete card. It also had a negative effect on game development community who were caught with technology change. We paid $300 for the PhysX card and $249 for the 8600 GT. Dodgy drivers managed to destroy our 8600 GT so we did not even get 6 months of service out of $500++ of hardware.
Our PhysX P1 card works fine, fits a PCI slot fine and it does provide some performance gains that depend on the game design. The card needs a bit more power than PCI can supply so a single Molex connector is needed. Unfortunately due to its instant orphan status no working drivers are being released. The driver disk from the game supports XP only which is now out of support.
When we upgraded our motherboard to the M5A99FX PRO R2.0 we had to abandon the P1 card as the available slots are PCI Express.
GAMES REQUIRING THE P1 CARD
- Auto Assault
- Bet on Soldier: Blood of Sahara
- Bet on Soldier: Black-Out Saigon
- CellFactor: Combat Training
- Cellfactor: Revolution
- City of Villains
- Frontlines: Fuel of War
- Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter
- Mirror’s Edge
- Shadowgrounds Survivor
- Stoked Rider: Alaska Alien
- Warmonger: Operation Downtown Destruction
Many other games support PhysX along with other packages to take advantage of available options.
In July 2010 we found a private sale of a second hand BFG GTX 260 that is significantly stronger than the sum of the PhysX card and the 8600 GT combined. The vendor had purchased a 3-way GTX 470 setup for a Folding@home project. The GTX 260 was retired as functional.
We had to replace our µATX M2NBP-VM CSM with a full ATX M4A77D but the motherboard upgrade was significantly faster than the old one even with the same CPU and RAM. The placement of the SATA ports on the M2NBP-VM CSM blocked the use of a dual slot video card while the M4A77D is clear.
Today there are only 2 vendors of gaming grade graphics cards, AMD and NVIDIA, so competition has been reduced to an oligopoly. A disgruntled user cannot go elsewhere. So this page tells the world what we feel is wrong. The GTX 260 is 2 generations more recent than the 8600 GT. In addition the significant improvement in the CUDA cores provided a drastic improvement in games generally. Today the GTX 260 is now 2 generations behind the curve however even games in 2012 are completely playable, many with the graphics on high.
The power consumption of the GTX 260 is significantly higher than the old 8600 GT. We bought a Corsair TX850 Power Supply to overcome PSU problems. The TX850V2 provides abundant power for a 2-way gaming machine even with elite gaming cards with headroom for overclocking.
We have long used high-end chassis as we have found with the better cooling. A gaming machine can put out a fair amount of heat. Our old iCute chassis has 6 fans so its able to remove heat efficiently. Its is suitable for a dual video card setup, which is the main reason for the TX850V2.
Following the extended hardware refresh we now are able to continue expanding the game library. Given we can now use 2012 titles we estimate over 5,000 games will work on the machine. There are over 10,000 games for the PC published but each new version of Windows tends to leave a growing number of titles that do not work.
When Microsoft, Nintendo and Sony replace their consoles we assess new hardware requirements. Gaming graphics cards are more expensive than the subsidized consoles. We expect the Corsair PSU we recently purchased to be viable for many years especially with the 5 year warranty suggesting that its very durable.
GTX 660 Ti
In 2013 we upgraded to the EVGA GTX 660 Ti FTW Signature 2. The GTX 660 Ti is extreme enough for the most demanding titles in 2014.
RADEON HD 6970
The Sapphire HD 6970 can use the CPU for PhysX, 9.14.0702 PhysX drivers are available for Radeon Users. You can download the legacy 9.12.1031 PhysX drivers. The older 8.09.04 drivers are suitable for older games and P1 users
With Radeon cards the CPU will be used with PhysX. NVIDIA went so far as to disable PhysX if they detect a Radeon card frustrating the use of GeForce cards for CUDA and PhysX. In 2013 we noted far fewer games are using PhysX. Its amusing to see Radeon cards significantly outperform rival GeForce cards with the Metro 2033 benchmark.
Metro: Last Light is the one 2103 title we know has PhysX as its uses the same core engine as older Metro 2033.
Several modern games we own use the Havok SDK to provide PhysX like functionality to games. It is not widely used as some developers have expanded their code to include physical reality in the game outright. Havok also provides many other enhancements that can help produce a AAA title. The popular Unreal 3 engine uses several packages to augment the core engine.
Reviewing the sector revealed many packages with varying levels of sophistication and capacity.
The shooter business is flush with options. Engines, and other support tools to leverage 3D Studio or other 3D package etc. Halo 2 has tools to convert 3D Studio to the Halo engine. Its possible to create a whole new game using the games characters. New characters need motion capture etc.
NVIDIA changed the API rather than simply add more functionality. This breaks several games from the 2007 and 2008 period that were built with the old Ageia PhySX SDK. The Unreal engine uses PhysX but the source code is available for developers to modify as desired.
Sometimes gamers see error messages that PhysX is not installed. To correct this, simply reinstall the PhysX driver from the NVIDIA folder. This occurs with some games when using the Legacy PhysX drivers. Some games like Frontlines: Fuel of War have version checks so it may be necessary to even dual boot.
In the C++ programing language there is the idea of a namespace, which can compartmentalize code as desired. While this idea was late to the standard, it can be used now and legacy code can be cleaned up easily. So there is no excuse for breaking games like this. Namespace allows the use of extended identifiers, for example std::cout means the standard template library version of cout. The ::operator is called the scope operator which is the way C++ carves up code.