Nvidia releases PhysX for 8, 9 and GTX 2xx series

Written by Harry Butler

August 13, 2008 | 12:46

Tags: #8800 #9600 #9800 #badaboom #driver #foldinghome #geforce #gtx #physx

Companies: #nvidia

Nvidia has made a big deal in recent months about its purchase of Ageia and the potential of PhysX integration on the GPU. With a vast installed user base of Nvidia GeForce 8,9 and GTX series graphics card owners, Nvidia certainly has the potential to mount a challenge against Intel's Havok API, used by hit games like Half Life 2, Soul Calibur 4 and Company of Heroes to name but a few, but we have yet to see a publically released PhysX driver.

That was until today, when Nvidia dropped a monster download including not just the PhysX enabled Forceware 177.83 driver, but a full version of PhysX enabled game Warmonger, PhysX technology demos and the Unreal Tournament 3 PhysX mod. However, in true daytime shopping channel style, "Wait, there's more!"

Nvidia has also included two more CUDA based applications to take advantage of the untapped processing power of your GPU, with a beta version of the Badaboom video encoder/media converter (although only a thirty day trial, as this is an application Nvidia wishes to sell separately) and a Folding@home client too.

The entire pack can be downloaded from Nvidia's website, although be warned it does weigh in at a meaty 2.7GB - hope you're not on too restrictive a broadband service.

However, the driver is still missing the originally touted ability to manually dedicate certain portion of your GPU to PhysX processing, although you can now use your old 8 or 9 series graphics card as a dedicated PPU by popping it into a second PCI-E slot, with no SLI support required!

While it's great that Nvidia has finally released PhysX support for older cards, we still can't help but wonder of it's worth it right now. PhysX accelerated titles are few and far between on the PC, and from our previous experience the PhysX effects only add a visual aspect to most games, as developers still have to cater for the core gameplay to those sans PhysX processors and do most of the physics effects on the CPU. In fact the only place where you'll see a real advantage at the moment (outside the very limited PC stable of games) is in 3DMark Vantage and the specific PhysX benchmark.

It's also a disappointment to see Badaboom releasing as a separate product rather than a welcome freebie and the prospect of having to pay for the software in the future, which we've been told will soon be bundled with new Nvidia graphics cards, despite having purchased the Nvidia GPU required to run it, smacks of exploitation. Let's hope Nvidia sees the error of its ways and releases it as a free application for all GeForce owners.

What's your take on the place of PhysX in modern gaming? How do you feel about having to pay for Badaboom? What's do you think is the best use of physics in a game? (Soul Calibur 4 - ed) Let us know in the forums.
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