PS4 will include PhysX support from Nvidia

Physics simulation on Sony's PS4 marks the first time Nvidia has officially supported PhysX on rival AMD's graphics hardware

8 Mar 2013
PS4 controller

Nvidia has announced that it will support Sony's upcoming PlayStation 4 console with its PhysX physics simulation technology, providing increased realism for games on the platform.

Originally developed by NovodeX and later expanded by Ageia - but requiring custom hardware - PhysX was bought by Nvidia in 2008 and ported to the CUDA parallel programming language exclusive to GeForce graphics cards. With the work done, the dedicated hardware cards originally required for PhysX use were discontinued in favour of using excess horsepower on the graphics card instead.

Since then, Nvidia has kept PhysX and the related APEX dynamics framework a proprietary system: only Nvidia's CUDA-enabled GeForce graphics cards can use PhysX, which simulates the solid-body, liquid, particle and cloth physics of the real world in a far more detailed and realistic manner than has previously been possible, with those running AMD's rival Radeon graphics boards unable to make use of the technology. While some work-arounds exist, these are typically either expensive - involving running an older GeForce card specifically for PhysX handling alongside an existing Radeon card for graphics rendering - or low-performance, running the simulation, designed for the highly-parallel graphics processor, on the CPU.

Now, however, Nvidia has announced that it will be supporting PhysX and APEX on Sony's upcoming PS4 console, despite the device using an accelerated processing unit (APU) - a combined graphics processor and central processor - from its long-time rival AMD.

"Great physics technology is essential for delivering a better gaming experience and multi-platform support is critical for developers," Mike Skolones, product manager for PhysX at Nvidia, said of his company's move. "With PhysX and APEX support for PlayStation 4, customers can look forward to better games."

This marks the first time PhysX has been accelerated by AMD graphics hardware, but is unlikely to mean a complete about-face for the company: the desktop version of its PhysX software will almost certainly remain compatible with Nvidia graphics cards for quite some time to come, as it's one of the company's biggest selling points over its rival.

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