Nvidia has released an updated version of its PhysX SDK. Version 4.0 is now available to anyone interested and since it went open source recently, developers can implement this physics engine on GPUs that aren't from Nvidia's GeForce range. Thus, in the not too distant future we may see GPU acccelerated PhysX effects available to AMD GPU users (without hacking/fiddling) and on the latest consoles.
Metro: Last Light destruction and debris
To recap, Nvidia PhysX is claimed to "provide industrial grade simulation quality at game simulation performance". The GPU-accelerated physics simulations enabled by Nvidia's PhysX code include such niceties as dynamic destruction, particle based fluids (fog, steam, smoke), and life-like animations. It is part of Nvidia GameWorks. Nvidia cites Metro: Last Light as a great showcase for PhysX effects.
There is quite a long list of AAA games that feature PhysX enhancements, however it seems unlikely that developers will revisit them to implement AMD GPU-friendly PhysX code. Going forwards, PhysX is already integrated into some of the most popular game engines like Unreal Engine and Unity 3D.
PhysX isn't just about gaming though, and Nvidia's latest news and blog post about PhysX 4.0 talks about how the free, open-source physics solution can handle large virtual environments and how it "solves some serious challenges" in the areas of; AI research, robotics research, self-driving car simulations, HPC physics simulations – as well as with gaming development.
New features in PhysX 4.0 are as follows:
- Temporal Gauss-Seidel Solver (TGS), which makes machinery, characters/ragdolls, and anything else that is jointed or articulated much more robust. TGS dynamically re-computes constraints with each iteration, based on bodies’ relative motion.
- The new reduced coordinate articulations feature makes the simulation of joints possible with no relative position error and realistic actuation..
- New automatic multi-broad phase.
- Increased scalability with new filtering rules for kinematics and statics.
- Actor centric scene queries significantly improve performance for actors with many shapes.
- Build system now based on CMake.
The PhysX SDK 4.0 comes with a simple 3-Clause BSD license for use with Windows, Mac OS X, iOS, Android, and Linux.