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AMD Announces Open Physics Initiative

Soldato
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AMD Announces Open Physics Initiative Designed to Bring New Levels of Realism to Gaming, Simulations, Popular Applications
Open and Industry Standards-based ATI Stream Technology Frees Industry from Proprietary Implementations

Sunnyvale, Calif. --9/30/2009

AMD (NYSE: AMD) and Pixelux Entertainment announced a joint development agreement that is part of the AMD effort to greatly expand the use of real-time physics with graphics through the open source Bullet Physics engine. By encouraging development of physics middleware built around OpenCL™ and Bullet Physics, AMD and Pixelux offer a route toward physics simulation that spans game consoles, PCs and other hardware platforms. The latest graphics technologies, like the ATI Radeon™ HD 5800 series of GPUs, offer incredible visual fidelity and high performance physics simulation by taking the next step in realistically animating how rendered game objects move, deform and break.

“Proprietary physics solutions divide consumers and ISVs, while stifling true innovation; our competitors even develop code that they themselves admit will not work on hardware other than theirs,” said Eric Demers, chief technology officer for graphics at AMD. “By working with Pixelux and others to enable open support of physics on OpenCL and DirectX® 11 capable devices we are taking the exact opposite approach.”

As the latest software developer to take advantage of ATI Stream technology to leverage multi-core CPUs and GPUs to accelerate execution of highly parallel functions, Pixelux will enable game developers to offer improved performance and interactivity across a broad range of OpenCL capable PCs. AMD is also actively pursuing support of Bullet Physics via the DirectCompute API in DirectX 11.

“Pixelux wants ensure that our technology can take advantage of the computing resources that any particular hardware platform offers without locking in our users to any single platform,” said Mitchell Bunnell, CEO of Pixelux. “By working with AMD to run our software in OpenCL we stay true to that goal.”

Pixelux is an industry leader in material physics simulation based on the Finite Element Method. After many years of exclusivity, Pixelux has announced they will be providing a new version of its Digital Molecular Matter (DMM) System that can be licensed by anyone and that more easily integrates with other physics systems. This new version of DMM will feature integration with the free and open source Bullet Physics engine. DMM and Bullet are designed to operate together to enable players to experience visually and kinetically realistic worlds where objects react as they do in real-life. From crumbling stone walls, denting metal, splintering wooden beams and even swaying organic plant life, the combination of DMM and Bullet Physics, will be designed to enable users to experience the next generation of physics as never before and offer an amazing solution for game developers and incredible realism for players.

Additional detail on ATI Stream technology can be found at www.amd.com/stream.
About AMD

Advanced Micro Devices (NYSE: AMD) is an innovative technology company dedicated to collaborating with customers and technology partners to ignite the next generation of computing and graphics solutions at work, home and play. For more information, visit http://www.amd.com.
About Pixelux Entertainment

Pixelux was founded in October 2003 with the mission of automating art asset production through physical simulation. Pixelux’s Digital Molecular Matter (DMM) technology has been designed to take full advantage of GPUs and multiprocessor cores to achieve an unprecedented degree of simulation realism in the creation of real-time or cinematic simulations where objects can bend, crack and shatter all according to their physical properties. DMM Technology is available for PCs and Macs. Pixelux is a member of middleware programs for both the PlayStation®3 and Xbox 360™ and is available on a variety of popular game engines.
http://www.amd.com/us/press-releases/Pages/amd-announces-new-levels-of-realism-2009sept30.aspx

Following in the wake of several controversies regarding Nvidia's closed proprietary physics engine, PhysX, AMD have officially announced an initiative to expand the use of game physics using the open source Bullet Physics engine.

Nvidia have used PhysX as an marketing tool since 2008, by making it proprietary. Basically if you want PhysX - buy an Nvidia GPU. As a result, never gained widespread acceptance by game developers, only appearing in a handful of games. Nvidia's recent decision to disable PhysX when a Nvidia GPU was used in association with a ATI Radeon GPU has further angered developers and gamers alike, who went out and bought a mainstream Nvidia GPU just for PhysX. Developers have talked about the need for an open source physics engine that can be used on any GPU - leading to widespread adoption of game physics.

This is what AMD seeks to do - by leveraging industry standards such as OpenCL, DirectX and Bullet Physics - allowing not just AMD and Nvidia, but other hardware platforms, such as game consoles to real-time physics.

Pixelux's Bullet Physics is currently the third most popular physics library after PhysX and Havok. It remains to be seen how Bullet compares to PhysX and Havok in terms of features - though Bullet is the preferred library in the CGI industry for movies. However, such a broad open source initiative might just finally bring high level physics and simulation to the mainstream - regardless of what hardware you own as it would encourage developers - they will be certain that every gamer gets to experience the physics effects.
http://vr-zone.com/articles/amd-announces-open-physics-initiative/7781.html?doc=7781

Product: AMD ATI Radeon HD 5870
Company: AMD
Authour: James 'caveman-jim' Prior
Editor: Charles 'Lupine' Oliver
Date: September 23rd, 2009
DirectCompute - DaHoff on the Job

DirectCompute

DirectCompute is the new buzzword. This part of DirectX 11 allows developers to create whatever additional hardware accelerated resources they need - AI, Physics, whatever. Codemaster's D.I.R.T. 2 preview at the AMD VISION launch showed to great effect how DirectCompute physics can improve game realism and immersion. With realistic changes in surface handling, driving the Colin McRae rally car through water generates bow waves and leaves wakes, which affect the handling of the cars following differently - less water means less drag. So simple and lifelike, it increases the playability of the game on DirectX 11 hardware.

AMD has a secret weapon in the DirectX fight - DaHoff! David Hoff is Director of AMD's Advanced Technology Initiatives team, inside the office of the Chief Technology Officer - one Eric Demers. Dave also used to work somewhere else ... I wonder if you can guess where?

Let's hear a little from the man himself:

Dave Hoff:

"When I saw AMD's public commitment at about this time last year to OpenCL and DX11 compute shader (now called Direct Compute), and having seen AMD's success with the Radeon HD 4800 series, I really wanted to join [AMD].

Things are a bit different for me here at AMD, working for SirEric in the office of CTO. I'm actually encouraged to charge after these kinds of new initiatives (my role is director of advanced technology initiatives).

One of the first things I did was meet with Havok, introduce them to the amazing engineering team I have here and explain that we could implement some of their code in OpenCL thereby enabling them to achieve acceleration on not just ours, but also Nvidia's GPUs. So we ventured into a quick little project to gauge the technical feasibility as well as if it was a good climate and team dynamics for our organizations to collaborate.

While we learned the answer to both, I can only report on the technical feasibility since we demonstrated Havok Cloth at GDC in March running in OpenCL on our Radeon HD 4890. In terms of productization, we're waiting for our OpenCL tools to complete conformance acceptance (they've been submitted to Khronos) and will likely need to get through some solid beta usage and up to a production state before an OpenCL-based Havok solution would be ready.

Then it's really up to Havok if they want to bring this to market. I'd like to see them do this particularly with their cloth product since game developers can incorporate cloth late in their development cycle and our OpenCL implementation is generally transparent to the Havok API.

And while there were some amazing software developers to jump in early and use the initial proprietary GPGPU programming models provided by both graphics companies, the adoption rate is going to really take off now that there are these new standards. As you heard last week at our launch event from Cyberlink
, for example, they will obviously now consolidate and only go forward with programming in one API (in their case it seems to make sense to use Direct Compute).

I can't imagine any commercial software company who has tried a GPGPU programming model previously from either graphics company to not switch to OpenCL or Direct Compute. It's very easy to move from CUDA to either of these.

As you heard me describe [at the AMD VISION event], in the meantime, we've been particularly excited about what Pixelux can do. Their physics effects are amazingly realistic compared to anyone else. And their tools are great.

Their commitment to integrating with the free, open source Bullet Physics engine and doing OpenCL acceleration fits great with our commitment to OpenCL work on Bullet. Both Bullet Physics and Pixelux's DMM engine are already available and used in games and films, so developers can start right now and pick up the GPU acceleration as we role that out.

On the other hand, as I think you've seen from the PhysX side of things, while they seem to talk about support for openness when they're backed into a corner, apparently in a recent driver update they've actually disabled PhysX running on their GPU if an ATI card is used for rendering in order to pressure users to use an all Nvidia configuration.

The contrast should be fairly stark here: we're intentionally enabling physics to run on all platforms - this is all about developer adoption. Of course we're confident enough in our ability to bring compelling new GPUs to market that we don't need to try to lock anyone in. As I mentioned last week, if the competition altered their drivers to not work with our Radeon HD 4800 series cards, I can't imagine them embracing our huge new leap with the HD 5800 series.

While it would be easy to convert PhysX from CUDA to OpenCL so it could run on our cards, and I've offered our assistance to do this, I can just imagine PhysX will remain that one app that doesn't ever become open.

As you may figure from my CUDA role, I was the guy responsible to get developer adoption. In addition to being a nut about SDK quality and following developers closely on the forums to initiate feature requests or critical fixes, I initiated the first ever consumer video transcode app with a partner using CUDA and delivered this to reviewers as part of the GTX280 launch, and I enabled developers to easily use notebook computers with CUDA-capable GPUs.

Of course, (in their brilliance - and why I left) folks over there abhorred this work I was doing to generate adoption since it didn't appear obvious enough that it would directly lead to Tesla sales ... (not only non-open, but even practically proprietary among their brands). At least they've eventually seen the light and seem to mention video transcoding now in about every breath ...

GPU [email protected] was also a project I initiated and ran at Nvidia I also started Nv's [email protected] team (team W.A....) initially for my test suite of machines. I'm still sometimes surprised at the enthusiasm around this.

The engineer I was able to borrow to do the CUDA implementation at Nv is amazing. He did an entirely different implementation than previous. This had some good new algorithmic tricks and was one of the best utilizations of the G80 architecture's shared memory. If anything, it would likely do even better if they had more than the 16KB shared memory size on Nv GPUs.

That's where it will get fun going forward. For DX11 direct compute support (specifically CS_5), all devices going forward will have double the g80 shared memory to 32KB. Also, Stanford finally has the new algorithm publicly available in a new molecular simulation package. So all ATI's new devices will basically be better at this since we added that shared memory for DX11. A good reason for anyone buying a new card to get a DX11 card.

Going forward. I'd expect the new algorithm to get ported over to OpenCL (which can take advantage of the 32KB local memories). I'd guess the porting will wait a little while longer until the OpenCL SDK's get a little more mature and optimized. We've just gotten our OpenCL implementation through official conformance verification.

So with the new HD5800 series and a decent optimizing OpenCL implementation, I expect some amazing PPD - new performance champs that will span our price line of GPUs.

I'm also excited to see how ultimately the OpenCL Folding implementation runs on CPUs. We've put a lot of work into our multi-core CPU implementation of the OpenCL compiler and run-time. As we get the OpenCL port of Folding done, as you mention, it will get Linux, Mac OS X and other OSes, but also other platforms that support OpenCL. Perhaps our CPU implementation will be an improvement as well."

Wow. Now there's a fellah who likes his job. At this point w'ddlike extend my sincere thanks to Dave Hoff, Eric Demers and Dave Baumann, plus the many others I corresponded with, for their help. You guys rock!corresponded with, for their help. You guys rock!

Overall, I liked the comment from Mike Gamble, Crytek Licensing Manager regarding DirectX 11:

Mike Gamble:

"Free for use; no resources needed to make it work; increased fidelity is a win/win"

With CryEngine 3 capable of running DirectX 9,10 or 11 modes, Codemaster's EGO engine fully overhauled to use DirectX 11, and Unreal Engine 4 designed for DirectX 11, there are going to be a lot of titles supporting it.
http://www.rage3d.com/previews/video/ati_hd5870_performance_preview/index.php?p=4
 
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uv

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Soldato
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great news :)

This could end up being the next big thing in PC gaming - we've needed an open, non-proprietary GPGPU physics API for ages, and hopefully this will become a standard for all vendors - be it Consoles, nVidia cards or Via cards.

Hopefully, free/GPL tools will become available, allowing developers to exploit the API with ease, cheaply.
 
Caporegime
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People need to stop linking innovation with physics, they aren't intrinsically linked, nor is a dedicated accelerated physics engine REQUIRED to give improved physics in a game or realistic physics or better gameplay.

Batman was an innovative, and truly great game that really didn't use physics at all to improve gameplay or be innovated, infact the extra "physics" used are pointless and don't effect the gameplay at all, and are really just standard effects used in games for years.

Nvidia are the only ones pretending improved accuracy in physics is crucial to improved games, its not, games have improved constantly for decades without relying on physics for those improvements. I really can't believe how many people think the only way forwards in games is improved physics.
 
Soldato
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Totally agree with you Drunkenmaster.

Furthermore, if you add in the multiplayer aspect, improved GPU physics will have even less of an impact on gaming until it becomes a basic premise that everyone is assumed to have. Until it can be used to actually alter your gameplay experience, it's nothing more than some eye candy of varying quality.
 
Soldato
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drunkenmaster +1

It adds nothing to gameplay until it stopped being used as a primary eyecandy booster instead of its real physical properties.

At least there is a greater chance of this & it will be used when it needs to be & not as a leverage tool by it being used for things just for the sake of it that it really does not need to be used for.
 
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Soldato
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It adds nothing to gameplay until it stopped being used as a primary eyecandy booster instead of its real physical properties.

Yeah, agreed.

I think that hardware-accelerated physics has the potential to open new doors for innovation, but only when a unified non-propriatory standard is available. Until then we will be stuck with only superficial extras, such as were seen in batman or mirror's edge.

Imagine if soft body or fluid effects could be included into gameplay in the same way as rigid body physics were in HL2... The possibilities are endless. We just need hardware capable of accelerating such things, and a standard on which they can be written.
 
Associate
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It improves graphics representation which a few smart cookies might be able to turn it into innovation and new gameplay? :p

I don't know much about all this though.

I suspect the real thing it can bring is a better sense of immersion in a game.

It's all to easy to have a sense of immersion shattered when you notice that you're character isn't interacting with the world in a realistic way.

Accurate physics processing offers one way of improving that level of realism, but it's far from being the only way or possibly even the best way.
 
Associate
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Physics engines have all the capabilities to improve gaming. It just takes the right kindle of game to bring it out. I'm not saying all games can improve wit the addition of a good physics engine I'm just saying it's possible.
Look at the iPhone as a platform. There are a huge amount of games BASED around physics. Obviously this kind of platform doesn't compete with a real taking pc or even a console but the proof is there in the games. Game companies just have to be imaganitive when creating new titles.
 
Soldato
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People need to stop linking innovation with physics, they aren't intrinsically linked, nor is a dedicated accelerated physics engine REQUIRED to give improved physics in a game or realistic physics or better gameplay.

Batman was an innovative, and truly great game that really didn't use physics at all to improve gameplay or be innovated, infact the extra "physics" used are pointless and don't effect the gameplay at all, and are really just standard effects used in games for years.

Nvidia are the only ones pretending improved accuracy in physics is crucial to improved games, its not, games have improved constantly for decades without relying on physics for those improvements. I really can't believe how many people think the only way forwards in games is improved physics.

....you actually LIKED a game?
 
Soldato
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so all you need for this is an opencl/directcompute capable card?

That's the idea.

Remember though, that efficient acceleration through OpenCL isn't yet available. That's what this initiative is trying to achieve - an open source physics package which can be accelerated via OpenCL, rather than through the CPU.
 
Associate
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drunkenmaster +1

It adds nothing to gameplay until it stopped being used as a primary eyecandy booster instead of its real physical properties.

At least there is a greater chance of this & it will be used when it needs to be & not as a leverage tool by it being used for things just for the sake of it that it really does not need to be used for.

That's why this open physics initiative is a good idea, if all makers of graphics hardware and all drivers support it then developers can base fundamental gameplay concepts on it.

Take Little Big Planet for instance, the developers knew that the hardware would support physics so the gameplay is rammed full of physics. PC developers dont have that luxury, nVidia do one thing with Ageia, Intel have Havoc and AMD had whatever method they were thinking of using before this idea.

We can only hope that the various CPU/GPU makers join forces giving developers confidence enough to start developing games that will take full advantage of physics in their games.
 
Associate
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Yeah, agreed.

I think that hardware-accelerated physics has the potential to open new doors for innovation, but only when a unified non-propriatory standard is available. Until then we will be stuck with only superficial extras, such as were seen in batman or mirror's edge.

Imagine if soft body or fluid effects could be included into gameplay in the same way as rigid body physics were in HL2... The possibilities are endless. We just need hardware capable of accelerating such things, and a standard on which they can be written.

I totally agree. The reason physics hasn't been a game changer yet is because developers can't yet rely on users having adequate or compatible hardware. An open standard is what is needed to seriously bump-start the use of advanced physics as an integral part of the gaming experience.
 
Soldato
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That's why this open physics initiative is a good idea, if all makers of graphics hardware and all drivers support it then developers can base fundamental gameplay concepts on it.

Take Little Big Planet for instance, the developers knew that the hardware would support physics so the gameplay is rammed full of physics. PC developers dont have that luxury, nVidia do one thing with Ageia, Intel have Havoc and AMD had whatever method they were thinking of using before this idea.

We can only hope that the various CPU/GPU makers join forces giving developers confidence enough to start developing games that will take full advantage of physics in their games.

damn right!
 
Associate
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Who's going to support this system? With Havok you pay good money for their support services and they'll help you diagnose all the many different problems you can get with physics in a game. I'd imagine games companies would be reluctant to go with a solution which has inferior support to Havok.
 
Underboss
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This is good news. Nvidia have had it coming on the physics front. Not only have they not allowed PhysX to run on any GPU except theirs, but they have been so worried that everyone will upgrade from their GTX2XXs to an ATI HD5XXX, that they disabled PhysX acceleration if the display GPU is not Nvidia, which means that people have no use for their old GTX unless they upgrade to a new 3xxGTX.
 
Associate
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Valve is the only developer i have seen that have used never before tried physics to effect the gameplay.

Bricks falling down in batman did nothing to batman himself, what is the point in using physics to accurately portray an object that does not effect how you actually play the game.
 
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