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PhysX: x87 and SSE

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David Kanter from in his “PhysX87: Software Deficiency” article has hypothesized that origin of slow execution of PhysX content on CPU is fact that PhysX SDK is mostly based on x87 rather than faster SSE instruction set.

“On modern CPUs, SSE can easily run 1.3-2X faster than similar x87 code” – stated Kanter.

However, TGDaily has managed to recieve commentaries from Bryan Del Rizzo, Nvidia spokesperson

[And although] our SDK does [include] some SSE code, we found [that] non-SSE code can result in higher performance than SSE in many situations. [Nevertheless], we will continue to use SSE and plan to enable it by default in future releases. That being said, not all developers want SSE enabled by default, because they still want support for older CPUs for their SW versions.

Update: official responce from Nvidia – We’re not hobbling CPU PhysX

Update #2: some more Nvidia statements at this ars technica article

Update #3: and more at article “NVIDIA Sheds Light On Lack Of PhysX CPU Optimizations

But lets get back to original article. According to David, sole reason for PhysX SDK to rely on outdated x87 instruction is to make “Nvidia GPUs looks a lot better than the CPU“. This idea was inherited other websites, like

The PhysX logo is intended as a selling point for games taking full advantage of Nvidia hardware, but it now may take on a stronger meaning: intentionally slow on everything else.

and Semi Accurate

In the end, there is one thing that is unquestionably clear, if you remove the de-optimizations that Nvidia inflicts only on the PC CPU version of PhysX, the GPU version would unquestionably be slower than a modern CPU.

Unfortunately, previous authors are missing few vital points: PhysX SDK is used in many games running on CPU, and physics level in those titles can be easily compared to physics content in games based on other “non crippled” physics engines, like Havok; nor there are any games, that can offer content, similar to GPU PhysX effects, but running on CPU with stable framerate.

And, most important, GPU can accelerate only few parts of PhysX code – rigid bodies, joints, raycasts, forcefields, broadphase, etc – rely purely on CPU, so what is the reason not to optimize those at the full potential, to make PhysX SDK more attractive for developers (and thus increase number of  games with GPU PhysX support) ?! Something is telling us that reason “just to make GPUs look better over CPU” is not so obvious.

And what do you think ? Tell us in comments.

Written by Zogrim

July 8th, 2010 at 12:47 pm

Posted in Articles, Reviews, PhysX SDK

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PhysX Research: Wrinkle Meshes

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Dr. Matthias Müller-Fischer, PhysX SDK research lead at Nvidia Switzerland, Novodex founder and man behind many core PhysX algorithms, like Position Based Dynamics solver for cloth and soft-bodies, has published another interesting paper – Wrinkle Meshes.


We present a simple and fast method to add wrinkles to dynamic meshes such as simulated cloth or the skin of an animated character. To get the desired surface details, we attach a higher resolution wrinkle mesh to the coarse base mesh allowing the wrinkle vertices to deviate from their attachment positions within a limited range. The shape of the wrinkle mesh is determined by a static solver which runs in parallel to the motion of the base mesh. Our method can be used to automatically enhance a purely animated skin mesh with wrinkles which would be atedious task to do by hand.

The fact that the tessellation of the wrinkle mesh can be chosen independently of the structure of the base mesh can be used to control the look of the wrinkles. The locations of wrinkle formation can be defined by painting the maximum distance the wrinkle mesh is allowed to deviate from the base mesh. The second important application of wrinkle meshes is to add detail to simulated meshes such as cloth. Our method allows one to reduce the resolution of the simulation mesh without losing interesting surface detail. This speeds up the simulation, collision detection and handling and it reduces stretchiness. We show the efficiency and visual quality of the approach in a real-time setting.

In generally, that means more detailed cloth simulation with less resourse consumption. Previous research – Hierarchical Position Based Dynamics – was already added in PhysX SDK 2.8.3 so we believe that Wrinkle Meshes will appear in PhysX SDK or APEX Clothing module soon enough.

Also, you can download demonstrational video (63 mb)

Written by Zogrim

June 15th, 2010 at 7:21 pm

Post-GDC 2010: Nvidia Theater presentations available

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Presentations from “Nvidia Game Technology Theater“, which were demonstrated at Nvidia booth on GDC 2010, are now live – slides and following sound accompaniment. Let’s take a look at those related to PhysX SDK and APEX toolset.

Update: main PhysX and APEX session are now available as slide decks and video records

APEX Clothing with 3ds Max by Gavin Kistner, Product Designer, NVIDIA

Gavin gives a quick overview of 2.0 PhysX plug-in for 3ds Max, and uses superhero character with cape to explaing full clothing authoring process. Personal love Gavin’s manner of talking.. funny guy :)

Physically Simulated Clothing By CCP (EVE Online) Using NVIDIA APEX by Vigfus Omarsson, Lead Technical Artist, CCP; Snorri Sturluson, Senior Software Engineer, CCP; Monier Maher, APEX Product Manager, NVIDIA

Include overall cloth sim benefits overview from CCP, clothing tools pipeline features demonstration with Maya, and, of course, authoring process with pretty female character. While authoring was done in Maya, actual simulation was running in “CCP engine” window, as stated by Vigfus.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Zogrim

March 15th, 2010 at 9:11 pm

Pre-GDC 2010: PhysX demonstrations overview

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GDC 2010 (Game Developer Conference) is just about to start, and is going to be rich on PhysX related content this year. Apart from session on APEX Clothing integration with EvE Incarna we mentined previously, featured talks will include “Authoring Physically Simulated Destruction with NVIDIA APEX” and “Taking Fluid Simulation Out of the Box: Particle Effects in Dark Void“.

You can read session descriptions via provided links, but actually not only this has catched my eye. Nvidia GDC 2010 page was updated with schedule of presentations, that are going to be demonstrated at Nvidia booth #1702 at March 12-13

Those include such intriguing topics like:

Unity for Engineers – are they planning to demonstrate update physics system in Unity 3.0 ?

Authoring Runtime Animation with NaturalMotion Morpheme 2.3 – I’ve heard that Morpheme is going to be integrated with APEX Clothing, is that it ?

Softimage 2011 Enhanced with PhysX – next version of Softimage will include updated PhysX SDK integration ?

Streamlining PhysX Content in Max – is it related to rumored new physics system in XBR ?

Sadly I can’t visit GDC myself, but I’ll try to provide you with any open or insider information I’ll be able to gather :)

Written by Zogrim

March 9th, 2010 at 3:51 pm

PhysX SDK textbook: Part IV

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And yet another PhysX SDK textbook from Yoshikuni Okawa – PhysX & DirectX10. It’s like he got a cycle already, three months per new book.

Textbook is available for pushase at

Written by Zogrim

February 26th, 2010 at 3:02 pm

Posted in PhysX SDK

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New PhysX tools from John Ratcliff

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PhysX developers may be familiar with John Ratcliff – author of NxuStream (XML file format which is used to capture state of a PhysX SDK scene), Novodex/PhysX Rocket (physics demo application and editor) and other physics related researches.

In recent days John has updated his blog, known as John Ratcliff’s Code Suppository, with new usefull PhysX tools and code snippets:

PhysX2Obj – library that allows one to export a PhysX SDK scene as either a single Wavefront OBJ file in world space or a series of OBJ files in object space. Code has been compiled and tested with PhysX SDK 2.8.3 but should work with earlier versions of the SDK with little or no modification.

Library is available for download via Google Code page.

Tool with reverse purpose – Obj2PhysX - is going to be released shortly.

NvCoreDump is a windows 32 bit DLL which allows any PhysX 2.8.3 based project to perform an NxuStream XML compatible core dump in a single function call.

Rather than including all of the NxuStream source code in your application, instead you can simply demand load this tiny DLL and save it out.  The value, purpose, and benefit is to take simply add the ability to export the contents of the current PhysX SDK in any application by simply adding this tiny code snippet and the DLL.

Project is available for download via Google Code page.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Zogrim

February 24th, 2010 at 5:07 pm

Posted in PhysX SDK, PhysX Tools

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PhysX SDK downloads: back on-line

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We are glad to inform you, that after a month of unavailability due to some “server issues”, binary PC version of  PhysX SDK 2.8.3 is available for download via Developer Support Center.

If you are experiencing trouble with registration of PhysX Developer account, please refer to our registration guide.

You may notice, that SDK version is now (previous one was – these release includes some minor bugfixes, mostly related to console versions.

Written by Zogrim

February 3rd, 2010 at 10:09 pm

Posted in PhysX SDK

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PhysX SDK and APEX: current status

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As we mentioned before, recent materials from post-CES 2010 special GF100 breifing by Nvidia revealed certain in-depth details on PhysX Technology current status.

Now, thanks to Acrofan, we have now complete video record (20 min) from that briefing, covering part with PhysX SDK and APEX Toolset description, recent improvements on console PhysX versions, engine features and developer tools details, etc.

BTW, at 9:40 they were using graph from our Popular Physics Engines comparison article, and PhysXInfo was called “very cool website:)

Written by Zogrim

January 26th, 2010 at 4:57 pm

Posted in Other, PhysX SDK

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PhysX SDK textbook: Part III

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Yoshikuni Okawa is working like a machine – only few months passed and new PhysX SDK textbook is ready (left one on a pic below).


Book is available for preordering at

Written by Zogrim

December 13th, 2009 at 4:47 pm

Posted in PhysX SDK

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NVIDIA APEX lecture video from SIGGRAPH 2009

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November’s Nvidia Developer Newsletter #49 has brought some very interesting material – 50 min. long video of “Creating Immersive Environments With NVIDIA APEX” session from SIGGRAPH 2009 conference.


It contains in-deph overview of all APEX Modules (FYI, APEX is artist focused framework on top of PhysX SDK), new details and demos, never shown before. Must watch for PhysX developers and people who are simply interested in PhysX future.

Download video (197 mb.)

Written by Zogrim

November 26th, 2009 at 9:16 pm

Posted in PhysX SDK, PhysX Tools

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