Configuration types

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PhysX compatible GeForce GPUs can be organized in several types of configurations, allowing users to balance graphics/physics performance and system cost.

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Important note.

This page was not updated for a long time. Some of the info might be outdated or invalid.

Contents

Pure NVIDIA

Set of configurations officially supported and recommended by NVIDIA. Available variants can be viewed and activated via PhysX Control Panel.

PhysX Configurations - Single card

Single card
Single NVIDIA card, performing both graphics rendering and PhysX calculations.

PhysX Configurations - 2-Way SLI

2-Way SLI
Two NVIDIA cards, performing SLI graphics rendering and PhysX calculations (on one card).

PhysX Configurations - 3-Way SLI

3-Way SLI
Three NVIDIA cards, performing SLI graphics rendering and PhysX calculations (on one card).

In SLI mode, only one GPU (main, connected to monitor) is calculating PhysX. Frame processing goes like this (in case of 2-Way SLI, as example):


PhysX Configurations - Dedicated PhysX card

Dedicated PhysX card
One NVIDIA card, performing only graphics and additional card, dedicated for PhysX calculations.

PhysX Configurations - 2-Way SLI + Dedicated PhysX card

2-Way SLI + dedicated PhysX card
Two NVIDIA cards, performing SLI graphics rendering and additional card, dedicated for PhysX calculations.

PhysX Configurations - 3-Way SLI + Dedicated PhysX card

3-Way SLI + dedicated PhysX card
Three NVIDIA cards, performing SLI graphics rendering and additional card, dedicated for PhysX calculations.

Adding extra card purely for PhysX processing is a popular way to boost performance in intense GPU PhysX games. Even unequivalent GPUs can be coupled (for example, GTX 470 and GT 240) - but in this case, you won't be able to use dedicated GPU anywhere besides PhysX or CUDA applications. While not utilized, dedicated PhysX card won't shut down completely, but will use power saving features, if supports them.

Such configurations do not impose special requirements on motherboards - only several free PCI-E slots are required (SLI and Crossfire support does not matter, no need to connect main and dedicated card physically). PCI-E x8 or PCI-E x4 slot is enough for dedicated PhysX card to work normally[1].

Only one GPU can be used for PhysX calculations simultaneously, thus dedicating dual-GPU cards (like 9800 GX2) is not reasonable.

AMD + NVIDIA

While it is not possible to run PhysX in hardware on AMD GPUs, compromise solution is available - ability to utilize NVIDIA GPU for PhysX while AMD GPU is used for graphics rendering. Such configurations are known as Hybrid PhysX.

PhysX Configurations - Hybrid PhysX with single AMD GPU

Hybrid PhysX - single AMD card
One AMD card rendering graphics and NVIDIA card performing PhysX calculations.

PhysX Configurations - Hybrid PhysX with Crossfire

Hybrid PhysX - Crossfire
Two AMD cards for Crossfire graphics rendering and NVIDIA card performing PhysX calculations.

Hybrid PhysX configurations are not officially supported, and even chased by NVIDIA - if AMD GPU is detected in the system, NVIDIA card will lock its PhysX processing functionality. Special hack (Hybrid PhysX mod) must be applied to NVIDIA drivers to bypass these restrictions.

Other requirements are same as for dedicated PhysX cards in pure NV + NV setups.

Ageia PhysX PPU

Ageia PhysX expansions cards are working normally with both NVIDIA and AMD GPUs.

PhysX Configurations - NVIDIA card and Ageia PhysX

NVIDIA card + Ageia PhysX PPU
NVIDIA card for graphics rendering and Ageia PhysX PPU for PhysX processing.

PhysX Configurations - AMD card and Ageia PhysX

AMD card + Ageia PhysX PPU
AMD card for graphics rendering and Ageia PhysX PPU for PhysX processing.

However, since Ageia PPUs are not officially supported by NVIDIA now, are outperformed by GPUs in terms of performance and are not recognized by latest GPU PhysX games (based on PhysX SDK 2.8.3 and above) - it is not recommend to use them in your system, unless you want to use play some old titles from PPU hardware accelerated games library.

Compatibility with NVIDIA 3D Vision and AMD Eyefinity

Gallery

References

  1. Dedicated PhysX GPU performance dependence on PCI-E bandwidth. PhysXInfo.com.
  2. Eyefinity + PhysX! Batman Arkham Asylum Benchmark Run. YouTube

External links


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