From PhysX Wiki
NVIDIA PhysX Technology (NVIDIA PhysX, PhysX by NVIDIA, GPU PhysX) is a marketing term, used by NVIDIA to designate ability of GeForce GPUs to accelerate physics calculations, and games that are using that ability to create more rich physical effects.
This page was not updated for a long time. Some of the info might be outdated or invalid.
NVIDIA PhysX = more visually enhanced gaming experience for owners of NVIDIA GPUs.
So how it works:
- NVIDIA owns physics middleware - PhysX SDK. It is a normal physics engine (just like Havok, ODE or Bullet), widely used in PC and console games, but with one particular feature - hardware acceleration.
- Certain PhysX SDK based games are taking advantage of that feature by containing supplementary PhysX effects - smoke and fluid simulation, dynamic clothing on characters, more vivid explosions with dust and debris.
In most cases, GPU PhysX effects are added over baseline (read: console) level of physics interactions in the game, defined by developers.
- From hardware part, NVIDIA GeForce GPUs series 8xxx and higher are required to calculate such PhysX effects with decent framerate (CPU execution can also be enabled, but it is less effective).
As result, games like Borderlands 2 are looking more impressive and lively with PhysX option enabled.
Generally speaking, in most cases GPU PhysX is an exclusive content for owners of compatible GPUs.
- Official PhysX Technology page at GeForce.com
- Getting GPU PhysX effects into games: interview with NVIDIA Content Team
- Exclusive: NVIDIA talks present and future of PhysX Technology