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Could Nintendo be the next partner of AGEIA (Physics Processor PhysX) ?

Panajev2001a

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Jun 7, 2004
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Golem said:
Computer Games - The next generation consoles are due to start coming out within a year. Is it too late for AGEIA's technology to be implemented in their console plans?

Curtis Davis - We cannot be in all of them, because some of the designs are already locked in.

There is only one design surely locked for a 2005 release and that is Xbox 2/Xenon.

Both PlayStation 3 and Revolution are due to release later: from 3 to 6 months later.

They are talking about design not locked in: I'd doubt Xbox 2 is not locked in given we are in mid march and they are about 6 months away from launch date.

This would tell me that AGEIA is courting the console developers to use its technology, but so far only SEGA licensed both the SDK and the chip.

Licensing the SDK does not mean licensing the chip, so we will have to examine all the AGEIA related announcements very carefully.

Nintendo could be very well using this PPU for Revolution: it would make their design a little bit less flexible (it would e more limted in how to use this PPU than how other consoles use their own CPU's), but it will allow Nintendo to save money on the main CPU design while still being very competitive in terms of in-game physics. The main CPU could be a simplier single core solution like the PowerPC 970 or maybe a 1 core configuration like the "rumored" PowerPC 980 (which would be very similar to the PowerPC 970, but it would support Simultaneous Multi-Threading: appearing as more than one logical CPU to the OS). Not getting into the masive multi-threaded mess would simplify programming for Revolution.

It would be easier to program for sucha unit because the Physiscs API would map very well to a specific processor (AGEIA's PhysX chip) and it would be easier to for programmers to understand how much physics processing will impact their game: they will know how fast they can feed the PPU, how fast the PPU sends results back and how many types of calculations it can do.

I do think Revolution would get the most benefit from this processor (it is a gaming-unit, not a set-top box trying to do diverse multi-media tasks): remember they do try to go for relatively high sustained/minimum performance and ease of programmability.


Think about this:

Revolution specs (by Panajev):

2.5+ GHz PowerPC 970FX by IBM.

1 PhysX PPU by AGEIA.

128-256 MB of DDR-II or high-speed 1-T SRAM running at 25.6 GB/s (I am giving them bandwdith with PlayStation 3 although GameCube shippe with the lowest peak main RAM bandwidth: having less than 256 MB of main RAM will make ports to Revolution quite difficult IMHO so I would lean towards 256 MB or something odd like 192 MB, but still closer to 256 MB than 128 MB).

Custom 400-550 MHz R500 based GPU from ATI (fast, yet more conventional design compared to Xbox 2'S GPU) with 16 MB of on chip e-DRAM.

Support for G.O.D. 2 (Blu-laser based optical format) and G.O.D. 1 (GCN's 1.5 GB disc)

Built-in WiFi 802.11 Access Point (DS and GameBoy Next connectivity) and 10/100 Mbps Ethernet port.

New controller design with motion sensors and gyroscope technology with mini-touch screen (about 2'' diagonally and supporting a max of 4096 colors out of a palette of 65K colors) integrated.
 

Deg

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Jun 18, 2004
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No. Its obviously something that their own games will use alot but no one else will use.

They arent even worthy of being mentioned in the same sentence as PS3 or Xbox 2.
 

Panajev2001a

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Deg said:
No. Its obviously something that their own games will use alot but no one else will use.

Which is exactly why a lot of people would see Nintendo going for it: most of their consoles are designed around their 1st party software.

Still what you say is untrue, lots of people will be using the AGEIA's Physics SDK, thry will jsut be running a Software version optimized for their target platform.
 

sprsk

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Deg said:
No. Its obviously something that their own games will use alot but no one else will use.

They arent even worthy of being mentioned in the same sentence as PS3 or Xbox 2.


tell us how you really feel.
 

Rahul

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Edge Online said:
The project has already raised $38m in venture capital, and Ageia claims such major names as Unreal developer Epic Games and City Of Heroes developer Cryptic Studios among its development partnerships. Publishers Ubisoft and Sega have been the first to sign agreements with Ageia for support in next-gen title development.
(http://www.edge-online.co.uk/archives/2005/03/physics_chips.php)
 

Rahul

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sp0rsk said:
for next gen game development?

so this means atleast one of these systems has this processor doesnt it?
If they're PC titles, then the chip requirement is per-title and dependent on the hardware configuration of the user. If it's for consoles, then I guess it does imply one of them will be using it.

OR MAYBE SEGA AND UBISOFT ARE TEAMING UP TO DO A VIDEOGAME CONSOLE
 

cybamerc

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Jun 7, 2004
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sp0rsk said:
for next gen game development?

so this means atleast one of these systems has this processor doesnt it?
They're talking about next-gen PC games. I have to wonder if this thing will take off though. While it seems to have good support at this point I doubt too many people are willing to pay for a dedicated physics processor. Perhaps it'll be a semi-viable solution for people with older systems who can't upgrade to a more powerful CPU but other than that...
 

xexex

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Oct 13, 2004
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what would be the actual in-game advantages of having a PPU (physics processing unit)
or PPP (primative processing unit) ??

would it be possible to intergrate a PPU into a CPU and a PPP into a G|VPU ?
 

Rahul

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xexex said:
what would be the actual in-game advantages of having a PPU (physics processing unit)
or PPP (primative processing unit) ??

would it be possible to intergrate a PPU into a CPU and a PPP into a G|VPU ?
Isn't the point that if a chip handles this category of calculations, which would assumedly take up a pretty large chunk of the realtime calculations required in next-gen games, that the realtime calculation memory has more space for other things (like AI, pathing, motion etc)? That's what I got from it. Kind of like how ATI/nVidia/whoever it was talks about how Longhorn will work.
 

Panajev2001a

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sp0rsk said:
for next gen game development?

so this means atleast one of these systems has this processor doesnt it?

No, it does not mean that really... you can use their Physics SDK also in Software mode without the PhysX chip you can still run programs which use their SDK.
 

sprsk

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Panajev2001a said:
No, it does not mean that really... you can use their Physics SDK also in Software mode without the PhysX chip you can still run programs which use their SDK.


ahh ic, well then.

thinking about revolution, if they plan to put touch screens on the controllers and what not, would one of these processors take some of the cost off of the cpu? I'm just trying to figure out from cost perspective, how would nintendo fit in weird things into their system and keep competitive in the graphics department without driving up the cost. Would this help?
 

cja

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128-256 MB of DDR-II or high-speed 1-T SRAM running at 25.6 GB/s (I am giving them bandwdith with PlayStation 3 although GameCube shippe with the lowest peak main RAM bandwidth: having less than 256 MB of main RAM will make ports to Revolution quite difficult IMHO so I would lean towards 256 MB or something odd like 192 MB, but still closer to 256 MB than 128 MB).
Funny how you mention the downside of the GC memory configuration with peak bandwidth but not the upside of lower latency. :) I'd expect them to do the same again, lower quantity of RAM but better performing.

Custom 400-550 MHz R500 based GPU from ATI (fast, yet more conventional design compared to Xbox 2'S GPU) with 16 MB of on chip e-DRAM.
I don't see 16MB on chip e-DRAM. My assumption would be a similar setup to Xenon (which seems to ape the GC), 10-11MB max methinks. They could even take a big gamble, have less on-die memory and not support HD or some of its higher resolutions. This may kill conservative technophile interest but most consumers still aren't going to have HD by then end of the next cycle. If there is another display novelty such as touchscreen on pad it may just garner more interest than conventional games with HD.

Support for G.O.D. 2 (Blu-laser based optical format) and G.O.D. 1 (GCN's 1.5 GB disc)
I don't see that happening. Nintendo aren't going to lowball on the CPU/GPU, as you presume, and then go for an ultra expensive blue & red laser format which, if a mini-disc, won't even have the benefits of HD video playback (either AOD or BR). Part of the cost savings with GOD was being able to strip the components needed for CD playback out. They could go with a blue laser only GOD2. Backwards compatibility to the least popular previous-gen console isn't that much of a plus and the DS tie-ratio may have scared Nintendo off the idea. Otherwise I'm expecting a dual-layered red-laser GOD or even 12cm disc. Maybe get some more space by having a GD-ROM style increase in capacity and then try the latest new-fangled texture compression routine, it shouldn't provide too much trouble for porting Xbox 2 stuff.

Built-in WiFi 802.11 Access Point (DS and GameBoy Next connectivity) and 10/100 Mbps Ethernet port.
Is the Ethernet port even needed? "No-line" marketing and a boom in wireless routers could make it unneccesary. Can't see many getting broadband just for N-online and the few pennies it saves by excluding the port could be used elsewhere.
 

hooo

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If the chip itself is cheap then I can very much so see Nintendo putting it in IF let's say they were approached with it a good while ago. If AGEIA is just now trying to sell to the console manufacturers, they have a horrible business sense and they're destined to fail.

Given that it's cheap, Nintendo has known about it for a while and the chip really will allow for physics calculations that are above and beyond what the other next gen CPU's can reasonably handle, I can definitely see Nintendo going for it. Not only will it allow them to go cheaper on the cpu, it will give their software a unique edge over the other consoles in the realm of gameplay, AND it'll make any software made specifically for their console difficult to port straight over to another (of course if they cheap out on the processor too much, the reverse will be true too).
 

Enigma

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Zerodoppler said:
I say sign up and use it for Waverace. Do it Nintendo!

Sing it, brother (As long as it's EAD, Namco, or AV as the developer).

cybamerc said:
They're talking about next-gen PC games. I have to wonder if this thing will take off though. While it seems to have good support at this point I doubt too many people are willing to pay for a dedicated physics processor. Perhaps it'll be a semi-viable solution for people with older systems who can't upgrade to a more powerful CPU but other than that...

If it got universal developer support and was at a price-friendly point (Under 100), I think it'd be a really cool addition. That's a huge resource hog and would give you much better bang for the buck than upgrading to the latest CPU that's not yielding that much of an increase over what you're getting anyhow.
 

Mrbob

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Do we know an estimated price of the PC physics card?

This idea is awesome. But my fear is that I'll have to pay 300-400 bucks for a video card and anotehr 300 for this physics card. If the physics card is like 50 bucks I could see it taking off in a big way.
 

j^aws

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At this moment in time, I see the likelyhood of the PPU appearing in consoles as,

Revoluion>Xenon>PS3

PS3 has a vector processing monster in CELL.

Xenon has a highly flexible/ general purpose CPU/GPU vector architecture and the PPU is a fixed function device which would seem a little out of place in the Xenon architecture.

We know the least about Revolution, but the inclusion of a PPU would be a quick/ cheap win in terms of performance.
 

heidern

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Jun 7, 2004
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I can definitely see Nintendo going for this. It is probably too early to be viable for xenon and Sony are definitely into the cell gig rather than going for more hardwired effects.

What this chip would mean in essense is that instead of "emulating" physics operations on a general purpose cpu they can do it in a special purpose chip. So yeah, they'd lose versatility but it would make Rev cheaper while remaining competitive. In fact, it could put Nintendo in a superior position, just like how gpus were an advantage over the old purely cpu designs.
 

Enigma

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Jan 13, 2005
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http://www.gamers-depot.com/interviews/agiea/001.htm

Here's a really cool interview on it. Appears to have 128MB of RAM on the card, so I'm sure it's gonna cost more than a lot would prefer. But this has got major potential. If they could get the videocard companies to put on the videocard or NVidia to put on NForce 5, this could be massive. I've been eyeing mid 2006 as the sweetspot for doing a complete PC overhaul, and I'd love it if there was an integrated solution by then.

EDIT: I'm sure the RAM amount would be irrelevant if it were integrated into a console, so that number wouldn't really be an issue with consoles.
 

Kon Tiki

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Jun 6, 2004
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Nintendo did say there wont be much difference in graphics. Maybe they were referring to other means of processing power. ;) Then again, this is Nintendo.