Language Selection

English French German Italian Portuguese Spanish

Gamers may get better explosions through science

Filed under
Gaming

To a physics fan like Manju Hegde, even today's best video games look fake. When a building blows up in a game, he notices the debris doesn't cascade like a waterfall or scatter correctly and cause damage to nearby structures.

That's because game creators haven't taken the time to calculate the physics that govern the behavior of objects such as falling bricks. Hegde, CEO of Mountain View, Calif., startup Ageia, wants to make it easy for them to do that with a chip for the personal computer that specializes in physics calculations.

Dubbed PhysX, the chip will enable things like gelatinous creatures whose bodies shift shape like a liquid, crumpling fenders in car crashes, massive explosions with 10,000 pieces of debris, clothing that hangs realistically, and lava or blood that flows like the real thing.

"We think a game should be like the 'Star Trek' holodeck," Hegde says, referring to the virtual-reality simulator from the science-fiction TV series whose illusions were indistinguishable from real life. "Our chip is the first step toward that."

Ageia has $38 million in venture capital from firms such as Apex Partners and Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing. It has commitments for $30 million more from other investors.
One reason Ageia has garnered such support is its chip could tip the scales in the PC's battle with game consoles.

The PC gaming community is about to be overshadowed by another set of new consoles from Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo. Those machines will have plenty of extra processing power to handle better physics.

The consoles will be able to calculate the interaction of moving objects and determine what the graphics chip needs to display on the screen at any instant. And they may have enough power to imbue the game environment with physical attributes, so that the grass sways when the wind blows.

Hegde says a PC with a physics chip could match the consoles.

Physics chips are "a major innovation that is likely to breathe new life into the PC as a gaming platform," said Jon Peddie, president of graphics-research firm Jon Peddie Research.

But do gamers really want to buy an add-on card just to improve the realism in their games?

Full Story.

More in Tux Machines

today's howtos

Android Leftovers

University students create award-winning open source projects

In my short time working for Clarkson University, I've realized what a huge impact this small university is making on the open source world. Our 4,300 student-strong science and technology-focused institution, located just south of the Canadian border in Potsdam, New York, hosts the Clarkson Open Source Institute (COSI), dedicated to promoting open source software and providing equipment and support for student projects. While many universities offer opportunities for students to get involved in open source projects, it's rare to have an entire institute dedicated to promoting open source development. COSI is part of Clarkson's Applied Computer Science Labs within the computer science department. It, along with the Internet Teaching Lab and the Virtual Reality Lab, is run by students (supported by faculty advisers), allowing them to gain experience in managing both facilities and projects while still undergraduates. Read more

Linux 4.17-rc2

So rc2 is out, and things look fairly normal. The diff looks a bit unusual, with the tools subdirectory dominating, with 30%+ of the whole diff. Mostly perf and test scripts. But if you ignore that, the rest looks fairly usual. Arch updates (s390 and x86 dominate) and drivers (networking, gpu, HID, mmc, misc) are the bulk of it, with misc other changes all over (filesystems, core kernel, networking, docs). We've still got some known fallout from the merge window, but it shouldn't affect most normal configurations, so go out and test. Linus Read more Also: Upstream Linux support for new NXP i.MX8