Small sidenote here, Guru3D is ranking in the Folding@Home top 100, yes .. I'm very proud of our guys crunching these numbers.
Obviously you guys read the news already, personally I'm pretty psyched about it myself. Last year I spoke with Mike Houston from Stanford University, he's a key figure behind the Folding @home project, in fact he's the one that convinced me to start Team Guru3D for Folding@home.
Back then I had concerns about the fact that a GPU client for GeForce Based graphics cards was still not a reality. NVIDIA's Point of view on this topic was simple; it's not a priority for us, they stated. When I asked Mike, why not run it through CUDA (as I figured CUDA would be the best solution to their problem) he claimed that lacking development access from NVIDIA was part of the problem.
The problem last year with CUDA was that it is a complete rewrite of lots of code that will only run on a single vendor. And at Stanford they figured, it's hard to be convinced to do this when things don't work with their code base. That and there was a performance differential with the G80 processors (GeForce 8800). Apparently NVIDIA did not open up the bottom layer of CUDA, which would allow Stanford to bypass the DX drivers.
Now, the good news then. Over the past 12 months a lot of progress has been made between the two parties involved. And right now there is a Beta Folding client available that is working with GeForce Series 8,9 and GTX graphics processors. See, it is CUDA based .. meaning that all CUDA ready GPU's will run and can start folding.
The new GeForce GTX series will compute slightly more than 400-500 mol/day, which is three times more than the 170 mol/day of the Radeon HD 3870. To get you an even better perspective ... that's five times more than the 100 mol/day of the PlayStation 3! And that thing can crunch data man.
Join Team Guru3D
The client is out, if possible please join team Guru3D and let's fold away some nasty stuff. The good thing, you won't even notice that's running. Our folding @home info can be found here:
Our team number is 69411 and if you decide to purchase the GeForce GTX 280/260 product, guys, promise me you'll use it to fold for us. Of course I recommend all GeForce 8800/9800 owners to give this a try as well.
By making this move my dear friends, there are now 70 Million GPUs available to compute the biggest mysteries in deceases and illnesses. Again, let's make Team Guru3D the biggest one available guys, join our team - 69411.
We have early access to the application. Here you can see the new GPU client activated and crunching data on the GTX 280. And it's fast !
GeForce PhysX aka NVIDIA PhysX
One of the newer features released a couple of weeks ago is also using CUDA. Any graphics processors (that can handle CUDA) can be utilized for NVIDIA PhysX processing - or as I like to call it - compute shaders.
You guys probably know Ageia, right? The company that brought you the physics card under the label PhysX. That company has recently been bought by NVIDIA and the good news is that PhysX as you know it is being ported, as we speak, into the graphics card driver for CUDA ready products. This means that GeForce series 8 and above wnow have full physics support right out of the box. So if a game supports Ageia PhysX, your Cuda ready graphics card (GeForce series 8 and above) is compatible.
In very simple wording, physics functionality will not run through the DirectX engine (DX11 will do this though), yet makes a bypass through CUDA where the Agea PhysX API is now implemented for the bigger part. In games one can now fully utilize physics calculations. Your GPU shader engine will do the math for you.
The downside; obviously once you start using this feature you will forfeit some of the overall performance of the GPU. That's why in the future you could add your older CUDA ready graphics card as add-on and use it as the physics card while your shiny new graphics card can render the game. The idea although not definitely new, is an interesting one.
If you think that in-game physics are far away ... think again. Though work in progress for most games, you can expect some titles to fully support the new technology and quite honestly it's pretty interesting. Any Ageia PhysX compatible game for example will work fine. On a recent editor's day we have seen a good number of titles already with fully working support, one of them you guys already know. In fact the most common one was the Unreal III gaming engine; which fully supports it and we have indeed seen some examples. Gaming will become much more dynamic due to this development. Great stuff for sure.
My theory here, Ageia as a standalone company did not have a lot of chance of succeeding. Now that the technology has been integrated into NVIDIA GeForce products, it opens up a new ballgame as over 70 million GPUs worldwide can all of the sudden handle PhysX. Think about that fact for a second.
So then, in theory any CUDA enabled GPU will run Physx. Some games we already saw running using PhysX:
Space Siege, gas powered games
Nurien, a social network platform
Bionic Commando, CAPCOM, GRINN
Natural Motion, Backbreaker game
APB Realtime worlds
Stalker Clear Sky realtime debris - cloth
Race driver - GRID - Phill Scott - cloth physics in flags
Gearbox software Brother in Arms - Hells highway & Aliens: Colonial marines and Borderlands.
So while it is hard to explain what exactly physics can do in your games I will give you a few examples. Imagine cloth or flags moving fluently, dynamic created force fields with changing geometry, when you shoot at stuff, loads of debris. Another good example we have seen live in action was the Game Space siege. Imagine you are on a space ship, when you shoot at objects, they now will move along with the same speed of the ship moving; all of them. More environmentally rich sceneries loaded with for example fuel drums. You can shoot at them, they explode, move, pushing other drums away, cascading .. everything will be moving & reacting the way the programmer thinks it should. So again, this stuff is really hard to explain. Just wait and see, once the PhysX driver is finalized, go play Unreal Tournament III and check it out with and without the PhysX options. You'll notice a distinct difference.
We recently; wrote an article on GeForce Physx, you can read it here.
Screenshot from Bionic Commando (Capcom/GRIN) - with PhysX support
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