GeForce PhysX | PureVideo HD
Video games supporting hardware acceleration by PhysX can be accelerated by either a PhysX PPU or a CUDA-enabled GeForce GPU, thus offloading physics calculations from the CPU allowing it to perform other tasks instead, potentially resulting in a smoother gaming experience.
So your GPU is utilized to compute physics models, using variables such as mass, velocity, friction and wind resistance. It can simulate and predict effects under different conditions that would approximate what happens in real life or in a fantasy world and then translate that into video games.
Most GeForce series 8 and higher graphics cards can handle CUDA. And as such Series 8, 9 and GTX 200 graphics cards can be utilized for NVIDIA PhysX processing.
Once you start using this feature you will forfeit some of the overall performance of the GPU. On your average GPU this is roughly 10 to 15%
That's why in the future you could use your older CUDA ready graphics card as an add-on, and use it as a physics card while your shiny new graphics card can render the game. The idea, although not definitely new, is an interesting one.
This month a new patch is distributed for two new games as well, Sacred 2 Fallen Angel (RPG) and Star Tales (social networking game). We have some videos from Sacred 2 Fallen Angel and Star Tales showing off PhysX.
Mind you that the videos are provided by NVIDIA, thus are showing the cherry picked effects and have a logo or 50 too much in them.
Check out the effects in Sacred 2 Fallen Angel - Hint select HQ in the YouTube video.
Above you can see Star Tales. What you need to focus on are the cloth simulations. These are GPU Physics based.
So while it is hard to explain exactly what PhysX can do in your games I will give you a few examples. Imagine cloth or flags moving fluently, dynamically created force fields with changing geometry, when you shoot at stuff, loads of debris.
Incorporated into the the GeForce GTX 200 series is obviously the newer VP2 video decoder core logic. So here's our standard snippet on that.
PureVideo HD is a video engine built into the GPU of your graphics card (dedicated core logic). It allows for dedicated GPU-based video processing to accelerate, decode and enhance image quality of low- and high-definition video in the following formats: H.264, VC-1, WMV/WMV-HD, and MPEG-2 (HD). Speaking more generic; your graphics card can be used to decode SD/HD materials in two categories:
The more your graphics card can decode the better, as it'll lower the overall used CPU cycles of your PC. VC1 is without a doubt the most used format, and secondly, the hefty, but oh so sweet H.264 format. We'll fire off a couple of movies and allow the graphics cards to decode the content; meanwhile like a vicious minx we'll be monitoring and recording the CPU load of the test PC.
Not only can the graphics card help offload the CPU, it can also improve (enhance) image quality; as it should. So besides checking out performance of AMD's Avivo HD and NVIDIA's PureVideo HD video engines, we want to see how they affect the image quality, e.g. post-process and enhance the image quality of the video.
These recently added features will be available for all GeForce series 8, 9 and GTX 200 series products. So please understand that with a GeForce 9600 GT comes the exact same VP2 decoding engine as found on the GTX 260/280/295. You'll have your low-CPU post-processed, decoding 1080P image quality options with HD-DVD and Blu-Ray.
For those interested in MKV / x.264 GPU based content acceleration, playback and image quality enhancements, please read this guide we have written.