GeForce PhysX | PureVideo HD
GeForce PhysX aka NVIDIA PhysX
One of the more hip features released a couple of months ago also uses CUDA. Any graphics processor (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. The company that brought you the physics card under the label PhysX. That company has been bought by NVIDIA and the good news is that PhysX as you know it has been ported into the graphics card driver for CUDA ready products. This means that GeForce series 8 and above now 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.
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 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.
The biggest recent title, Mirrors Edge for PC, also has PhysX support.
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.