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NVidia Cripples PhysX "Open" API 393

Posted by timothy
from the semi-open dept.
An anonymous reader writes "In a foot-meet-bullet type move, NVidia is going to disable PhysX engine if you are using a display adapter other than one that came from their company. This despite the fact that you may have an NVidia card on your system specifically to do this type of processing. 'For a variety of reasons some development expense, some quality assurance and some business reasons Nvidia will not support GPU accelerated PhysX with Nvidia GPUs while GPU rendering is happening on non-Nvidia GPUs.' Time to say hello to Microsoft dx physics or Intel's Havok engine."
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NVidia Cripples PhysX "Open" API

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  • Havok (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sopssa (1498795) * <sopssa@email.com> on Wednesday September 30, 2009 @04:07PM (#29598137) Journal

    Havok is a better engine anyway.

    But that's the problem with corporate buyings anyway. Even if its kinda wrong to stop supporting the other platforms, they have every right to do so.

  • Re:Anti-trust? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by TheRealMindChild (743925) on Wednesday September 30, 2009 @04:12PM (#29598193) Homepage Journal
    Look at it from a technical standpoint. They probably expected people (however wrongly) using PhysX to be doing so for games while using their card to render also. Throw a third party bit of hardware in there, and when the inevitable crash and burn go down, who is to blame? They don't know either... so they "solve" the problem by keeping you from ever being able to expose it.
  • Re:Anti-trust? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by MozeeToby (1163751) on Wednesday September 30, 2009 @04:13PM (#29598217)

    Worse than that even, this is using your strength in one industry segment (physics acceleration) to support sales of an arguably different segment (graphics acceleration).

  • Re:Havok (Score:4, Insightful)

    by negRo_slim (636783) <mils_oRgen@hotmail.com> on Wednesday September 30, 2009 @04:14PM (#29598229)

    Havok is a better engine anyway.

    That may be the case but in the end we'll more than likely see corporate drama surrounding that effort as well.
    I hate to say it but I think a DirectX option is the lesser of three evils.

  • by Flowstone (1638793) on Wednesday September 30, 2009 @04:17PM (#29598273)
    First they scoop up PhysX and try to create a market for PPUs. Now the only way PhysX is ever going to get any use is out of pure coincidence. Not the smartest move for Nvidia to make when Ati/AMD is on their heels with a new line of cards.
  • Re:Anti-trust? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Joce640k (829181) on Wednesday September 30, 2009 @04:21PM (#29598323) Homepage

    This phrase "anti-trust", I don't think it means what you think it means.

    How are they leveraging a monopoly to gain unfair advantage in a marketplace?

    To me it seems more like NVIDIA has finally realized that they *can't* use it to gain unfair advantage so they're dumping it.

  • by headkase (533448) on Wednesday September 30, 2009 @04:24PM (#29598363)
    Heres some thoughts on the meaning of this. The PC is an open-architecture, you are free to put whatever you want into your machine. If nVidia can dictate what their hardware works with then they are effectively creating a "nVidia-Approved" list of hardware. First step down the slippery slope of closing the PC's openness. In the software world an equivalent would be Windows refusing to connect to network shares that were based off of Samba or the other way around a Windows box refusing connections from Linux machines. Standards apply to hardware as well as software and if any manufacturer gets away with an "approved" list then the platform as a whole will eventually suffer for it.
  • by poetmatt (793785) on Wednesday September 30, 2009 @04:27PM (#29598413) Journal

    windows is an "approved list of hardware". Ever tried to run DirectX under anything else?

    OpenGL3 is the first time that companies are breaking away from windows.

    You can't keep a PC closed forever because it's bad for business.

  • by SheeEttin (899897) <sheeettin&gmail,com> on Wednesday September 30, 2009 @04:28PM (#29598427) Homepage
    There's a word in the article headline conveniently omitted from the Slashdot headline. That word is "reportedly"
    Seriously, guys, can't we get any kind of standards here?

    That aside, this is a pretty stupid move. If this news is accurate, I don't doubt a lot of users are going to be pretty vocal.
    On the other hand, if they had made it work, but be horribly broken in the presence of an ATI/AMD graphics cad, they could easily blame it on something completely opaque to the user and get away with it. (cf. manufacturer graphics drivers on Linux.)
  • Crazy (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Pedrito (94783) on Wednesday September 30, 2009 @04:37PM (#29598529) Homepage
    It's kind of crazy that this is even going to get attention. This is only going to affect people using PhysX (which requires an nVidia GPU at the moment) with an ATI card for rendering. I'm sure the two people with this configuration are going to be crushed. Yes, I realize more than 2 will have a mix of cards, and 2 is probably a bit of a low guess, but only a handful are going to actually be affected by the lack of PhysX support for the config, so please, let's not get all in a huff about it. From a support perspective, I can understand where nVidia is coming from. This could be a true support nightmare for them.
  • by perrin (891) on Wednesday September 30, 2009 @04:37PM (#29598533)

    Once the big game engines and physics libraries get generic support for GPU programming through OpenCL, this will all be pretty moot anyway. From what I can tell, the bullet physics library is already developing this, and I am sure closed source competitors are doing that as well. Relying on anything that will only run on a single vendor's hardware is just a losing business proposition (unless that vendor pays you for it, which I guess is how PhysX got going).

  • by BlueToast (1224550) on Wednesday September 30, 2009 @04:40PM (#29598573) Homepage Journal

    When I shop for a video card, I don't care if it is ATI or NVIDIA as long as the choice I am making is cost effective. I would much rather spend my money on the card that is cheaper for the same performance -- which happens to be ATI in this case. Originally I was going to pair an 8800GT with an ATI card for Windows 7, but this news blows. NVIDIA should straighten up and get over their emotional attention whoring. They won't get my money now unless they grow up.

  • Re:Havok (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jgtg32a (1173373) on Wednesday September 30, 2009 @04:51PM (#29598711)
    The Khronos Group
  • by BitZtream (692029) on Wednesday September 30, 2009 @04:55PM (#29598765)

    Its anti-consumer, but that doesn't trigger an anti-trust charge, they don't have a monopoly.

    Why does everyone scream like its illegal when a company does something they don't like? Unless they are king of the hill and using their powers to force others into capitulating with them, its not an issue for the courts. You don't have to buy nVidia. You don't have to use PhysX. You don't have to buy a Voodoo 3 card. Sure a game may only support one of the above, but thats not something that justifies going after nVidia unless they owned the market.

  • Nope... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Junta (36770) on Wednesday September 30, 2009 @04:57PM (#29598795)

    PhysX was trying to make a market for PPUs (and relatively failing). nVidia bought them up to make the technology another marketing bullet point for their GPU parts, not to sell GPU parts as mere physics calculations. Sure, they'll take the business as it comes incidently, but they have no interest in anything that could remotely be construed as putting something other than their role as a graphics adapter vendor first.

  • by smoker2 (750216) on Wednesday September 30, 2009 @04:59PM (#29598819) Homepage Journal
    How can it be anti-trust if (a) they aren't a monopoly, and (b) they are disabling their own hardware ?

    If they caused the ATI card to not function then I could understand it, but a secondary function on their own card ?
  • by Junta (36770) on Wednesday September 30, 2009 @05:08PM (#29598921)

    You express a desire for an API from Microsoft to become dominant?

  • Re:Havok (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 30, 2009 @05:13PM (#29598959)

    It's almost an order of magnitude slower than the "native" gpu programming technology (CUDA, Brooks+).

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 30, 2009 @05:14PM (#29598977)
    I still use a 22" CRT I bought years ago for $800. What, I should throw away a perfectly good monitor and buy an LCD because you'll stick your nose in the air?
  • by HeronBlademaster (1079477) <heron@xnapid.com> on Wednesday September 30, 2009 @05:18PM (#29599039) Homepage

    No, but you can't blame a company for not wanting to support outdated technology.

    That's like complaining that Microsoft won't release security updates for Windows 98. Sure, some people are still using it, and it might work perfectly well for them, but that doesn't mean MS is evil for not patching it.

  • Re:Havok (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Korin43 (881732) on Wednesday September 30, 2009 @05:20PM (#29599057) Homepage
    This is sort of a dick move, but I don't think this is going to hurt PhysX much. I mean really, how many people use two video cards in the first place? I really doubt a large portion of Nvidia users are going to care..
  • Re:Havok (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Sinan H (1548991) on Wednesday September 30, 2009 @05:24PM (#29599091) Homepage
    No. Bullet Physics and OpenCL is the answer to this problem. Not a closed standard like DirectCompute that you can only use on Windows. Havok will use Larrabee, PhysX uses CUDA, however they will all eventually use OpenCL eventually. Although Bullet Physics can be ported to Larrabee, CUDA (already demos exists), support for OpenCL is the right way to go.
  • by OrangeTide (124937) on Wednesday September 30, 2009 @05:38PM (#29599205) Homepage Journal

    What about a CRT is outdated? It has better black levels, faster refresh, and higher brightness than an LCD. It's analog but good cabling will still result in a crystal clear image. I think the primary disadvantages of CRTs is that widescreen is so costly as to be impractical. They are heavy. And they suck a lot of power. but in terms of image quality a CRT is still extremely good.

    CRTs are "outdated" because businesses want to sell LCDs. Flat and light is sexy. And LCDs sold like crazy back when the image quality was dramatically inferior to a CRT, and it took them years to catch up.

    CRT technology is not obsolete, but the marketing of CRTs is dead. If you want to argue that we should use technology based on marketability alone, be my guest. I suspect most slashdotters will rip into you pretty brutally.

  • Re:Havok (Score:4, Insightful)

    by interval1066 (668936) on Wednesday September 30, 2009 @06:20PM (#29599625) Homepage Journal

    @sopssa: "Havok is a better engine anyway."

    By saying that in the context of this article you're implying that Havoc is a more open, less ip/license/business relationship-constrained option, and I don't think that's true. If Intel wants to exert its rights over the technology in the same way we're right back to the same situation with PhysX; Havoc may be better technically but its worthless if no one can get their hands on it.

  • Re:Havok (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DJRumpy (1345787) on Wednesday September 30, 2009 @06:47PM (#29599871)
    Doesn't one normally wait until they have a good market for a product before they try to lock people in? This will only drive people to an engine that is more widely supported, or to an open standard that does the same thing. I understand the business reason, but it seems silly to show all your cards this early in the game.
  • Re:Havok (Score:4, Insightful)

    by hairyfeet (841228) <bassbeast1968@NOspaM.gmail.com> on Wednesday September 30, 2009 @06:52PM (#29599907) Journal

    Well I can say that Nvidia acting like dicks is what switched me to go full AMD on my newest PCs, along with Intel acting like asses over virtualization on only certain CPUs got me to switch over to AMD for my customers as well. The new quads are more than powerful enough for the average Joe, and after being burnt on the 5xxx series, followed by a couple of my customers getting burnt on the bad solder BS (and Nvidia acting like dicks instead of manning up to their mistakes) made it not very hard to just switch.

    I've found the new AMD boards have great graphics out of the box, and for those that need more the 4xxx series are affordable and don't need an AC unit to cool the thing. This burning everyone with PhysiX just is the icing on the stupidity cake. I just wonder how much of Nvidia acting like dicks comes back to getting burnt on the solder? Plus with Intel and AMD having their own GPU solutions Nvidia is looking more and more like the odd man odd. It may be just me but this smells like a desperate move to try and get some lock in going. Considering how nice and affordable the new ATI cards are I wonder how much luck they are gonna have in this climate. Only time will tell I suppose. Oh well, as long as stuff blows up real good I don't care if every piece of debris lands in the correct spot anyway.

  • by maxume (22995) on Wednesday September 30, 2009 @07:26PM (#29600149)

    He doesn't care if they are on the up and up, he cares that they (from his point of view) arbitrarily removed functionality, that, for all he could tell, was working just fine. They don't have to be dishonest to make stupid decisions that make them worth avoiding as a supplier.

  • Re:Havok (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Kalriath (849904) * on Wednesday September 30, 2009 @08:19PM (#29600509)

    Symbian that you get on your phone might as well not be open source. Symbian Signed? Please.
    iPhone needs jailbreaking to be open.
    Windows Mobile does not.

    Hence the original statement from GP that I agree with - Windows Mobile is the lesser evil. Scary, that is.

  • Re:Havok (Score:4, Insightful)

    by jpmorgan (517966) on Wednesday September 30, 2009 @08:25PM (#29600543) Homepage
    25%? Really? There are two possible usage scenarios they've killed:

    1. An onboard NVIDIA device with a discrete ATI graphics card. From what I've heard, PhysX running on integrated devices isn't any faster than running on the CPU in software mode, so nothing has been lost. So no target market has been lost there.

    2. Having both a discrete ATI graphics card, and an unused GeForce 8000+ or Tesla. That is a pretty fucking weird configuration. I can't see that being more than a tenth of a percent of gamers. I've personally never encountered someone who runs both.

    Mountain. Molehill.
  • by earnest murderer (888716) on Wednesday September 30, 2009 @08:29PM (#29600581)

    That was a ridiculous thing to post.

    A CRT doesn't need support, it needs to not be sabotaged.
    His glasses don't need support, they need to not be sabotaged.

    Not supporting both of them takes more effort than ignoring them.

    Competent support of all that hardware would take less space in code than this comment window is high. Going to the trouble to restrict it was much more... *after* the meetings, licenses, and money exchanges had all taken place.

    The cynic in me believes that someone with a debugger is probably a single (or two) flipped bit(s) away from a working setup.

  • by Joe U (443617) on Wednesday September 30, 2009 @11:11PM (#29601531) Homepage Journal

    MS pulled a smackdown on Creative. Creative cards (and drivers, especially drivers! [FU creative]) have been sucking for years.

    So, new OS comes out and MS removes all the hooks that 3rd parties have been putting into the Windows sound system, instantly leveling the playing field and removing a major source of Windows instability.

    One of the few times MS really did the right thing.

  • Re:Havok (Score:5, Insightful)

    by electrosoccertux (874415) on Wednesday September 30, 2009 @11:13PM (#29601537)

    Havok and the DX Physics are completely open and either party can use them, no proprietary api or licensing or anything silly. No hardware vendor controls what happens.

    PhysX is not. It is controlled by Nvidia. Gosh, they wouldn't have financial motives to abuse this power would they? No of course not...

    Nvidia lately seems to have been getting around the whole market segmentation issue by ... paying off forum members in all the hot PC Hardware forums? Lately my favorite has been inundated with troll and fanboy posts proclaiming the wonders of PhysX (still waiting for a game where it actually adds anything) and the death of AMD/ATi.

  • Re:Anti-trust? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Zephiris (788562) on Thursday October 01, 2009 @06:14AM (#29603413)

    Umm. Should I even bother to point out how many things are wrong with what you said?

    PhysX itself is used by developers. The card being capable of running it is fairly irrelevant. "Do you want shiny extra visual-only effects? Yes/No". PhysX GPU acceleration is fairly useless, and even many Nvidia users turn it off to save framerate.

    You have a video card, which you presumably use for a game. If PhysX is used by the game...good for you, unless of course it uses PhysX software only (as the overwhelming majority oft PhysX licensees do). If it doesn't...or it's unsupported, have you somehow lost something?
    You're effectively putting to task the expectation that A( 'everything' uses PhysX, B( 'everything' must support PhysX.

    You're effectively (and naively) blaming Nvidia for the lack of PhysX on AMD/ATI cards, when AMD itself hasn't been interested in it, hasn't developed its own comparable libraries, and let the Havok deal fall through. AMD has done, as far as I can tell, absolutely nothing to compete or interoperate in this area, not even encourage open source as do the work for them (as they're now doing for UNIX drivers).

    The ultimate defense for libel is the truth, the ultimate defense for anti-competitive practices, is the competitor's own incompetence/inability to stay afloat. Nvidia had much (but not everything; NEC was the bigger factor there) to do with the demise of 3DFx, and absolutely nothing to do with the decline of AMD's competitive quality and their image in the eyes of the consumer. If more people bought AMD cards, then AMD would have a greater market share, logically. Nvidia hasn't sabotaged them in any way whatsoever, not even a teensy bit, nor do they hold the Lion's share of the GPU market.

    Why not also blame Nvidia for not porting PhysX to Linux, MacOS, FreeBSD, and Solaris while you're at it? Come on. This is the real world, not 'every company does what you want before you want it' land.

    The market for PhysX, is specifically developers, not you, the end user. Why are you so hell bent on getting a few extra graphical effects due to PhysX? That's what it's used for in most cases, and the most cases are...what, MAYBE 10 games released ever that directly support hardware PhysX from the GPU? And another 10 that supported the Aegia PPU, but not an Nvidia card?

    Market share is also a non-issue for you, the end user. After all, do you get PhysX acceleration a Havok game either? No. Does it matter how much market share Havok or Bullet Physics have, if the game you like uses it? No.

    You're...kinda wrong about MS and monopoly. They were ruled a monopoly for anti-competitive practices and various licensing deals they made to hurt the any competition. It has nothing to do with Apple 'not available on x86'. That's...very very strange. Apple backed IBM PowerPC, after they backed Motorola 68k. That it wasn't available on x86 was simply, they didn't want it to be. Just like they don't want it to be available for general non-Apple computers still today. Microsoft had nothing to do with that, and even periodically developed software for MacOS/PPC. They even developed a version of Windows NT 3.51 for PPC (which didn't hurt Apple at all).

    Nvidia is far from a monopoly in the graphics market, with a mere 29% of the market and AMD 17%. Intel dominates with 44%. At least according to JPR, whom I'm sure you distrust as well: http://jonpeddie.com/press-releases/details/amd-soars-in-q209-intel-and-nvidia-also-show-great-gains/ [jonpeddie.com]

    Could AMD's loss of market share (and I seem to recall that Nvidia and ATI were fairly neck and neck in the Geforce 2/3 era) be due to their own problems which they have yet to resolve, despite ATI/AMD merger? Maybe possibly? If people don't trust you and your product to work particularly well, people will be less likely to put down $100+ merely for you to disappoint them. The door swings both ways.

Stupidity, like virtue, is its own reward.

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