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E3 2006 from a PC Perspective

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AGEIA and Havok Physics War

Introduction


For the past few years I have have made the migration to Los Angeles for the Electronic Entertainment Expo, otherwise known to the world as E3.  This show is centered around the gaming industry, both console and PC, and you are likely to see any game that is due out in the next two years either on display or at least in a movie mode.  It's no wonder this show tends to get so much press and why the public is always so interested in it.  After all, we know first hand at PC Perspective how much enthusiasm people have for gaming hardware, so imagine how readers must feel about the games that actually USE that hardware! 


This year's show was really centered around the two upcoming consoles that are going to be released late this year.  Both the Playstation 3 and the Nintendo Wii should be in stores by Christmas and most of the media at E3 covered the Wii and PS3 hardware and software like there was no tomorrow.  But what about the PC world?  In truth, there wasn't much new on display and it left a bitter taste in my mouth as to the state of mind of the industry of PC gaming.  Hopefully the next couple of months will turn it all around as hardware from AGEIA, NVIDIA, Intel and more finally hit the ground running. 


AGEIA


One of our first stops at E3 was at the AGEIA booth.  Just before E3 started they officially unvieled their PhysX PPU card and we have a full review of it already online.  A dedicated physics processor in your system has the capability to greatly enhance gameplay, if games that fully utilize it materialize. 



Here are a few system integrators that AGEIA is currently selling cards to, and that gamer's can purchase today.  On the far left we have Dell, Alienware, and Falcon Northwest. 



Retail cards, like the one we reviewed last week, are available from both Asus and BFG Technologies in the US.



The titles on display on the show floor were typical of what we have seen from AGEIA in the recent past -- nothing dramatically new since GDC.  What was interesting was that some developers from Cryptic Studios were on hand to demonstrate the changes that City of Villians will see when the new patch is released at the end of May that integrates PhysX support.  We are going to have a much more in-depth look at what changes this will bring and what differences users that do NOT have PhysX cards are going to have.


Havok


Of course, AGEIA isn't the only physics company trying to garner some attention for hardware acceleration.  At GDC 2006, NVIDIA and Havok announced a partnership to enable physics acceleration on NVIDIA GPUs.  Though Havok didn't have a large booth on display at E3, NVIDIA had a station at their booth to demonstrate the increase in performance that you can get from doing physics calculations on the GPU rather than on the CPU. 


Again, we are working with Havok to get some new performance and comparison information to you all in the coming weeks so stayed for that as I think you'll find it very interesting to say the least.


Next Page - NVIDIA and VIA: Very Different Approaches

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