Following in the wake of several controversies regarding Nvidia’s closed proprietary physics engine, PhysX, AMD have officially announced an initiative to expand the use of game physics using the open source Bullet Physics engine.

Nvidia have used PhysX as an marketing tool since 2008, by making it proprietary. Basically if you want PhysX – buy an Nvidia GPU. As a result, never gained widespread acceptance by game developers, only appearing in a handful of games. Nvidia’s recent decision to disable PhysX when a Nvidia GPU was used in association with a ATI Radeon GPU has further angered developers and gamers alike, who went out and bought a mainstream Nvidia GPU just for PhysX. Developers have talked about the need for an open source physics engine that can be used on any GPU – leading to widespread adoption of game physics.

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Following in the wake of several controversies regarding Nvidia’s closed proprietary physics engine, PhysX, AMD have officially announced an initiative to expand the use of game physics using the open source Bullet Physics engine.

Nvidia have used PhysX as an marketing tool since 2008, by making it proprietary. Basically if you want PhysX – buy an Nvidia GPU. As a result, never gained widespread acceptance by game developers, only appearing in a handful of games. Nvidia’s recent decision to disable PhysX when a Nvidia GPU was used in association with a ATI Radeon GPU has further angered developers and gamers alike, who went out and bought a mainstream Nvidia GPU just for PhysX. Developers have talked about the need for an open source physics engine that can be used on any GPU – leading to widespread adoption of game physics.

This is what AMD seeks to do – by leveraging industry standards such as OpenCL, DirectX and Bullet Physics – allowing not just AMD and Nvidia, but other hardware platforms, such as game consoles to real-time physics.

Pixelux’s Bullet Physics is currently the third most popular physics library after PhysX and Havok. It remains to be seen how Bullet compares to PhysX and Havok in terms of features – though Bullet is the preferred library in the CGI industry for movies. However, such a broad open source initiative might just finally bring high level physics and simulation to the mainstream – regardless of what hardware you own as it would encourage developers – they will be certain that every gamer gets to experience the physics effects.

Reference: AMD Press Release