Right after the release of Cypress (HD 5800 series), several controversies have arisen amongst the gaming community, accusing Nvidia of anti-competitive practices by disabling software support in presence of ATI Radeon graphics cards.

The first instance was when Nvidia disabled PhysX if used together with an ATI card. While this was done in a Forceware dated July, this news has only come into prominence following the Cypress releases. Many who have bought ATI Radeon graphics cards have retained there old PhysX-compatible Nvidia Geforce cards for the sole intention of running PhysX on it. Some have also bought cheaper Nvidia Geforce cards just so they could run PhysX. However, if you have a ATI Radeon card in your system doing graphics, you cannot the secondary Nvidia card to do PhysX – your system must be running Nvidia cards exclusively.

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Right after the release of Cypress (HD 5800 series), several
controversies have arisen amongst the gaming community, accusing Nvidia
of anti-competitive practices by disabling software support in presence
of ATI Radeon graphics cards.

The first instance was when Nvidia disabled
PhysX
if used together with an ATI card. While this was done in a
Forceware dated July, this news has only come into prominence following
the Cypress releases. Many who have bought ATI Radeon graphics cards
have retained there old PhysX-compatible Nvidia Geforce cards for the
sole intention of running PhysX on it. Some have also bought cheaper
Nvidia Geforce cards just so they could run PhysX. However, if you have a
ATI Radeon card in your system doing graphics, you cannot the secondary
Nvidia card to do PhysX – your system must be running Nvidia cards
exclusively. This angered gamers, developers and enthusiasts alike.

Around the same time, AMD’s Ian McNaughton criticized Nvidia for disabling AA in Batman: Arkham Asylum on ATI Radeon cards. This sparked a war of words, with Nvidia responding and blaming ATI’s team for not “rolling up their sleeves”. Interestingly, Mr. McNaughton claims that what the game really does is it disables AA upon detecting a ATI Radeon card. In the demo, AA could be enabled by tricking the game into thinking it is an Nvidia Geforce card. However, this is not possible in the retail version as Securom interferes. It is not clear where the truth lies – but we see no reason AA shouldn’t be running on ATI cards. It is true that UE3 does not natively support AA. At the same time, we have seen ATI cards running AA with UE3 games in the past. If Mr. McNaughton’s claims of the demo running AA fine when tricked are true – there are only two options – a) Eidos blotched the AA for ATI cards (in which case we should be expecting a patch soon), b) Nvidia asked Eidos to disable AA for ATI cards, being a TWIMTBP game. Decide for yourself what you will, but it is clear there’s a thing or too fishy here.

A few days later, AMD announced an Open Physics Initiative, as a solution for a physics engine that could be embraced by everyone, regardless of hardware owned. As a follow-up to the announcement, AMD once again mention the irrelevance of PhysX. As they would, considering, their cards don’t run PhysX. However, at the same time, an Open Physics initiative is great news for gamers and developers alike. PhysX never really took of for the sole reason that only Nvidia graphics card owners could use it. Hopefully, we can see open physics available in several games in the near future – putting a rest to this debate.

While everyone seems content to criticize Nvidia for constantly closing doors on ATI’s advantages working with developers, while overplaying their own, Fudo has stepped in to defend TWIMTBP. Fair enough, till the point he suggests Nvidia is single-handedly keeping PC gaming alive. Perhaps, but we are quite certain Nvidia aren’t pushing DirectX 11 in those four upcoming games or the several games supporting DX10.1 in the past.

In the end, we hope developers can work with both Nvidia and AMD/ATI – to get the best out of products from both graphics chipmakers. This is where ATI have a disadvantage – having a developer relations team with less money and less manpower than Nvidia. Time and again, we have seen ATI lose out on performance/features in TWIMTBP titles. In the same titles, ATI’s feature advantages are not used, whereas Nvidia’s are. Whether this is the developer optimizing their engine to run on Nvidia cards or ATI failing to get the developer optimize their engine for ATI cards is debatable.

Reference: Several articles linked within.