AMD gives away GPU physics tools

AMD nudged its Open Physics Initiative towards game developers today, when it announced that it's giving away a free version of Pixelux’s DMM2 material physics engine to selected game developers.

"We’re arranging with Pixelux, who do DMM, that the GPU-accelerated version will be available to at least some game developers without charge." AMD’s senior manager of developer relations, Richard Huddy, explained to THINQ. Huddy also says that AMD is covering the cost of the physics engine in order to "get the process kick-started.” The engine supports both OpenCL and Microsoft’s DirectCompute standard.

Pixelux has also just announced that its DMM2 physics engine now includes Bullet Physics as the default rigid body physics system. According to AMD, this addition means that "developers can now design and interact with rigid body systems familiar to them and easily add DMM objects incrementally, enabling them to bend and break based on real physical properties."

Pixelux’s CEO, Mitchell Bunnell, said that the integration of GPU-accelerated Bullet Physics into DMM2, was the result of working closely with AMD and Bullet’s main author, Erwin Coumans.

"We’ve enabled tight integration of our DMM2 system and Bullet Physics, giving developers a sophisticated, yet easy-to-use physics pipeline they can use to create things that have never been seen before."

Huddy was keen to stress that this is an open initiative and that the technology will also be available to AMD’s main competitors. "This announcement is about making things actually work in the interests of the games developer," he explained. "There’s no reason for Nvidia to avoid doing a GPU-accelerated version, and indeed when Intel get there with Larrabee, too. This is not about AMD vs Intel, or AMD vs Nvidia, it's more about opening up the world so that GPU accelerated physics can indeed get into games."

Huddy says that AMD hopes to see at least two games using the technology in the shops before Christmas this year, although he wouldn’t reveal the names of the titles yet. "We’ll put some energy behind making that happen," he told us, "but it’s very much all driven by what games developers want, rather than what I want."

Trinigy has already chimed in and said that its Vision Engine will support the new features.

Of course, AMD isn’t the only company to offer GPU-accelerated Bullet Physics. Nvidia demonstrated its own Bullet Physics features at the GPU Technology Conference in 2009. Again, though, Huddy appears to be more than happy for Nvidia to be on the Bullet train, so to speak. "They’ve put their hardware in front of the Bullet engineers," says Huddy, "in which case all I can say is good, it’s a perfectly reasonable and sensible thing to do."

Could we possibly see the same open approach adopted by Intel with its Havok engine? Huddy remains optimistic. "We kind of hope that Havok will do exactly the same kind of stuff," he said. "That’s very much up to Intel, since Intel owns Havok, but it would be great if they opened up the OpenCL layer that we worked on with them last year, and simply put that into the pot as well as open physics."