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Release 180 Drivers Sneak Peek - SLI Multi-Monitor, Dedicated PhysX & More!

Release 180 Drivers Sneak Peek - SLI Multi-Monitor, Dedicated PhysX & More!



PhysX Processing on a Dedicated GPU

PhysX Processing on a Dedicated GPU

While NVIDIA has mentioned about using GPUs to process PhysX, until now, it hasn't been possible to dedicate a graphics card solely for that purpose only. With the new Release 180 drivers, that's now a possibility.

Previously you could enable PhysX processing on your existing CUDA-capable graphics card (any GeForce 8 and newer NVIDIA GPU) and on your SLI setup. The new drivers will enable you to setup your graphics subsystem such that one card can be assigned for all physics processing with PhysX enabled games while your main graphics card (or SLI combo) can be used solely for graphics processing.

So what sort of graphics card would be adequate for physics processing these days? Basically any DirectX 10 compatible card with 256MB of local frame buffer is sufficient - which means any GeForce 8 and better card. Digging NVIDIA for more information, they revealed that an ideal card for price-performance consideration of this role is the GeForce 9500 GT or 9600 GT. They reasoned that for the near-terms games, the processing power and the returns from this range of cards is adequate. Of course for more demanding PhysX enabled games in future, you might need something a lot more beefy. Here's a slide from NVIDIA detailing the performance gains when moving from a non-PhysX enabled card to one that can do so, and then moving to a dedicated card for physics processing:-

For those wondering how to go about dedicating a graphics for PhysX processing, a new control tab in the upcoming official Release 180 driver series will take care of this. And no, you can't use an ATI card for your main gaming while using an NVIDIA card for PhysX - not really a limitation by NVIDIA but rather the Windows Driver Model in Vista.