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Home » Gabriel’s Blog

The new GeForce 9800 GTX+ and PhysX
Author: Gabriel TorresDate: June 19, 2008 - 9:25 AM PST

I really don’t know about you, but sometimes I get the impression that NVIDIA likes to launch one new video card per week. Even for us sometimes it is hard to keep track of all new releases. The new GTX 200 was launched only three days ago and today NVIDIA launched a “new” card, GeForce 9800 GTX+ (an overclocked 9800 GTX), lowering the price of GeForce 9800 GTX to make it a competitor to the new Radeon HD 4850. Fortunately NVIDIA provided a handy table comparing which products from AMD competes to which products from NVIDIA after this price drop and the addition of GTX+, see below.

GeForce 9800 GTX+
click to enlarge

But today NVIDIA also made an important announcement, which is finally the support of PhysX in the GPU. PhysX is a physics engine, which allows games to be more realistic by calculating how objects interact. For example, if you shot an object, what will happen to the object? Will the object move? Will the bullet make a hole on the object? Will the bullet bounce back? Will the object be destroyed? These calculations are traditionally done by the system CPU. The new 177.39 driver allows GeForce 9800 GTX, GTX 280  and GTX 260 to move these calculations to the GPU, thus improving performance. NVIDIA is promising for July a new driver that will allow PhysX for the entire NVIDIA product line.

There are several games supporting PhysX on the market, Unreal Tournment 3 is one of them. 3DMark Vantage also supports PhysX, but it isn’t a real game. Forthcoming games supporting PhysX includes Mstar, Mirrors Edge, Empire: Total War, Backbreaker and Pwnage.

The only problem for me with this amount of new releases in such a short period of time is trying to put together reviews, especially when NVIDIA launches a new driver version a day, forcing us to retest all video cards everytime a new major driver is released. For instance, with this new driver supporting PhysX released, all our data we had already collected for 9800 GTX and GTX 200 is worthless and even our GTX 280 review published only 3 days ago may be considered "flawed" by criterious readers because of a new driver released today supporting PhysX. This really sucks.

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