PhysX - Odd Name, Old Concept
For years, physics in games has been a hot topic. The implementation of realistic physics is a difficulty that gaming has yet to overcome, and finding ways to enhance physics without hindering overall game performance is a priority for both game developers and or companies that make gaming hardware. The ability to render more realistic physics in a game means the ability to create a game world which is more believable and interesting than those of competing titles. If a game was hypothetically given a physics engine that perfectly mimicked reality, it would be seen as light-years beyond any other title. It is easy to think of physics as simply being what determines if the gun your character lets go of drops to the ground or floats in the air. But game physics is intertwined with many things. For example, a more advanced physics engine could depict shattering glass better, creating a graphical advantage over other games.
The main roadblock limiting the pursuit of more advanced physics is one of computing horsepower. While throwing a basketball against a wall is simple in real life, recreating the way the basketball moves in a video game requires many advanced calculations which, combined, seriously tax the resources of your average gaming hardware. There have been numerous attempts at tackling this problem, and PhysX represents just one of those ways. But seeing as it supported by Nvidia, the most popular GPU manufacturer in a world, it is fair to say you'll be running into Physx more often than any other implementation.
However, PhysX can be confusing. Only certain games will work, and only certain Nvidia hardware will support hardware acceleration of PhysX. This brief guide will give you the low-down on what PhysX is, and let you know how (and if) you can take advantage of it.