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By | Tony Smith 21st June 2006 13:46

MS seeks 'Direct Physics' coder

Physics-on-GPU standard on the way?

Microsoft is indeed preparing to produce an API to accelerate games physics calculations, if a help wanted ad posted on the company's website is anything to go by. The software giant is currently seeking a software design engineer to join its "Direct Physics" development team.

The job posting was spotted by ExtremeTech. While Microsoft hasn't officially commented on the story, it's nonetheless not a surprising move.

Physics acceleration is currently being touted by two companies: Ageia and Havok. Ageia's API connects through to the company's own physics chip, which is currently available on an add-in card from Asus and BFG. Havok's alternative is to leverage the processing power of a machine's GPU, so it's no wonder its approach is backed by both ATI and Nvidia. ATI announced its support earlier this month, Nvidia in March.

Representatives from ATI and other interested parties have often alluded to the arrival of what might be called "DirectX Physics", a physics-oriented addition to Microsoft's DirectX gaming middleware. Its approach mirrors Havok's: "You will be a member of the core engine team who will be primarily responsible for working closely with our Direct3D team, helping to define, develop and map optimized simulation and collision algorithms onto data structures that are optimised for the GPU," says the job ad.

There's no indication when Microsoft might launch "DirectX Physics", so Havok has some opportunity to build momentum behind its offering. However, what the industry would prefer is a single standard, and with DirectX fitting the bill in all other gaming API areas, it's likely to do the same for physics. ®

Related review

Ageia PhysX physics accelerator chip

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