An Update On AGEIA Page 2

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Q. How exactly is AGEIA working with developers to add support for the PhysX chip to existing games? Can you list a few titles that are seeing retroactive support for the new PPU and how specifically they are taking advantage of its hardware support for physics? And how are developers who’re working on game engines able to provide a graceful fallback modes via software based physics for PCs that lack a PPU?

A. We are working closely and collaboratively with the game designers of our launch title partners to ensure they take full advantage of all the initial functionality we’re providing that enhance the story of the game. We’re confident they will push everything we give them to the max. These games will also run “industry standard” physics on the CPU when the AGEIA PhysX processor is not present — we have explicitly designed our platform to enable such a seamless fallback. In the intermediate term, we’re encouraging key development partners to review our roadmap during design and preproduction, and co-developing key features with them that will take in-game physics far beyond gamers’ current expectations. These breakthrough features will require the AGEIA PhysX processor to obtain the full effect.

Q. Developer support currently requires using AGEIA’s PhysX SDK. Is this in an effort to compete against the growing usage of Havok Physics by developers? Is AGEIA concerned about current software-based physics solutions becoming threaded to take advantage of dual core CPUs? Also, does AGEIA plan to work toward some standardization for a physics API that would be open to the industry, or perhaps even work with Microsoft to have key physics aspects added to a future release of DirectX?

A. AGEIA used the PhysX SDK (formerly known as NovodeX) to support the PhysX processor because of its ability to handle multi-threading and other features. It is currently the only API that takes advantage of the hardware. Additionally, the PhysX SDK is included in the development kit for the Sony Playstation 3, particularly due to its multi-threaded capability.

We are investing heavily in physics technology both software and hardware to enable gamers to see what is possible. We welcome dual-core CPUs for that reason because it gives gamers an idea of how much more is possible when a PPU is present. In fact during GDC 2005 we did a joint demo with Intel to show how dual core CPUs could enhance physics in games over single-core CPUs. A dual core processor does improve physics but does not have the horsepower necessary to power thousands of rigid bodies and particles in real time. Truly, the AGEIA PhysX processor is a complement to the CPU, single or dual core.

We see hardware-driven physics as key to development of games for the long haul, and we understand the importance of industry standards. Therefore, we will work with the industry to support standardization where appropriate.

Q. The online media has already reported that AGEIA’s PPU will initially only process calculations dealing with rigid-body and particle-based physics at its launch this Fall, and that a future PhysX chip will add support for soft body and material physics. In fact, most examples so far have dealt with classic mechanical properties, so is the PhysX chip capable of handling calculations using physical interaction properties, such as thermodynamics or electromagnetism? If so, have any developers expressed interest in using AGEIA’s PPU in such a way?

A. Yes, the PhysX chip is capable of handling calculations for thermodynamics or electro-magnetism. Some creative developers are asking for such features among others, and we work with them to prioritize the list so as to have the maximum impact on the game.

Q. A Battlefield 2 type of game comes to mind as a title that could benefit from hardware physics acceleration, with the geometry (buildings and terrain) of each map dynamically changing based on the actions of the players, thereby changing the gameplay for each map each time it’s played. Have developers displayed an interest in using the PhysX chip to dynamically change the geometry of their virtual worlds real-time, such as terrain deformation?

A. We are working now with several partners who are encouraging dynamic changes in level geometry in single-player mode. Since this is a comprehensive effort that affects all major game systems (rendering, AI, etc.), we’ll see the fruits of these efforts after the next one or two development cycles. The greater challenge is dynamically changing level geometry in a massively multiplayer game, since it’s essential that all players perceive the same environment at the same time. We’re aggressively researching solutions for this that include server-side physics.

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