PhysX For CUDA, Linux Support A Given?
Written by Michael Larabel in NVIDIA on 14 February 2008 at 12:19 PM EST. 10 Comments
Earlier this month it was revealed that NVIDIA Corporation would be buying up AGEIA Technologies, which is the maker of the PhysX SDK and the PhysX PPU (Physics Processing Unit) hardware. That same day we had then asked the question whether is NVIDIA buying AGEIA good for Linux? (The responses.) AGEIA had produced a PhysX software SDK binary for Linux but have never released a Linux driver to enable the offloading of these physics calculations to their PPU hardware.

In NVIDIA's Q4'07 financial results conference call, it was revealed by their CEO, Jen-Hsun Huang, that they are already busy porting PhysX to using the CUDA interface and will be available as a free software update for GeForce 8 owners. CUDA is the Compute Unified Device Architecture, which is NVIDIA's API for general purpose computing on their latest graphics processors -- both consumer and workstation ASICs. CUDA has been supported under Linux from the start with their graphics driver now bundling the CUDA driver and version 1.1 of the CUDA Toolkit being supported under Fedora 7, RHEL 3/4/5, SLED 10, OpenSuSE 10, and Ubuntu 7.04 (binary downloads).

Once NVIDIA completes porting AGEIA's physics engine to run atop CUDA, this will hopefully mean the support of hardware-accelerated GPU physics under Linux seeing as CUDA is well supported under this free software platform. CUDA will function under Linux with any GeForce 8 GPU, but for best results the GPU shouldn't be associated with an X screen. If the GPU is driving an X display, CUDA execution time is limited to less than five seconds per process.

This is good news for the GeForce 8 owners (and especially those using multi-GPU configurations), but whether NVIDIA will produce a Linux driver for the AGEIA PhysX PPU PCI-based cards still isn't known. Once we hear anything else we'll be sure to pass it along, with hopes of PhysX GPU acceleration under Linux not being so far out into the future. Our friends at The Tech Report have published the PhysX GPU comments that were made by Jen-Hsun Huang.

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Michael Larabel is the principal author of and founded the site in 2004 with a focus on enriching the Linux hardware experience. Michael has written more than 10,000 articles covering the state of Linux hardware support, Linux performance, graphics drivers, and other topics. Michael is also the lead developer of the Phoronix Test Suite, Phoromatic, and automated benchmarking software. He can be followed via Twitter or contacted via

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