Havok does physics. They have worked on movies but they are known more for their gaming efforts. If you’ve played Half-Life 2, Halo 2, Bioshock, Oblivion, Lost Planet, or any of the other cool games that use the Havok Physics Engine you know what they do.
Physics is the next evolutionary step toward realism in games. With physics characters move more fluidly, the environments react more realistically, and the game is much more intense. Intel said (unofficially), “hey that’s cool. We need to get us some of that.”
So Intel pulled out $110 million in cash, flexed a muscle, and purchased Havok. This is a good thing.
Now Havok has a much bigger bank account and they will grow faster. If I was to speculate as to the future I might think that Intel will consider adding some hardware to their high end CPU’s that give the gamer a dedicated physics processor.
This is not a new idea. Ageia has already shipped a dedicated piece of hardware specifically designed to process physics. It’s called the Ageia PhysX Processor. There are a handfull of games that currently take advantage of Ageia’s hardware and there are over 100 in developement.
Now that Intel has Havok it looks like a fight is brewing. I’m gonna wait and see what Microsoft says before I place any bets. It’s really in their hand. All they have to do is name one as the standard. I imagine this will happen if they include standard physics instructions in DirectX 11.
Until then you have two choices. You wait or if you are an early adopter pick up the Ageia PhysiX card (I will be). It’s only $149 and you can enjoy the benefits today. Plus, if enough of us get one more games will support it!