Thursday, December 31, 2009

Physics Engines Roundup '09

Physics engines are starting to conslidate into a few key solid products. When I first began the Physics Abstraction Layer (PAL) project there were only 4 freely available physics engines: Dynamo, ODE, Tokamak, and Newton (AERO and Dynamechs were also available but weren't really stand alone engines, I guess the same could be said about Dynamo). What followed was an explosion of physics engines. This years big trend has been parallelization (usually in the form of GPU support) and porting to Mac OS X.

PAL had some big changes in 2009 as well, including the new CMake build system, generic bodies, soft bodies and more.

Here is a run-down on 2009's progress in the freely available physics engines:
  • Bullet Physics: Bullet went official in a big way, a number of movies, games, DCC packages, etc using and supporting the engine. Some big additions were on the parallelization front, with the CUDA/GPU code maturing, and the support from AMD to add OpenCL to Bullet. The engine seems to be stabilizing and appears to have clearly taken the Open Source physics engine crown.

  • Chrono Engine: Added support for CUDA/GPU, Linux, and Matlab (vaugely).
  • Havok: No major changes (faster raytracing), mostly bugfix updates. Public release of the behaviour tool.

  • Newton Game Dynamics: Newton 2.xx was made public in 2009, with a whole raft of big changes (too many to list fully here), parallelization, multiplatform (Linux, Mac OSX, iPhone), Pascal, and a slowly maturing GPU/CUDA/OpenCL port.

  • nVidia PhysX: Official WHQL drivers for PhysX GPU acceleration.

  • OpenTissue: Improved SPH support, and OS X port.
  • PhysSim: Was renamed Moby, and has progressed with more examples and improved solvers.
  • Simple Physics Engine: Improved parallelization and Linux, Mac OS X, and iPhone support.
  • True Axis: Launched an iPhone game with their physics engine.

And that about wraps it up.

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