Product: EVGA GeForce GTX 460 SuperClocked 1024MB EE
Company: EVGA
Authour: James Prior
Editor: Charles Oliver
Date: August 17th, 2010
Tessellation & PhysX Performance

Tessellation is a new feature of DirectX 11, and of OpenGL 4. While there are no direct benchmarks for either, Unigine's Heaven 2.1 rolling demo lets you use varying levels of tessellation to see the effect it has on visual quality.

Unigine Heaven

Unigine Heaven offers four levels of tessellation: none, moderate, strong and extreme. Moderate is commonly cited as being closest to that level you'd see implemented in games, but the varying levels let us see how increasing tessellation affects frame rate. Here we bench at 1920x1080 with no AA/AF, just varying tessellation levels, to see the impact on average frame rate.


PhysX was first introduced to the market as hardware when Ageia purchased NovodeX in 2004. The Ageia PPU was a hardware accelerator for PhysX code, a middleware SDK to allow acceleration of rigid and soft-body physics, as well as fluid physics. NVIDIA acquired Ageia in 2008 and developed PhysX into a running on the then new CUDA platform. This allows NVIDIA CUDA capable GPU's to hardware accelerate fluid and soft-body simulations, to provide added immersion in gaming. Currently NVIDIA PhysX is restricted to NVIDIA only graphics processor systems, except for with use of Forceware 257.15 beta drivers which inadvertently allowed heterogeneous PhysX processing systems. Driver hack tools are also available to patch more recent drivers and versions of PhysX to work, too.

Specify The Dedicated PhysX Processor
Specify The Dedicated PhysX Processor

With multiple NVIDIA GeForce CUDA capable cards present in a system, you can select which GeForce card will be used for PhysX processing, to allow the primary card to focus on rendering. This works where Just Cause 2's CUDA processing doesn't scale, because PhysX was designed from inception to be offloaded to a secondary processor; Just Cause 2 uses CUDA as a compute medium, to perform GPGPU processing on the programmable shaders.


Fluidmark is a PhysX benchmark using OpenGL rendered squidgy blobby things. Using GPU accelerated fluids via the NVIDIA PhysX api, it can show system performance 60,000 particles in motion. Benched here with 0xMSAA and 1920x1080 resolution. Forceware 257.15 was used for the heterogeneous PhysX configuration.

Unreal Tournament 3

Epic's Unreal Engine3 uses PhysX to provide physics simulations in-game. After NVIDIA acquired Ageia and PhysX, they released a map mod pack to showcase how much immersion and fun adding GPU processed physics effects can be. Here we benched a short match on the Heat Ray PhysX deathmatch map running 1920x1080 with control panel forced 8xMSAA and x16AF, recording framerate using FRAPS. Forceware 257.15 was used for the heterogeneous PhysX configuration.

Heterogeneous PhysX Processing Environment
Heterogeneous PhysX Processing Environment

There's a joke here about proposition 8 and hetero vs. homo PhysX restrictions, but we're not going to go there.

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