The start of the Intel Shopping Spree: Intel accquires physics engine maker Havok

The more time goes by, the more I really think that Intel want’s back into the graphics market. Graphics are the most obvious pathway to beefier machines for the consumer and the easier it is to create cool graphics that consumers find compelling (like in games), the better marketplace for Intel to upgrade everyone. So what does this have to do with Intel buying the Irish company Havok (whose physics engine is used in Half Life 2, BioShock, Stranglehold, The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, Crackdown, Lost Planet: Extreme Condition, MotorStorm, Halo 3, etc.) you might ask? According to Renee James, VP of Intel’s Software and Solutions Group: “Havok is a proven leader in physics technology for gaming and digital content, and will become a key element of Intel’s visual computing and graphics efforts. Havok will operate its business as usual, which will allow them to continue developing products that are offered across all platforms in the industry.” Intel has been pushing developers to make more use of multi-threaded architecture. Just as game developers now target game eye-candy to the ability of the graphics card, Intel is pushing them to do more with beefier processors to enhance the user experience without affecting game play. This means things like adding more detailed models or more particles in a particle system if the user’s machine can handle it. This is a tall order, but one of the things that’ll make it easier is providing a cutting edge physics engine that’s highly tuned to take advantage of multi-core systems. Since the deal is worth about an estimated $US 110 million, I’d guess Intel is really serious about it. That’s cool for all the game developers and the eventual consumer apps that will be physics enabled. But a physics engine is the 2nd thing I would have bought if I were Intel. I expect to see some other acquisitions in the near future.

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