Intel is to buy Havok, one of the two major developers of physics technology for games. But the chip company may have its eye on loftier applications.
The chip giant didn't say how much it was paying for Havok, but the smaller operation will be wholly owned by Intel, but run as an independent operation, presumably to keep Havok's customers - games developers for the most part - happy.
Havok's software allows games developers to send complex physics calculations to a host computer's graphics chip, which is arguably better designed for this kind of processing than the CPU is. Havok's code ties into GPUs from both Nvidia and AMD.
But the opportunity for this kind of work goes much deeper than games. Nvidia and AMD have both touted technology to enable engineering and science apps to be similarly offloaded to GPUs.
Intel is the exception - or was until it said it was buying Havok. Don't forget, Intel not only develops graphics core for its chipset products, but it's also believed to be working on discrete GPUs that could well be used to handle non-graphics applications. The Intel GPU is thought to be due to appear in Q2 2008.