Love it or hate it, the Xbox One console stands alone as Microsoft's (NASDAQ: MSFT ) entertainment platform of the future.
In fact, fellow Fool Rick Munarriz recently went so far as say Xbox One represents a considerable threat to Apple's largely expected foray into the smart TV market, based on features including live TV integration, voice recognition, and Skype video chat. What's more, thanks to Microsoft's decision to lean away from its previous reliance on specialized processors in favor of a more accessible eight-core x86 CPU, the Xbox One will also be able to run Windows 8 apps and games if need be.
Of course, Rick also pointed out the new console is largely "courting an army of one" with its core audience of solitary game enthusiasts, and many such gamers have already voiced disappointment with the company's lack of focus on actual gaming when the Xbox One was revealed.
And that, my fellow Fools, is where graphics specialist NVIDIA (NASDAQ: NVDA ) would like to lend a helping hand.
It's the little things in (virtual) life
You see, last week the folks at NVIDIA officially announced support for their PhysX and APEX software development kits for Xbox One.
For those of you unfamiliar with software engineering, a software development kit -- or SDK -- is essentially a way to give programmers access to a library of useful, proprietary programming tools. In short, this saves software engineers -- or, in this case, game designers -- the hard work of implementing complicated algorithms necessary to make those tools themselves.
To be sure, few people would argue any company knows more about creating realistic graphic effects than NVIDIA, which arguably popularized discrete graphics processing units with its GeForce 256 cards in 1999.
NVIDIA's PhysX platform, for its part, revolves around the ability to design and simulate real-time, real-world physics effects into games -- think about things like the way debris flies, or the way fire burns, or how people and objects move.
Then there's APEX, which gets more specific by expanding the "quantity and visual quality" of destructible objects, providing the ability to recreate life-like smoke and water effects, and creating clothing which moves in response to characters' bodies.
For example, check out a few of NVIDIA's examples of how PhysX improves the visual effects in Sony's new massively multiplayer online game, PlanetSide 2:
Of course, this will certainly help Microsoft boost the gaming appeal for Xbox One as more game developers come on board to take advantage of NVIDIA's tools. However, it should also come as no surprise NVIDIA would want to extend its platforms to Microsoft's Xbox One, which I think will be a much bigger hit than many investors realize.
In the end, both PhysX and APEX are also similar to NVIDIA's previously announced Chimera digital photography architecture: They each serve as a way for NVIDIA to secure its place as a one-stop shop for all things related to effective graphics processing.
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