ExtremeTech came across a video that shows off the capabilities of NVIDIA PhysX's position based fluids to create highly realistic real-time rendered water.
CG water that behaves similarly to real fluid has been around for a while — most notably in tech demos showing off that it’s possible, or perhaps appearing in the occasional big-budget movie. However, it’s too computationally intensive to put into a real-time application, like a video game. For as pretty as the CryEngine is, our hardware just can’t dedicate enough resources to generate fancy flowing fluids. Now, though, Nvidia’s Miles Macklin and Matthias Müller-Fischer have figured out a way to reduce the load on hardware, generating a result that is remarkably fluid, but “suitable for real-time applications.”
Position based fluids — the method used — is similar to the one that dictates the behavior of computer-generated cloth, position based dynamics. Unfortunately, the exact methods used to reduce the computational load and create lifelike water movements haven’t yet been revealed, as Macklin and Müller-Fischer are saving the details for a forthcoming research paper. What the pair did note, though, is that they were able to create surface tension, improve particle distribution, and lower the overall computational requirements to get everything working.