Startup and Shutdown

Startup functionality is common to all of the samples and is shared in the project SampleBase. Open the main file PhysXSample.cpp and navigate to the function onInit, which the sample calls on startup to initialize PhysX.

Note that the file includes the entire PhysX API in a single header. You may also selectively include just the headers you need, but PxPhysicsAPI.h includes everything to help you get started faster:

#include "PxPhysicsAPI.h"

First, create a PxFoundation object:

static PxDefaultErrorCallback gDefaultErrorCallback;
static PxDefaultAllocator gDefaultAllocatorCallback;

mFoundation = PxCreateFoundation(PX_PHYSICS_VERSION, gDefaultAllocatorCallback, gDefaultErrorCallback);
    fatalError("PxCreateFoundation failed!");

Every PhysX module requires a PxFoundation instance to be available. The required parameters are a version ID, an allocator callback and an error callback. PX_PHYSICS_VERSION is a macro predefined in our headers to enable PhysX to check for a version mismatch between the headers and the corresponding SDK DLLs. Usually, the implementations of the allocator callback and error callback are specific to the application, but PhysX provides default implementations that make it easy to get started:

  • The default allocator simply forwards to malloc() and free() on platforms where 16-byte alignment is guaranteed, or platform-specific code for aligned allocation otherwise.
  • The default error stream prints the error message. A message is accompanied by the error code PxErrorCode::eABORT signals an unrecoverable error, and the default implementation will loop, printing the message once every second.

More information about the allocator and error callbacks can be found in the section The PhysX API. The actual sample code supports an advanced memory allocator that tracks allocations instead of the default, but we have omitted that detail here.

An optional profile zone manager enables the performance profiling capabilities of the PhysX Visual Debugger:

mProfileZoneManager = &PxProfileZoneManager::createProfileZoneManager(mFoundation);
    fatalError("PxProfileZoneManager::createProfileZoneManager failed!");

Now create the top-level PxPhysics object:

bool recordMemoryAllocations = true;
mPhysics = PxCreatePhysics(PX_PHYSICS_VERSION, *mFoundation,
            PxTolerancesScale(), recordMemoryAllocations, mProfileZoneManager );
    fatalError("PxCreatePhysics failed!");

Again, the version ID has to be passed in. The PxTolerancesScale parameter makes it easier to author content at different scales and still have PhysX work as expected, but to get started simply pass a default object of this type. The recordMemoryAllocations parameter specifies whether to perform memory profiling.


The PhysX cooking library provides utilities for creating, converting, and serializing bulk data. Depending on your application, you may wish to link to the cooking library in order to process such data at runtime. Alternatively you may be able to process all such data in advance and just load it into memory as required. Initialize the cooking library as follows:

mCooking = PxCreateCooking(PX_PHYSICS_VERSION, *mFoundation, PxCookingParams());
if (!mCooking)
    fatalError("PxCreateCooking failed!");

The PxCookingParams struct configures the cooking library to target different platforms, use non-default tolerances or produce optional outputs.

The cooking library generates data though a streaming interface. In the samples, implementations of streams are provided in the PxToolkit library to read and write from files and memory buffers.


The extensions library contains many functions that may be useful to a large class of users, but which some users may prefer to omit from their application either for code size reasons or to avoid use of certain subsystems, such as those pertaining to networking. Initializing the extensions library requires the PxPhysics object:

if (!PxInitExtensions(*mPhysics))
    fatalError("PxInitExtensions failed!");

Optional SDK Components

When linking PhysX as a static library on memory constrained platforms, it is possible to avoid linking the code of some PhysX features that are not always used in order to save memory. Currently the optional features are:

  • Articulations
  • Height Fields
  • Unified Height Fields
  • Cloth
  • Particles

If your application requires a subset of this functionality, it is recommended that you call PxCreateBasePhysics as opposed to PxCreatePhysics and then manually register the compoments you require. Below is an example that registers all of the options with the exception of the unified height fields:

physx::PxPhysics* customCreatePhysics(physx::PxU32 version,
        physx::PxFoundation& foundation,
        const physx::PxTolerancesScale& scale,
        bool trackOutstandingAllocations,
        physx::PxProfileZoneManager* profileZoneManager)
        physx::PxPhysics* physics = PxCreateBasePhysics(version, foundation, scale,
                trackOutstandingAllocations, profileZoneManager);

                return NULL;


        return physics;

From PhysX 3.3, we introduce support unified height field collision detection. This approach shares the collision detection code between meshes and height fields such that height fields behave identically to the equivalent terrain created as a mesh. This approach facilitates mixing the use of height fields and meshes in the application with no tangible difference in collision behavior between the two approaches. To enable this approach, you must dynamically register it as demonstrated:


This dynamic registration should be performed instead of the call to:


Note that dynamic registration will only save memory when linking PhysX as a static library, as we rely on the linker to strip out the unused code.

Windows delay load dll

The PhysXCommon dll is marked as delay loaded inside of the PhysX and PhysXCooking project. So it is possible to have a delay loaded PhysXCommon, PhysX and PhysXCooking dlls. If you need to load a diffent dll, it is possible to create a PxDelayLoadHook and define the name of PhysXCommon dll that should be loaded by PhysX dll and PhysXCooking dll,please see example:

class SampleDelayLoadHook: public PxDelayLoadHook
        virtual const char* GetPhysXCommonDEBUGDllName() const { return "PhysX3CommonDEBUG_x64_Test.dll"; }
        virtual const char* GetPhysXCommonCHECKEDDllName() const { return "PhysX3CommonCHECKED_x64_Test.dll"; }
        virtual const char* GetPhysXCommonPROFILEDllName() const { return "PhysX3CommonPROFILE_x64_Test.dll"; }
        virtual const char* GetPhysXCommonDllName() const { return "PhysX3Common_x64_Test.dll"; }
} gDelayLoadHook;

Now the hook must be set to PhysX and PhysXCooking:

PxDelayLoadHook::SetPhysXInstance(&gDelayLoadHook); PxDelayLoadHook::SetPhysXCookingInstance(&gDelayLoadHook);

Shutting Down

To dispose of any PhysX object, call its release() method. This will destroy the object, and all contained objects. The precise behavior depends on the object type being released, so refer to the reference guide for details. To shut down physics entirely, simply call release() on the PxPhysics object, and this will clean up all of the physics objects:


Do not forget to release the foundation object as well, but only after all other PhysX modules have been released:


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