If you read our Sandy Bridge Review you’ll know that we were very excited about Intel’s Quick Sync hardware transcode engine. It easily offers at least twice the performance of existing GPU based transcoding solutions without sacrificing image quality. There’s just one little problem: you can’t use Quick Sync you're using a discrete GPU, you need to use Intel's processor graphics.

Lucid presented a potential solution to the problem at this year’s CES. Through software alone, Lucid is able to copy the frame buffer from a discrete PCIe GPU to the frame buffer of SNB’s HD Graphics in main memory. The result is that you can hook a single monitor up to your motherboard’s video output and use a discrete GPU when you want it. Lucid’s technology would enable switchable graphics on the desktop, without any hardware requirements (it still obviously won’t work on P67, shame on Intel).

To demonstrate the technology Intel ran an H67 motherboard with a GeForce GTX 480. Lucid’s software was installed which allowed for the GTX 480 to run and its frame buffer output to be copied to main memory and sent out via Intel’s Flexible Display Interface through the DVI port on the back of the motherboard. 

At the same time, Intel demonstrated that it could run a Quick Sync enabled transcode in Cyberlink’s Media Espresso 6 - all thanks to Lucid’s software.

Lucid expects that there will only be a 1 - 3% impact in performance (although that’s something we’d have to see for ourselves), but there’s no firm date on when the driver will be available. I’m expecting a beta version of Lucid’s software in the coming weeks however.

Motherboard manufacturers could bundle Lucid’s solution with their boards to avoid upsetting end users thanks to Intel’s Quick Sync oversight. There’s still no getting around the fact that you can’t overclock your CPU on H67 motherboards. You’ll still have to wait for Z68 to fix that problem.

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  • softdrinkviking - Friday, January 07, 2011 - link

    i don't think it can even be turned on and off on the p67 chipset, it's just off-off all the time, like the motherboard traces don't even involve the igp portion of the cpu or they are designed not to utilize them.
    i think it has something to do with the i/o available from the chipset/cpu, so they can make the PCIE 8x/8x available.
    it's a, what do you call it, trade-off.
    Reply
  • 7Enigma - Friday, January 07, 2011 - link

    My biggest gripe with this launch of SNB was how little this mobo-incompatibility issue was really fleshed out. in all the articles by Jarred/Anand it's mentioned here and there but the magnitude of basically there being NO options currently for the typical enthusiast that wants to OC and encode (with a discrete GPU) is just inexcusable.

    The conclusion and intro of these articles should have big bolded comments saying, "If you are interested in OC your chip and encoding with a discrete GPU come back in 6 months".

    Do I think SNB is fantastic? Yes. Do I think the mobo/cpu issue negates the former for desktop use? Also yes.

    Please guys, make this readily known to your readers because I would hate for someone to miss this and build a system assuming they can use their great new gaming system as an encoding juggernaut only to find out they can't and need to shell out another $150-250 when the Z68 comes out.
    Reply
  • DesktopMan - Friday, January 07, 2011 - link

    Yeah I think Intel swept this under the rug a bit. "Quick Sync is awesome! You just can't use it with a dedicated GPU... Or with overclocking... Or with any P67 motherboard..." The same should be true for HD hardware decoding. Reply
  • austonia - Friday, January 07, 2011 - link

    ya this is a big deal, and it wasn't emphasized in the 2500k/2600k article.

    one of the main reasons I am interested in sandy bridge is for the accelerated video encoding. i was planning on buying a whole new setup this sunday at microcenter. but they only have P67 boards which are immediately obsolete, apparently.

    wtf intel? ok well if i have to wait for Z68 or ivy bridge then i'll also have time to evaluate AMD bulldozer.
    Reply
  • MrSpadge - Saturday, January 08, 2011 - link

    I'm also waiting for Z68 due to this. And due to the fact that I want switchable graphics on my desktop.. and at least keep the option open to get it via some software solution.

    MrS
    Reply
  • Hrel - Friday, January 07, 2011 - link

    I guess I tell everyone to wait for Z68. Personally my current computer is fast enough that I'm waiting for 2012 to build anew. But if Intel can get everything right on Z68 then I can be optimistic about the next CPU refresh, which hopefully won't involve a new socket. Quick Sync is really impressive. Lucid, is quickly becoming one of my favorite companies in the world. They just do awesome work. Reply
  • Shadowmaster625 - Friday, January 07, 2011 - link

    Will it be possible to use all 4 cores (8 threads) to software transcode video while simultaneously using Quicksync? Are any developers working on maximizing output from both parts of the cpu?

    I dont know about anyone else, but I'd feel pretty silly if I spent $300 on a cpu just to have it sit mostly idle while it plugs away at my video. Even if a tiny little portion of the chip is built for transcoding, I'd still want to push my cpu cores to the maximum possible limit. Also, what about using the EU's to help? If you could encode a clip using x86 in 3 minutes, and if you could also encode that same clip using Quicksync in 2 minutes, then at least in theory you could use both to encode the clip in 80 seconds. And if you used the EUs, you could theoretically push that time down to around 70 seconds or so. So now we're talking about roughly doubling the output of Quicksync by fully utilizing the entire cpu.
    Reply
  • Pneumothorax - Friday, January 07, 2011 - link

    That Intel would only put the top-of-the-line HD3000 in the K series! So you put the best integrated video on the only overclockable chips but then can't be overclocked on motherboards that support integrated video. WTF.... Reply
  • WeaselITB - Friday, January 07, 2011 - link

    This. Reply
  • Hei. - Friday, January 07, 2011 - link

    Since the picture is copied to the integrated GPUs memory, would this also open up the possibility of using the iGPU to do post-process anti-aliasing on the picture before it is sent out to the monitor? The GPU in Sandy Bridge should be fast enough to run pixel shaders needed to implement something like this: http://iryoku.com/mlaa/

    This could also negate the performance hit from copying the image from the graphics card to system memory. Only problems remaining then would be the wait for Z68 and the tiny amount of lag the Lucids system might cause.
    Reply

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