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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  • ionis - Friday, January 07, 2011 - link

    This will give a 1-3% impact on performance in what direction? No matter the direction, with such a small impact on performance, what advantage does this give? Reply
  • DanNeely - Friday, January 07, 2011 - link

    Almost certainly that means that with lucids solution quicksync will only run at 97-99% of full speed. Which is still several times faster than the discrete GPU doing everything else graphics related in the system,. Reply
  • shtldr - Friday, January 07, 2011 - link

    Just have both GPUs on, render on the discrete one and transfer the buffer via pci-express to the IGP (shared RAM). 2.0 x16 PCI-e has a bandwidth of 8GB/s and 1920x1080@60 fps is just like 356MB/s.
    You should not need any additional hardware.
    Reply
  • DanNeely - Friday, January 07, 2011 - link

    Lucid is doing this in *software*. Reply
  • naeonline - Friday, January 07, 2011 - link

    So most monitors today have more than one video input. In theory you could mirror the desktop to show on two screens (well, the same screen but different video inputs so the computer thinks it's two screens) with one through the discrete card and one through the Integrated Graphics on Sandy Bridge.

    I think you guys at AnandTech should give that a try since you have hardware, and let us know if it's possible.

    If you can do this then you would be able to use QuickSync while also using a discrete card.
    Reply
  • arubino99 - Friday, January 07, 2011 - link

    Please! This! I would much rather have to "look" for a monitor with multi-inputs than install extra software for something that *SHOULD* be accomplished with the hardware of the system. Reply
  • inaphasia - Friday, January 07, 2011 - link

    Some suggestions:

    "Took the words right out of my mouth" or "This dude beat me to it"

    and

    "I can't even begin to explain how wrong you are so I wont even try"

    There are a lot of smart people here that I'm sure can come up with far more clever ideas. But seriously, I needed something akin to that first button 3 times in the first page and a half, alone! (Something better than "I second that" or "Agreed"). Happy to say I have almost NO use for the second button, most days:)
    Reply
  • billythefisherman - Friday, January 07, 2011 - link

    Well seen as this just a software solution this opens up the possibility that developers will be able to switch on the IGP whilst a discreet GPU is in plugged in for thier applications - shouldn't be that hard to figure out seen as someone has done it already.

    I suspose becuase it's talking to hardware it would tur it into a driver and thus need signing - hmm.... I wonder wether NVIDIA or AMD will release GPU drivers that will enable this?
    Reply
  • webs0r - Friday, January 07, 2011 - link

    I've been watching these articles with interest. But my understanding is that for top quality archival encodes, I would ALWAYS use avisynth and feed that into x264.

    Does this encoder rival x264 in terms of quality per bit?
    Can avisynth frameserve to this encoder?
    And ideally can it be cmd line driven so that it can be part of a managed workflow?
    Any doom9 guys on here?
    And the overall encoding time will not speed up so dramatically if my avisynth script has decent motion compensated noise removal as that won't be accelerated unless all the good avisynth plugins are made to be gpu accelerated...

    So my conclusion is this really is just for ppl who just want to convert something they downloaded so they can watch it on a phone or other small device.
    Reply
  • nwrigley - Saturday, January 08, 2011 - link

    I've come to essentially the same conclusion. For people doing serious video work, sacrificing quality for speed is not a direction they are looking to go into. Of course, it all depends on the intended destination (Big screen TV or youtube video). I'd actually be more interested in technology that improves quality at a given file size, even if it took longer to encode. Reply

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