Let's Talk About Applications

Obviously it'll accelerate games. What about GPGPU? That's not the focus of Lucid right now. They said they want to look at the largest market for the part and target that first, and gaming is certainly where that is at. It is physically possible that the hardware and software could load balance other tasks across the hardware, but this isn't something that is currently being explored or developed.

It will also accelerate games using multiple GPUs while outputting to multiple displays. Imagine 4 GPUs sharing the load over 3 monitors for a flight sim. Neither NVIDIA nor AMD can pull something like this off right now with their technology.

This can end up on both GPUs and on motherboards, and they can be cascaded. There is a limit to how many you can cascade because you will start introducing latency (but Lucid didn't define that limit). But 1 level deep is reasonable apparently. And this means it seems like it would be possible (except for the power requirements) to build a motherboard with 4 slots that had 4 cards each with 2 GPUs (let's say GTX 280s) connected by a Hyrda 100 chip.

And if scaling is really linear, 8x GTX 280 would certainly deliver way more than we could possibly need for a pretty good while. We'd be CPU and system limited until the cows come home (or at least a good 2 or 3 generations of hardware out into the future). Well, either that or developers would catch on that they could allow ridiculous features to be enabled for the kind of super ultra mega (filthy rich) users that would pick up such a crazy solution.

Upgrading hardware would be stupidly simple. Forget PhysX or anything like that: leave your older card in the system and upgrade to the latest generation and they'll both contribute equally to the rendering of frames (and since graphics is usually the largest bottleneck in the system, this will improve performance more than any other solution anyway). If we added a GTX 280 to a card with half it's performance, we'd see a 50% performance improvement over a single GTX 280. Not bad at all. There would be less downside in buying a high end part because it could continue to serve you for much longer than usual. And low end parts would still contribute as well (with a proportionally smaller gain, but a gain nonetheless).

Lucid also makes what seems like a ridiculous claim. They say that in some cases they could see higher than linear scaling. The reason they claim this should be possible is that the CPU will be offloaded by their hardware and doesn't need to worry about as much so that overall system performance will go up. We sort of doubt this, and hearing such claims makes us nervous. They did state that this was not the norm, but rather the exception. If it happens at all it would have to be the exception, but it still seems way too out there for me to buy it.

Aside from utterly invalidating SLI and CrossFire, this thing opens up a whole realm of possibilities. If Intel adopts it for their high end motherboards, they would have the ultimate solution for gaming. Period. If it's up to board vendors, chipset will still be less relevant in at least multi-GPU performance than the inclusion or exclusion of the Lucid Hydra 100.

But can they really do it? And how do they even attempt to do it? They've told us a little bit, and we'll brainstorm a bit and see what we can come up with.

Index What Does This Thing Actually Do?


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  • GTVic - Friday, August 22, 2008 - link

    This company is not making graphics cards, and to use their product you have to buy more graphics cards. Seems like a win-win situation. AMD and nVidia can dump development on crossfire/sli and sales go up. Reply
  • DerekWilson - Saturday, August 23, 2008 - link

    if nvidia dumps sli then there is zero reason for them to be in the chipset business right now.

    they are no longer needed for AMD because AMD isn't making horrid chipsets anymore. they aren't needed for Intel because Intel builds awesome motherboards.

    the only value add nvidia has on the platform side is sli. period.

    they do not want to see it become irrelevant.
  • shin0bi272 - Friday, August 22, 2008 - link

    This is a gamers dream (assuming it works as advertised) and a video card makers nightmare.

    If they really wanted to demo it they probably should have been running 2 systems side by side, one with 1 card and one with the hydra running 2 cards to show the actual difference. Maybe also not run crysis since crysis has issues with framerate on any system... maybe run 3dmark vantage (I know its not an actual game but its a standardized program) especially if its transparent to the game and hardware.

    Personally if AMD and Nvidia have a problem with this technology and they disable it (or force me to so I can play any game) there's still Intel's Larabee on the horizon and I'm sure Intel wouldnt disable the hydra so Id just dump AMD and Nvidia all together to get linear performance increases (again assuming it works).

    On top of that AMD and Nvidia have their own performance issues and competition to worry about especially now that the physx war has begun (AMD hooking up with havoc and Nvidia buying Ageia).

    I think both AMD and Nvidia should embrace this technology and abandon their approaches so that they can concentrate more on individual card performance. Since the performance gains with both SLi and crossfire arent linear and this promises to be. Even if its not 100% linear but its a 90% speed gain thats still better than either of the other solutions.

    The game designers would also love this technology because they wouldnt have to worry about enabling SLi or crossfire in their games they could concentrate on the actual game play and making the game fun and cool looking.
  • shin0bi272 - Friday, August 22, 2008 - link

    Oh also I forgot to mention that the article did say that you would have to have 2 of the same brand of card so youd still be locked into one manufacturer. So its not like youd be mixing an nvidia 280 with an amd 4870x2. So amd and nvidia really shouldnt have a huge problem with it. Reply
  • Diesel Donkey - Friday, August 22, 2008 - link

    That is false. The article states that any combination of two, three, or four cards from either AMD or Nvidia can be used. That's one reason this technology would be so amazing if it actually works and is implemented successfully. Reply
  • The Preacher - Saturday, August 23, 2008 - link

    I don't think you would like some portions of the same screen rendered by nvidia and others by ATI since they will look different and could create some discontinuities in the final image. Reply
  • DerekWilson - Saturday, August 23, 2008 - link

    they try really hard to render nearly the same image ... but if you played half-life 2 then this would be an issue.

    also, to enable this they would have to wait for vista to allow it (i think) ... thing is they are building a wddm driver ... so ... nvidia's display driver wouldn't be "running" either? I don't really know how that works.
  • jordanclock - Friday, August 22, 2008 - link

    No, he is right. You can't have an nVidia card with an AMD card. As it stands, Windows won't allow two graphics drivers to run in 3D mode. This was addressed in the first article featuring this technology. Reply
  • prophet001 - Friday, August 22, 2008 - link

    how amazing would this be. nice article with what you were given. Reply
  • MrHanson - Friday, August 22, 2008 - link

    I thing having a separete box with it's own power supply(s) is ideal for something like this. That way if you want to add 2 or more gpu's to your hydra system, you don't have to rip apart your computer and put in a different motherboard and power supply. I imagine this system will probably come with it's own mainboard and power supply with several separate pcie x16 slots for scalablity. Also if you were to upgrade your motherboard and cpu, you don't have to worry about getting a motherboard with enough pcie x16 slots or if the motherboard supports the hydra engine. Any ol' motherboard with one pci express slot will do.


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