MSI will be the first motherboard vendor to feature the Hydra 200 chip on their Big Bang P55-based mainboard. This motherboard is due for an official global launch right before the Christmas holiday on October 29. MSI even put a landing page with a countdown timer and more information here if you’d like to look for more information on the MSI Big Bang. In case you are wondering how MSI came up with the name for the board it does indeed refer to the “Big Bang” theory in astronomy. As you can see the HYDRA 200 is cooled as it does consume roughly 6W of power during operation.
Lucid also had an MSI Big Bang motherboard on display that didn’t have all the heat pipes and chipset coolers installed so you can see the actual HYDRA 200 ASIC! The HYDRA 200 chip is located just to the left of the Intel LGA1156 CPU socket and this specific board was featuring A2 65nm silicon from TSMC. The chip is placed here because HYDRA 200 needs to intercept OpenGL/DirectX commands on the bus that are flowing from the GPU to the CPU and load balance them across any number of GPUs in the system. If you are curious about an in-depth explanation on how the HYRDA 200 works you can download the whitepaper here.
The demo that we were shown behind closed doors was of course an MSI Big Bang motherboard that was running Windows 7 and ATI Radeon HD 4890 and GeForce GTX 260 graphics cards at the same time with both cards being load balanced.
Here is a closer view of the test system. Notice that the Lucid HYDRA 200 load balancing solution has no interconnects, bridges, external dongles or adapters that are needed. Both cards were running fine and we were able to change which card had the monitor output on it from the Windows 7 desktop, which was pretty slick.
Lucid gave us a chance to try out PC Game titles F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin and Bioshock to see what the future of scalable graphics looks like with the Hydra 200. We must admit that we were fairly impressed with what we saw as the technology appeared to be working without any issues on these two game titles.