Lucid HYDRA 200 Details With AMD, Lucid & NVIDIA

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Q&A With LUCID

Legit Reviews got a chance to talk with Offir Remez, co-founder, President and VP of Business Development at LucidLogix Inc. and below are the results of that discussion.

Legit Reviews:  Scan-Line Interleave was introduced to the consumer market in 1998 in the Voodoo2 line of video cards. NVIDIA later bought out 3dfx (maker of the Voodoo2 line) and announced the Scalable Link Interface (SLI) in 2004. ATI CrossFire was first made available to the public on September 27, 2005 and has come a long way since the days when a dongle used to be needed in order to run a multi-GPU setup.  That makes NVIDIA SLI and ATI CrossFire fairly ‘old’ technology compared to the Lucid Hydra 200 solution that was announced this past week at IDF. Some journalists have gone as far as saying that this is the death of SLI and CrossFire.  Do you think Hydra technology could dominate the market so much that the other two solutions could possibly become obsolete?

That will remain to be seen, now won’t it?  We do believe we have a technology that is very different and has the potential to really change the industry.  However, SLI and ATI Crossfire technologies have a strong foothold in the market.  If it were the death of SLI and Crossfire, it wouldn’t happen overnight.

Legit Reviews:  For our readers that are gamers and enthusiasts what will best option for a multi-GPU solution?

We think the best solution for gamers and enthusiasts is a motherboard featuring the HYDRA chip.  When it comes to the graphics wars, at any given time there may be a “fastest” graphics card.  So if people choose a motherboard with Lucid HYDRA, they will know in advance their system will support the highest performing graphics cards on the market – whatever GPU that may be.

Legit Reviews:   Would running a pair of GeForce GTX 285’s in a multi-GPU setup perform better running SLI or on Hydra 200?

We are not ready to release numbers at this time.  However, we can say we expect to see competitive performance.  Game performance will depend on the implementation of the HYDRA ASIC in specific platforms, and therefore the numbers will be provided by the different motherboard vendors.

Legit Reviews:   What about dual-GPU cards like the Radeon HD 4780X2/3870X2 and the GeForce GTX 295? Will Hydra work properly on these super high-end dual GPU single slot graphics cards that are already running SLI/Crossfire on the card itself?

Both options are available to the user, and they will be able to choose between HYDRA or SLI/Crossfire in that scenario.

Legit Reviews:  Lucid recently said that GPU frame rendering methods that are being used by both ATI and NVIDIA were primitive and that NVIDIA and SLI are limited by AFR [Alternate Frame Rendering], SFR [Split Frame Rendering] On paper, having two identical graphics cards in a system that do not depend on driver profiles for scaling would seem superior to an end user. This has always been a caveat of SLI/Crossfire when a particular game or demo has no out of the box profile. Will this also impact the Lucid Hydra 200 solution?

The AFR and SFR methods are useful and have advantages in several specific parts of the game. However, the HYDRA solution is capable of adapting the correct rendering method in real-time based on the demands from the application at each given frame sequence. 

Games each have unique performance nuances.  But with that being said, we don’t expect games to behave any differently than they currently do.  As long as the GPU is the bottleneck, HYDRA 200 will squeeze the most performance out of the GPU subsystem. And, we have tested over 100 games in house so far.  We have found the solution to be quite compatible.

Legit Reviews:  Can you run PhysX or 3D Vision on a multi-GPU setup with a motherboard that runs Hydra 200?

We think these could be great applications for Lucid HYDRA enabled multi-GPU configurations.

Legit Reviews:  Can you run ATI Stream or Eyefinity technology on a multi-GPU setup with a motherboard that runs Hydra 200?

Again, we think these could be great applications.  We are still testing different hardware configurations, therefore we will let you know for sure as we get further along in the development process.

Legit Reviews:  Is the Lucid Hydra being certified for SLI? (note, you are asking if we are doing an SLI certification for crossfire)

No, Lucid HYDRA is independent of SLI.  That would be as if you were asking for SLI certification for Crossfire.

Legit Reviews:  Will the MSI Big Bang motherboard be SLI licensed?

That will be up to MSI.

Legit Reviews:  NVIDIA recently disabled a feature in your Windows 7 drivers that would allow you to run an ATI Radeon HD series graphics card and then a secondary NVIDIA GeForce graphics card as a dedicated PhysX GPU. NVIDIA claims this was done by accident and disabled this feature. By running Hydra could you run a Radeon HD 5870 as the primary card and then a GeForce GTX 9600 GT as a dedicated PhysX card? 

We need to understand more about how the communication between the GPU and the PhysX card is processed to answer this in a technically accurate manner.

Legit Reviews:  If one of our readers has a GeForce GTX 260 Core 216 graphics cards and goes out tomorrow and buys an ATI Radeon HD 5870 graphics card with the hopes of picking up the MSI Big Bang motherboard will he be able to load balance the cards on DirectX 11 game titles? 

Yes, we plan to support DirectX 11.  The increase in performance will be relative to the performance of the GPs.

Legit Reviews:  Mixing and matching NVIDIA and ATI graphics cards is only supported on Windows 7 correct?

Correct.

Legit Reviews:  When it comes to multi-GPU systems NVIDIA allows you to run SLI on identical series cards no matter who the manufacturer is. ATI on the other hand allows users to do the same, but also allows users of CrossFire to mix and match different cards within a particular series. The Hydra 200 will let you mix and match any graphics card right? (is there a list of supported cards?)

Yes, the beauty of the HYDRA solution is that you can mix and match within brands, models, etc. as long as the GPUs support PCIe and the same versions of DirectX.  This is one of the main value propositions of HYDRA – more flexibility to support nearly limitless combinations of GPUs – old and new.

Legit Reviews:  At IDF you implied that motherboards featuring the Hydra 200 ASIC (chip) wouldn’t add anything to the cost of the motherboard and hinted that the NVIDIA SLI licensing fee wouldn’t have to be paid. Is this really the truth?

We can comment directly on the cost associated by adding Lucid HYDRA 200 technology, which we believe will be marginal to the overall system costs.

Regarding SLI, we do not reference the SLI licensing fee as that is something that the motherboard manufacturers will need to be taking into consideration.

Legit Reviews:  Will Lucid HYDRA 200 be found on laptops or only desktop motherboards and add-in cards?

Lucid HYDRA 200 is an extremely small footprint SoC and is very low power, therefore, we will support laptop configurations in addition to PCs.
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