Lucid HYDRA 200 Details With AMD, Lucid & NVIDIA

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Q&A With NVIDIA

Legit Reviews also got a chance to talk with Ken Brown (PR Manager for Platform Products [ION and SLI]) and Tom Peterson (Director of Technical Marketing) at NVIDIA about Lucid and what they think about HYDRA 200.

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. That makes SLI 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. Does NVIDIA have any concerns with this new technology or is SLI safe in the long run?

SLI is a proven and stable technology that accelerates more than 700 PC games.  We have not tested Hydra yet and can’t comment on its technical merits.  If it substantially improves gaming for consumers then we all win.

Legit Reviews: For our readers that are gamers and enthusiasts is SLI still the best option for a multi-GPU solution? If so, why would you say this?

Yes.  It is the most stable, most used, most compatible and highest performance multi-GPU technology. The majority of leading hardware reviewers have come to the same conclusion. (http://www.futuremark.com/community/halloffame/)

Legit Reviews:  Lucid recently said that GPU frame rendering methods that are being used by both ATI and NVIDIA were primitive and that you are limited by AFR [Alternate Frame Rendering], SFR [Split Frame Rendering]. Is this true?

NVIDIA multi-GPU performance and scaling leads the industry. If there is a faster, more stable technology for handling multi-GPU configurations, we’d love to see it.

Legit Reviews:  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 when a particular game or demo has no out of the box profile. What makes SLI technology better than the Lucid Hydra solution in this situation?

There is a substantial software team behind SLI at NVIDIA dedicated to delivering great performance. We are proud to provide outstanding multi-GPU support for games when they ship.

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

This remains to be seen, when working hardware is available.

Legit Reviews:  If you can would the experience be the same as on an SLI licensed motherboard?

This remains to be seen, when working hardware is available.

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. Why was this done and will we ever see support for this opened up down the road?

We don’t have the QA resource to test all of our GPUs acting in concert with an ATI GPU for rendering.  In addition, we work hard to bring new technologies to market like PhysX and 3D Vision.  The fact that our drivers only work with our cards should not be surprising to anyone.

Legit Reviews:  Lucid said that with their Hydra 200 solution that you could mix and match cards for load balancing and then have a third card that was dedicated for PhysX.  If this is correct wouldn’t it make sense to re-enable that feature in the drivers?

This is pretty speculative, because it depends in large part on the experience and so far we haven’t seen hardware for evaluation yet.

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. For example you can run an ATI Radeon HD 4890 and a Radeon HD 4850 in CrossFire together if you like.  With Lucid coming to the market will we see NVIDIA open any of the restrictions in order to support more configurations?

SLI runs best when the GPUs participating are about the same performance.  To deliver the best experience to users we keep it simple and focus on the common case of two or three identical cards.  We don’t expect that to change.

Legit Reviews:   Is the Lucid Hydra being certified for SLI?

No.

Legit Reviews:   Lucid informed us at IDF 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. What implications does this have as far as SLI licensing is concerned since technically it is not SLI technology?

It’s hard to say. Not only is the jury out on this, you could say the jury hasn’t even been empaneled yet.

Legit Reviews:   Intel’s venture capital arm invested in Lucid Logix and helped pave the way for their product reach the market.  Would you speculate that Intel’s support of Lucid Logix was done to disrupt the GPU market before they could introduce Larrabee?

We cannot speculate, but journalists certainly can!

Legit Reviews:   Lastly, the last time a company tried to make a move in the GPU market it was AGEIA with PhysX.  NVIDIA eventually purchased that company shortly after their products hit store shelves. Does NVIDIA have any interest in Lucid Logix?

We constantly evaluate strategic opportunities but of course we would not be able to confirm or deny such considerations.
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