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HYDRA Engine vows to free us of multi-GPU restrictions

by Parm Mann on 20 August 2008, 17:34

Tags: LucidLogix

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From time to time, an unheard of company comes along, takes a rather obvious theory, and vows to make it happen.

Israel-based LucidLogix is one of those companies, and it has signalled its intent to allow GPUs from one vendor to work together efficiently. It's a simple idea in theory, and both AMD and NVIDIA have been allowing similar cards of their own to run in multi-GPU configurations with the use of their CrossFire and SLI technologies.

By using a compositing chip, Hydra 100, and software that sits in between a system's DirectX/OpenGL and GPU drivers, Lucid wants to make multi-GPU agnostic of profiles. All you need is a system that's capable of running multiple cards, usually for multi-monitor support, and Hydra 100 does the rest.

By having the interface between the driver and API, it'll grab hold of graphics information before it gets to the GPUs and intelligently break it up into tasks. Those rendering tasks are then distributed to multiple GPUs - intelligently, of course, with the power of the GPU dictating the tasks received. Once rendered, the data is sent back to one GPU and output to the monitor. Simple, right?

It all sounds like a mighty good idea, in theory, and Lucid has shown it off by using a demo setup which uses multiple displays to highlight different GPUs carrying out different tasks. In the below image, the monitor on the right shows that a particular GPU is working only on certain areas, and the rest of the image remains blank. Merge it all together with the data from the other GPUs, and you get the complete image as seen on the left monitor.

The huge advantage here is that it's platform independent. Your graphics drivers are pretty much irrelevant, bang any selection (same manufacturer) of up to four graphics cards into a HYRDA-powered system, and they'll work together seamlessly.

Lucid, however, won't be manufacturing the solution itself. The chip, known as the Hydra 100, will be offered to OEMs and Lucid lists the following deployment options:

  • On a desktop or notebook motherboard, connected to a standard PCIe port between the CPU subsystem and the multiple graphics add-in boards or MXM modules
  • On an add-in board, enabling up to four GPUs by any one vendor, creating a new price-performance-power AiB that can be plugged into a single slot on any motherboard
  • In an external pod designed to provide top-performance graphics for gamers, or, when connected to a laptop or docking station allowing people to leverage advanced graphics performance when they want

It all sounds too good to be true, but if it works as Lucid says it will, this could spell the end for SLI and CrossFire as we know it.

Lucid states that consumer-level devices are expected to reach the market in the first half of 2009, and we can't wait to see what HYDRA can do in the real world.

Official website: LucidLogix.com

HEXUS Forums :: 10 Comments

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If that works efficiently, it could be huge.

I fully expect it to end up putting heavy loads on 1 gpu and lesser loads on others though, especially in games like Crysis which seem to be written in an odd manor.

It will be very interesting to follow the news on this one though.
Sounds good to me, so if it works as advertised, devs can just write the game for DirectX and let this chip do the work.

Of course it could be good if they could get Microsoft to write support directly into the DirectX API though, somthing that I think Aeiga should have done with physix card of theirs

At last, the final piece of the picture to make multi GPU technology really useful.

1. Multi Nvidia GPUs without being tied to an Nvidia chipset!
2. Buy a GPU to run single and then upgrade to multi GPU later without having to search for an overpriced last gen card! Just add the latest bang for buck card!

Just think how complicated review sites will be: here's the benchmark for the 4870, 4850, 280GX, 260GX combo with AA and AF and at 1650 x 1080, then we have the bencmark for 4870, 4870, 280GX, 260GX combo with AA and AF and at 1650 x 1080… It'll be graphs galore!
What would be interesting is to know the performance between SLI / CrossFire and the same GPUs running with this Engine instead
Sounds like a good idea, It'll be interesting to see if it is as simple as they are making it out to be.