Asus Crosshair IV Extreme AMD 890FX Motherboard - HotHardware

Asus Crosshair IV Extreme AMD 890FX Motherboard

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Lucid Logix HydraLogix 200
LucidLogix
The Asus Crossfire IV 's integrated HydraLogix 200 series SoC theoretically allows for an unprecedented level of GPU scaling as well as the ability to use multiple GPUs from different product generations. The chip works, but our testing revealed important caveats.

The HydraLogix chip aboard the Crosshair IV is an LT24102-A1 processor, as shown below. This chip is substantially more powerful than first-generation Hydra 100 processors. Compared to its predecessor, the LT24102 offers twice the bandwidth and can serve up to four x8 PCIe slots compared to just two x16 slots for the 100 series.



The Lucid processor incorporates a 32-bit RISC 'Diamond' processor built by Tensilica and clocked at 300MHz with a 64K L1 instruction cache and a 32K data cache. The diagram below shows how Asus has incorporated the LT24102 into the CrossHair IV Extreme.


Those would be GPU slots #2, #4, and #5

The Crosshair IV effectively contains two separate PCI-Express implementations. Users wanting to build a standard AMD CrossFire system are advised to use slots 1 and 3, both of which tie into AMD's 890FX controller. Enthusiasts who want to use more than three ATI GPUs (A-Mode), a mixed ATI/NV solution (X-Mode) or multiple Nvidia GPUs (N-Mode) should avoid slot three altogether. On paper, Hydra should be a drop-in replacement for Nvidia's SLI, but our performance tests were decidedly erratic.

Probing the Problem:

The major, full-stop problem with the Hydra engine is that it's currently impossible for us to predict either the degree of scaling Hydra will offer in a particular title or whether that title will be supported at all.  When the Hydra Control Panel is first installed, it displays a list of more than one hundred ostensibly-supported titles. We can't comment on the accuracy of this list when using GT200, G92, or G80-based GeForce cards, but current support for Fermi-based products is limited.

After a great deal of benchmarking and repeated conversations with Asus and LucidLogix, we've compiled a list of supported (and unsupported) games and benchmarks using the 1.7.104a 64-bit Hydra drivers released on January 17, 2011. (We also tested the 1.7.103 drivers released in December and multiple WHQL driver releases from Nvidia).

LucidLogix Hydra
Officially Tested Titles

 

Supported Games:
  • Aliens vs. Predator
  • Batman: Arkham Asylum
  • Battlefield: Bad Company 2
  • Call of Duty: MW2
  • Crysis Warhead
  • Devil May Cry 4
  • HAWX
  • Left 4 Dead
  • Left 4 Dead 2
  • Lost Planet 2 (DX9)
  • Mafia 2
  • Medal of Honor
  • Metro 2033
  • Resident Evil 5
  • Street Fighter IV
  • Starcraft 2
Synthetic Benchmarks:
  • Unigine
  • 3DMark 2006
  • 3DMark Vantage
  • 3DMark 11*
Unsupported Games (Using 1/17  Drivers):
  • Civilization V
  • Crysis (Original)
  • Crysis Wars
  • DiRT 2
  • F1 2010
  • Far  Cry 2
  • Half Life 2
  • Half Life 2 Episode 2
  • HAWX 2
  • Just Cause 2
  • Lost Planet 2 (DX11)**
  • S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Call of Pripyat
  • Team Fortress 2 (including beta version)
  • World of Warcraft***



* - Current support for 3DMark 11 is limited. All four GPU tests scale in Performance mode, but only one test scales across both GPUs in 'Extreme' mode.
** - Lost Planet 2 refused to run in DX11 at all, period. The game scaled in DX9.
*** - World of Warcraft refused to run in DX11 mode. It ran in DX9 mode but did not scale.


There's no common factor that separates the games that do work and those that should but don't. We discussed this at length with LucidLogix's Offir Remez, who pointed out that Lucid has been shipping hardware for barely a year, only recently added support for Fermi-based GPUs, and tests an enormous number of GPU configurations. He told us that Lucid is aware of the issues above, and he promised we'd have seen far more compatible games if we'd been testing with older GT200-based NV cards.

The Bottom Line:

We appreciate Lucid's willingness to openly discuss these support issues and agree that it takes time to ramp any multi-GPU solution; both SLI and Crossfire suffered significant growing pains in their early years. Understandable difficulties, however, don't change the fact that as of this writing, HydraLogix technology is not an effective SLI replacement.

We expect the number of Fermi-supported titles to improve as further drivers are released and believe that LucidLogix is committed to consistent driver improvement. Given sufficient time to bake, HydraLogix could one day provide a level of support substantially equivalent to SLI. For now, buyers looking for an SLI equivalent when using Fermi-class products should look elsewhere.

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The Extreme is not worth it over the Crosshair IV. I have yet to see Lucid's crappy gimmick work, and I thought that since a page was dedicated to it, that it would have been tested on the a few of the games that it supports.

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Those are some impressive gains from swapping the motherboard.

I would like to have seen a comparison of an entry level board of the same chipset to this board, so we can get more of an apples to apples comparrison and see if the more expensive board is justified in the numbers.

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I'm with Sammy, though maybe not quite as harsh. Lucid still has a ways to go to get their drivers worked out, but their tech does actually work. The only problem is that it would work better on cheaper boards since those are the people most likely to need/use it.

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InfinityzeN1:
Lucid still has a ways to go to get their drivers worked out, but their tech does actually work. The only problem is that it would work better on cheaper boards since those are the people most likely to need/use it.

This. Anyone going out to buy a high end motherboard is going to have the money to put in exactly the graphics they want. Lucid would much better serve the low end were you can just pop in whatever is in your budget and add to the performance you already have.

 

In general I don't really see the market for this board. Don't get me wrong it is a killer board, but at the price it costs almost $100 more than any AMD CPU.

Also where are the killer EFI bios that some of the Asus boards are getting.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b-J4o3sqhB4

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This board is definitely for the high end overclocking crowd and priced accordingly.

If I had to consider building a custom rig for someone that insisted on an AMD with the best Asus mobo available  & * has 'da $$

bob_on_the_cob:

... Anyone going out to buy a high end motherboard is going to have the money to put in exactly the graphics they want. Lucid would much better serve the low end were you can just pop in whatever is in your budget and add to the performance you already have.

the Crosshair IV Extreme would be a contender for other reasons like >>save on an audio card and the one -inch bigger ATX size would definitely get them into a better higher end case and would likely to get pretty particular in selecting ram and cooler options.

not likely for me at this time  but good to consider all the same

thanks for the detailed review and insights

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Whoa!!! whats new with this motherboard?? my dream computer was to have the Asus Rampage III. I have to read up on this.

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Sammy,

Did you miss the list of titles we confirmed are functional?

The problem with trying to publish some "representative" Lucid benchmarks is that each test is more-or-less unique. There are some tests that scale by 5-10%, some that scale by 20-50%, some at 75%, some at 90%. It proved impossible to grab a select handful and claim they were a solid sample of what to expect.

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Ahh, I see, I guess I skipped a few paragraphs...I confused the " LucidLogix Hydra Officially Tested Titles" part as if it was submitted by lucid and not yourself.

As InfinityZ and Bob have stated, this would be more practical on a lower end board, but the problem is that adding that chip would lead to a higher price tag.

I remember reading( I think) that this will be a software solution in the Sandy Bridge environment.....Still I just don't think this is worth it...Just stick to Nvidia for Nvidia Solutions and Amd for Amd solutions.

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Sammy,

 

You're confusing Virtu (software-only, allows for Sandy Bridge-powered video transcoding) with Hydra (hardware-implemented multi-GPU processor).

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Ahh, I see Again...thanks..

In Total coincidence, There are reports on Virtu and the Z68 chipset now showing up on some websites. I look forward to reading it also on HH...I will be reading carefully to make sense in any judgment. I imagine you or Dave are working on it right now?

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