Lucid Hydra 200 Multi-GPU Performance Revealed

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About a year ago, Lucid started making waves in the graphics space with claims of being able to revolutionize multi-GPU computing. It promised consumers the ability to add any graphics card, unrestricted by model or vendor, to an existing set up and achieve highly efficient load balancing with near linear performance increases. This option presumably provides consumers the flexibility to buy an ATI graphics card, install it next to an NVIDIA model on the same motherboard, and see a boost in graphics rendering performance close to the sum of both individual components.

Today we have news of this technology finally coming to life. The Hydra 200 processor is currently in mass production and will soon be featured on retail motherboards, starting with MSI's Big Bang Fuzion P55 motherboard. While this processor will initially be implemented on high end boards, it is actually better suited for the much larger mainstream market segment. Instead of replacing old hardware, upgraders and system builders alike can presumably optimize their existing graphics performance by adding a new affordable videocard.

Recently, we sat down with Lucid and had the chance to get some hands-on time with their product to see how well it performed. Accordingly, we installed multiple graphics card configurations on Lucid's test system and ran several gaming benchmarks to find the truth about Hydra's capabilities and finally lay some of the rumors to rest. So what's the verdict? Read on as HotHardware gives you an exclusive look at one of the PC industry's most intriguing technologies.   


MSI's Big Bang Fuzion Motherboard featuring Hydra 200 Processor

Lucid Hydra Implementation
ASIC Hardware



"The implementation of the Hydra engine is done in ASIC hardware with the support of a software driver. The ASIC is located between the Northbridge and the GPUs, as shown in the figure. The Hydra engine scales performance of multi-GPU configurations from any GPU vender and will scale relative to each GPU's individual performance. In other words, the GPUs do not need to be identical. The Hydra ASIC  handles all connectivity between the CPU, the GPU, and between the GPUs through a full-duplex wired speed implementation. As such, the solution is connector free and does not require any GPU to GPU connector." - Lucid



Hydra Engine Graphics User Interface

Hydra's control panel is simple to use and provides users the ability to enable or disable installed graphics cards within the operating system. With Hydra enabled, the GUI can be minimized to the system tray while graphics performance is automatically optimized.

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Anyone know if this company is listed on NASDAQ? :D

Just kidding, still too early to tell. Hold your praises everyone. Once I see a mainstream motherboard equipped with this tech, I will jump with both feet in!

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gibbersome:
Once I see a mainstream motherboard equipped with this tech, I will jump

 

Yes, "Show Me The Money!" (MainBoard)

Real World test results with the final products will be interesting to see. Swapping a mainboard isn't so expensive, or even much trouble if the results are worth it. It'll also be interesting to see what company does the most with this technology.

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The MSI Big Bang Fuzion motherboard is equipped with the tech and retails for a little over $350. After some fanfare in January, the buzz surround the Lucid Hydra has died somewhat.

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$350.00 is the 'NEW TAX' and must be avoided. I'm interested in the technology, but not in getting raped to have it.

The price will come down however, and if it does not, it would almost be cheaper to just buy a better Video Card.

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As I stated in my earlier post, it will be interesting to see how both Ati and Nvidia react to this tech... especially if it really takes off. 2 big factors IMO will be: 1) Having boards avaiable from all the top vendors at various price points. 2)Driver support!

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recoveringknowitall:
it will be interesting to see how both Ati and Nvidia react

I see your point. They may try to circumvent it or prevent it somehow. I can imagine them writing anti-Hydra drivers and acting like someone is messing about in their knickers. Ha-Ha!

Supposedly, driver support will be provided by Hydra Technicians.

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realneil:
Supposedly, driver support will be provided by Hydra Technicians.

Yeah. What I meant to emphasize is how comitted will they be to continuing to release drivers to adress bugs and maintain compatability with current games and new releases.

This tech looks very promising, but I don't see it going far as is... rather it is more a glimpse of possibility that will lend itself to future developments and advances in multi gpu tech in general.

If it were to completely deliver and offer consumers an option that was less expensive AND performed better at the same time where setups would include cards from both camps, neither camp would be too thrilled obviously. It may end up that whichever company is willing to reach the furthest into their pockets to aquire this tech will dominate the market for multi gpu setups and the gfx industry in general to a degree not yet realized... worst case scenario being a total monopoly.

I feel that I can't over state just how potent this tech really is. Game changing. Point blank.

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recoveringknowitall:
how comitted will they be

 

It's all they do. It's all the company is known for so far. Since it's their 'bread and butter', I think that maybe they'll commit in a big way.

The problem as I see it is how much that hydra chip is going to jack the price of the motherboards that deploy it. I refuse to be hijacked by technology and will gladly sit it out and wonder how nice it really is if I think they're gouging us. A single card solution if you have a nice one, will be, and IS still sufficient for many of us.

I have my doubts about the viability of a dual driver setup in games anyway. That's why I said earlier that I'll wait and see how others like it first.

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There's no doubt in my mind that enthusiasts will be willing to pay a very high premium for this tech, but I see your point and question whether they will be able to move major units to keep things rolling. Perhaps more affordable boards will come down the pipe later, after the enthusiasts have shelled out the big bucks, field tested and subsequently raved about the awesome performance. Regardless, I still believe this will go the way of Ageia and get snatched up.

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Any word on how this would handle Eyefinity with 1 ATI gpu and 1 Nvidia gpu?

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