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    Arrow Lucid Hydra 100 chip for crossfire and SLI Graphics cards فكرة جديدة

    Lucid Hydra 100




    The Lucid Hydra 100 seems to offer a solution for those who have felt locked into the kinds of motherboards and video cards they can use with their gaming. What exactly is it, and is it really the answer to a gamer's prayers? Keep reading to find out.
    Dual video cards were first developed by 3DFX. nVidia later acquired 3DFX and then used their work to create what is now known as nVidia’s SLI technology. ATI didn’t sit back and let nVidia do this without making their own, and thus, Crossfire was born.
    SLI and Crossfire are made to run multiple graphics cards together to provide faster game play. There aren’t many more reasons other than gaming that one would need multiple video card systems. The problem is that each company’s graphics cards only work with certain hardware. nVidia’s SLI only works with nVidia chipsets for the most part, and ATI works with ATI and some Intel chipsets. This makes things pretty difficult when each company keeps coming out with hardware that is better than their competitors.
    There have been many attempts to run dual graphics cards on any system. There were some hacked drivers for SLI on any chipset, but those have all but disappeared. There are a few motherboards that have nVidia chipsets in them, even though it is another manufacturer. Once again, for the most part, you are locked into a motherboard type. There looks to be an answer for this problem in the form of a third party chip called the Lucid Hydra 100. Is this marketing hype or the real deal?
    Background information
    Has the word Lucid never crossed your screen before? Don’t worry; it hadn’t crossed mine until now. It is made by LucidLogix Technologies, once again a company that you've probably never heard of. Digging into their site reveals that the whole company is focused on this single product right now.
    Even if they got this chip out in the wild and mass-produced it, it would be hard for a company to get by with just this chip. So where is the money for this company coming from? This is where a familiar name pops up, Intel. We’ve all heard of Intel, and they certainly have the enough money to back this company.
    When I saw Intel was the financial donor to this company, it all made sense. AMD now owns ATI, so they could disable Crossfire with a flip of a switch, and nVidia isn’t on the best terms with Intel. If both were to turn their back on Intel, they would be pushed away from the gaming market pretty quickly. I have a feeling that Intel realizes this potential problem, and thus this idea was born for Intel. Why didn’t Intel just develop this themselves? I’m guessing if you go to the patent office, I bet you could find this idea patented already, to not look so bad for killing Crossfire and SLI.



    How it works





    The easy way for this to work would be to simply fool the graphics cards into thinking that the chipset is one that is approved to run in dual mode. This would be easy, but would quickly be broken by ATI and nVidia, and then worthless. There isn’t any way for the Lucid Hydra 100 to truly enable or disable Crossfire or SLI with this chipset. There is another way for this to work.
    When you go to play a game, the CPU sends the Direct X or OpenGL code to the GPU to process. Crossfire and SLI work by either each doing half the screen or doing every other frame. This isn’t the most efficient way of doing it. Either each GPU is doing half of the screen when one side or the other might have a lot more calculations to do, or every other frame, which means it doesn’t really talk to each other and utilize both GPUs. These methods work okay for dual video cards, but once you start scaling to 3+ cores it isn’t as efficient.
    This is why triple SLI and Crossfire hasn’t caught on nearly as well as hoped. I like to think of this method as similar to the first Intel dual core CPUs. There were two cores there, and each computed, but they didn’t really talk to each other and didn’t utilize each other.
    The Hydra 100 will look at the code and break it up. Think of a level that is on an island. You march through the jungle and find a waterfall and river in the middle of a jungle with a heavy wind blowing around the trees. In this case, one GPU would calculate just the waterfall and river, and the other would calculate the trees and wind. Doesn’t this make more sense than each GPU doing half the water and half the trees?


    The Lucid Hydra 100 works in between the chipset and the graphics cards. When the code is sent from the CPU, it goes to the Hydra 100 chip. The chip's job is to analyze the code, and then pass it along to each GPU to do its work. The great part of this is that it can divide up the work equally. This means that each GPU can be utilized the best way.
    The great thing about this chip is that it is almost perfectly linearly scalable, or at least a lot better than what SLI and Crossfire can do. Sure, it might work great for 4 GPUs, but what about 10? I’m sure it won’t be able to handle 10 GPUs. It will be interesting to see where the Hydra 100 starts to drop the ball. I’m sure that there will reach a point where the Hydra 100 can’t keep up with the amount of work it needs to push out. As games become more and more graphic-intense, will it be able to handle the greater demand on the GPU’s?
    The biggest potential issue I see in the Hydra 100 chips is that it relies on knowing what it is dealing with when the instructions are sent to the chip. It works with OpenGL and DirectX. What if another game engine comes along? This chip won’t know what to do with the instructions. DirectX 11 is on the way soon, will this be compatible?
    There are a lot of questions still in the air about the Hydra 100 chip that promises linear scaling GPUs. The only way I see that this chip has a chance is if they release new versions along with updated logic cores.
    What looks to be an exciting aspect is that none of the load balancing is automatically loaded onto any one GPU. One of the problems of SLI and Crossfire is that they can’t balance the work between two GPUs of different power. It has been a rocky road for SLI or Crossfire to work with different cards. The Hydra 100 does the load balancing for the cards, so with some work, it should be able to efficiently divide the load between two cards with different GPUs. Hydra 100 doesn’t care if they are the same cores or not; it should be able to easily handle different GPUs -- and not just two different GPUs, but perhaps even different GPUs in each and every slot.


    Availability






    Don’t look for this to be on the market any time soon. It was introduced at the Intel Developers Conference. Developers should already have their hands on it, though, and a consumer launch is geared for the second half of 2009.
    There will be many different deployment methods. There will be motherboards with this chip built in, PCI-Express add-on cards, chips built into a graphics card with multiple cores, and an external pod. The external pod looks very interesting, especially for laptop users. You can chose to have a big laptop with good hardware that is hot and heavy, or a smaller one with general hardware.
    It sounds like this external pod will have some sort of external graphics that plugs into the notebook and will bump the GPU up notably. When you unplug it, you’re back to your ultra sleek notebook without the added weight. This is what gamers have been waiting for, for years now. With Intel backing this company, I doubt this will become vaporware.
    Conclusion
    The Lucid Hydra 100 chip looks to one-up SLI and Crossfire. Both are great technologies, but have limits, and don’t look like they are going anywhere new anytime soon. How SLI and Crossfire work limit their ability to scale linearly past two GPUs. The other factor hurting SLI and Crossfire is compatibility. Each can only play nice with cards made from the same company, and only on certain motherboards.
    The Lucid Hydra 100 won’t have to face any of these challenges. It will work with any kind of graphics card on any motherboard. This is still in development, so how well this works won’t be known until it hits the market in the second half of 2009. It looks promising, but so did the PhysiX card for physics. Does anyone have one of those still? Look for more information later in 2009, and perhaps we will have some detailed benchmarks along with it.


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