Lucid offers a multi-GPU alternative to SLI and CrossFire

[IDF 2009, SF] Lucid’s Hydra Engine is a hardware solution (a chip) that brings multi-GPU functionality to motherboards, without having to use Nvidia’s SLI or AMD’s CrossFire. Usually, there is a lot of work done in the GPU driver, but Lucid has found a way to use many GPUs without asking Nvidia or AMD for help.

They declined to give me all the details (even though they have 50 patents or so filed), but they said that the high-level idea is that objects from the scene are routed and rendered on different GPUs. We’re talking about individual geometry elements here, not tiles or frames. Somehow, Lucid manages to re-assemble a final image that looks just like one that has been rendered on a single-GPU system.

On the performance side, Lucid said that they are “competitive”, but said that independent reviews would surface soon… In Theory their technology would allow customers to use different GPU types (high-end + mid-range), although they should have the same level of functionality. They did not demo a multi-brand (ATI+Nvidia) setup, so I don’t think that this is an option.

Now, we shall see if there are any performance or compatibility catch. If there’s none, that’s a very interesting new player in this field, and I’m sure that motherboard makers and Intel itself would be relieved to have an alternative to the big graphics giants. To be continued…

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