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Graphics Hardware Technology

Promised Platform-Independent GPU Tech Is Getting Real 102

Posted by kdawson
from the near-linear dept.
Vigile writes "Last year a small company called Lucid promised us GPU scaling across multiple GPU generations with near-linear performance gains without restrictions of SLI or CrossFire. The company has been silent for some time, but now it is not only ready to demonstrate the 2nd generation hardware, but also to show the first retail product that will be available with HYDRA technology. In this article there is a quick look at the MSI 'Big Bang' motherboard that sports the P55 chipset and HYDRA chip and also shows some demos of AMD HD 4890 and NVIDIA GTX 260 graphics cards working together for game rendering. Truly platform-independent GPU scaling is nearly here and the flexibility it will offer gamers could be impressive."
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Promised Platform-Independent GPU Tech Is Getting Real

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  • by aerton (748473) on Wednesday September 23, 2009 @01:07AM (#29512201)
    If it is essentially just a load-balancer, why can't it be done in software?

    The article only mentions DirectX, no word about OpenGL, so it must be not a pure hardware solution. If all it does is re-routing of D3D calls, why CPU can't do it?
  • by shentino (1139071) on Wednesday September 23, 2009 @01:18AM (#29512239)

    Crippleware is a common method of rent seeking, and copyrights, patents, and plain old obfuscation may obstruct genuine improvements.

    Case in point: Old mainframes deliberately given a "cripple-me" switch that only an expensive vendor provided technician is authorized to switch off.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 23, 2009 @01:26AM (#29512261)

    The cards of a brand share drivers across a few generations. So if this solution communicates with the drivers, you get the picture.

  • by Slarty (11126) on Wednesday September 23, 2009 @02:21AM (#29512469) Homepage

    We live in a world where thousands of children starve to death every day, people are killed or imprisoned for expressing their beliefs, women/minorities/everybody are oppressed, and few people really care about any of it, because it's all someone else's problem. I find it kind of funny (and more than a little sad) that the use of a driver can be blithely written off as "immoral" just because you can't download the source.

  • Performance issue (Score:3, Insightful)

    by dark_requiem (806308) on Wednesday September 23, 2009 @02:22AM (#29512471)
    There are going to be some performance hits compared to native crossfile/sli implementations. There are three models of the Hydra 200 part, and they each differ in their pcie lanes. The high-end model, which is going on the MSI motherboard, sports two x16 pcie lanes from the chip to the graphics cards (configurable as 2x16, 1x16 + 2x8, or 4x8), but only a single x16 lane from the chip to the pcie controller. So, where a good high-end crossfire or sli board will have two x16 pcie lanes from the controller to the slots for the gpus, this solution will be limited to one x16, limiting the bandwidth available to each graphics card. Exactly how much of a performance hit this would incur remains to be seen, and it probably depends on the cards being used (an older 8000 series geforce doesn't need/won't use as much bandwidth as a gtx 295, for example), but I would expect as gpus grow more powerful and require more bandwidth to keep them fed and working, we will start to see performance deterioration compared to the native crossfire and sli implementations (although lucid can always modify their design to keep pace).

    Incidentally, the two lower-end hydra chips will sport a x8 connection to the controller and 2 x8 connections to the cards, and a x16 connection to the controller and two x16 connections to the cards (strictly 2x16, not configurable in any other arrangement)
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 23, 2009 @02:29AM (#29512501)

    ... women(by women and some men)/men(by women)/minorities/everybody are oppressed, ...

    Fixed that for you

  • by dark_requiem (806308) on Wednesday September 23, 2009 @02:38AM (#29512553)
    "Immoral"? What, because it's proprietary? Are you serious? Get ready to throw out your whole computer, because the whole damn thing is proprietary. You don't have circuit diagrams for the cpu or gpu, you don't have firmware code, nothing. Before you start taking the "moral" high ground about proprietary components, look at what you're typing on. There's plenty of room in the world for proprietary and open source to coexist, RMS' rantings not withstanding.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 23, 2009 @02:55AM (#29512613)

    Certainly. One is important, the other is trivial nerd rage bullshit.

  • by Tom (822) on Wednesday September 23, 2009 @03:41AM (#29512777) Homepage Journal

    I hope you die young. Seriously. If we get world hunger solved, and peace eternal, people will start to complain about even less important stuff. People complain about things, it's part of human nature. Just because 500 people died in Africa today before I got out of bed doesn't mean I don't feel that particular idiot at work is a friggin' [censored].

    You can't deny people's feelings with a rational appeal to global standards.

  • by cbope (130292) on Wednesday September 23, 2009 @03:51AM (#29512823)

    Great, now I can have 2 buggy display drivers installed at the same time, each with their own quirks. And who helps me out when I have graphical problems in a game? Do you really think ATI or NVIDIA will give end-user support for this? What about game developer support? It is a support nightmare for all involved. No thanks. Sorry, this idea is brain-dead long before it hits the shelf.

  • by bcmm (768152) on Wednesday September 23, 2009 @05:45AM (#29513251)

    We live in a world where thousands of children starve to death every day, people are killed or imprisoned for expressing their beliefs, women/minorities/everybody are oppressed, and few people really care about any of it, because it's all someone else's problem. I find it kind of funny (and more than a little sad) that the use of a driver can be blithely written off as "immoral" just because you can't download the source.

    Some people rape children. How can you possibly think shoplifting is immoral?

    /me steals some stuff.

  • Re:Useless tech (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Hal_Porter (817932) on Wednesday September 23, 2009 @05:48AM (#29513263)

    Back in the Dos days video hardware was originally a register level standard. Then the accelerator companies all invented their own solutions to line drawing, BitBlts and so on. Now in Dos each programmers used Vesa Bios calls to get into high res modes but they had to write a driver themselves for anything more complex. Windows came along and acted like a software motherboard - application programmers wrote to user mode API and the graphics card manufacturers wrote drivers to a kernel level API.

    At this point WinG was a better platform to port games to than Dos because you didn't need to write your own graphics driver. As 3D became more popular things became even more clear cut. Each 3D company invented their own standard, and none were keen to document it. 3DFX had a driver layer for Dos and quite a lot of games supported it. Still it was not an abstraction layer - it would only work with 3DFX cards.

    Now Microsoft spotted an opportunity and launched DirectX. This was Windows only of course but it was graphics card independent. Now all the other graphics card manufacturers could implement a DirectX driver and all the games could use that API. And from what I've read DX was actually designed to be as thin a wrapper as possible to hide the differences between graphics cards. NVidia got started at this point - they had no hope of competing with 3DFX in terms of getting people to write code to their own API or hardware. In Windows they didn't have to.

    I don't really see any chance of getting ATI/AMD, NVidia and Intel to agree on a common register spec for graphics at this point. Well, not one that would support high performance games at any rate. And Microsoft obviously have no interest in doing anything that would commoditize the OS. Even Apple seems to do OK with the current setup - they can just ask NVidia and ATI/AMD to both supply drivers if they want their hardware to be used.

  • by Trahloc (842734) on Wednesday September 23, 2009 @07:13AM (#29513575) Homepage
    10% isn't a big deal? There are people who go to crazy extremes just to tweak out an extra 1-3% with entire sub markets dedicated to them, so yeah 10% is worth it.

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