Lucid to bring load-balancer tech to graphics cards

— 6:00 AM on August 31, 2010

Well, well. It looks like the folks at Lucid have been keeping busy. After getting its Hydra GPU load balancer onto motherboards last year, the Israeli firm now plans to bring similar vendor-agnostic multi-GPU capabilities... to graphics cards themselves. We're not talking about expensive multi-GPU boards, either.

Instead, as the diagram above illustrates, Lucid's new Unity graphics board architecture puts the Hydralogix 200 chip (formerly Hydra 200) on a single-GPU graphics card. That card can then be paired up with any graphics card from any manufacturer and run in multi-GPU mode, even on motherboards that don't have explicit support for multi-GPU functionality. So goes Lucid's spiel, at least.

Lucid stresses the "low cost" of its Hydra chip, boasting that "mainstream graphics users can now buy even a $99 graphics card and upgrade their system in the future with the brand graphics card of their choice." That's a slight embellishment, though. The press release goes on to note that Hydra-enabled graphics cards will show up this holiday season at "accessible prices under $199."

If Lucid can pull this one off—that is, deliver solid performance in reasonable configurations—we might see a new breed of graphics cards emerge, with vendor-agnostic multi-GPU capabilities ready for use on any system with more than one PCI Express x16 slot. Such functionality could come in particularly handy for Nvidia graphics cards, since as far as I can tell, most sub-$150 motherboards lack SLI support. The question, of course, will be how much of a premium the Hydra-equipped cards carry.

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