Lucid ships Virtu software to mobo makers

You may recall that the folks at Lucid have been cooking up a GPU virtualization program called Virtu for Sandy Bridge motherboards. Virtu has a couple of, ahem, virtues. One, it will allow systems based on the Intel H67 chipset to access Sandy Bridge’s QuickSync video transcode acceleration while using a discrete graphics card. Since the QuickSync logic is part of the Sandy Bridge IGP, it’s otherwise inaccessible when a graphics card is in use. Two, Lucid bills Virtu as a power-saving solution for dynamic graphics switching, kind of like Nvidia’s Optimus. From its press release today:

Lucid GPU virtualization software assigns tasks in real time to the best available graphics resource based on power, performance and features considerations, with no need for additional hardware. If graphics power is needed for applications like high-resolution 3D gaming, the system will assign the job to the discrete GPU. If not, the discrete GPU automatically goes into idle mode, while heat drops, fan speed slows down and GPU utilization goes down to zero, resulting in a green, power-efficient, long-lasting system.

The power-optimization angle is intriguing, but our primary interest in Virtu is access to QuickSync transcoding, no question.

Either way, though, Lucid’s software could be making its way into the package with revised Sandy Bridge motherboards based on the corrected B3 stepping of the H67 chipset when they ship. Lucid announced today that it has released a final version of Virtu to motherboard makers. We don’t yet know exactly which motherboard brands will include Virtu with their products, but Lucid tells us it has been in productive talks with all of the major ones. Since Lucid is backed by Intel and is already selling its Hydra GPU load-balancer to motherboard makers, we expect it to get at least some uptake for Virtu immediately.

Virtu isn’t a cure-all for the QuickSync conundrum, as we’ve noted, since it’s not compatible with Intel’s enthusiast-oriented P67 chipset. Since Intel has disabled CPU overclocking on its H67 chipset, even with its own unlocked K-series parts, the appeal of H67 boards for many of us is limited. Virtu also requires the user to connect the display to the motherboard’s display output, and it situates the discrete GPU behind an abstraction layer that may cause compatibility hassles. Still, we’re intrigued by the flexibility it promises, so we’ll reserve judgment until we’ve had some hands-on experience with Virtu.

Comments closed
    • Stargazer
    • 9 years ago

    The access to QuickSync transcoding is intriguing, but my primary interest in Virtu is the power-optimization angle, no question.

    This definitely sounds promising, but I’m a bit concerned about some aspects of the implementation (overhead, compatibility issues due to the abstraction layer, being limited to H67 (though I guess this could be another reason to wait for Z67)), but I too will reserve judgment until you’ve had some hands-on experience with Virtu.

    • Bensam123
    • 9 years ago

    Really looking forward to what Lucid is doing and what they may have in store.

    I think it’s largely a waste to have a IGP on the die and not being used. Although, it may seem unlikely, it would be cool if Lucid figure out how to properly offload work to the IGP as a sort of hybrid SLI/Crossfire/Intelifire. Since they’re already doing this with NVidia and AMD graphics cards, I can’t imagine it’s that hard to spread their tech to Intel.

      • khands
      • 9 years ago

      I think they actually have issues when one GPU is significantly faster though (like >2x) doing the cross-vendor stuff.

        • Bensam123
        • 9 years ago

        Yeah, one can hope though.

        Curiously why was I downrated for posting that something is a waste when it is?

    • HisDivineShadow
    • 9 years ago

    Intel could have made this easy. Instead, they probably laughed when someone internally suggested they do this and remarked, “What and have nothing for next year? Hey! I know! Let’s also deliver the enthusiast/high performance part with integrated GPU support till later, too! And proper 23fps support? Save it for next year, too. Gotta keep ’em hungry!”

    Intel’s a smart one. Always only giving you less than you need. Appleicious.

    • Anomymous Gerbil
    • 9 years ago

    What a needless cock-up by Intel.

    • odizzido
    • 9 years ago

    This is something I am interested in for sure. I hope this technology is available and working during my next upgrade.

    • StuG
    • 9 years ago

    Really, I want this to lead to switchable graphics on the desktop front. I think having your GPU’s basically turn off while allowing an extremely low power IGP/Integrated solution to take over is something I could sure get use too.

      • Bensam123
      • 9 years ago

      Or the ability to deactivate most of your normal graphics card, I agree though.

    • UberGerbil
    • 9 years ago

    [quote<]Virtu also requires the user to connect the display to the motherboard's display output[/quote<]That's how I figured they would do this (doing the opposite way would mean the discrete GPU would have to be fully awake even when the IGP was handling desktop/non-gaming graphics tasks) but it carries some implications: you'll be limited by whatever output limitations the motherboard and SB IGP impose (max resolution, number of screens -- no eyefinity for you! -- etc) and there's going to be some overhead when using the discrete GPU (continuously copying the screen buffer from the card's memory to the IGP shouldn't be too big of a deal, considering the PCIe channels are hanging directly off the CPU and the GPU should be able to do the copies via DMA without much tax on either it or the CPU, but that's still something that doesn't happen in normal operation with a discrete graphics card). It'll be interesting to see what shows up in benchmarks. I wonder if some of the motherboard makers that also build notebooks (ASUS, MSI) will be looking at this to get Optimus-like power savings for Sandy Bridge machines with discrete AMD graphics?

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