Hands on with a Hydra box
Our testing time with the Hydra in Lucid's offices was limited, but we did have the chance to gather some preliminary performance data and record our impressions of the solution in action.
Pictured above are the guts of a demo system based on the MSI board that Lucid had running. Although it was fully operational, the Big Bang Fuzion board is an unreleased product, so we didn't get a chance to test with it. Instead, Lucid offered up its own test chassis, which looks like so:
This box below is a regular system with a PCIe cable connected to one of its PCI Express x16 slots. The box above contains a Lucid test board with a Hydra chip and some PCIe slots. Although this looks very different from a fully integrated solution, the system topology in fact is very similar. As you can see, we had a pair of GeForce GTX 260 cards installed in the system.
We were able to test mixed-vendor performance, as well. Above is the Device Manager view with a Radeon HD 4890 installed next to a GeForce GTX 260.
Here's how the Hydra Engine software indicates that it's using two GPUs from different vendors. In this case, the display is connected to the GeForce rather than the Radeon, although the choice of display GPU is apparently flexible.
Lucid's control panels for the Hydra are pretty straightforward. The second one, as you can see, allows the user to enable or disable the Hydra on a per-game basis. Lucid's software detects installed games on the system and offers this list. Obviously, this particular box has a considerable number of games installed simultaneously. Heck, I was a little surprised it generally worked properly. This system was prepared by Lucid's own internal QA group, and they have been testing a big swath of the most popular games internally to ensure compatibility and performance.