Could this be the end of SLI and Crossfire?

Multi-graphics chip technologies have long been a hard issue with gamers, but one compant seems set on changing all of that with a new chip that has the potential to change everything.

Multi-graphics chip technologies have long been a hard issue with gamers.

Do you go with ATI or Nvidia? That’s often the easy choice as you’ll either be impressed with one set of graphics over an over (though if you bought an Nvidia chipset from the 7000 – 9600 series, you might be in for a shock).

If you go with Nvidia you’ve had to turn to SLI, Nvidia’s Scalable Link Interface, a system that allowed you to connect two Nvidia GeForce cards together by a bridge and share the workload between two or more graphics processing units. The first of the consumer-ready multi-graphics processing connections, the main caveat found in Nvidia’s SLI was that it required two identical boards running off of the PCI Express connections. This means that if you want to run a 9800GT on SLI, when you go out and buy a card, you actually want to buy two, much like how setting up a RAID array works in hard drives.

ATI’s current CrossFire and CrossFire X setups works it differently by allowing you to connect an ATI card that had the connection for the bridge to any other ATI card with that connection from that same family of chips. Crossfire would allow me to take my Radeon 3870X2 and plug it into my slightly slower 3850 quite happily.

One of the downsides found in all of this was that if your hardware fails, you’ve often had to go out and buy a similar graphics card if you can find one or just update your rig entirely. This can prove costly and so another company might have just found a way to fix this problem as well as a few more to boot.

Lucid, a company you’ve probably never heard of before, have come up with a chipset solution that allows indepedent graphics processors to work together. Say you’ve got a brand spankin’ new Nvidia GTX 260 and you’ve got an older GeForce sitting in your closet just beginning to gather dust from when you recently replaced it. Well, the Lucid chip uses an independent graphics processor to assign different tasks to each card making it not only more efficient but more long-term user friendly for consumers.

There’s more information about it below, but this looks to be one of the most interesting computer developments seen in a while.

Lucid’s HYDRA engine

Written by Leigh D. Stark