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CES: MSI Big Bang Fuzion
We’ve had the first motherboard with Lucid’s Hydra technology in our labs for a few weeks. Made by MSI, this ultra-high end motherboard, based on the P55 chipset, is identical to the Big Bang Trinity, except that the NVIDIA PCI Express NF200 switch is replaced by a Lucid Hydra 200 controller.
To recap, the principal behind the Lucid technology is to use a software and hardware combination to make a multi-GPU without using AMD or NVIDIA drivers. In contrast to NVIDIA and AMD drivers, Lucid drivers don’t distribute images or bits of image to each of the GPUs but rather part of the rendering commands. No need to tell you that there are still a lot of unknowns here and that the approach is a good deal more complex. Lucid says however that the solution gives better performance in some cases and above all that it allows any combination of graphics cards you chose, including a GeForce with a Radeon. In our tests, while combining cards within the same range worked in many games, though with bugs from time to time, combining Radeons with GeForces didn’t work at all… except with 3Dmark and a handful of games with very simple rendering but which suffered from bugs in terms of quality and stability. So, though obviously certain review sites were convinced by an exclusive preview organised by Lucid, we shouldn’t get carried away: in practice it isn’t usable yet.
MSI has chosen to launch its Big Bang Fuzion card at CES but we decided not to test it straight away as the technology didn’t yet seem to be up to the mark and we decided to wait for more advanced drivers that unfortunately arrived just when we were flying off to CES. According to MSI, who we interviewed at the show, the difference between the old and new drivers is like night and day. We’ll have a look when we get back.
It remains to be seen how useful the system is in practice as if you’re going to shell out €400 on a motherboard, you’ll no doubt also want a high performance graphics card such as a Radeon HD 5800 rather than a couple of older generation cards. According to MSI, this won’t be a problem in terms of the positioning of the product whose goal is to offer a maximum of flexibility and position the MSI brand as a leader in terms of innovation and engineering. With this product and the rest of the Big Bang family, MSI want to show what its teams are capable of and try to create a higher end brand image. To depend on Lucid’s supply of dependable drivers seems a risky strategy!
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