Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | February 20, 2013 - 09:49 AM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: lucid, virtu MVP, virtu, hyperformance
As promised at CES, Lucidlogix has released their Virtu MVP 2.0 for purchase to anyone who wants to buy it. Their GPU Virtualization software for SandyBridge and IvyBridge based systems with a discrete card allows you to jump back a forth between the embedded GPU on your processor and the graphics card without needing to move monitor cables or reboot. That allows you to save your laptops battery life when the discrete GPU is not needed but to instantly enable it the second you fire up a compatible game, the list of which has grown since the release of their original Virtu MVP. They have also improved their Virtual VSync and Hyperformance features which we reviewed last summer on an Origin laptop.
The move to selling the product directly to consumers is beneficial as previously you could only get the software and updates from the manufacturer of your motherboard or your laptop. As anyone who has dealt with the infrequency graphics driver updates from manufacturers is well aware, the updates are few and far between. It is much better to be able to acquire the software from the vendor who creates it in the first place. Head over to Lucidlogix to read more and perhaps buy one of the three versions available.
"The optimal system specifications Virtu MVP 2.0 include an Intel® Core™ i5 (Sandy Bridge) on an Intel Sandy Bridge or Ivy Bridge motherboard with an NVIDIA® Geforce 460GTX or similar or better AIB and 2GB or more memory running Windows® 7 or Windows 8 in either 32-bit or 64-bit modes.
With special launch prices, Virtu MVP 2.0 is now available in three models: Basic with GPU virtualization for $34.99 (USD), Standard with Virtual Vsync for $44.99 and Pro with Hyperformance and Virtual Vsync for $54.99."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Tilera etches '*ss-kicking' 72-core system-on-chip for network gear @ The Register
- Samsung develops a programmable mobile GPU @ The Inquirer
- Canon PIxma MG6320 Review @ TechReviewSource
Subject: General Tech | December 20, 2012 - 12:16 PM | Ken Addison
Tagged: video, virtu, VIA, tegra 4, Samsung, radeon, podcast, nvidia, nvelo, nuc, lucid, Intel, hackintosh, gigabyte, Dataplex, arm, amd, 8000m
PC Perspective Podcast #231 - 12/20/2012
Join us this week as we talk about the Intel NUC, AMD 8000M GPUs, Building a Hackintosh and more!
The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!
- iTunes - Subscribe to the podcast directly through the Store
- RSS - Subscribe through your regular RSS reader
- MP3 - Direct download link to the MP3 file
Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Josh Walrath, Allyn Malventano and Chris Barbere
Program length: 1:13:41
Podcast topics of discussion:
- 0:01:50 We are going to try Planetside 2 after the podcast!
- Week in Reviews:
- 0:32:35 This Podcast is brought to you by MSI!
News items of interest:
- 0:33:30 Cutting the Cord Complete!
- 0:36:10 VIA ARM-based SoCs in upcoming ASUS tablet
- 0:42:00 Lucid MVP 2.0 will be sold direct
- 0:44:50 Samsung acquires NVELO SSD Caching Software
- 0:49:00 AMD announces mobility 8000M series of GPUs
- 0:54:15 Some NVIDIA Tegra 4 Details
- 0:58:55 NEC Unveils Super Thin Ultrabook
- 1:00:30 Win a Sapphire HD 7870 GHz Edition FleX!!
- 1-888-38-PCPER or firstname.lastname@example.org
- http://twitter.com/ryanshrout and http://twitter.com/pcper
Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards, Processors | December 14, 2012 - 02:07 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: virtu MVP, virtu, lucid, ces 2013, CES
In preparation for the upcoming CES 2013 show in January we have started having some pre-meeting discussions with various companies, one of which was Lucid. While speaking with them we learned some interesting news about the upcoming v2.0 release of their Virtu MVP software including new features and a new availability option.
Lucid's Virtu MVP software is the technology that allows DIY PC builders and notebook vendors to easily accommodate utilization of both integrated and discrete graphics in a single system without the need to adjust settings or to move monitor cables around. With Virtu MVP you can take advantage of the QuickSync technology of your Ivy Bridge processor but still utilize the performance of a discrete graphics card for gaming. This can all be managed and handled on a single display with a single cable.
Other additions like Virtual Vsync and HyperFormance were added in MVP and aim to improve the gaming experience in the same way that Virtu enhances the overall user experience. And while Matt Smith liked the results from the software in his recent testing with an Origin laptop, there were a couple things that bugged us: the interface and the inability to get the software on your own.
Next month Lucid will be launching the new version 2.0 of its software that should increase the responsiveness of the interface while also drastically improving the visuals and style. Also included will be native Windows 8 support.
Perhaps the most interesting news is that Lucid will soon start offering the software directly to consumers as a download instead of requiring that you get it from your motherboard or system vendor. This is great news for users that have purchased motherboards without Virtu software and those of you that might want to buy a really low cost board that would lack those features as well. You will apparently be able to buy it in Q1 from www.lucidlogix.com and the price should be "under $30" which likely indicates a $29.99 starting offer.
What we don't know is how this will affect Lucid's motherboard partners - will they stop carrying the software as a bundle going forward or will they still offer it on select SKUs? Lucid wouldn't divulge any of that yet but I assume we'll find out more at CES next month.
Introduction and Features
Our test bench has seen a flood of Z68-based enthusiast motherboards this fall and ASRock added their flagship Z68 Extreme 7 Gen 3 board to the top of the pile for testing. The Extreme 7 Gen 3 pulls out all the stops for extreme enthusiasts and ultra overclockers by arming this board with next-gen PCI-E 3.0 support and an NVIDIA NF200 chip to allow users to run dual graphics cards at PCI-E x16/x16 mode and three graphics cards at x16/x8/x8 respectively.
This $275 board brings with it a lot of features that users have been begging for like a graphical Unified Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI), Intel's Smart Response techology, dual gigabit LAN capabilities, and support for six USB 3.0 and six SATA 3 devices. They also didn't skimp on the power components by adding premium gold caps that are made in Japan and considered by many to be luxury capacitors.
Introduction and Features
Courtesy of MSI
Micro-Star International, better known as MSI, has been busy little bees in 2011 to fend off fierce competition from ASUS, Gigabyte and other motherboard vendors. This year's launch of the Z68 chipset from Intel combined the capabilities and features from the H67 and P67 chipsets, and MSI capitalized on this when they joined forces with LucidLogix to include their Virtu technology in their latest Z68A-GD80 motherboard. Lucid's Virtu tech provides users with switchable graphics, which allows users to enjoy both graphics power of integrated GPU and discrete GPU.
Courtesy of MSI
MSI also used the Z68A-GD80 as their first motherboard to support PCI Express 3.0, which boosts 32GB/s of transfer bandwidth and makes this mobo a bit more future proof for users looking for their next hardware upgrade. MSI also upgraded their BIOS system to ClickBIOS II, which provides a consistent user interface both in the UEFI BIOS and in Windows. Users can control their system settings directly from Windows and the GUI also supports touchscreen controls.
Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards, Motherboards | September 13, 2011 - 11:12 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: virtu, mvp, lucid, idf 2011, idf, hyperformance, hydra
Lucid has a history of introducing new software and hardware technologies that have the potential to dramatically affect the PC gaming environment. The first product was Hydra shown in 2008 and promised the ability to use multiple GPUs from different generations and even different vendors on the same rendering task. Next up was Lucid Virtu, a software solution that allowed Sandy Bridge processor customers to take advantage of the integrated graphics features while also using a discrete graphics card. Lucid added support for AMD platforms later on and also showcased Virtual Vsync earlier this year in an attempt to improve user gaming experiences.
That is a nice history lesson, but what is Lucid discussing this time around? The technology is called "HyperFormance" (yes, like "High-Performance") and is included in a new version of the Virtu software called Virtu MVP. I'll let the Lucid press release describe the goals of the technology:
HyperFormance, found in the new model Virtu Universal MVP, boosts gaming responsiveness performance by intelligently reducing redundant rendering tasks in the flow between the CPU, GPU and the display. 3D games put the greatest demands on both the CPU and GPU. And as the race for higher performance on the PC and now in notebooks never ends, both CPUs and GPUs keep gaining performance.
First, a warning. This software might seem simple but the task it tries to accomplish is very complex and I have not had enough time to really dive into it too deeply. Expect an updated and more invasive evaluation soon. There are a couple of key phrases to pay attention to though including the idea of boosting "gaming responsiveness performance" by removing "redundant rendering tasks". The idea of boosting responsiveness pertains to how the game FEELS to the gamer and should be evident with things like mouse movement responsiveness and the stability of the on-screen image (lack of tearing). Lucid's new software technology attempts to improve the speed at which a game responds to your actions not by increasing the frame rate but rather by decreasing the amount of time between your mouse movement (or keyboard input, etc) and what appears on the screen as a result of that action.
How they do that is actually very complex and revolves around the Lucid software's ability to detect rendering tasks by intercepting calls between the game engine and DirectX, not around dropping or removing whole frames. Because Lucid Virtu can detect individual tasks it can attempt to prioritize and learn which are being repeated or mostly repeated from the previous frames and tell GPU to not render that data. This gives the GPU a "near zero" render time on that current frame and pushes the next frame through the system, to the frame buffer and out to the screen sooner.
To think of it another way, imagine a monitor running at 60 Hz but playing a game at 120 FPS or so. With Vsync turned off, at any given time you might have two to four or more frames being rendered and shown on the screen. The amount of each frame displayed will differ based on the frame rate and the result is usually an image some amount of visual tearing; you might have to top 35% of the screen as Frame1, the middle 10% of the screen as Frame2 and the bottom 55% as Frame3. The HyperFormance software then decides if the frame that is going to take up 10% of the screen, Frame2, has redundant tasks and if it can be mostly removed from the rendering pipeline. To replace it, the Lucid engine just uses 65% of Frame3.
The result is an output that is more "up to date" with your movements and what is going on in the game engine and in "game time". Like I said, it is a very complex task but one that I personally find very interesting and am looking forward to spending more time visualizing and explaining to readers.
Interestingly, this first implementation of HyperFormance does require the use of a multi-GPU system: the integrated GPU on Sandy Bridge or Llano along with the discrete card. Lucid is working on a version that can do the same thing on a single GPU but that application is further out.
Frame rate without HyperFormance
There is a side effect though that I feel could hurt Lucid: the effective frame rate of the games with HyperFormance enabled are much higher than without the software running. Of course, the GPU isn't actually rendering more data and graphics than it did before; instead, because HyperFormance is looking for frames to report at near zero frame times, benchmarking applications and the games themselves *think* the game is running much faster than it is. This is a drawback to the current way games are tested. Many gamers might at first be fooled into thinking their game is running at higher frame rates - it isn't - and some might see the result as Lucid attempting to cheat - it isn't that either. It is just a result of the process that Lucid is trying to get to work for gamers' benefits.
Frame rate with HyperFormance
Instead, Lucid is attempting to showcase the frame rate "increase" as a responsiveness increase or some kind of metric that indicates how much faster and reactive to the user the game actually feels. It might be a start, but claiming to have 200% responsiveness likely isn't true and instead I think they need to spend some time with serious gamers and have them find a way to quantify the added benefits that the HyperFormance application offers, if any.
There is a LOT more to say about this application and what it means to PC gaming but for now, that is where we'll leave it. Expect more in the coming weeks!
AMD and Virtual Vsync for Lucid Virtu
Lucid has grown from a small startup that we thought might have a chance to survive in the world of AMD and NVIDIA to a major player in the computing space. Its latest and most successful software architecture was released into the wild with the Z68 chipset as Lucid Virtu - software that enabled users to take advantage of both the performance of a discrete graphics card and the intriguing features of the integrated graphics of Intel's Sandy Bridge CPU.
While at Computex 2011 in Taiwan we met with the President of Lucid, Offir Remez, who was excited to discuss a few key new additions to the Virtu suite with the new version titled "Virtu Universal". The new addition is support for AMD platforms including current 890-based integrated graphics options as well the upcoming AMD Llano (and more) APU CPU/GPU combinations. It is hard to see a reason for Virtu on current AMD platforms like the 890 series as there are no compelling features on the integrated graphics on that front but with the pending release of Llano you can be sure that AMD is going to integrate some of its own interesting GP-GPU features that will compete with the QuickSync technology of Sandy Bridge among other things. To see Lucid offer support for AMD this early is a good sign for day-of availability on the platform later this year.
The second pillar of Lucid's announcement with Virtu Universal was the addition of support for the mobile space, directly competing with NVIDIA and AMD's own hardware-specific switchable graphics solutions. By far the most successful this far has been NVIDIA's Optimus which has filtered its way down basically into all major OEMs and in most of the major notebook releases that include both integrated and discrete graphics solutions. The benefit that Lucid offers is that it will work with BOTH Intel and AMD platforms simplifying the product stack quite a bit.
Read on for more information and some videos of Virtual Vsync in action!
Z68 is what we wanted all along
In reality, this is what we wanted all along. When the Intel P67 chipset launched in conjunction with the Intel Sandy Bridge desktop processors, the combination of the new architecture of the x86 processing cores and the newly revamped overclocking capability (courtesy of the enhanced Intel Turbo Boost technology) made for a lethal configuration. Without a doubt it was the highest performing platform for enthusiasts and gamers and put even more pressure on the AMD CPU division to step up its game. Intel asserted itself again as the dominant CPU vendor.
The other key feature addition to Sandy Bridge was the inclusion of some fairly high performing integrated processor graphics on the CPU die itself, NOT on the chipset. The Intel HD Graphics 3000 / 2000 far exceeds the horsepower of the integrated graphics on the Clarkdale processors but that really wasn't hard to achieve. Along with that added graphical performance was the inclusion of a very interesting feature called Intel Quick Sync that allowed specific applications to take advantage of fixed function hardware on the CPU for incredibly fast video transcoding times.
The problem was that even mainstream users that decided to use a discrete graphics card in their computer rather than depend SOLELY on the integrated graphics of the Sandy Bridge architecture, lost out on the Quick Sync feature all together. Why? The P67 chipset that supported overclocking and other "high-end" features didn't include video output support. The H67 chipset that DOES support video output does not offer overclocking functionality. And since the Quick Sync technology was only available when the integrated graphics were initialized, most of our readers that really wanted to game and use a discrete GPU from NVIDIA or AMD were out of luck.
Today's reveal of the Intel Z68 chipset finally presents a solution that combines the features of the H67 chipset with those of the P67 chipset to create the best option for Sandy Bridge system builders.
Subject: Graphics Cards, Motherboards | April 26, 2011 - 11:19 AM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: virtu, synergy, optimus, nvidia, lucid, gpu
Remember when we previewed a piece of software from Lucid called Virtu that promised the capability to combine processor graphics features of the Intel Sandy Bridge lineup with the performance and DX11 support of discrete graphics cards from NVIDIA and AMD? The ideas was pretty simple but it addressed one of our major complaints about the initial Sandy Bridge processor launch: the IGP features like fast video transcode acceleration and ultra-low-power video acceleration were unavailable to users that chose to also use a discrete graphics solution.
Lucid's Virtu software running in our previous testing
Lucid's solution was to "virtualize" the GPUs and use a software layer that would decide which applications to run on the discrete GPU and which to run on the integrated processor graphics on the Intel CPU. There were some limitations including the need to have the displays connected to the IGP outputs rather than the discrete card and that the software worked on a rather clunky white-list implementation. Also, discrete graphics control panels were a bit of a headache and only worked with NVIDIA cards and not in all cases even then.
Virtu was to be distributed through motherboard vendors starting with the release of the Z68 chipset (as it was the first mainstream chipset to support overclocking AND display outputs) but now it appears that NVIDIA itself is diving into the same realm with a new piece of software called "Synergy".
Check out more after the break!
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