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Lucid Virtu GPU Virtualization Software Review - Sandy Bridge and Discrete coexist

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Subject: Processors
Manufacturer: General
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One of our Sandy Bridge complaints

Lucid first showed up its Virtu software virtualization for GPUs at CES in January but they are now finally ready to give us some hands on testing time. Virtu promises to marry the integrated graphics features of the Sandy Bridge Intel processor graphics to the performance of discrete solutions from NVIDIA and AMD. The result is a system that can fully utilize BOTH GPUs and user that finally gets what they deserve.In the first week of January this year, Intel released the Sandy Bridge based Core i7, i5 and i3 desktop processors to pretty much universal fanfare with performance and features that far outmatched what the competition has been able create.  The new processors were the first desktop offerings to integrate graphics on the same die as the primary CPU processing cores and the resulting "processor graphics" were one of the key selling points of the new chip to mainstream and budget PC builders.

The Intel HD Graphics 2000 and 3000 as they were branded offered a lot of improvements over any previous generation of Intel integrated graphics including features like QuickSync video transcoding, 2D and even 3D full Blu-ray decode acceleration and vastly improved gaming performance.  While the gaming performance turned out to be pretty good for mainstream titles, the real show stealer in my opinion was the oddly-named QuickSync technology that offered hardware transcoding support faster than anything we have previously used, including GPGPU implementations for Radeon and GeForce GPUs.

There was a problem with the implementation though; if a user decided to go with a discrete graphics solution then the QuickSync video technology was no longer accessible to them.  In other words, gamers that valued their frame rates were left out in the cold from Intel's integrated graphics features as the entire processor graphics block was disabled when using a PCI Express based graphics card. 

Obviously for a lot of users then, especially readers of PC Perspective, the impressive features of the Sandy Bridge processor graphics were a moot point as they were never going to sacrifice their NVIDIA or AMD cards.  I said as much in the conclusion to my review of the Sandy Bridge architecture in January:

The inclusion of the Quick Sync Video is a great feature for consumers and should finally push fast transcoding to the entire market - something the GPU guys have been striving for years now.  If only Intel could figure out this whole Intel HD Graphics 3000/2000 segmentation thing, they might have had one of the best and most complete processor launches I can remember.

Lucid, a company that was previously known for their HYDRA software that attempts to allow more flexibility in discrete graphics upgrade options, saw an opening that fit their software model fairly well and decided to start development of a solution to exactly this problem.  In fact, Intel was so impressed with it during early evaluation that Intel showed the technology in its booth during CES as well.


What Lucid Virtu attempts to do is allow the user to run both the integrated and discrete graphics solutions while keeping the benefits of both and running them seamlessly.  In the image above you can see that two monitors are connected to the integrated graphics output on the H67 motherboard (nothing is connected to the DX11 AMD discrete graphics card) and we are running the Unigine Heaven benchmark.  While that test will run on the integrated Intel HD 3000 graphics, it doesn't run well and it won't support DX11 features like tessellation.  So while the discrete GPU runs that application, the integrated processor graphics are responsible for running the HD video stream on the right hand display. 

Now we were able to get the software in our hands and test it out for ourselves.  As you'll see, despite a couple of minor hiccups, the Lucid Virtu software delivers on its promise.

 
May 11, 2011 | 12:42 AM - Posted by Tim Verry

Yeah, the Quick Sync stuff kind of blows my mind in how fast it is, but I guess that's what fixed function hardware (as opposed to a GPUs not quite as fixed function executors) can do. The Gigabyte webinar shared some quick sync results and SB integrated graphics blew the 6970 out of the water in transcoding!

Pretty cool stuff and Im interesting in a gigabyte Virtu+z68 board myself ;)

May 25, 2011 | 04:27 PM - Posted by Joan (not verified)

Thx for the review, i want to buy an ASUS P8Z68-V PRO but i have a doubt.

I want to make this setup:
-> 22" (1680x1050) Monitor for Working (Video related) in Integrated DVI
-> 22" (1680x1050) Monitor for Gaming in GeForce GTX 460 DVI-1
-> 1080p Projector for movies and games in GeForce GTX 460 DVI-2
-> 1080p LCD-TV for Mediacenter in Integrated HDMI

Is posible to use this configuration without using Virtu Control Panel, are the functionalites detected by the cable connection or is obligatory to use the software?

And, is posible to make dual monitor with the diferent GPU's (Nvidia & Integrated)

Regards and sorry for my english.

July 12, 2011 | 10:12 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

I have p8z68-pro; fathers day gift. I have run into "overclocking" error also.
I have corsair 16gb of ram at 1600 which thunked down to 1333. I have not overclocked, just, defaults bios settings. The vendor updated bios, installed cpu and memory.

I have no additional cards on mobo yet. The built in Intel video has caused me
continual grief; from flashing, blank screen to pixellation at 1680*1050 via DVI port.

My SyncMaster 205bw worked fine under win xp-a8nsli-delux-pcie card with same resolution, however, I have not been able to install win7 with new mobo without a video glitch.

More disturbing, the vendor cannot replicate the video problems, although, I provided snapshots of pixellation and documented issues including installation of video drivers off mobo cd and asus site. Win7updates also updates the drivers off mobo cd.

:bounce:

November 29, 2012 | 02:57 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

This is the worst program i have ever used im my entire life. I set it to rum explorer.exe on the intergrated gpu so my gpus didnt have to render it and instead of 55* they go down to 30. This works kinda except when i went onto just cause 2 it ran off the igpu even though it wasnt told to and so got 0-1fps and then bluescreened, restarted and bluescreened again so i uninstalled it in safe mode and it has corrupted half of my c:/ drive, only 2 harddrives out of 6 show up, even in bios, and also i can no longer use my graphics cards, reinstalling any drivers has no use either. Ill have to do a fresh install and loose everything thanks to this piece of crap. Even system restore says unknown error encountered unable to restore. Nice job of my 1.6k computer youve made lucid virtu thanks a lot

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