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Can Lucidlogix Right Sandy Bridge’s Wrongs? Virtu, Previewed

Truth be told, the enthusiast market is small beans for Lucid. The company has its eyes on the mobile space, which is where it sees the real volume, despite the fact that we’re seeing the software running on a desktop first. But the mobile angle is precisely why we’re being forced to hook up to the HD Graphics output first, and not a discrete card.

At first glance, Virtu looks a lot like what Nvidia is doing with Optimus. When we asked Nvidia for comment, its representatives mumbled something about not validating other companies’ solutions and shuffled off. Sounds like we're onto something there. The obvious advantage favoring Lucidlogix is that Virtu will be available to desktop users, it supports Quick Sync, and it can operate independently of GPU vendor, as seen in our testing.

Lucidlogix does still have work to do. We’d like to see the operating system choose which adapter to use, rather than a white list in Virtu’s control panel. We hear this functionality is planned in an upcoming version. We’d like to see Virtu shut off the discrete adapter entirely when it isn’t being used to save power. After all, that’s the justification currently given for using HD Graphics as the native display output. Instead, the discrete card simply idles along. Also, there’s no way to harness CUDA- or APP-based transcoding on an Nvidia or AMD GPU. But then again, Quick Sync is vastly superior anyway. The only place we’d miss CUDA acceleration would be in Adobe’s CS5 suite.

How might you expect to get your hands on Virtu? Motherboard vendors will need to license it, just as they would with SLI. Lucidlogix will identify the vendor, SKU, and enabled feature parameters in its driver, then create a BIOS key for identifying a validated platform. After installation, you’ll be able to download updates either from Lucidlogix or the board vendor. And until Lucid expands its initial scope to include mobile systems or boards from AMD, you’re going to be limited to H61-, H67-, and Z68-based platforms. The H6x-class chipsets remain sub-standard for power users in my mind, given Intel’s artificially-imposed limitations. Z68 is most definitely going to be the way to go.

To say I’m excited about Virtu is an understatement. I was really pretty let-down after spending an afternoon talking to the principle media architect behind Sandy Bridge, Intel’s Dr. Hong Jiang, getting excited about the fixed-function logic’s capabilities, and then realizing it’d only be accessible on systems constrained to integrated graphics. The holy grail of Intel’s newest platform is a Core i5/i7 K-series chip, Z68 Express, and Lucidlogix’s Virtu software.

Is Virtu fully-baked yet? It works—I’ll say that much. There’s still work to be done, though. Ideally, we’d be looking at an app with a black list that blocked any game known to not work properly and let everything else through. I’d also like to see the discrete card treated as native on desktop systems. I believe both of those things are planned in an update. Even until that happens, though, I’d be happy to use Virtu, just to work around a limitation Intel should have addressed on its own.

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  • 2 Hide
    rhino13 , February 28, 2011 11:27 AM
    AMD's Fusion stuff integrates without needing software though right?
  • 0 Hide
    mister g , February 28, 2011 11:37 AM
    I'm pretty sure that Fusion only works with AMD parts, but the idea whould be the same. Anybody else remember this company's ads on the side of some of Tom's articles?
  • 1 Hide
    jemm , February 28, 2011 11:40 AM
    I wonder how much the Z68 will cost.
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , February 28, 2011 11:52 AM
    I suppose a multi-monitor setup, main screen for gaming on the discrete card (assuming game only uses that one screen), secondary on the Z68 Output of the Intel HD card, will not have any need for this, and just run perfectly.

    Thats how i will roll, once Z68 gets out.
  • 0 Hide
    user 18 , February 28, 2011 11:57 AM
    sounds cool, although the whitelist could be a deal-breaker for a lot of people.
  • 0 Hide
    haplo602 , February 28, 2011 12:07 PM
    seems like we are heading to what voodoo graphics and TV tuners were doing long long time ago. just now over the PCIe bus.

    I wonder why it's so difficult to map framebuffers and create virtual screens ?
  • 1 Hide
    tommysch , February 28, 2011 12:41 PM
    I dont want a cheap graphic solution producing heat along my precious CPU...
  • 0 Hide
    RobinPanties , February 28, 2011 1:12 PM
    This sounds like software technology that should be built straight into OS's, instead of added as separate layers... maybe OS manufacturer's need to wake up (*cough* Microsoft)
  • 0 Hide
    truehighroller , February 28, 2011 1:28 PM
    I already sent back my sandy bridge setup, that's to bad. Guess it's Intel's loss huh?
  • -1 Hide
    lradunovic77 , February 28, 2011 1:45 PM
    This is another absolutely useless piece of crap. Why in the world would you put deal with another stupid layer and why would you use Intel integrated graphic chip (or any integrated solution) along with your dedicated video card???

    Conclusion of this article is...don't go with such nonsense solution.
  • 0 Hide
    hp79 , February 28, 2011 1:48 PM
    (unrelated to article)
    Dear Tom's,
    your pull down menu for page navigation sucks. I mean it really really sucks. I am so annoyed that it makes me want to stop reading the articles. It is the worst design of any webpage. I use IE, Firefox, and Chrome. It's very hard to jump through pages using the pull down menu. Please fix the style of it.
  • 4 Hide
    lradunovic77 , February 28, 2011 1:48 PM
    Again Intel and AMD move to integrate graphic chip into CPU is good for mobile useless for anything else. It is far from being smart solution for desktops unless they can pack GTX580 capable card into....mmmm i don't think so.
  • 0 Hide
    wolfram23 , February 28, 2011 1:51 PM
    I'm sorry but Intel seriously didn't bother to allow you to do transcoding with the EPUs with a discreet card?? WTF are they thinking!?
  • 1 Hide
    lradunovic77 , February 28, 2011 1:53 PM

    I agree with you. You guys need to implement partial rendering on this site. It is annoying how much it flickers on post back actions.
  • 0 Hide
    Travis Beane , February 28, 2011 1:53 PM
    I've been asking for using the integrated GPU for GPGPU purposes, and the discrete for gaming for a year now.
    It seems like we're slowly getting there.
    I'd like to run PhysX, but why not on the HD 3000 instead of a second $200 card, requiring a more meaty power supply, better cooling etc.?
  • -1 Hide
    sblantipodi , February 28, 2011 4:39 PM
    Why care about quick sync when you have a discrete GPU?
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , February 28, 2011 4:39 PM
    Who needs this ? Mobile users can use Optimus, as part of native NVidia drivers. And for desktops, why do I need this at all ?
  • 1 Hide
    ProDigit10 , February 28, 2011 4:43 PM
    I wished the intel graphics could be used for most desktop activities, and the discrete card as main monitor connector for games, using a dual monitor setup.
    It's a much easier, and much better approach!

    Play games on the discrete, while your desktop is showing on the other monitor.
  • 0 Hide
    ProDigit10 , February 28, 2011 4:44 PM
    ^^-*edit while your desktop is showing through the intel card*
  • 0 Hide
    cangelini , February 28, 2011 4:44 PM
    sblantipodiWhy care about quick sync when you have a discrete GPU?

    Because the discrete GPU can't do what Quick Sync does :) 
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