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Lucidlogix Virtu, Revisited

Intel Z68 Express Chipset Preview: SSD Caching And Quick Sync
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Remember that Lucidlogix’s Virtu software gets around the limitation of only being able to access Intel’s Quick Sync transcoding acceleration technology while using integrated graphics. My biggest gripe with it was that Lucid required you hook up to the HD Graphics display output. The problems there were:

  1. HD Graphics is limited to a single-link DVI output. So much for my 30” test bed.
  2. Discrete graphics “virtualization” means compatibility issues to consider, necessitating a white list.
  3. Performance also takes an inherent hit. Lucidlogix masked this as much as possible, but my benchmarks still revealed situations where you’d see a substantial dip (Can Lucidlogix Right Sandy Bridge’s Wrongs? Virtu, Previewed).

Well, version 1.0.105, posted to Lucidlogix’s Web site as a trial, lifts what I saw as this app’s biggest restriction. Mainly, you’re now able to run natively from discrete graphics and virtualize HD Graphics instead. Instead of seeing a list of validated games in Virtu’s control panel, you’ll get a list of validated media apps. There are far fewer of those, making the compatibility question an easier one to answer. Right now, MediaEspresso and MediaConverter are on the list—and we’re fine with those two options for now.

In discrete mode, you don't see games. Instead, you see a compatibility list of media apps.In discrete mode, you don't see games. Instead, you see a compatibility list of media apps.

That’s great news. Ninety five percent of the time you can use a Z68-based platform the same way you would have used a P67-based box, gaming from any of your graphics cards’ display outputs, with no white list or compatibility concerns. When it comes time to transcode a movie for your iPad or iPhone, run it through Quick Sync. As before, it’s not going to be native performance, but it’s really danged close, as you’ll see in the benchmarks.

The Virtu logo indicates that we're getting HD Graphics through our discrete card.The Virtu logo indicates that we're getting HD Graphics through our discrete card.

It's important to note that Lucidlogix is going to offer motherboard vendors different types of Virtu licenses. This is going to be largely transparent to end-users, aside from its effect on price (though that should be minimal, too). In essence, a copy of Virtu licensed for a board that offers SLI or CrossFire support will cost more than Virtu for a single-slot board aimed at the mainstream market. I have to hope that motherboard vendors licensing this technology keep the delineation that simple, rather than trying to balance cost by bundling the single-slot software with a dual-card capable motherboard.

Display all 91 comments.
  • 2 Hide
    James296 , March 10, 2011 3:16 AM
    interesting read
  • 0 Hide
    aliened , March 10, 2011 3:39 AM
    Nice. Thanks for the quick heads up, I was just starting to build my new rig but now that I read this I'm going to wait for the Z68 MOBOs :D 
  • 0 Hide
    compton , March 10, 2011 3:48 AM
    I am one of those ssd+hdd users who prefer manually managing the drives. Recently I discovered some of the older ssd + hdd cache devices(Silverstone made one). I wasn't impressed. However,I could see the Intel cache set-up as being advantageous for me. Why? I have a boot SSD, large storage HDD, and a third SSD. I could still boot from the boot drive, then use the second SSD and HDD together. I like that idea enough to wait for the Z chipset before I ditch the H chipset.
  • 0 Hide
    cangelini , March 10, 2011 3:55 AM
    compton, problem with that SilverStone unit was that it didn't have any intelligence built-in--it was simply mapping the first sectors of the hard drive, if what I remember reading a year ago was right...
  • 4 Hide
    masterofevil22 , March 10, 2011 3:59 AM
    waiting for Bulldozer...
  • 0 Hide
    Crashman , March 10, 2011 4:18 AM
    Excellent Work, Mr Angelini! Now it's my job to make sure the motherboard manufacturers follow through!

    -Your Adversarial Colleague
  • -1 Hide
    haplo602 , March 10, 2011 4:51 AM
    wow ...

    I am thinking what is more restricting ... a ZFS supporting OS or the stupid Intel list for SSD caching.

    The only impresive part of Sandy Bridge is the single-threaded performance. Everything else is a disaster (chipsets, QuickSync restrictions, price, linux drivers and bugs etc.) or was already available in previous generations.

    Waiting on AMD Bulldozer and Llano ... I just hope those 2 won't be similar disasters.
  • 0 Hide
    Crashman , March 10, 2011 5:38 AM
    haplo602wow ... I am thinking what is more restricting ... a ZFS supporting OS or the stupid Intel list for SSD caching.The only impresive part of Sandy Bridge is the single-threaded performance. Everything else is a disaster (chipsets, QuickSync restrictions, price, linux drivers and bugs etc.) or was already available in previous generations.Waiting on AMD Bulldozer and Llano ... I just hope those 2 won't be similar disasters.
    In regards to Linux, isn't that like saying "Toyotas are junk because they're always dirty"? I mean, Linux is maintained by its "owners".
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , March 10, 2011 7:17 AM
    So would ssd caching work on a raid 0 setup with 2 samsung spinpoint F3's or would this add an additional risky element without much performance gain?...or say a raid 1 where I have backup...would it cache both drives or 1?..Sorry new to this and also waiting for a z68.
  • 0 Hide
    cangelini , March 10, 2011 7:32 AM
    tradeshowhoundSo would ssd caching work on a raid 0 setup with 2 samsung spinpoint F3's or would this add an additional risky element without much performance gain?...or say a raid 1 where I have backup...would it cache both drives or 1?..Sorry new to this and also waiting for a z68.


    Yes, so long as all members of the array are hard disks.
  • 1 Hide
    SpadeM , March 10, 2011 8:00 AM
    P67 and Z68 are both incomplete chipsets. You still have to pay extra for virtue if you don't want to swap cable. I'm actually fine with that it's just that going down this path is like selling a modular design. I'm expecting intel's P77 chipset to be missing disk controllers but motherboard manufacturers could opt for marvell, jmicron or others to supplement that shortage. Intel does make some fine processors today, but their chipsets disappoint. But the good news is, maybe one day with the help of motherboard vendors we could pair a AMD chipset (which is believe to be superior) with an Intel processor.
  • 0 Hide
    Crashman , March 10, 2011 8:29 AM
    SpadeMP67 and Z68 are both incomplete chipsets. You still have to pay extra for virtue if you don't want to swap cable. I'm actually fine with that it's just that going down this path is like selling a modular design. I'm expecting intel's P77 chipset to be missing disk controllers but motherboard manufacturers could opt for marvell, jmicron or others to supplement that shortage. Intel does make some fine processors today, but their chipsets disappoint. But the good news is, maybe one day with the help of motherboard vendors we could pair a AMD chipset (which is believe to be superior) with an Intel processor.
    Chris probably won't say anything, but as a motherboard tester I've found that the Intel features that do work "right", work better. That includes drive controllers, so it really comes down to a choice of a bunch of good features or a few great ones.
  • 0 Hide
    wribbs , March 10, 2011 8:42 AM
    I don't understand why cached SSD/HDD is so far from pure SSD. Once something is cached to the SSD shouldn't the performance be nearly identical? Seems like this type of technology needs more work.
  • 1 Hide
    silverblue , March 10, 2011 8:48 AM
    Had Intel not imposed such limitations on Sandy Bridge, they'd not need so many motherboard chipsets for a start, plus you can only imagine what a monster it could have been to start off with.
  • 1 Hide
    valuial , March 10, 2011 10:05 AM
    So yeah hooray for intel, ssd caching is just taking performance down (note, this is an option aimed for power user, they are kind of guy who pay 300$ bucks and then choose the worst way to get perf...), quick sync is a unstable restricted piece of crap, transcoding media is a top priority... what about a trim support in raid a array? something that is really needed by power user and not those wanabee features
  • 1 Hide
    Crashman , March 10, 2011 10:29 AM
    silverblueHad Intel not imposed such limitations on Sandy Bridge, they'd not need so many motherboard chipsets for a start, plus you can only imagine what a monster it could have been to start off with.
    Intel, like most other companies in this business, is known for using feature limitations to push more-expensive platforms.
    valuialSo yeah hooray for intel, ssd caching is just taking performance down (note, this is an option aimed for power user, they are kind of guy who pay 300$ bucks and then choose the worst way to get perf...), quick sync is a unstable restricted piece of crap, transcoding media is a top priority... what about a trim support in raid a array? something that is really needed by power user and not those wanabee features
    If you have the money for a huge SSD, go for it! But don't Sandforce controllers already have their own built-in garbage collection that practically negates the need for TRIM?
  • 0 Hide
    marraco , March 10, 2011 11:20 AM
    You can get some benefits of SSD caching by doing different RAID setups between a SSD disk and a partition on magnetic disk.
  • 0 Hide
    mrmotion , March 10, 2011 12:00 PM
    I could see this working out very well for a cad or cam software where your pulling up the same huge files day in and day out off of a storage drive. I will look forward to this for my next workstation.
  • -2 Hide
    lradunovic77 , March 10, 2011 12:41 PM
    Useless. Why would you use SSD as caching? Why would you pair your Nvidia card with that useless silicon called HD3000? Looks like Intel is running out of good ideas so they throw all this useless technology, what a waste.
  • 0 Hide
    lradunovic77 , March 10, 2011 12:43 PM
    I am waiting for true next generation Intel Chipset and CPU, successor of x58. P75, Z68 LGA1155, just like LGA1156 -> freaking joke for masses.
    Also looking to see Bulldozer!
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