LucidLogix Unveils New "Virtu" GPU Switching Technology

Lucid Develops Nvidia Optimus-Like Technology

by Anton Shilov
12/30/2010 | 08:21 AM

LucidLogix, a designer of universal multi-GPU solutions, this week announced a new GPU virtualization software designed for Intel Sandy Bridge platforms. With this technology, next-generation PCs will dynamically switch between integrated graphics core of Intel Core i-series chips and discrete DirectX 11-class graphics processors. The technology allows to use low-power graphics engine in typical applications and switch to high-performance when more graphics horsepower is needed.


“What we have really accomplished here is a seamless visual experience where it is not necessary to choose between the amazingly rich media features of Intel Sandy Bridge platform, like HD playback and powerful video transcoding, and the high-end 3D graphics functionality and performance of a discrete GPU,” said Offir Remez, LucidLogix president and founder.

Called Virtu, the Lucid GPU virtualization software is able to assign tasks in real time to the best available graphics resource based on power, performance and features considerations, with no need for additional hardware. If high end graphics power is needed for applications like high-resolution 3D games, the system will assign the job to the discrete GPU. If not, the discrete GPU automatically goes into idle mode, while heat drops, fan speed slows down and GPU utilization goes down to zero, resulting in power-efficient, long-lasting system.

Nvidia Corp. earlier in 2010 unveiled its Optimus technology, which dynamically switches between integrated Intel Core i graphics engine and Nvidia GeForce DX11-class graphics processors based on applications that are loaded at the moment. The technology helps to improve battery lives of notebooks and is currently not used on desktop computers. Advanced Micro Devices also has PowerXpress, which is a similar, but a less flexible, technology [ATI PowerXpress allows notebook users to manually or automatically switch between an ATI Mobility Radeon HD discrete graphics processor and an integrated core of AMD M780G with ATI Radeon HD 3200 chipset without rebooting their notebook] and plans to introduce a more advanced dynamic graphics switching technology for its mobile platforms featuring code-named Llano accelerated processing units. The technology will also allow to run integrated and standalone GPUs at the same time to boost performance.

The technology is designed for next-generation Intel’s Core i3/i5/i7 microprocessors with Sandy Bridge core as well as AMD Radeon and Nvidia GeForce DirectX 11-class graphics processing units. The company did not specify with exact GPUs are supported. One of the compulsory system requirement is to always connect the display screen directly to the motherboard’s Sandy Bridge display output (DVI, HDMI, etc). Another one is the usage of Microsoft Windows 7 operating system.

“Customer feedback has been tremendous, since Virtu addresses a longstanding challenge in the market for dynamic resource allocation. Now desktops, which in real life rarely get shut down, will have the maximum graphics performance and features when they need it, while saving energy when they do not," said Mr. Remez.

Despite of the fact that the head of the company seems to be optimistic about Virtu, the company notes no actual names of its implementers. Moreover, the technology will naturally compete against proprietary solutions by AMD or Nvidia, a battle that Lucid's multi-GPU Hydra technology has already lost.

Interested parties can evaluate a demo version of Lucid Virtu immediately and a beta version will be available in January 2011. In addition, the software will be demonstrated privately during the Consumer Electronics Show next week in Las Vegas, Nevada.