Nvidia is in the news again, for all the wrong reasons. Lucid Logix’ HYDRA has been a promising and anticipated product ever since it was announced back in 2008. Lucid claimed it would allow graphics cards from different manufacturers to scale better than current AFR solutions such as SLI or Crossfire. So, you could combine a Radeon card with a Geforce (or more cards) and they would scale accordingly, by using methods such as Split Frame Rendering.

Both AMD and Nvidia were understandably skeptical about this solution. Now, Lucid’s Hydra 200 chip is ready and available in MSI’s Big Bang Fuzion motherboard.

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Nvidia is in the news again, for all the wrong reasons. Lucid Logix’ HYDRA has been a promising and anticipated product ever
since it was announced back in 2008. Lucid claimed it would allow
graphics cards from different manufacturers to scale better than current
AFR solutions such as SLI or Crossfire. So, you could combine a Radeon
card with a Geforce (or more cards) and they would scale accordingly, by
using methods such as Split Frame Rendering.

Both AMD and
Nvidia were understandably skeptical about this solution. Now, Lucid’s
Hydra 200 chip is ready and available in MSI’s Big Bang Fuzion
motherboard.

With the release of Intel’s QPI and DMI interfaces, Nvidia’s involvement in Intel motherboards has been restricted to selling SLI licenses and/or NF200 chips. With the Lucid Hydra 200, assuming it promises to do what it does, might end up being a more attractive alternative.

Several rumours have hit the internet from different sources that Nvidia is disabling multi-GPU with any Lucid Hydra 200 system on a driver level. Even before it releases, the promising prospect of using cross-vendor multi-GPU systems is suddenly threatened.

This move is quite reminiscent of the PhysX controversy – where Nvidia cards would not engage PhysX if used with a graphics rendering ATI card.

Furthermore, the Hydra 200 based board, MSI Big Bang Fuzion was listed to launch on October 29th 2009, but has been mysteriously delayed. Instead, an almost identical MSI Big Bang Trinergy popped up, replacing Hydra 200 with an NF200 chip.

Such events, of course, led to several rumours – accusations of Nvidia coercing MSI to delay the Fuzion board, and launch Trinergy instead. Accusations of fakery, anti-competitive practices – but those are something Nvidia has been facing for a while now.

However, MSI have been responded by explaining the curious turn of events. First, the Hydra 200 Fuzion board has been delayed all the way to Q1 2010. Why? Lucid needs to tweak Windows 7 drivers. The Big Bang Trinergy board was scheduled to be launched long before Hydra came into existence. It will hit the market later this November. Lucid presented the Hydra 200 in September, promising an October 29th launch date. What could have gone so horribly wrong? MSI suggest they suddenly need a few more months for driver related issues.

Of course, it does seem at this stage that there are more truths to this than publicly announced. Say what you will, but it is yet again Nvidia creating another controversy with anti-competitive measures, though it remains to be seen to what degree.

You have to feel for Lucid – a promising product, an imminent launch, and now, suddenly, they have a product that may not perform it’s functions, through no apparent fault of their own. Once a gain, a reminder of how difficult it is for a startup organization in this fierce, cut-throat industry. If this really is Nvidia’s response, Lucid probably have a stellar product – something Nvidia feared, too. If the driver ban for Hydra stays, all Lucid have going for them is an alternative to Crossfire. Interestingly, if Hydra does indeed perform better than SLI/Crossfire, this ban could completely turn back on Nvidia. We know AMD are open to technological advances, so they are unlikely to impose driver restrictions. We will see how it works out for Lucid in the end.

Anecdotally, Intel holds an investment in Lucid. And here’s what Nvidia (or one of its employees) thinks of Intel.

Reference: SemiAccurate, Overclock3D.net, Fudzilla