Monday, January 08, 2007

Tech Link (Industry): Intel Invests into Multi-GPU Technology Firm

XbitLabs has a news posted claiming that Intel has invested lots of money for developing Multi-GPU supporting technology, ala NVIDIA* SLI or ATi* Crossfire. However, unlike SLI* or Crossfire* which requires properietary drivers (i.e. you can't use Crossfire or SLI if two GPUs belong to the different GPU manufacturer), the technology being developed is actually more like a concentrator or multiplexer, or an intelligent load-balancer across multiple discrete GPUs. While this is just my own guess, it does makes sense if this becomes a reality and becomes mainstream. Here is Lucid's own take of their technology:

LUCID is developing the first PC Scalable Graphics Hub (SGH).

LUCID's SGH technology consists of a high-performance chipset and
architecture that enable traditional graphic processing cores,
graphic processing chips and graphic cards to turn into an
unmatched, scalable and powerful visualization and gaming

* The first solution intended for PCs.
* The first and only technology to achieve a linear increase in performance among multi graphics processors.
* Best performance/cost ration.
* Technology is seamless for application and graphics h/w vendors.

According to EE times, Lucid is expecting to support up to four(4) GPUs, and is expecting to release the product by end of 2007, and already working with major motherboard manufacturers like Asus*, Gigabyte*, and Leadtek, as well as system builders such as Dell*, HP*, and Alienware*. Expand to read XBitLab's News posting...

Intel Capital, a venture capital arm of Intel Corp., the world’s largest maker of x86 microprocessors, has reportedly invested millions of dollars into a company that is developing a technology that is expected to enable “seamless” multi-GPU arrays which will deliver great performance scalability without the need of special driver tailoring.

Startup company Lucid Information Technology has raised a $12 million round of funding from Intel Capital, Giza Venture Capital and Genesis Partners, a report from EETimes web-site claims. The company raised $4.5 million in its first round in 2005, having started up in August 2003 with $500 thousand from Maayan Ventures.

Intel Corp., which is already the largest supplier of graphics components with its chipsets that contain graphics cores, has been rumoured to re-enter the market of discrete graphics processing units (GPUs) for several quarters now and as market leaders ATI (now a division of Intel’s arch-rival Advanced Micro Devices) and Nvidia actively promote multi-GPU technologies, it is crucial for Intel to have one in its possession too.

Herzlyia, Israel-based Lucid Information Technology aims to develop high-performance system-on-a-chip (SoC) and parallel architecture that turns off-the-shelve graphic cards, graphic processor units (GPU) and graphics cores into powerful and scalable visualization solutions, transparently to the applications. While the exact details of the technology are unclear, it is known that Tensilica Inc. has provided Lucid a license to use its Diamond Standard 212GP general-purpose processor core for a scalable multi-GPU chip design project.

Modern multi graphics processor (multi-GPU) solutions, such as ATI CrossFire or Nvidia SLI rely on in-house developed hardware and software technologies to make graphics processors work in parallel. Even though both technologies have been around for quite some time now, their scalability sometimes deserve to be better, whereas scalability of Nvidia’s 4-way SLI (quad SLI) turned out to be rather disappointing. Lucid Information Technology is going to change that and two and four graphics chips to deliver 200% and 400% performance improvements over single-processor designs.

Lucid is looking at the personal computer (PC) market as the primary target for its technology and claims that it would be seamless to applications and graphics hardware vendors. The technology, however, would still include both hardware and software components.

Both ATI/AMD and Nvidia yet have to comment whether it is possible to improve performance of their products using third-party hardware and software.

Source:Intel Invests into Multi-GPU Technology Firm

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