Look, I think we have all had enough with the politics and sideshow that has revolved around the first motherboard to integrated the Lucid HYDRA vendor-agnostic multi-GPU technology, the MSI Big Bang Fuzion.  Regardless of WHY we don’t have our product yet, we are still waiting for the final retail availability for the product and the ability to spend some quality time with it.  Here’s a summary of what we have learned over the last months:
Well an interesting post on the forums over at Sav Computer holds some new information about the motherboard itself and the Lucid HYDRA driver and support. 

More Details on MSI Big Bang Fuzion Lucid HYDRA platform - Motherboards 2

What is most interesting is what appears to be a README file associated with the Lucid HYDRA driver and hardware setup.  Below I will copy some of it here and then analyze what some of it means for enthusiasts looking at the product for early 2010.

Supported Operating Systems

    * Microsoft Windows Vista (SP2) 32-bit and 64-bit
      – Support dual NVIDIA graphic cards
      – Support dual ATI graphic cards
    * Microsoft Windows 7 RTM OS 32-bit and 64-bit
      – Support dual mixture of NVIDIA and ATI graphic cards
      – Support dual NVIDIA graphic cards
      – Support dual ATI graphic cards
    * Microsoft Windows Editions include:
      – Windows Vista Home Basic
      – Windows Vista Home Premium
      – Windows Vista Business
      – Windows Vista Enterprise Edition
      – Windows Vista Ultimate
      – Windows 7 (RTM) Home Premium
      – Windows 7 (RTM) Professional
      – Windows 7 (RTM) Ultimate

The chances are good that this driver was released before the Oct 23rd release of the retail version of Windows 7 so that would explain the mention of Windows 7 RTM.  Both 32-bit and 64-bit versions of both Vista and Windows 7 are support so that is a plus but multi-vendor support (mixing NVIDIA card with ATI cards) is only possible on Windows 7.  That is because Vista does not support the ability to install multiple vendors drivers on the same system. 

Supported GPUs and display drivers

    * NVIDIA
      – GPUs G90/G200 series, Single core only, no Dual core GPU support in this version (GTX295 is not supported)
      – NVIDIA display drivers: 185.85, 186.18, 190.38, 190.62, 191.07
    * AMD/ATI
      – GPUs HD4XXX series, Single core only, no Dual core GPU support in this version (HD4870x2 is not supported)
      – ATI/AMD display drivers: Catalyst 9.7 and up
    * Multi vendor
      – Operating system: Windows 7 only (due to native limitations of other Windows versions)
      – GPUs: NVIDIA G90/G200 series, AMD/ATI HD4xxx Series, Single core only, no Dual core GPU support in this version
      – Display drivers: NVIDIA 185.85, 186.18, 190.38, 190.62, 191.07 / AMD/ATI Catalyst 9.7 and up

Want to know if your GPU is going to work with HYDRA technolgy?  Just take a look at the list above.  You will notice that the AMD Radeon 5000-series is not listed here – from what I know in my communcations with Lucid, it will indeed be there with the product ships in December or January. 

You can also see that multi-GPU cards like the GTX 295 or Radeon HD 4870 X2 are NOT supported with HYDRA right now and we are not sure if they actually will be.  The reasoning seems to revolve around the fact that all of these cards are using a PCI Express bridge chip that essentially hides the GPUs from direct access by the Lucid HYDRA chip itself.  Without a direct PCI Express connection to the GPU it looks like even the Radeon HD 5970 will be out the picture as well.

The HYDRA driver only support up to 2 graphic cards in this version. The future version will support up to 3 graphic cards. Then you only need to update the driver.

That seems pretty straight forward – though I do wonder how long we’ll have to wait for this 3rd GPU support…

After this we see a very long list of games supported by either dual NVIDIA configurations, dual ATI configurations or mixed GPU configurations.  Rather than extended this already lenghty news post, I have included the list in this thread in our forums for you to look at.  The list is pretty good for only-NVIDIA and only-ATI configurations but it is rather small for mixed vendor configurations, which is a bit of a let down.  I am hoping that for the retail release that particular list will be extended – and it is pretty likely that this is what MSI wanted as well – hence the delay from the initial October 29th release date.

If you use NVIDIA + ATI GPUs combination, it is recommanded installing the NVIDIA graphic card to the first PCI-E x16 slot.

MAJ/EDIT du 19.11.2009 10:00 GMT
Using PhysX/Physics with 3rd GPU
The HYDRA driver enables to use a 3rd GPU card installed on the system for PhysX/Physics calculation.
In order to active this feature:
– A 3rd GPU should be installed on the available PCI-E slot.
– The 3rd GPU can be a much lower performance that the other 2 GPUs (for example, 2x GTX260 for graphic enhancement and 1x GT9600 for PhysX/Physics).

The Lucid driver is recommending here that the NVIDIA card be installed as the first card (and thus the one that your monitor would be connected to) even though in my meetings with the HYDRA team we were told that in general the most powerful GPU should be the primary.  Either way, it is nice to see PhysX mentioned here at all – it will be supported as the 3rd GPU.  Users that are looking forward to more Batman: Arkham Asylum or other future PhysX-enabled titles rejoice.

That’s all we have for today – if you have any comments or questions, feel free to leave them in this thread where we copied the early list of supported games.  More soon!