Lucid targets ultrabooks and tablets as it steps up virtualisation battle

Israel's Lucid wants to take on Nvidia on the desktop and laptop - and it's already settings its sights on tackling the graphics strain that is sure to hit ultrabooks and tablets soon.

Lucid, based in central Israel, is the first, and so far only, company to come out with a product that lets desktop users get the best of both built-in motherboard graphics and add-on video cards with a single virtualisation package.

Lucid CEO Moshe Steiner (Photo credit Lucid)
Lucid CEO Moshe Steiner. Image: Lucid

One out of every 10 desktop workstations sold in the past year utilise the company's LucidLogix Virtu MVP Mobile GPU virtualisation tech, with one manufacturer – Origin PC – choosing the Lucid technology as its preferred virtualisation solution in its top line of laptops.

In the months to come, according to Moshe Steiner, Lucid's CEO, the company will be announcing more deals similar to the Origin one with other manufacturers.

The company, which has a staff of 35, already works with a large number of system and board manufacturers, including Asus, MSI and Gigabyte.

Lucid's big opportunity came last year, when it moved from being a hardware manufacturer to a software house. With the advent of Windows 7 and the ability to use either on-board or add-on graphics, both Intel and its graphic rival Nvidia upgraded their offerings, hoping to entice users to embrace their technologies, says Steiner.

"Intel's Sandy Bridge and Ivy Bridge offered things like its QuickSync video transcoding technology, while Nvidia offered better effects and transitions. Users who had both fast Intel processors and discrete Nvidia graphics processing units wanted to take advantage of the best of both worlds, and that's what our virtualisation software does," Steiner explains.

The Lucid software works around Windows, activating and deactivating the graphics resources as necessary, allowing users to utilise the graphics strength of each.

Lucid's offering is currently the only one available for desktops, but the company is in the thick of battle with Nvidia on laptops as well, taking on Nvidia's Optimus system, historically the preferred optimisation technology for laptops.

Power saving

However, Lucid's software isn't just about improving the quality and latency of graphics – it also targets energy usage. "One of the things our virtualisation software does is save battery power in laptops. Our system can completely control the graphics system, turning off the power and turning it on as needed, without affecting other components," Steiner adds.

Lucid's Virtu Green software is now a standard component on several workstations made by Fujitsu. Part of Fujitsu's Zero Watt system, Virtu Green automatically knows when to pull out the big GPU guns and when to power down to reduce overall power and cooling costs, according to Lucid's president Offir Remez.

A demo tablet Lucid virtualization software (Photo credit Lucid)
A demo tablet running Lucid virtualisation software. Image: Lucid

Virtu Green can completely cut off power to graphics systems, even when the computer is on and the CPU is crunching bytes, if graphics aren't needed – and immediately bring the graphics system back to full activity when it is needed.

According to Steiner, it can extend the time between battery recharges by half an hour or even an hour — a capability that will come in handy for battery-draining ultrabooks and tablets.

Both its ultrabook and tablet solutions are due out in the coming months, and according to Steiner, the company already has a working demo for virtualisation on Android tablets.

Right now, the tablet business is in its infancy (or at least childhood), and the graphics strain on tablet processors is low. As time goes on, however, users will be demanding more out of their tablets, with professionals using them for on-the-go CAD, video transcoding, modelling, and other graphics-intensive applications (and maybe even for games). When that demand hits the market, says Steiner, Lucid will be ready to embrace it.

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