It had been a pipe dream for enthusiasts - the ability to link multiple graphics cards from two different vendors (ATI and NVIDIA) and their incompatible architectures on the same motherboard. A fabless semiconductor firm, Lucid, however made it a reality with its vendor-agnostic Hydra 200 chip. We reviewed the first commercial implementation of this technology with the MSI Big Bang Fuzion earlier this year. While the basic premise of this technology worked, it came with its fair share of bugs and compromises. These, coupled with the premium positioning and asking price for the Big Bang Fuzion, meant that the product was even more niche than the usual high-end enthusiast motherboard.
It's half a year later, and while Lucid appeared to have snagged another motherboard manufacturer to try out its Hydra 200 chip, that ASUS motherboard is also targeted at the high-end segment. MSI meanwhile has changed its tack and announced two mainstream models that come with the Hydra chip, both of which we saw at Computex. Today, we get the chance to try out the version intended for the AMD platform, the MSI 870A Fuzion.
MSI has been using the 'Fuzion' branding to identify motherboards that come with the Lucid Hydra chip, but users may not be too familiar with the 870A designation. The '870' here refers to its use of the AMD 870 chipset, which is itself a minor update of the AMD 770 chipset. MSI has also gone wth the SB710 Southbridge, and not the newer 800-series that debuted this year. The 'A' indicates that it comes with USB 3.0 and SATA 6Gbps support (albeit both functions via thrid-party chips onboard), a naming convention that seems to have taken root among motherboard vendors.
Since the withdrawal of NVIDIA from the chipset scene, there hasn't been a way for NVIDIA users to get their SLI fix on the AMD platform. The MSI 870A Fuzion claims to be the first motherboard on the AMD platform to support SLI and that's certainly the case (at least for a while), albeit via the Lucid Hydra chip instead of native SLI, but do users care if it quacks like a duck?