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Graphics Portables Power Hardware

NVIDIA Shows Off "Optimus" Switchable Graphics For Notebooks 102

Vigile writes "Transformers jokes aside, NVIDIA's newest technology offering hopes to radically change the way notebook computers are built and how customers use them. The promise of both extended battery life and high performance mobile computing has seemed like a pipe dream, and even the most recent updates to 'switchable graphics' left much to be desired in terms of the user experience. Having both an integrated and discrete graphics chip in your notebook does little good if you never switch between the two. Optimus allows the system to seamlessly and instantly change between IGP and discrete NVIDIA GPUs based on the task being run, including games, GPU encoding or Flash video playback. Using new software and hardware technology, notebooks using Optimus can power on and pass control to the GPU in a matter of 300ms and power both the GPU and PCIe lanes completely off when not in use. This can be done without being forced to reboot or even close out your applications, making it a hands-free solution for the customer."
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NVIDIA Shows Off "Optimus" Switchable Graphics For Notebooks

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  • MacBook Pros (Score:2, Informative)

    by Stele (9443) on Tuesday February 09, 2010 @01:02PM (#31074886) Homepage

    I believe the latest model MacBook Pros have been doing this for at least a year.

  • by je ne sais quoi (987177) on Tuesday February 09, 2010 @01:10PM (#31075020)
    For years, the proprietary NVIDIA drivers for linux have been using a feature called powermizer that changes the performance of the GPU based on what the PC needed. E.g., under normal conditions, the GPU is underclocked but when you run an openGL window or run a game, the GPU bumps up into full speed. In principal it sounds like a great idea, but it's been really annoying to wait around for what seemed like at least a year for NVIDIA to get it to run well enough with a composite manager like compiz. For a long time, things like highlighting text in firefox and then dragging it led to flickering of the screen, or the new kde has composite things built right in which didn't work well. During that period we had to do things like fool the GPU into running full tilt all the time because NVIDIA didn't give us an option to switch powermizer off until AFTER they fixed the problems with it.
  • Re:MacBook Pros (Score:4, Informative)

    by Vigile (99919) * on Tuesday February 09, 2010 @01:18PM (#31075178)

    Nope, not really. I have one of those and the video on the PCPer article shows the process on a MacBook Pro. You have to change a settings in the control panel and then logout of the system to change GPU modes.

  • Re:HybridSLI? (Score:4, Informative)

    by Vigile (99919) * on Tuesday February 09, 2010 @01:19PM (#31075210)

    Read the article at - it talks about the current versions of switchable graphics and how the new Optimus differs.

    It's not a cosmetic change.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 09, 2010 @01:19PM (#31075216)

    The current progress of Linux hybrid graphics. []

    There has been a lot of progress in this area the past few weeks. Wonder if this will let NVIDIA switch gpu's without restarting X.

  • by Happy Nuclear Death (911893) on Tuesday February 09, 2010 @01:27PM (#31075370)

    I have suffered from one of the multiple-display-device solutions, in the form of an Alienware M15X, so Optimus sounds like a huge step forward.

    While in theory it was nice to have both a battery-friendly Intel GMA and a reasonably powerful Nvidia GeForce card in one (relatively) portable package, in reality it was lousy. As suggested by TFA, you had to reboot to switch between them, whether running Windows XP or Vista. That would have been bad enough, but wait, there's more!

    This effectively meant that I could never switch, because us mere users were not permitted to authorize UAC prompts or do "admin" things under XP. Yes, you needed administrator-level access to switch between display devices. I don't know why, maybe because it involved changes to startup files. Huge software limitation there, as well as a shortcoming of our boneheaded IT rules.

    But you really shouldn't have to reboot to switch devices.

  • Re:MacBook Pros (Score:3, Informative)

    by Vigile (99919) * on Tuesday February 09, 2010 @02:12PM (#31076188)

    It starts at time stamp about 3:00 []

  • Re:What a relief (Score:3, Informative)

    by Bluesman (104513) on Tuesday February 09, 2010 @08:59PM (#31081208) Homepage

    Getting older will help your stamina too.

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