Nvida working on switcheable GPU tech for laptops?

One chip for best, another for everyday wear

Nvidia is working on technology that would allow notebooks equipped with an integrated GPU and a dedicated graphics chip to flip between the two engines at will. Even though the system doesn't appear to allow the two GPUs to render co-operatively, it's claimed Nvidia will dub the technology 'SLI Power'.

According to a Laptop Logic report, the technology is designed to provide graphics horsepower when its needed, and more basic, battery-friendly rendering at other times.

It's not a new idea, of course. Since Intel's introduction of its Core Duo mobile processor earlier this year, a surprising number of laptops have shipped with the company's 945GM integrated chipset and a discrete GPU. Few, however, have allowed the user to switch from one to the other, and then only after a reboot.

How common this kind of dual-GPU system is likely to be in the future is open to question - thus far, it appears to be have been more a result of more favourable pricing and/or availability of the integrated chipset over the discrete part than a desire to offer mobile users multiple GPUs for different circumstances.

SLI Power will presumably require Nvidia GPUs, which tend to appear only in high-end, gamer-oriented systems of a kind not usually associated with long battery life, more thanks to large backlit displays and fast hard drives than the use of a powerful GPU. Would Nvidia's technology make much of a difference here? We suspect not, but it makes for an interesting research project, if the SLI Power rumour is true. ®

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