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Nvida working on switcheable GPU tech for laptops?

One chip for best, another for everyday wear

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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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