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AMD's CrossFire X to enable integrated, discrete GPU co-operation

Working together

AMD announced in May year that its upcoming M780 laptop chipset will allow the user to switch between a discrete graphics chip and an integrated one on the fly. The technology is expected to be included in desktop chipsets too, but not for power saving. Instead, it'll use both GPUs at once.

So claim Taiwanese motherboard maker sources cited by Chinese-language site HKEPC, and they say it's coming in Q2 2008.

We presume that's when drivers will ship, because the chipset that will support the technology, the 780G, codenamed the 'RS780', is expected to debut in January.

The 780G incorporates a HyperTransport 3 bus to allow it to work with Socket AM2+ processors. It also has PCI Express 2.0 technology on board so that mobo makers can offer boards that feature slots for external graphics cards.

Insert an external graphics card, and AMD's next-gen multi-gpu technology, CrossFire X - also due to arrive in driver form early next year - will let users render 3D scenes using both GPUs, integrated and discrete, together.

It's said the technology will double the effective performance of the integrated graphics engine, and while it's not going to challenge high-end graphics cards, it could give low-cost cards a boost. It's not hard to imagine AMD trying to persuade system builders that integrated plus cheap discrete card is a more cost-effective improvement that bunging in a more powerful, pricer card into a system with a discrete chipset.

Nvidia's Hybrid SLI - formerly SLI Power - will be coming to the desktop early next year in the form of the MCP78S chipset

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