Feeds

Nvidia launches dual-GPU tech for notebooks

Hybrid graphics done properly

Security for virtualized datacentres

Running a given app can trigger the change, Nvidia said, or it can be done on a moment by moment basis. Photoshop, for example, can trigger the use of the GPU if a filter requires it. Again, it's Windows 7's graphics foundation code, rather than Nvidia technology, that makes this possible. So users won't need Optimus-specific versions of their favourite apps.

Nvidia Optimus

GPU-rendered imagery is fed into the IGP's frame buffer via the PCIe bus

There's another benefit too: better battery life. Past dual-GPU solutions never entirely disabled the discrete GPU when it wasn't being used. Nvidia has made much of its mobile chips' power conservation abilities, but it's had to admit these really only help when the GPU is operating. If the chip is idle, it's still consuming a fair bit of power.

But not in the Optimus scheme of things. When that extra rendering ability isn't required, Nvidia powers the GPU right down to zero so there's not even any leakage current. Powering up again takes a small but finite time, but not enough to interrupt the experience.

The result, though, is a battery life extension. For ordinary tasks, that amounts to a gain of two hours, Nvidia claims. Clearly, running any app that thrashes the GPU is going to mean that an Optimus system's GPU will engages frequently, so there's going to be no overall benefit then - and you'll be likely running on mains, in any case. But if the GPU is required only occasionally, simply the ability to switch it off will generate a big power saving.

Of course, if you never run the kind of software that prefers a GPU to an IGP, then there's no benefit either, though Optimus does mean you can happily rely on your IGP safe in the knowledge that the GPU is not only there should you need to call upon it, but that it's not eating into your battery life in the meantime.

Nvidia Optimus

Optimus vs solo IGP, according to Nvidia

A word of caution, though: Nvidia is charging laptop makers more for its Optimus-enabled chippery and software than it does for regular GPUs. It argues that since vendors now no longer need to fit a mux chip, and so they can use the same motherboard for IGP only laptops as IGP+GPU kit, Optimus shouldn't cost the consumer an old-style dual-GPU machine.

Security for virtualized datacentres

More from The Register

next story
Microsoft to enter the STRUGGLE of the HUMAN WRIST
It's not just a thumb war, it's total digit war
Tim Cook: The classic iPod HAD to DIE, and this is WHY
Apple, er, couldn’t get the parts for HDD models
Google Glassholes are UNDATEABLE – HP exec
You need an emotional connection, says touchy-feely MD... We can do that
Caterham Seven 160 review: The Raspberry Pi of motoring
Back to driving's basics with a joyously legal high
Back to the ... drawing board: 'Hoverboard' will disappoint Marty McFly wannabes
Buzzing board (and some future apps) leave a lot to be desired
prev story

Whitepapers

Cloud and hybrid-cloud data protection for VMware
Learn how quick and easy it is to configure backups and perform restores for VMware environments.
Getting started with customer-focused identity management
Learn why identity is a fundamental requirement to digital growth, and how without it there is no way to identify and engage customers in a meaningful way.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.
The next step in data security
With recent increased privacy concerns and computers becoming more powerful, the chance of hackers being able to crack smaller-sized RSA keys increases.