back to article Nvidia launches dual-GPU tech for notebooks

Nvidia reckons it has finally cracked the problem of smoothly swapping between graphics chips in notebooks that have more than one GPU. Today, it launched its solution, which it has branded Optimus. Now, we're not talking two or more GPUs configured in SLI mode for greater graphics performance. Optimus addresses the use of a …


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  1. Anonymous Coward

    It should work like a hybrid car?

    Possibly a bad choice of words right now... :)

  2. Steen Hive

    A Solution looking for a problem?

    Of course it would not make any sense at all to dump all the extraneous chippery crap and make a discrete GPU that switched parts of itself off and powered-down to IGP-comparable power-levels when unneeded?

    I mean either switched off, or sucking the guts out of Three Mile Island seems to be a bit pointless.

  3. Anton Ivanov

    It is probably me being particularly thick today

    Why windows 7? There should be no problem to implement this in hardware entirely. There should be no need for driver support. Just split 2D and 3D into separate processors sharing the same framebuffer across the PCI-e (or even better QPI or hypertransport).

    Shut down the 3D core when not in use and have all GPU instructions pass through the 2D core (merge the PCI-e bridge into it). Give the 2D core the ability to wake up the 3D one. The 2D and 3D are separate on some nvidia parts already and can use different clocks and different PowerMizer levels. It is should be possible to extend this one step further and allow full shutdown of the 3D when not needed.

    I don't gedddit... Probably too much blood in the coffee subsystem...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Already done

      Some mobile phone multimedia chips use run domains and only switch then on when needed. So there are decode/encode domains, camera ISP domains, 3D domains, mp3 domains, that are only turned on when required. One chip I have knowledge of runs at 500mA, doing all of the above....... I've always wondered why desktop graphics don't do much the same.

  4. Anonymous Coward

    Bad timing for a quote....

    "It should work like a hybrid car,"

    What, it will ramp uncontrollably up to full speed, then fail to slow down again even if you force the brakes?

    1. Steven Knox

      Now, now...

      He didn't say the T-word. He said the H-word.

  5. Rob McDougall

    MBP Fail

    This will teach me to be an early adopter... but it would seem that NVidia are now delivering on the promise of the original Unibody MacBook Pro's... I always assumed an update would come along that would allow software-based GPU switching, but no... I shall be forever doomed to logging out/in to switch cores...

  6. Anonymous Coward

    It's copying the framebuffer!

    The most obvious and least efficient solution. Must be worth a patent or ten ..

  7. Steven Knox

    First generation?

    So that'd make this Optimus Prime, then? Quite a transformation in laptop graphics tech, eh? Using some sort of softare auto-bot to know when to switch? High power, and it keeps on trucking?

    Already out the door.

  8. Anonymous Coward

    Laptops with hardware switches to switch GPU's?

    Am I the only one here that's never seen or heard of these laptops that had multiple discrete GPU's that use a hardware switch to switch GPU's??? Can somone enlighten me please? Model/Manufacturer? Sounds to me like they are fixing a problem that never existed. Well done.

  9. sT0rNG b4R3 duRiD

    Want to make big bucks?

    Just make a laptop with a gamer's desk-dock-call-it-whatever-you-like expansion chassis.

    Keep the hot, demanding GPU in it, heck, put 2 in. Can even chuck in the big capacious hard disks there.

    Here's a wild idea. Maybe even actually have 2 discrete CPUs, one ULV core on the laptop and a grunt heavy lifting one in the chassis, like an i7 or something.

    in the mobile form, the actual laptop itself, just the frugal bits, SSD. 8 hour battery life would be good.


    Do it.

    Make it cheap.

    I'll buy one.

  10. Eddie Edwards

    Power-saving fail

    So instead of running GPU A *or* GPU B, now you run GPU A alone, or GPU A *and* GPU B.

    Extra 5% reduction in battery life on FarCry ... just what everybody wanted!

    Whole frame buffers flying across the PCIe bus sounds like fun too. But it's OK, no-one was using that bus anyway.

  11. Dr Laurie Miles

    Laptops with 2 GPUs

    I'm typing this on such a laptop - a Vaio SZ1VP, which I bought 4 years ago. Run the higher end graphics card when plugged in to power/not on my lap (gets hot)/playing games/need to use DVI connection. Switch to onboard Intel graphics when away from power supply, for MUCH longer laptop life. Works very well, although my laptop require reboot.

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