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Nvidia Outs 'Optimus' Smart Switching Graphics Technology

Gordon Kelly


The problem with performance and battery life is they are always a trade off. Or at least they used to be...

Today Nvidia announced 'Optimus' - an exciting new technology that believes in the philosophy of having your cake and eating it too. What it brings for the first time is smart, application aware switching between integrated and discrete graphics chips.

In practice this means low power, low performance integrated graphics are used when you are doing basic tasks like word processing or web surfing and when you switch to games or HD video playback the higher performance discrete graphics instantly jump in. The switch back to integrated graphics is made the moment you return less demanding applications.

So what is new here is the automation process since laptops have long been on the market with switchable graphics. The problem is they tend to require restarts to implement and even then users forget to switch off the discrete graphics and suddenly realise they have drained their laptop batteries. In fact, Nvidia claims its research shows just one per cent of users with switchable graphics laptops use this feature.

The best part? Optimus is designed to work with ION in netbooks, is compatible with all GeForce 200M and 300M laptop GPUs and plays nicely with Intel 's Pine Trail-based Atom, Penryn-based Core 2 Duo and Core i3, i5 and i7 processors. If you're AMD on the other hand - with its ownership of ATI - then you're left in the cold.

Real world Optimus availability? Nvidia says any minute and it has racked up a wide array of design wins. The first of these will be the Asus 'UL50VF' - the successor to the UL50VG - and many other manufacturer announcements, including new Apple MacBooks with Optimus, are expected very soon.

Excited? Yep, we are too...


Nvidia Optimus Press Release


February 10, 2010, 11:06 am

so, it isn't some software i can download, then?


February 10, 2010, 11:11 am

"If you're AMD on the other hand - with its ownership of ATI - then you're left in the cold."

Bad call, Intel will eventually ply Nvidia out of a huge % of its current sales, they should build up relations with AMD, this is just typical Nvidia. Its also not really helping the World if u just pi** away a load of electric because 'thats business'.

I haven't bought an Nvidia product in a long time, idiots.

Having said that I've just now realised that you either A, buy a omputer with integrated Intel graphics and upgrade them to EITHER Nvidia or ATI, or B buy a computer with one of those to begin with. You don't really see computers with both ATI and Nvidia cards together other than desktops with integrated graphics where a discrete card has been added, if you turn that off in the bios and use an ATI 5000 series card with a sweet low idle power, this is pretty much irrelevant.

Not that I'm biased or anything.. ;)


February 10, 2010, 11:27 am

New MacBooks you say.. credit card at the ready - cannot believe I'm now considering actually getting one!


February 10, 2010, 11:53 am

@ilovethemonkeyhead err, no - it's not software you can download!


February 10, 2010, 1:12 pm

If think that those who have an AMD processor are far more likely to have an ATi card though.

Wish this was in the new HP tm2 I am getting in a couple of weeks.

Lee Moorhouse

February 10, 2010, 2:42 pm

@xenos Once you go Mac...

I'll also be buying a new MacBook Pro. I'm just waiting for this, the new quad core chips, BD Drive and USB3 Apple are putting in this year... I can dream can't I!?


February 10, 2010, 3:43 pm

Bit confused, so its not backwards compatable then? By that I mean you mention that its compatable with ION, but I assume my HP mini 311 doesnt come with onboard graphics as well as the 9400 so it wouldnt work on my netbook. It would require a netbook with ION and onboard graphics, is that right?


February 10, 2010, 8:01 pm

@Stelph - NEW Ion ;)


February 10, 2010, 8:44 pm

Its designed to work with ION 2 netbooks not ION 1. This is because ION 1 ditched the intel graphics so the only option was to use the nvidea graphics. ION 2 is really just a GPU with a special name, ION 1 was an actual chipset.

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