NVIDIA today announced NVIDIA Optimus technology for notebook PCs. The technology chooses the best graphics processor for running a given application and automatically routes the workload to either an NVIDIA discrete GPU or Intel integrated graphics, providing great battery life.
Just as a Hybrid car chooses between the gas-powered and electric car engine on-the-fly and uses the most appropriate engine, NVIDIA Optimus technology does the same thing for graphics processors. NVIDIA Optimus Technology instantly directs the workload through the most efficient processor for the job, extending battery life by up to 2 times compared to similarly configured systems equipped with discrete graphics processors (GPUs).
When playing 3D games, running videos, or using GPU compute applications the NVIDIA discrete GPU is used. When using basic applications, like web surfing or email, the integrated graphics processor is used.
"We needed hardware support to quickly move the graphics data around in the system, so we created a fast copy engine. The Optimus Copy Engine is a new alternative to traditional DMA (Direct Memory Access) transfers between the GPU frame buffer memory and system memory used by the IGP," Sasha Ostojic, Nvidia's Senior Director of Notebook Software, wrote in Nvidia's blog today. "With Optimus we also removed multiplexers, called MUXs, so we use the integrated graphics as a display adapter or pass through. The discrete GPU can do the heavy lifting and pass through the results to the integrated graphics chip to be displayed. By doing this, Optimus eliminated the need for hardware multiplexer and completely removed glitches associated with switching the display from IGP to GPU. Optimus transfers the display surface from the GPU frame buffer over the PCI Express bus to the system memory-based frame buffer used by the IGP. The key to performing the display transfer without negatively impacting 3D performance is the Optimus Copy Engine."
Notebooks with NVIDIA Optimus technology will be available shortly, starting with the Asus UL50Vf, N61Jv, N71Jv, N82Jv, and U30Jc notebooks.