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Tuesday, 26 April 2011 11:56

Nvidia Optimus going to be dubbed Synergy on the desktop

Written by Nick Farell

Meaningless words for desktops
The Green Goblin Nvidia plans to launch the desktop version of its Optimus graphics switching technology at Computex in June. The technology will be called Synergy which is one of these meaningless words that marketing people use too often.

Synergy will run on Sandy Bridge boards carrying Intel H61, H67 or Z68 chipsets. Unlike SLI, motherboard vendors won't need to pay a licensing fee or sign an agreement to implement Synergy graphics switching. Of course it will only work with Nvidia GPUs in much the same way as Optimus does in notebooks. It will allow dynamic swapping between the integrated GPU in Sandy Bridge processors and an installed GeForce graphics card depending on the task being executed.

When you are doing light work like browsing or writing, Synergy will use the lower powered Intel HD graphics core. But your Nvidia card will kick in when gaming or doing something a little more graphics intensive. Video playback and encoding will be handled by Intel's Quick Sync technology that's built onto Sandy Bridge-based processors.

The big idea is that your machine will use less power and be a bit quieter. You can also anually switch between integrated and discrete graphics or set up profiles to switch when a particular application or game is launched.
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+30 #1 Exodite 2011-04-26 12:01
Excellent news, this was definitely overdue!

Now all we need is for AMD, Intel and Nvidia to sit down and come up with an open and compatible standard for graphics switching...

One can dream, right? :P
+20 #2 Jigar 2011-04-26 12:02
Meaningless words for desktops

Acctually not, anything that saves energy plus doesn't affect the performance is always welcomed.
+9 #3 leftiszi 2011-04-26 12:57
Holy crap!

Does that mean that I will be getting ~50W less power draw at idle (from the idling cards alone), on my 570 SLI setup, if I switch to Z68+Sandy? Does synergy completely power off the cards?

That's more than welcome indeed! God dang it I wanted to go for a Bulldozer this time around! :P

I hear that AMD and Lucid are working on something called Virtue or something, but I don't know the specifics,yet!
+4 #4 pogsnet 2011-04-26 13:10
Actually the external graphics has already the ability to reduce power if used on browsing, typing and the like, it's like idle power. So this stuff is really not needed. What is more important is the ability to utilize the built in graphics when needed like in video encoding, but other uses are very welcome.
+5 #5 Kryojenix 2011-04-26 14:09
(a word that really needs to come back into circulation!)

My desktop's 'computer name' is Synergy, my previous desktops for a long time were called Teletran (with a number suffix).

Synergy, apart from the dictionary meaning, is of course the name of the intelligent computer in Jem and the Holograms. And as you all know, both Jem and Transformers (where Teletran comes from) were Hasbro toy lines.
+4 #6 jon391 2011-04-26 15:20
Does this mean that nvidia is getting out of the video playback game? Most nvidia cards are going to be paired with Intel systems, sort of makes purevideo and all those investments in video quality turn out to be pointless. No doubt this feature has it's power saving advantages, but they are also minimizing their own role. Nvidia is also giving intel credit that they can handle HD. Perhaps nvidia still handles playback, and I am wrong, but that is what I gathered from the article.
+2 #7 Exodite 2011-04-26 15:22
Quoting pogsnet:
So this stuff is really not needed.

Actually, you can still get a healthy reduction in power usage by powering down the card fully. In idle as well as doing watching movies etc., especially the latter.

Perhaps more importantly though, at least to me, is the fact that my GPU fan is a leafblower even in idle so if I could turn that off my computer would be dead silent.
+3 #8 The blue fox 2011-04-26 16:33
A budy of mine has a MB Pro that does graphic's switching. And it makes quite a impact on battery life. And on system temps.
The only real problem is that some programs can crash when switching.

Quoting leftiszi:
Does synergy completely power off the cards?

Probably not as that would cause problems.
The GPU will most likely switch to some ultra low power state or enter some kind of stand buy mode. so that it can quickly
be switched to.
The GPU will still draw some power but it will be very small.
+1 #9 azrael 2011-04-26 17:43
The interesting question here is whether the discrete GPU's frame buffer is copied to the integrated GPU's frame buffer (like Virtu) or vice versa.

The former will yield the highest power saving at the cost of lower performance (when the discrete GPU kicks in), while the latter won't save as much power but shouldn't affect the performance of the discrete GPU.

Ideally, you would be able to make that choice yourself, but that probably won't happen.
+1 #10 The blue fox 2011-04-26 18:05
Quoting azrael:
The interesting question here is whether the discrete GPU's frame buffer is copied to the integrated GPU's frame buffer (like Virtu) or vice versa.

That is an interesting question indeed.
What i really love to see is the IGP. take advantage of all the VRAM on the GPU when the GPU is not in use. Thus freeing up system ram.
Tho this is not likely going to happen.

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