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Monday, 23 March 2009

Hybrids with the Ability to turn off the 3d chip:

AMD/ATI calls it PowerXpress and Nvidia HybridPower. It uses 2 graphics cards, one energy efficient with little 3d power and the other for gaming (fast and uses more/a lot of power), the user can choose which chip to use.
This is not a new concept. Sony has build in 2 graphics chips into some of their laptops for years. In the past a reboot was required to switch between the chips. With the new generation it is possible to change between chips on the fly, the screen will flicker but no need to reboot. At least in Windows Vista (XP, Linux not supported) the user can switch freely between the chips or set up a profile to do so automatically (eg when on battery use low power chip and when plugged in use the more powerful chip).

The graphic card hybrid not only works with two Nvidia or AMD cards but the low power Intel graphics solutions (mostly shard memory) can also be combined with 3d chips from AMD or Nvidia. This solution is ideal for users who want maximum battery life and be able to play current games. The most likely combination is Intel shard memory graphics card for battery life and some low to mid level 3d chip. This will not give great 3d performance but enable you to play some games.

Limitations are the drivers. Special drivers are needed depending on which graphic chips are combined in the hybrid. This will most likely make you depended on the Notebook manufactures driver support. It is uncertain if 3rd party drivers (such as laptopvideo2go) will be usable.

The following notebooks have Nvidia hybrid graphics (as seen on the link below):
- Sony VAIO Z (Nvidia GeForce 9300M GS & Intel GMA 4500MHD)
- Fujitsu Siemens Amilo XI 3650 (Nvidia GeForce 9600M GT & Intel GMA 4500MHD)
- BenQ Joybook S42 (Nvidia GeForce 9600M GT & Intel GMA 4500MHD)

- MSI EX630

On the NVidia side, we reported this issue in the nvnews forum:

On the AMD/ATI side, we got words from Alex Deucher that he will liaise with AMD for docs in time:
> We can definitely look into it, the problem is we already have a
> backlog of stuff with higher priority (finishing 3D, newer power
> management bits, investigating IDCT/UVD, etc.) to work through at the
> moment, so I cannot say when we'd get to hybrid graphics. The other
> problem is that since many of these hybrid solutions are multi-vendor,
> we may not have the rights release certain IP. Even if would could
> release some information, as has been stated previously, the driver
> stack needs significant work to support something like this.

On the Sony Vaio Z series, right now both cards are visible under Linux, but there is no way to hot-switching-off (if that is a word...) the Nvidia card. There are currently ~100 users of Sony Vaio Z series using Linux that would like this feature to be implemented. See:

Also, see:


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