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Sunday, 31 January 2010

Current list of Linux switchable graphics DSDT calls

With more users providing DSDT.dsl information in this bug report:
We have now been able to compile this list of calls to turn on/off the switchable graphics card in Linux:
status = acpi_get_handle(root_handle, "\\_SB.PCI0.P0P1.VGA._OFF", &handle);
status = acpi_get_handle(root_handle, "\\_SB_.PCI0.OVGA.ATPX", &handle);
status = acpi_get_handle(root_handle, "\\_SB_.PCI0.OVGA.XTPX", &handle);
status = acpi_get_handle(root_handle, "\\_SB.PCI0.P0P2.PEGP._OFF", &handle);
status = acpi_get_handle(root_handle, "\\_SB.PCI0.MXR0.MXM0._OFF", &handle);

If you haven't tried the switchable graphics feature in Linux yet, have a look at your DSDT.dsl file. With a bit of luck, you may be able to identify one of the methods above.

Monday, 25 January 2010

ATI/ATI switchable graphics

One of the possible configurations for switchable graphics laptops is the ATI/ATI hybrid. Instead of having two physically separated cards, ATI (now AMD) produces a card with two chipsets. For example, the HP dm3 laptop series comes with a ATI HD3200/HD4300 configuration. Another one is the ASUS M51Ta, that also comes with two ATI chipsets:

01:05.0 VGA compatible controller: ATI Technologies Inc RS780M/RS780MN [Radeon HD 3200 Graphics]
02:00.0 VGA compatible controller: ATI Technologies Inc Mobility Radeon HD 3650

This configuration has proven difficult to support under Linux so far, although most of the relevant documentation is available through the ATI Open Source program. One of the HP dm3 users has produced a log on the Windows drivers. Hopefully, this information will be enough to contribute in having ATI/ATI switchable graphics for Linux in the near future:

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Mars: Linux + CUDA + MapReduce open source

For those of you wondering what is the benefit of a CUDA/OpenCL graphics card in your laptop or desktop computer, here is another example of what is possible to do with the GPU processing power:

Mars: A MapReduce Framework on Graphics Processors
Mars is a MapReduce framework on graphic processors (GPUs). We develop this framework aiming at providing a generic framework for developers to implement data- and computation-intensive tasks correctly, efficiently, and easily on the GPU. Mars hides the programming complexity of the GPU behind the simple and familiar MapReduce interface. Therefore, the developers can write their code on the GPU without any knowledge of the graphics APIs or the GPU architecture. We have implemented six common tasks in web applications and our results indicate that Mars is up to over an order of magnitude faster than its CPU-based counterpart for these applications on a quad-core machine.

Mars is developed by Bingsheng He and Wenbin Fang under the supervision of Naga K. Govindaraju (Microsoft Corp.), Qiong Luo (HKUST), and Tuyong Wang (
Bingsheng He, Wenbin Fang, Qiong Luo, Naga K. Govindaraju, and Tuyong Wang. Mars: A MapReduce Framework on Graphics Processors. PACT 2008.
Software Download
Currently, Mars is implemented using NVIDIA CUDA.

* Nov 16, 2009: The latest version. This version runs on both 32-bit and 64-bit linux, and supports the latest CUDA SDK 2.3. It includes 8 applications: String Match, Matrix Multiplication, Inverted Index, Word Count, Page View Rank, Page View Count, Similarity Score, and Kmeans.
* the second version, including experiment data from our PACT08 paper and templates for application development. This version runs on Windows. Aug 2008.
* ~0.5MB): It includes the implementation of the framework and the six web applications. This version runs on Linux. Nov 25, 2007.

Software License
The license is a free non-exclusive, non-transferable license to reproduce, use, modify and display the source code version of the Software, with or without modifications solely for non-commercial research, educational or evaluation purposes. The license does not entitle Licensee to technical support, telephone assistance, enhancements or updates to the Software. All rights, title to and ownership interest in Software, including all intellectual property rights therein shall remain in HKUST.

Updated Sony Vaio Z series with dynamic graphics switching @

Sony VAIO Z brings Quad SSD drive and dynamic graphics switching to Europe in March -- Engadget

Sony VAIO Z brings Quad SSD drive and dynamic graphics switching to Europe in March

Announced at CES with a "late Spring" availability, we just got word that the Core i7-620M pumpin' VAIO Z series from Sony will be hitting Europe in late March. The Z's biggest claim to fame is its ultra-fast Quad SSD, a rather unique Sony innovation that writes data in parallel to four SSDs (up to 256GB total capacity in RAID 0) at speeds up to 6.2x faster than typical 5400 rpm laptop hard disks. Sony also fits the Z with a hybrid graphics solution that combines 1GB of NVIDIA GeForce GT 330M with Intel HD graphics allowing you to automatically (or manually) switch between "speed" and "stamina" modes... presumably without requiring a logout if we're reading "dynamic" correctly. Rounding out the specs are 6GB of DDR3 SDRAM, 802.11n WiFi, integrated optical drive, and optional VAIO Everywair 3G mobile broadband module all stuffed into this 13.1-inch laptop with 1920 x 1080 pixel LED backlit display with 210 x 23.8-32.7 x 314mm and 1.43kg footprint. Power AND portability? Come give us a hug Sony.

Monday, 11 January 2010

ASUS UL80JT review

12 hour battery life in a high-end laptop? Asus says yes
12 hour battery life in a high-end laptop? Asus says yes

An ASUS laptop quietly on display at CES packed two GPUs, a high-end NVIDIA GeForce 310, and a humble Intel GMA... and intelligently switched, second-by-second, between them. The UL80JT can also re-clock its Intel Core i7 CPU on a second-by-second basis. The result of all this micromanagement: miraculous 12-hour battery life in a high-end laptop, available later this year for just over $1,000.

Laptop design is at least partially a tradeoff between components and battery life; laptops jammed with high-end components last an hour or two, while power-sipping netbooks can last all day. ASUS is trying to close the gap by allowing its laptops to decide how much power is needed and spend their power budgets more intelligently.

Apple's solution for dual GPUs on the Macbook Pro requires the user to change settings under "Energy Saver," which is counterintuitive and requires the user to log out in order to switch. It wouldn't surprise us if owners never use this feature. 

ASUS's solution is different because it's user-transparent; even a novice user will get the fullest possible benefit because the laptop itself is deciding when to switch.

The same principle applies to the dynamic CPU clocking. ASUS includes a desktop widget to track CPU clock speed. While using the UL80JT, I could see it moving up and down with what I did; up with program openings and CPU-intensive processes, and way down at idle. Between the GPU switching, dynamic clocking, and ASUS's other power management features, the UL80JT manages to consume less than half as much power as the unibody Macbook while browsing.

When it needs to, though, the UL80JT can call on all the resources of a dual-core i7 and NVIDIA's latest GPU, holding its own with similarly-specced laptops achieving a fraction of its battery life in casual use. For ASUS, the optimizations involved in battery life planning have really paid off, liberating the user from the choice between performance and battery life in the laptop purchasing decision.

Friday, 8 January 2010

Exploring a DSDT.dsl file

This is a useful terminal command to explore DSDT.dsl files for laptop models that still don't have Linux switchable graphics support:

grep -n -e Device -e Notify -e VGA -e AGP -e PCI -e '^^' -e DSM -e TPX DSDT.dsl

Some of the currently supported methods are:
status = acpi_get_handle(root_handle, "\\_SB.PCI0.P0P1.VGA._OFF", &handle);
status = acpi_get_handle(root_handle, "\\_SB_.PCI0.OVGA.ATPX", &handle);
status = acpi_get_handle(root_handle, "\\_SB_.PCI0.OVGA.XTPX", &handle);

For example, by inspecting the DSDT.dsl file for a HP Pavilion dm3 1020ec, a variation of one of this ACPI methods shows up as the possible solution for switching on/off the Radeon HD 3200 series discrete graphics card:


Hopefully more and more DSDT.dsl files will be prompty supported, and the switchable graphics capability will be swiftly implemented starting from already existing modules.

Sunday, 3 January 2010

Sony Vaio Z series refreshed with 48-core Nvidia GT 330M GPU @

The Sony vaio Z series laptop has been refreshed and will include an up-to-date switchable graphics configuration with an Nvidia GT 330M GPU + Intel HD Graphics. This particular model of discrete graphics card comes with 48 CUDA cores and is OpenCL-enabled.

Since the previous incarnations of the Sony Vaio Z series have had Linux switchable graphics support and working CUDA Linux drivers, it's expected that this newer model will achieve the same level of Linux compatibility once it's available to the market.

Sony Vaio Y11, S11 and F11 leaked ahead of launch, Z and CW series refreshed -- Engadget
It appears that the Vaio T's return is only the tip of a giant iceberg of refreshes coming out from Sony HQ this month. Greek e-tailer Compuland has a trio of new models listed -- seemingly prematurely -- for sale: the Vaio Y11 (pictured) is a relatively standard 1.3GHz Core 2 Duo SU7300 machine with 4GB of DDR3 memory and 320GB of storage, and its nomenclature seems to fit given that its specs land somewhere between the underpowered X and fully-equipped Z series. Speaking of the latter, Sony is adding a Core i5-520M to its refreshed Z line, as well as to the new 16-inch F11 model which adds a half terabyte storage drive just for kicks. The lesser Core i3-330M Arrandale chip finds a home in the new 13-inch S11 laptop, which may or may not be replacing the SR series we know and love, as well as a freshened up CW number. Hit the read links for early pricing and more details, and if you hope really hard maybe we'll get proper announcements from the official channels some time soon.

Saturday, 2 January 2010

Solution to switch on/off graphics card for the Lenovo IdeaPad U330

The Lenovo IdeaPad U330 is another hybrid graphics laptop produced by Lenovo. By switching off the ATI card on the U330 model, the power consumption reduces from 23W to 13W.

Check out this package:

Or simply manually install:

    obj-m := lenovo_acpi.o
    KERNELDIR ?= /lib/modules/$(shell uname -r)/build
    PWD := $(shell pwd)

    $(MAKE) -C $(KERNELDIR) M=$(PWD) $(EXTRA_FLAGS) modules

    $(MAKE) -C $(KERNELDIR) M=$(PWD) $(EXTRA_FLAGS) clean


/* Linux kernel module that disables the discrete graphics board for Lenovo
 * U330. Other lenovo laptops could work, but I don't know.
 * Copyright (c) 2009: Sylvain Joyeux <>
#include <acpi/acpi.h>


static acpi_handle root_handle;

static int __init kill_ati(void)
    int i;
    acpi_status status;
    // The device handle
    acpi_handle handle;
    // The package elements
    union acpi_object package_elements[3];
    // The arguments to ATPX
    union acpi_object atpx_arg_elements[2];
    struct acpi_object_list atpx_arg;
    // For the return value of ATPX
    struct acpi_buffer buffer = { ACPI_ALLOCATE_BUFFER, NULL };

    status = acpi_get_handle(root_handle, "\\_SB_.PCI0.OVGA.ATPX", &handle);
    if (ACPI_FAILURE(status))
        status = acpi_get_handle(root_handle, "\\_SB_.PCI0.OVGA.XTPX", &handle);
        if (ACPI_FAILURE(status))
            printk("lenovo_acpi: cannot get ACPI handle: %s\n", acpi_format_exception(status));
            return -ENOSYS;
        printk("lenovo_acpi: in discrete graphics mode\n");
        return 0;

    for (i = 0; i < 3; ++i)
        package_elements[i].type = ACPI_TYPE_INTEGER;
        package_elements[i].integer.value = 0;

    atpx_arg.count = 2;
    atpx_arg.pointer = &atpx_arg_elements[0];

    atpx_arg_elements[0].type = ACPI_TYPE_INTEGER;
    atpx_arg_elements[0].integer.value = 2;

    atpx_arg_elements[1].type = ACPI_TYPE_PACKAGE;
    atpx_arg_elements[1].package.count = 3;
    atpx_arg_elements[1].package.elements = &package_elements[0];
    status = acpi_evaluate_object(handle, NULL, &atpx_arg, &buffer);
    if (ACPI_FAILURE(status))
        printk("lenovo_acpi: ATPX method call failed: %s\n", acpi_format_exception(status));
        return -ENOSYS;

    printk("lenovo_acpi: disabled the discrete graphics card\n");
    return 0;

static void dummy(void)


Friday, 1 January 2010

Lenovo IdeaPad U Series review @

Lenovo’s Unveils IdeaPad U150 and U550 ULV Notebooks, Prices Start at $585

U150_4 LEADWith weeks to go before we kick off the holiday shopping season with Black Friday, Lenovo announced two affordable notebooks in its IdeaPad U Series (that’s “U” as in, “ULV” or ultra low voltage): the 11-inch U150 (starting at $585) and the 15.6-inch U550 (starting at $650).

Both notebooks have 16:9 1366 x 768 displays, wireless-N, optional 3G, 1.3-megapixel webcam with face recognition, and can accommodate Intel Core 2 Duo processors. Both have VGA and HDMI output, headphone and mic ports, an Ethernet jack, and a 4-in-1 memory card reader, but the U150 has two USB ports whereas the 15.6-inch U550 has three. In the case of the 11.6-inch U150, one of those USB ports double as an eSATA port.

The differences between the two begin with design.

While both have patterned, textured lids, the U150 has a metal keyboard, not unlike the notebooks we’ve seen from HP with the company’s DuraKey finish. Meanwhile, the U550 has a matte black design, which looks more staid.

Feature-wise, the 15.6-inch U550 is unique in that it has an integrated optical drive, switchable graphics (with Linux support!) (Intel GMA 4500MHD and discrete ATI Radeon HD 4330 with 512MB dedicated memory), a number pad and fingerprint reader, can take up to 8GB of RAM, can house a hard drive as large as 500GB (it can also take a 256GB SSD). It also has an ambient light sensor, which automatically adjusts the screen’s brightness.

The 11.6-inch U150, meanwhile, much like any netbook, lacks an optical drive, and the largest hard drive offered is 320GB (the largest SSD is 64GB). It can take 4GB of RAM, not eight. It also promises 7 hours of battery life with an optional six-cell battery, and has an accelerometer to protect the hard drive in the event of a fall.

The U150 and U550 start at $585 and $650, respectively. Look for them in mid-November.