Nvidia's Optimus technology aims to improve battery life and power efficiency in notebooks by rerouting the processing workload based on what applications are in use.
Semiconductor giant Nvidia announced Optimus, a technology designed for
notebook PCs that chooses the best graphics processor for running a given
application and automatically routes the workload to either an Nvidia discrete
graphics processing unit (GPU) or Intel integrated graphics.
The company said notebooks with Nvidia Optimus technology will be available
shortly, starting with the Asus UL50Vf, N61Jv, N71Jv, N82Jv and U30Jc
Nvidia compares Optimus technology as similar to the way a hybrid car
chooses between the gas-powered and electric car engine on the fly and uses the
most appropriate engine. Optimus technology directs the workload through the
most efficient processor for the job, which Nvidia claims extends battery life
by up to two times compared with similarly configured systems equipped with
discrete GPUs. When playing 3D games, running videos or using GPU compute
applications, the high-performance Nvidia discrete GPU is used. When using
basic applications, like Web surfing or e-mail, the integrated graphics
processor is used.
"Consumers no longer have to choose whether they want great graphics
performance or sustained battery life," Rene Haas, general manager of
notebook products at Nvidia, said in a prepared statement. "Nvidia Optimus
gives them both; great performance, great battery life and it simply
The company was quick to illustrate the importance of the release by
assembling a long list of testimonials from leaders in the technology
community, including Mike Angiulo, general manager of Windows planning and PC
ecosystem at Microsoft, who praised Optimus for its ability to balance the
performance needs of users, and P.C. Wang, corporate vice president and general
manager of Asus' notebook business unit system business group, who called the
technology "a unique approach" to extending battery life without sacrificing
"The genius of Nvidia Optimus is in its simplicity," said Dr. Jon
Peddie, president of Jon Peddie Research. "One can surf the Web and get
great battery life, and when one needs the extra horsepower for applications
like Adobe Flash 10.1, Optimus automatically switches to the more powerful
Earlier this month, the company announced the availability of its entire
line of Quadro professional graphics solutions for mobile workstations, based
on the CUDA parallel computing architecture. The CUDA computing architecture,
which combines high-performance graphics and high-performance computation,
enables enhanced performance in areas such as video encoding, image processing
and ray tracing. The complete line of Quadro FX mobile professional graphics
solutions is currently available worldwide.
Nathan Eddy is Associate Editor, Midmarket, at eWEEK.com. Before joining eWEEK.com, Nate was a writer with ChannelWeb and he served as an editor at FierceMarkets. He is a graduate of the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University.