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The Next-Generation NVIDIA ION Tech Report
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NVIDIA Optimus

The Next-Generation NVIDIA ION GPU will support the new NVIDIA Optimus Technology, which is an improved version of their Hybrid Graphics technology. Like Hybrid Graphics, it dynamically switches between the NVIDIA ION GPU and the processor's integrated graphics core according to the type of workload.

When you are working on run-of-the-mill stuff, like typing a letter or surfing the web, the ION GPU will completely shut off, allowing the Atom processor's integrated graphics core to deliver the graphics output. This saves power and extends battery life. The ION netbook, in this mode, would be no different from any other Intel Pine Trail-based netbook.

But when you play games or watch videos, the NVIDIA ION GPU comes alive and takes over the workload. The Atom processor's integrated graphics core is still running, but it will only function as a conduit for the ION GPU's graphics output. This allows the more powerful ION GPU to showcase its graphics processing capability only when it is needed, minimising its impact on battery life.

Logically, even with NVIDIA's Optimus technology, netbooks based on the Next-Generation NVIDIA ION should have a shorter battery life than "regular" Intel Atom netbooks. However, NVIDIA claims their Optimus technology will deliver the same battery life as that of Intel's integrated graphics. They claimed that the following MobileMark 2007 results prove that the new ION-based netbooks will deliver the same 10-hour battery life as regular Intel Pine Trail netbooks.

The trouble is the applications tested in MobileMark 2007 are not hardware-accelerated by the NVIDIA ION GPU. With the possible exception of Macromedia Flash 8, it is unlikely that the NVIDIA ION GPU was ever activated during a MobileMark 2007 test.


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