Microsoft to discourage hybrid graphics systems for Windows 7

Microsoft to discourage hybrid graphics systems for Windows 7

Summary: It seems that Microsoft is discouraging system manufacturers from shipping systems making use of hybrid graphics.

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It seems that Microsoft is discouraging system manufacturers from shipping systems making use of hybrid graphics.

Hybrid graphics is where a system has one GPU built onto the motherboard and another on a dedicated graphics card. Microsoft's Guidelines for Graphics in Windows 7 is strongly discouraging OEMs from shipping systems making use of this technology.

A hybrid graphics system typically has two GPUs: a low-power, fairly low-performance integrated GPU and a second high-power, higher performance discrete GPU.

The integrated GPU is typically used when long battery life is desired, and the discrete GPU is used when battery life is not important or when higher performance is required. Such systems require a reboot to switch between GPUs.

Windows 7 does not offer native support for hybrid graphics systems. We strongly discourage system manufacturers from shipping such systems, which can be unstable and provide a poor user experience.

I'm betting that ATI/AMD, NVIDIA and a number of system OEMs are going to be displeased by how Microsoft has labeled this technology.

Topics: Microsoft, Processors, Windows

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48 comments
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  • Maybe this is a hint

    [i]Such systems require a reboot to switch between GPUs.[/i]

    Well, more precisely [u]Microsoft[/u] systems with multiple GPUs require reboots. One would, after all, not want to encourage users to leave the reservation.
    Yagotta B. Kidding
    • Interesting that this currently works bettern in Vista than OS X!

      [url=http://www.engadget.com/2008/10/14/macbook-pro-requires-logout-to-switch-graphics-modes/] OS X requires log out to switch graphics modes but Vista doesn't. [/url]

      The Sony VAIO Z running Vista is able to switch between integrated and discreet graphics card without a reboot or even logging off. From what I've read, it is yet another benefit of Vista being able to handle (some) video driver errors by simply restarting the graphics system. [url=http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Windows_Display_Driver_Model] Thank WDDM [/url], yet another feature [url=http://blogs.zdnet.com/Murphy/?p=1285] you don't get with OS X.[/url] :)
      NonZealot
      • Windows had little or nothing to do with it...

        Windows had little or nothing to do with it, it was all Sony.
        Maybe you should read the Limitations part in that Wikipedia
        article you linked to.
        olePigeon
        • Vista still better than OS X!

          Vista doesn't require log out, OS X does. End of story. That's an irrefutable fact.

          Nice to hear that Apple will fix it a year after Microsoft got it working though. Apple is getting better. It usually takes them 5 years to catch up. Actually, scratch that. You guys still don't have copy and paste on the iPhone 7 years after Microsoft figured it out in WinCE. :)
          NonZealot
          • So basically

            Mac OS X will get an OS supported permanent solution
            around the time windows 7 breaks Sony's?
            Richard Flude
          • Yes, you are mostly right

            [i]Mac OS X will get an OS supported permanent solution
            around the time windows 7 breaks Sony's?[/i]

            OS X will get support for an inefficient and expensive method of conserving battery power around the time Windows 7 will push hardware companies into creating laptops with more efficient power management capabilities similar to ASUS's EPU Six Engine. Go Apple!! :)
            NonZealot
          • Vista Bleh, OSX Bleh, This was under XP+nothing to do with the OS

            1. Has any1 realised the Guidelines "reference"
            doesn't go anywhere, blank page?

            Hybrid graphics have been available for years even
            under XP (im waiting for some1 to say commodore or Sinclair had something similar :) its nothing to do
            with OS support there was a driver and extra hardware
            interface developed by Sony for Vaio computers. Many
            people didn't know the feature was there and many
            did+found it very "nifty" but never use it. Also for
            "power saving" using the intel GPU only adds an extra
            20mins battery life on minimal usage.

            In Vista it just gets messy instead of
            rebooting+reloading the HAL new Vaios just patch the
            HAL as Windows is running, WTF?! Thats insane+I don't
            know how it hasn't bricked any computers, but I've
            never heard of a single fault except all programs
            using the GPU have to reinitialize. So, my summary:

            1. This has nothing to do with Microsoft, its
            understandable they want their product to be
            stable+stop taking the blame for HW Vendors f**k ups
            but in X years if they've suceeded OEMs will be
            indefinable+sales may stagnate.

            2. Apple are a bunch of cloning wh***s without a
            single original thought so their copying Vaio, again
            *sigh*, for the sake of absolutely minimal power
            improvements.
            Lilputing
        • Except Lenovo support it too.

          (NT)
          Sleeper Service
        • Looks like I was right after all!

          And I was only guessing that WDDM's ability to dynamically load and unload graphics drivers was the reason that hybrid support is better on Vista than on OS X. Turns out I was right. :)

          [url=http://talkback.zdnet.com/5208-12558-0.html?forumID=1&threadID=53514&messageID=1011553] Facts about Vista [/url]

          [i]Take the NVidia dual GPU Notebooks for example. Flipping from the integrated low power to the high power GPU is something that Vista's WDDM just does automatically without a second thought. (OS X, has to keep both drivers active, and then have the user log off and restart the GUI to change Video devices.) Vista just does it on the fly because of the WDDM.[/i]

          Of course, that is only one of the many benefits of WDDM and if Microsoft is discouraging hybrid graphics systems, it doesn't mean WDDM is wasted effort. To be honest, I'd never even heard of hybrid graphics systems until the new MacBook but it sounds like a really poor solution that is much better solved by creating underclockable graphics cards or graphics cards with processors that can be turned on or off as necessary. From the [url=http://www.techpowerup.com/71244/NVIDIA_Pioneers_New_Hybrid_Graphics_for_Select_Notebooks.html] comments in this article[/url], I'm not alone in that belief.

          Out of curiosity, does anyone actually have hard numbers on the efficiency of hybrid systems when compared to the current crop of mobile graphics solutions? I googled but didn't find anything concrete. It wouldn't be unprecedented for companies to make a big deal about something only to find out it isn't as good as current alternatives *cough* hybrid engines compared to diesels *cough*.
          NonZealot
          • Idiocy!

            You're quoting another ZDNet Talkback as your supporting evidence for your position? Where did you go to school? Did you bother showing up to class at all?
            daengbo
          • Well does that make it wrong?

            Just because the source is not official doesn't make it wrong. If you have read non's posts then you would realize that one GPU is better than two. Plain and simple, Windows would be able to adjust itself on the fly since the video subsystem can be restarted on the fly giving the graphics card the ability to shutdown and restart in a low power mode. I am not a graphics engineer, but from the technologies we already pocess this seems like something that can be acheived in a realitively short amount of time. I am a college drop out, but going to school is not the only thing that makes you smart, its the ability to think dynamically. So maybe you just think you are smart because you showed up for class. Hope the hard work payes off for you.
            OhTheHumanity
      • Why would you want the WDDM?

        Yet another driver model. BFD.
        Bruizer
        • So you don't have to...

          ..use a cobbled together solution like Hybrid SLI?

          Just a thought.
          Sleeper Service
    • Sort of...

      Sort of. Windows needed to be rebooted completely when
      the VAIO SZ first had the switching option. Sony engineers
      did a good job at writing completely new drivers and
      subsystem for the video card to support custom hardware.
      This circumvented Microsoft's own limitations and allowed
      them to dynamically switch the OS into a power saving
      mode.

      I actually talked to an Apple Hardware Systems Engineer
      the other day, the MacBook Pro [i]can[/i] dynamically
      switch. That capability will most likely be included in a
      10.5 update, and will be featured in 10.6.
      olePigeon
      • Where Apple will claim to have invented it?

        [i]That capability will most likely be included in a
        10.5 update, and will be featured in 10.6.[/i]

        Amazing how Apple constantly invents things years after they've been available on Windows!!! :)
        NonZealot
        • Get a life or

          get some therapy...
          GoPower
          • Worst. Insult. Ever.

            Seriously, you are slipping. :(
            NonZealot
  • Why should we use hybrid graphics?

    IMO the graphic card manufactures should do something like what the CPUs manufactures do, dynamic adjustment. When in a lower power (battery) setting the GPU could adjust to a lower clock speed and or voltage, etc.

    That is a least expensive alternative.
    logicearth
    • But.... that would make more sense....

      why would the third parties actually want to get off their butt and actaully create a solution that makes sense? They have had Microsoft carrying them for years, and they are just to lazy.

      This is a hardware issue that 1. should never have been an issue and 2. should never have been passed off for the OS's to fix.

      Two chips Vs one variable chip? How is this economical? Why is the Microsoft's or any other OS developers problem?

      I commend MS for taking a stand on this issue and hope that they continue to hold their foot down on lazy 3rd party developers. Windows 7 is starting to look better everyday.
      ShadowGIATL
  • Seems to me....

    That there is a better way of doing this with one GPU. Having two GPU's that are not necessarily a breakthrough in innovation sitting next to each other taking up space, which is a waste. I think a breakthrough would be having one GPU and be able to have two modes on one for energy saving and performance. Crazy idea. Get to work manufactures, you're slackin.
    OhTheHumanity