Nvidia shows off multi-GPU notebooks

Nvidia shows off multi-GPU notebooks

Summary: Nvidia has demonstrated its new range of discrete GPUs for notebooks, which allows a notebook to operate two graphical processing units at once

TOPICS: Processors

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  • Nvidia's new GTxx series, unveiled last week, is an attempt by the company to significantly boost the graphical capabilities of notebooks and laptops. ZDNet UK visited a product demonstration of the chip in London on Friday.

    The GTX 480M graphical processing unit (pictured) is the most powerful chip within the range. The chip, like all within the series, supports DirectX 11, the latest version of Microsoft's collection of common application programming interfaces for visual applications. The GTX 480M supports PhysX, the Nvidia-developed technology that increases the fidelity and detailing of physical simulations. The chip also supports 3D gaming and display, GPU-browser accelleration for modern browsers including Chrome 6 and Internet Explorer 9 (IE9), and speeds the rendering of pictures and HD video.

    GTxx discrete graphical processing units (GPUs) use Nvidia's Optimus technology, which turns the on-chip integrated graphical processor into a display controller for a separate, off-chip and more powerful dedicated GPU.

    A software layer with profiles of applications switches the chip on when the notebook when needed; for example, when editing high definition video or rendering large images.

    The output of the GPU is fed through the notebook's integrated graphics processor (IGP) and outputted to the display, with the IGP resuming control when the period of high use has ended.

    The technology is only optimised for Windows 7. Nvidia said it had not found another operating system that can support the technology required for running multiple graphical processing unit drivers in parallel, as a driver is required in this case both for the IGP and for the discrete GPU.

  • The discrete GTxx GPU product range can render images up to five times faster than notebooks without the GPU, according to Nvidia. Here, two notebooks with similar specifications compete to render an image.

    The notebook on the left, which has an Intel quad-core i5 processor at 2.27GHz and 4GB of RAM, rendered the image in around 10 seconds.  The notebook on the right, which has the GPU a quad-core i5 at 2.53GHz and 6GB of RAM, rendered the image in approximately two seconds. Nvidia claims that notebooks with the GPU will generally be five times faster than any device with an integrated GPU.

    The chip's performance gains when rendering images, editing video or boosting GPU-compatible web browsers make it relevant to web developers and businesses which use high-resolution images and video.

Topic: Processors

Jack Clark

About Jack Clark

Currently a reporter for ZDNet UK, I previously worked as a technology researcher and reporter for a London-based news agency.

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