Nvidia's Hybrid SLI technology

Written by Tim Smalley

January 18, 2008 | 07:52

Tags: #analysis #boost #details #dgpu #discrete #geforce #gpu #hybrid #hybridpower #igp #information #mgpu #nforce #power #saving #sli #technical #technology

Companies: #nvidia


One of the biggest concerns for enthusiast gamers in recent times—or at least those of us that pay those ever-increasing electricity bills—is the amount of power that your high-end graphics card uses when you’re not gaming.

Over the past few years, I’ve been getting increasingly more frustrated with the increasing power requirements that come with every new generation.

Yes the massive boost in performance is fantastic but, as the saying goes, let’s not try and run before we can walk – I don't mind paying the power bill to be a high-end gamer... but not when it's going up with every generation.

During this time, every watt that the CPU guys saved was gobbled up by the GPU guys – the result you end up with is a power hungry monster like R600.

The G80-based GeForce 8800 GTX was only a little bit more frugal on the power front, but it did have the benefit of significantly outperforming anything else on the market and, as a result, it didn’t get as much flak for eating a lot of power.

Nvidia's HybridPower Logo

Nvidia's HybridPower Logo

It’s fair to say that AMD changed the game with the incredibly smart and innovative power saving technologies introduced in the Radeon HD 3870 and Radeon HD 3850 but only go so far to resolve the long-term power consumption issues that lead to large electricity bills – they don’t eradicate the problem completely because the card is still consuming 40W (or more) at idle.

This is where Nvidia’s HybridPower technology comes in: what it essentially does is to allow the user to turn off the discrete GPU when it is not being used.

The reason that you’ll be able to do this is because, as we mentioned on the previous page all Nvidia core logic for both AMD and Intel CPUs will include an mGPU or motherboard GPU from Q2 2008 (an IGP for those that don’t speak fluent Nvidish).

First, Nvidia will introduce its nForce 700a series of motherboards later this quarter, and then it will follow with new Intel core logic that include support for Hybrid SLI technology in the second quarter of the year.

The mGPU that will be integrated into all of these motherboard chipsets won’t be a brute – far from it in fact; instead, its job is to handle visual applications that don’t require massive amounts of graphics horsepower in a power efficient way.

What this means is that you will need to plug your primary display directly into your motherboard so that it functions when your main graphics cards have been turned off. However, what this looks like it might mean is that you’re limited to one digital and one analogue display output – that’s not exactly great news for those that run multiple monitors.

For those that only run a single monitor though, that isn’t going to be a concern and given that the technology is in its infancy, we can but hope that Nvidia does consider including at least two digital outputs in future motherboard GPU chipsets.

Nvidia's Hybrid SLI technology HybridPower Nvidia's Hybrid SLI technology HybridPower
Click to enlarge

We have asked Nvidia to clarify why it opted to include one digital and one analogue display output, but we are still waiting for the clarification. In the mean time, while we're waiting for that clarification, Nvidia did tell us that one of Gigabyte's Hybrid SLI-enabled motherboards does feature DVI, HDMI and VGA, but the company’s representative didn’t detail whether DVI and HDMI could be used at the same time or not.
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