Nvidia's Optimus switching trick is an Intel collaboration

Nvidia has announced Optimus, a way to get the most out of your graphics chip without draining energy battery life along with a discrete GPU (graphics processing unit) that offers better 3D graphics and video performance. 

Also Nvidia has named its latest technology after a transformer, a bold move guaranteed to make us take notice.

Previously laptops on the market had the two graphics functions but switching between then for a slicker experience was clumsy and irritatingly manual. You also had to reboot everytime you switched.

The latest laptops on the market have a switchable GPU with software usually involving a small tool-tray icon or changing the power profile in Windows. The screen then alarmingly blanks out for a few seconds while the average user panics, thinking that it has broken. When they’ve just abandoned hope, the laptop springs to life running with the discrete GPU or back to the battery-saving integrated graphics.

Nvidia points out that this is not much help and can be rather stressful. Not to mention the majority who haven’t a clue how to switch them, or even that they can. Nvidia reckons in its press bumf only one percent of all laptop owners have ever switched.

Basically the Optimus can tell what you are running, be it a 3D application or video then the battery hungry, GPU switches on giving the best graphics that it can. When you close the 3D app or video, it goes back to the integrated GPU which is less energy consuming and will save your battery life.

The technology works automatically and at a presentation given by Nvidia notebook chief Rene Haas, there was no screen blanking or button pressing. The Optimus sits in disguise and works secretly.

The first notebook to use the technology will be the Asus UL50vf, and more than 50 systems with Optimus will be available by the summer.

Nvidia has also revealed that it collaborated with Intel on Optimus’s development, and Intel’s Core 2 Duo and Core i-series platforms will be supported as well as the next-gen Ions that combines Intel’s Atom CPUs and Nvidia’s GPUs. The Optimus technology supports most of the currently shipping notebook platforms, according to Nvidia.