NVIDIA Optimus technology launched in February to a ton of fanfare and was praised for its simplicity and efficiency. For those of you that don’t know, NVIDIA Optimus is a new technology for laptops that delivers the performance of discrete graphics processing while still delivering great battery life. Optimus accomplishes this by automatically and seamlessly selecting the right graphics processor (GPU) for the job between an NVIDIA discrete GPU or an Intel integrated GPU.
This is important for laptop users because in the past, consumers were forced to prioritize performance or battery life, as one feature typically suffered significantly in order to accommodate the other. Older technology called “Switchable Graphics” helped address this but there were still several issues. With switchable graphics, users have the benefit of both a discrete GPU and integrated graphics in a laptop, but they must manually switch between the two. Switching sometimes requires shutting down applications or rebooting the system. Also, with switchable graphics users must remember what state their laptop is in and switch when necessary. The result is users get frustrated and rarely switch.
Optimus is different because it determines the best processor for the workload and routes it accordingly. The result is users automatically get the performance they need while also maximizing battery life, transparently, and with zero effort. It just works.
Called ‘revolutionary’ by some, Tom's Hardware noted in its Optimus preview that the proof in the pudding would come from PC vendor adoption. NVIDIA launched Optimus with the Asus UL50-Vf as its lead product. Acer introduced Optimus in the netbook market with its Aspire One 532G. Later Asus brought the U30jc laptop to market with NVIDIA Optimus technology along with other models including the N61Jv, N71Jv, and N82Jv.
At the Netbook Summit in May NVIDIA promised that this summer, and particularly June, would be a landmark time period for Optimus with over 50 design wins coming to market and four new OEMs added.
The month started off strong for NVIDIA at Computex in Taipei, Taiwan with 16 new NVIDIA Optimus-enabled skus making their debut, including top brands like Gateway (14-inch ID49C and 13.3-inch EC39C) Lenovo (14-inch z460, 13-inch y360) and Packard Bell (15.6-inch EasyNote TX86 and 13.3-inch EasyNote Butterfly s). Asus also announced a pair of new Optimus-enabled netbooks (12-inch 1215PN and the 10-inch 1015PN).
Shortly after Computex things got really interesting with Dell’s announcement that the Alienware M11x would add NVIDIA Optimus support to the category-busting 11-inch gaming powerhouse.
Now Toshiba has rolled out three new skus, all with NVIDIA Optimus (14-inch Satellite M645-S4055, 15-inchSatellite A665-S6058 and 18-inch Satellite X505-Q882).
Toshiba Satellite M645
So it seems NVIDIA has made good on its earlier promises by announcing products from Acer, Dell, Lenovo and Toshiba to go with over a dozen Optimus-enabled laptops from Asus.
NVIDIA has already established Optimus as a must-have feature for laptops, and AMD has no answer for it to date. With over 30 NVIDIA Optimus-enabled laptops and a hand full of netbooks to choose from, consumers are the big winners. Everyone who has used Optimus says great things about it. Now it seems there is an Optimus-enabled system from 10-inches all the way up to 18-inches and for every conceivable use-case from netbooks to gaming to desktop replacement. And all this comes just in time for the annual back-to-school laptop push.