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Behind the scenes, Optimus (not) at work on new MBPs?


Update: While Engadget originally reported that Optimus was behind the MBP power-saving switch feature, AppleInsider is citing NVIDIA representatives that the feature isn't based on their tech -- they say it's home-grown by Apple. Thanks to our commenters for pointing this out.

Great power is lurking inside the new MacBook Pros, just waiting to be unleashed. Along with support for up to 8GB of RAM and the heftier i5 and i7 processors, the new machines also include on-the-fly GPU switching courtesy of NVIDIA's GeForce GT 330M and 'Optimus,' as the company calls its dynamic handoff feature. which NVIDIA says is Apple-original. The power-saving trick has already appeared on several Windows laptops.

As was pointed out by Gizmodo back in October of 2008, the original dual-GPU MacBook Pro models (with the 9400M/9600M GT card combo) were capable of dynamic switching on the fly. The bad news was that Mac OS X hadn't "switched on" the feature, even though it did work in Boot Camp on similarly-equipped Windows laptops.

The good news is that now we see Apple supporting the feature in software for the newer gear -- but will it ever work its way back to the old reliables? Imagine vintage MBPs switching between the GPUs as needed, without having to log in and out. Better yet, the GPU could switch depending on state (plugged in or unplugged?) or even per application... the power management boost would be delightful.

Now that we see NVIDIA's GPU management technology helping save power on new MBPs, we have to wonder: will older machines be able to take advantage of the on-demand switching with a firmware upgrade? Only The Shadow knows.

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