HybridPower is perhaps the most enticing part of going the route of Hybrid SLI as you can finally choose between high performance and low power computing. Given an SLI setup on a Hybrid SLI ready platform, many standard applications require no more processing power than the motherboard integrated GPU. As such, when HybridPower is enabled, the drivers automatically detect the running applications and operating state to shut off the discrete GPU(s). This is done via the tried and trusted SMBUS interface that can initiate shutting down the dGPUs, as well as power them up. The driver technology signals the SMBUS to shut down the dGPU when not required. When a 3D application is invoked which requires more performance, SMBUS can re-enable the dGPU, which will then work in union to boost performance (GeForce Boost). The beauty of this is that switching occurs on-the-fly and is seamless to end-users.
And when NVIDIA means shutting down of the discrete GPUs, they literally mean it. It would be as though the discrete GPUs were never plugged in at all. With zero power consumption of the dGPUs, you can also expect far lower operating noise levels - perfect for movie watching utilizing the onboard integrated GPU.
This brings us to another point that we've touched on in our tech articles. To date, no integrated motherboard GPU is capable of handling Full HD video due to inadequate local memory bandwidth. However, NVIDIA promised that the mGPU that will be featured in the new Hybrid SLI capable platforms will tackle this smoothly due to advances in compression algorithms and efficient memory utilization. Thus this will answer any queries as to how Hybrid SLI would tackle calls to process Full HD videos, which is all tackled by the new mGPU. In addition to the intelligence packed within the drivers, the control panel will also allow end users to utilize profiles to set options as to which applications being invoked should use Hybrid SLI features/technologies. For the moment, we are certain that the full functionality of Hybrid SLI will function under the Windows Vista OS, but there are no clear indications of Windows XP or other operating systems support.
So far, Hybrid SLI looks very appealing. However, we hate to break the news that no current motherboard supports the Hybrid SLI initiative and almost most of the discrete GPUs are not qualified for Hybrid SLI. For that, you'll need new hardware.
As such, today's official launch of the Hybrid SLI technology also marks that start of a new ecosystem of products supporting Hybrid SLI. The first group of platforms is targeted at AMD processors based on the new nForce 780a SLI, nForce 750a SLI, nForce 730a and the GeForce 8200 MCPs. Intel processor based equivalents are slated for the second quarter of the year though.
|NVIDIA MCPs||Target User Segment||Target Motherboard Form Factor||Hybrid SLI Technology||Other Features|
|nForce 780a SLI||Enthusiast (US$250+)||ATX||Yes||Yes||3-way SLI, ESA, SLI Memory|
|nForce 750a SLI||Performance Gamer (US$120+)||ATX||Yes||Yes||2-way SLI|
|nForce 730||Mainstream Gamer (US$80+)||ATX||No||Yes||1 x16 PCIe 2.0|
|GeForce 8200||Mainstream Vista Premium Users||microATX||Yes||Yes||1 x16 PCIe 2.0|