IDF: Switchable Graphics Could Give Laptops An Extra Hour Of Battery Life

San Francisco (CA) - Want to get an extra hour of battery life out of your laptop ? At the Intel Developer Forum in San Francisco, Intel’s executive vice president and general manager of the mobility division, Dadi Perlmutter, demonstrated switchable laptop graphics that promises to cut power consumption by approximately one-third. In some cases, this could add an hour or more of battery life to the average laptop.

Switchable graphics will be included in Intel’s upcoming Centrino 2 mobile platforms. From inside the operating system, users will be able to switch between the discrete graphics card and the internal Intel graphics processor (IGP). So anyone playing a graphically intense game can turn on the discrete card and then throttle down to the integrated chip for basic office tasks.

In an onstage demonstration, Perlmutter and his assistant used a Sony laptop with a discrete Nvidia card and the Intel integrated graphics chip. Running the discrete chip, the laptop was consuming approximately 25 watts of power. This usage dropped about 9 watts to 15-16 watts after switching to the discrete chip. Perlmutter and his assistant exclaimed that this could add an hour of extra battery life.

Intel showed a graph of the power usage before, during and after the switch and there was a brief spike in power usage. Perhaps this is from both graphics chips working at the same time. After several seconds, power usage dropped significantly as juice was cut from the discrete chip.

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