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AMD plans to take on Optimus

AMD may have been the first company to get a mobile DirectX 11 chip out of the doors, but it’s Nvidia’s Optimus technology that’s getting all the laptop love. With even Apple singing Optimus’ praises at the MacBook Pro launch, it’s no wonder that AMD has just announced that it has plans for a similar scheme in the works.

Speaking at a Q&A session following AMD’s quarterly earnings announcement, AMD’s CEO Dirk Meyer revealed that the company plans to take on Optimus head-on in the future. “At the high level, we’ve had a switchable graphics capability in the ATI graphics platform for a couple of years under the banner of PowerXpress,” explained Meyer.

He then said that, “my understanding of Optimus is that it provides a little bit more of a software-controlled experience,” adding that this feature is “one that we have in our development pipeline as well.”

Nvidia’s Optimus technology was designed to not only save battery life, but to also smooth out all the bumps in the process of switching between an IGP (integrated graphics processor) and a discrete GPU. Instead of disabling the when the switch takes place, it instead uses the IGP as a display controller, meaning that there’s no worrisome screen-flickering or delays during the switching process.

Optimus also switches dynamically to the discrete GPU on the fly, according to when it’s needed most. For example, Optimus enables the discrete graphics chip during gaming or movie playback, and you don’t have to make the switch manually.

Meyer didn’t say when AMD planned to introduce the technology, but he did give us a hint. “The final thing I’ll say [on the same subject] is that the ultimate high-performance graphics experience in a notebook is actually going to be made available in the Fusion context, which is one of the reasons that we’re so excited about having Fusion available in the market.”

As such, it’s likely that AMD will take advantage of the IGP in its Fusion processors to control all the graphical basics, and then enable a software switch to seamlessly channel a discrete ATI GPU’s graphical power through the IGP when it’s needed.

On to the big question; what will it be called? If it’s rivalling Optimus, then it has to be called Megatron, doesn’t it?