AMD's Hybrid Graphics previewed

During its financial analyst presentation today, AMD talked about an implementation of its forthcoming Hybrid Graphics technology on the desktop. In essence, Hybrid Graphics will allow users to couple the integrated graphics in AMD's RS780 chipset with a discrete AMD graphics processor in a CrossFire-like configuration for higher performance.

AMD hasn't released performance data for the technology, but the folks at Hot Hardware were lucky enough to enjoy a preview, and they've posted a few numbers. The numbers span just two games (Call of Duty 4 and Unreal Tournament 3) and they apply to the RS780 chipset's integrated graphics alone and that IGP combined with an unannounced Radeon HD 3450 graphics card (presumably based on the upcoming RV620 graphics processor). In CoD 4 at 1024x768, the IGP alone yields 30 FPS, while Hybrid Graphics increases that to a smoother 50 FPS. In UT3, the IGP chugs along at 27 FPS but goes up to 45 FPS when combined with the Radeon HD.

Those numbers bode fairly well for light gamers, although Hot Hardware points out that the drivers and hardware still aren't complete. Hybrid Graphics also presents advantages from a power efficiency perspective. The RS780 supposedly draws only around 20W of power, and in Hybrid Graphics mode, the discrete graphics processor can "almost totally shut down" when the user isn't running a 3D application.

Hybrid Graphics is expected to show up in AMD's Puma notebook platform, its Perseus enterprise platform, and its Cartwheel mainstream platform. All three platforms are scheduled for the first quarter of next year.

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