Nvidia’s HybridPower technology debuted on the desktop with the nForce 780a SLI, promising to dramatically lower idle system power consumption by completely shutting down discrete graphics cards when their 3D horsepower wasn’t needed. When invoked, HybridPower offloads display output duties to the nForce chipset’s so-called motherboard GPU, resulting in significant power savings with a negligible impact on gaming performance. It’s hard to see a down side to the technology other than its requirement that your graphics card and chipset both come from Nvidia, which is understandable given how the two must cooperate to pass output duties back and forth.
Unfortunately, it seems that HybridPower has no future on the desktop. The new GeForce GTX 285 and 295 don’t support it, for example, and neither will the new desktop GPUs that Nvidia has in the pipeline. According to Senior Technical Marketing Manager Sean Cleveland, HybridPower has been dropped from desktop parts because, thanks to the improved idle power consumption of Nvidia’s latest graphics parts, it no longer “substantially improves the user’s experience.” HybridPower will live on in Nvidia’s mobile platforms, where the company still sees merit in the technology’s ability to reduce heat output and prolong battery life.
While it’s certainly true that Nvidia’s latest graphics cards have very low idle power consumption, it’s disappointing to see HybridPower leave the desktop entirely. Desktop users care about power consumption, too, and HybridPower continues to be one feature that AMD hasn’t been able to counter with its own core logic and graphics chip combos.