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Old April 11, 2011, 10:50 AM
Epimetheus Epimetheus is offline
Join Date: Feb 2011
Posts: 25
Default integrated and/or discrete video?

With integrated GPU on Sandy Bridge CPU’s (Core i7-2xxx, i5-2xxx and i3-2xxx), and the variety of main-stream Sandy Bridge chipsets (H67, H61, P67 and the upcoming Z68), I’m getting confused as to the GPU options and their respective pros and cons.

I understand that Intel has two variations of integrated graphics for the most recent Sandy Bridge CPU’s, the HD2000 and HD3000. HD2000 has six execution units, and is on the i7-2600, i7-2600s, i5-2500, i5-2500s, i5-2500t, i5-2400, i5-2400s, i5-2390T, i5-2300, i3-2120, i3-2100 and i3-2100t. In contrast, the HD3000 has 12 execution units, and is only available on the i7-2600k and i5-2500k.

Both HD2000 and HD3000 benefit from ‘Dynamic Acceleration’, which according to the Intel website will boost the integrated GPU frequency when under heavy load – although, I can’t see this being a significant factor. At least, it isn’t for me.

What is intriguing to me is that both also offer ‘Quick Sync’ for much improved speed when trans-coding video. Software that utilizes this feature is still required, and from what I’ve seen thus far, that software can be bloody expensive. Still, I love the idea – and look forward to using this feature (I like to load up my phone with movies for long flights).

Sadly, my understanding is that the HD2000/3000 features, including Quick Sync, will only function on H67/H61 motherboards NOT using discrete video cards. NOT winning!!

What about the most recent rumours regarding LucidLogix’s Virtu software being 'burned' into future H67 and Z68 motherboards? I’ve read that these ‘virtu’ motherboards will allow for both integrated and discrete GPU to ‘switch’ depending on load. More optimistically, there are rumours of GPU synergy – the ability to mix and match discrete cards for a hybrid ‘SLIfireHD3000’ solution? That could hypothetically produce some vicious frame rates/$$ – but I’m not holding my breath. What about cabling… would I connect the monitor to the motherboard or the discrete video-card… or (shutter) would I need have two cables connected to the monitor using some sort of switch? Curiously, can it be called ‘software’ if it’s burnt into the motherboard? What about upgrades – will I be able to ‘flash’ upgrade the Virtu software like bios?

Admittedly, this is all speculation until the virtual ‘virtu’ boards start appearing in the market, but I’d love to hear more from someone in-the-know.
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