UPDATE: Adding details about Nvidia Corp.’s ways to decrease power consumption of graphics processing units, revising text of the news-story, changing headlines.
ATI Technologies said Friday it had employed technologies originally designed to reduce energy consumption of graphics processors for notebooks to trim power hunger of high-end desktop graphics cards, such as Radeon X1800 or more advanced. Nvidia Corp. also confirmed that it had implemented numerous capabilities initially developed for mobile chips to keep power consumption of its desktop chips low.
When X-bit labs originally measured power consumption of high-end Radeon X1800 XT graphics card back in September, 2005, it was about 112W under maximum recently, the absolute maximum for that time. However, when the measurements were carried out later, the power consumption dropped to slightly below 103W on the same graphics card with the same BIOS version, but on a newer driver.
ATI Technologies has introduced new BIOS versions for the new high-performance graphics cards that decreased clock-speeds when high performance in 3D applications was not required. Additionally, ATI employed dynamic clock gating technology originally introduced along with the Mobility Radeon graphics chip, which shuts down unused parts of graphics processor preserving them from consuming power and also reducing current leakage, a problem for today’s high-speed chips.
Nvidia Corp.’s GeForce 7800-series graphics processors also utilize many of the same technologies and techniques that the company uses within its mobile graphics processors. Apparently, the graphics processors code-named G70 have the ability to vary voltage/power based on 2D and 3D applications activity, perform clock gating techniques to reduce power. Moreover, Nvidia G70 desktop GPUs also use transistors with reduced threshold voltage, a measure that reduces gate leakage, similar to mobile GPUs, according to Nvidia’s Nick Stam.
Intel Corp., the world’s largest chipmaker, also uses technology originally developed for mobile processors to restrain power consumption of desktop and server processors. The latest desktop Pentium processors, with some exceptions, support enhanced Halt state (C1E), a capability that allows operating system to halt the processor when it is not needed, as well as Enhanced Intel SpeedStep Technology (EIST), a feature that dynamically reduces clock-speed by 200MHz increments when the load is not high.