Graphic Cards Switching

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by sioannou, Apr 24, 2011.

  1. sioannou, Apr 24, 2011
    Last edited: Apr 24, 2011

    sioannou macrumors member

    sioannou

    Joined:
    Mar 25, 2010
    Location:
    Nicosia Cyprus
    #1
    Hi guys,

    I've just installed gfxCardStatus in my 2011 base 15" and I wanted to put my thoughts on it.

    Write now, I am just surfing the internet, plugged on power, however I noticed that the 6490 is on. Is this normal?

    Are there some rules that are causing the switching among the graphic cards? Because from what I understand , surfing the internet (actually posting on this site only) it's not an excuse to have 6490 running.

    Something different now, i bought Civilization 5 but my desktop pc that i use for gaming is running too slow after turn 250 or something. Recently i noticed in the steam updates that Civilization is supported for 6490, so despite I am not using my mac for gaming (only for fm2011) i am considering of giving it a shot in my mbp. Any of you guys tried it out?

    Sorry for my lengthily post here (once again) :D

    Updating : Hm, after examining the gfxCardStatus it seems that some of google's chrome processes are causing the switching to the Discrete graphics. So, is this a bad programming from google , or it's normal for web browsers to be hungry for resources?
     
  2. Locodice macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Mar 6, 2011
    #2
    Fix'd.

    The only work around is to have it set to integrated the whole time or get used to using Safari like the rest of us.

    Safari + Clicktoflash + Adblock = win
     
  3. thermodynamic Suspended

    thermodynamic

    Joined:
    May 3, 2009
    Location:
    USA
    #3
    Thanks!

    While I like playing Flash games, Flash ads (or any ads and I worry about when HTML5 ads come in because it might be harder to disable those) are annoying.

    Safari isn't half-bad a browser either, but I'm still a Firefox fanatic. :)
     
  4. sioannou thread starter macrumors member

    sioannou

    Joined:
    Mar 25, 2010
    Location:
    Nicosia Cyprus
    #4
    Thanks for the advice mate. Your's combination rocks :D Well I liked chrome but I guess from now on I am going to be a safari guy :D
     
  5. Nameci macrumors 68000

    Nameci

    Joined:
    Oct 29, 2010
    Location:
    The Philippines...
    #5
    Same combination of Safari extensions here as well and I never had any issues.
     
  6. FnuGk macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Aug 6, 2009
    #6
    you cant force the discrete card off when just browsing?
     
  7. glire macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Apr 23, 2011
    #7
    Why can't you just set gfxcardstatus to Integrated only?
     
  8. johnnj macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Dec 11, 2008
    Location:
    Not here
    #8
    Interesting info. Thanks for taking the time to post.

    I wish that the GPU setting was like it use to be: on or off. I personally next enabled the discrete GPU on my 3/09 15" 2.66. I never noticed any slowness or jerky video with anything I did. Now I see the new one turning on all the time and fans running audibly just browsing (using Chrome).
     
  9. xxBURT0Nxx macrumors 68020

    xxBURT0Nxx

    Joined:
    Jul 9, 2009
    #9
    certain tasks trigger your mac to switch to the discrete gpu. When browsing the net, flash content can force it to go to the discrete gpu.

    Solutions, either use a different browser, block flash content, stop viewing flash content, or tell gfxCardStatus to use integrated only and switch it to the discrete yourself if you are playing games or the like.
     
  10. johnnj macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Dec 11, 2008
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    Not here
    #10
    Yes, thank you very much for that.

    My point was that on my 2 year old machine there were no problems with using the browser I wanted (Chrome) even with Flash content. Either the new Intel integrated graphics is inferior to the integrated nVidia in the old one, or OSX is switching to the discrete prematurely.

    I know you can use the CardStatus software to shut it down manually, but previously OSX allowed you to do that without 3rd party software. It reminded me of when they made the orientation lock switch on the iPad into a mute switch, which to me was pretty dumb since you could mute the thing with the volume rocker by holding it down for like 2 seconds. Then in the next iOS update they changed it so you could use it as an orientation lock again.
     
  11. Locodice macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Mar 6, 2011
    #11

    Great reading skills guys
     
  12. xxBURT0Nxx macrumors 68020

    xxBURT0Nxx

    Joined:
    Jul 9, 2009
    #12
    Yeah I believe the problem stems from how gfx card switching is handled now. In the past the machine had to log out in order to switch between the cards, now it can be done on the fly... I'd say that's a worthwhile upgrade. And apples solution of going all the way into system pref. was less than ideal for gfx switching imo. Much easier now if you just install gfxCardStatus.
     
  13. sioannou thread starter macrumors member

    sioannou

    Joined:
    Mar 25, 2010
    Location:
    Nicosia Cyprus
    #13
    Yeah, I know that I can force the discrete card to be off. The think is that we discussing why the chrome browser needs the discrete card while surfing.

    Apart from that i think not true that when you are browsing pages with heavy flash content the ATI switches on. No matter what webpage i visit safari keeps the integrated card running all the times until now. I've never noticed the discrete graphic card turned on while just browsing with safari.
     
  14. Tonepoet macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Nov 11, 2010
    #14
    It's not just "certain tasks" at least not for me and my 2011 MBP. Every time I don't force integrated off and open either Chrome or Firefox, gfxCardStatus reports that the discrete card is put into use when I haven't even left the search engine home page yet.

    Somebody somewhere still thinks I need a discrete GPU to display text and static imagery for whatever reason. :confused: I dunno if it's an Apple employee or somebody over at Mozilla or Google but it's a rather sickening waste of battery power.
     
  15. xxBURT0Nxx, Apr 24, 2011
    Last edited: Apr 24, 2011

    xxBURT0Nxx macrumors 68020

    xxBURT0Nxx

    Joined:
    Jul 9, 2009
    #15
    Wirelessly posted (Mozilla/5.0 (iPhone; U; CPU iPhone OS 4_2_1 like Mac OS X; en-us) AppleWebKit/533.17.9 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/5.0.2 Mobile/8C148 Safari/6533.18.5)

    Wouldn't using chrome or firefox be a "certain task" that forces your discrete graphics card to be used. It certainly wasn't on until you used that program so like I said, certain things cause your MacBook to switch to the discrete gpu.
     
  16. FnuGk macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Aug 6, 2009
    #16
    that quite simple. Chrome use hardware acceleration. When mac OS X detects something asking for hardware acceleration it turns on the dedicated card.

    im running some openCL calculation on my 2010 13" mbp, this makes chrome feel sluggish and laggy while safari just flies. I think there is an option to turn off hardware acceleration in chrome but i havnt looked into it.
     
  17. Tonepoet macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Nov 11, 2010
    #17
    Perhaps in a strictly technical sense it could be interpreted that way, in part because programs are known to some as "tasks" and in part since the computer merely does what the software tells it to. However within the context of the discussion though, I would imagine the flash animation itself to be the trigger, since it's mildly demanding visual content in and of itself prone to heightened amounts of processing, not the program I use to view it.

    Without clarification, the word task itself is just rather too ambiguous if that's how you meant it.
    While the computer every little detail of how I do something into account. The average end user might brush it in broad strokes like "email" or "playing Game X." This is especially so since the automated graphics switching is supposed to know when I need which GPU to do whichever tasks I bid the computer to do, so I can have an optimal energy efficiency to performance ratio. Does my AMD 6750m running just to buy stuff off of Amazon? Not in the least. So why do I need it eating away at my battery power while doing that, so I can possibly browse for hours less at a time? Whatever Chrome is doing that Safari isn't during that time, there's clearly no good reason for it. At least wait until I cue a video and a better hardware based decoder is needed or something.

    Errors like this are why I don't trust Lion to keep all the processes going optimally in the background.
     
  18. MacMojo1 macrumors member

    Joined:
    Mar 22, 2006
    #18
    Is the downside just battery drain? iStat has my 6750 on a lot when using music apps like Live 8 and NI Maschine, those are not heavy on graphics but the mac switches to the 6750 anyway.
     
  19. xxBURT0Nxx macrumors 68020

    xxBURT0Nxx

    Joined:
    Jul 9, 2009
    #19
    Wirelessly posted (Mozilla/5.0 (iPhone; U; CPU iPhone OS 4_2_1 like Mac OS X; en-us) AppleWebKit/533.17.9 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/5.0.2 Mobile/8C148 Safari/6533.18.5)

    No sense to argue over the semantics of the word task

    I was simply stating an example. Chrome causes the discrete gpu to be used because of the hardware acceleration (ordinarily tasks onto the gpu).

    This to me would be something google and Mozilla programmed into their browsers and not something apple does since safari does not behave the same way.
     
  20. Chromus macrumors regular

    Joined:
    May 20, 2010
    #20
    If you're plugged into power, what's so bad about having your discrete card come on? I have gfxcardstatus to be integrated only when running on battery and dynamic switching when plugged in. Works fine for me!
     
  21. dusk007 macrumors 68040

    dusk007

    Joined:
    Dec 5, 2009
    #21
    That is complete nonsense. Safari does the same things Chrome does. The only difference is that Safari is an Apple program and they simply specifically excluded it from waking the dGPU.
    Apple offers for the use of all (and their own programs), libraries that help with displaying all kinds of animations and stuff. Whenever any non Apple program asks for such stuff the dGPU is turned on. The simple reason being that Apple wanted a fool proof system (which ended up being a incredibly ineffective and stupid system). Since Apple's Autoswtiching driver cannot know how much use the unknown program (like Chrome) makes it switches on the dGPU by default and once on it cannot switch on and off like Nvidia Optimus(which is a far more advanced and intelligent way of auto switching).
    Apple's Intel GPU driver accelerates quite decent too thus it is no problem to always force the Intel GPU and only enable the dGPU if necessary.

    What Apple should have done or at least provide and option for it was a whitelist (or blacklist) approach. That need to be not sophisticated at all. It needs a list that is accessible by any program and the users which simple says which programs require a dGPU. They didn't do it probably because it either meant for the user to decide which GPU is necessary (and Apple generally assumes its Users are stupid and could never do such a thing nor is there even a small number who might) or program developers need to support it which means old progams wouldn't work right and the feature would be only half ready at launch day.

    One other reason why they might have done it the way they did is that the Intel GPU drivers aren't really as good as they could be. For example there would be absolutely no need for any mediaplayer to switch to a dedicated GPU as the new and old Intel HD is more than capable of accelerating any video source. It can handle two 1080i streams simultaneously. Also for Flash only nvidia drivers really offer hardware acceleration to date.

    As to why they cannot switch around to the right GPU all the time. Try launch iphoto on any GPU. Watch the animations. You will see it works like always. Force the other GPU and watch the animations now. It looks like software acceleration.
    Relaunching helps or switching back to the GPU that was running at application launch.
    The reason is that there is some transparency layer missing in this system like you get it with Optimus which has one driver the applications communicate with and that cannot change at runtime.
    Why not Optimus? Because when Optimus runs on the dGPU it needs the iGPU to be active too. It only forwards but it still sucks power. In a demux system like Apple's it can sleep which obviously means better battery life on dGPU. Thus it is not all bad but they implemented the software side of things like a bunch of idiots. It is like the hardware people at Apple really know their stuff but the software people well don't.
    Someone will say well there is another reason. Optimus drivers or similar are only available for Nvidia. AMD only offers mulitplexing options. But they could have done it in the 2010 MBP but didn't. And if asked for AMD could have provided something similar for 2011 too.
     
  22. c1phr macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2011
    #22
    I've posted this many times before, in threads that ask the EXACT same question.

    Chrome and FF call OpenGL when they initialize because they start WebGL (even if it's not in use). At times, the browser will automatically switch back to Intel, but discreet is almost always called due to this original OpenGL call, even if OGL is not in use.

    The Intel GPU is perfectly capable of handling any OGL/WGL tasks, as well as flash, but OSX doesn't realize this. Ergo, forcing the Intel GPU will not generally decrease performance (unless you're using one of the Chrome experiments that are rather demanding), and your web experience should be the same.
     
  23. Tonepoet, Apr 25, 2011
    Last edited: Apr 25, 2011

    Tonepoet macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Nov 11, 2010
    #23
    Sometimes semantics can be quite important. Juding from the statements others above it's more of a side effect of something they programmed in. More of a bug rather than intentional behavior. Buuuut I digress...

    More battery drain indicates more power consumption. I'm not sure if it's by any notable amount but it could theoretically make some difference on your electric bill and more importantly, if you're amongst those with thermal paste or lap comfort concerns, your computer will be running hotter on the discrete card. Some people say the GPU is the biggest contributor to the heat problem overall...

    The dedicated GPU should be the stronger one anyway though so there aren'
     

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