nVidia Optimus or AMD Enduro with zSpace

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This article applies to all Dynamic Switchable Graphic for both AMD and NVIDIA GPUs. The names seem to vary and often to change. The technology still remains the same. The PC hardware and GPU software are in control of which GPU is being used and not the user.

Here is an article which explains Optimus well.

http://tedwise.com/2010/04/14/automatic-gpu-switching-how-does-it-work/

 

Before purchasing a new laptop verify Optimus does not exist or can be deactivated. AMD has released a similar technology called AMD Enduro but conceptually nearly the same.

In short, Optimus is nVidia's solution to running dual graphics cards; most commonly in laptops. Many CPUs have integrated graphics support in addition to having a Quadro series graphics card for higher performance graphics. During normal operation, when your laptop is drawing more power from the battery the laptop switches from using the integrated graphics to nVidia graphics.

Integrated graphics will not work for zSpace 3D. Some laptop manufacturers allow you to disable Optimus in order to force your laptop to run on the nVidia graphics card 100% of the time. To figure out how to disable Optimus, you may have to search online or contact your computer manufacturer. Some laptops have a Bios setting you can set and some have a keyboard toggles to disable Optimus. In some cases, you are not able to disable Optimus at all and these laptops will not work for zSpace.

*Update* Because of requirements set by Microsoft for Windows 8.1, PC vendors cannot add options to disable Optimus. We have seen some PCs recently that Optimus could not be disabled. Also with this is requirement GPU vendors are also required to allow the option for control on which video card is used by the PC. Video driver control panels generally have the option to force the PC to use one or the other GPU. The small amount of testing we have done around this we have found laptops that do work and laptops that do not work. 

What kinds of problems have we seen with Optimus?

  • Plugging in zSpace there is no display but Windows will report zSpace connected
  • zSpace Experience will not start in 3D.
  • 3D OpenGL applications will not display correctly. You may see missing models.
  • PC or application crash when launching 3D OpenGL applications.

You can test if Optimus is causing problems by disabling your Intel graphics card temporarily. To do this in Windows 7:

  1. Plug the power to your laptop so it is NOT running on battery power.
  2. Open the windows device manager
    • Open the Windows Start Menu and select Control Panel
    • Click on Hardware and Sound
    • Under Devices and Printers, select Device Manager
  3. Disable Intel Display
    • Click the arrow to the left of Display Adapters
    • You likely will see two different display adapters. One will be named Intel and the other nVidia.
    • Right click on the Intel and select disable. Likely your screen will do some flickering and such before the nVidia kicks in.
  4. Run zSpace Control Panel and System Check or another application such as zSpace Experience and verify everything is working.
  5. If everything is working, Optimus was likely causing the problems you were having.
  6. In the Windows Device Manager again, right click and select enable on the Intel Display Driver.
  7. Reboot PC.
  8. This is only a temporary workaround. If you do not enable your Intel you could experience issues during reboot or most likely the Intel Display will just enable itself during reboot.

 

NVIDIA has added an option to their control panel and drivers to allow users to manually select which GPU to use. This option is only available in more recent drivers. This does not function the same on all computers and even though the GPU is selected, this may not allow stereo to work correctly.

  1. Right click on the Windows Desktop and select NVIDIA Control Panel.
  2. Along the left column, select 3D Settings -> Manage 3D.
  3. Under Global Settings, select the "Preferred graphics processor" to be your NVIDIA graphics as shown in the below screenshot.

 

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